planes plane-over-roof StopAirportExpansiontshirt BRITAIN HEATHROW AIRPORT EXPANSION

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* * * * main Heathrow news stories * * *


Solidarity Rally for Appeals on Heathrow Legal Challenges  –  Thursday 17th October – 8.45am

​The No 3rd Runway Coalition are organising a solidarity rally again outside the Court. The details are as follows:

Where? Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, Holborn, London WC2A 2LL

When? Assemble at 0845 for a 0900 photo.

Speeches from 0905 (approx.) until 0930. (Final list of speakers to be confirmed).

Sufficient time should be allowed to queue and enter the court prior to the hearing beginning – this will either be 1000 or 1030 but we won’t know until a couple of days before.

Please bring yourselves, family, friends and colleagues!

The hearing will be  live streamed on the judiciary’s YouTube channel


Polling reveals 64% of Britons are concerned about the climate impact of Heathrow 3rd runway, and only about 25% back it

A poll conducted by YouGov Plc, for Friends of the Earth (FoE), showed that 64% of people, after being told the potential benefits and negatives impacts of the Heathrow 3rd runway plans, were concerned about its climate impact.  The survey also showed that only 1 in 4 people  (25%) support the plans. The online survey’s total sample size was 2,017 adults and fieldwork was undertaken between 4th – 6th October 2019.  Numbers were weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).  The 50% planned increase in the number of flights at Heathrow (about 700 more movements than now) would mean almost 50% more carbon emissions, that would all but destroy any chances of the UK meeting its targets for cutting CO2 emissions and fighting climate breakdown.  The poll results come as FoE prepares to take its legal case against Heathrow’s 3rd runway plans to the Court of Appeal on climate grounds. The court will hear an appeal against the High Court’s decision that the government had not breached its sustainable development duties by allowing the expansion of Heathrow. The hearing begins on Thursday 17 October and is expected to last six days.

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Report for the CCC recommends not only a levy on number of flights someone takes, but their length (and seat class)

A report written by Dr Richard Carmichael from Imperial College London, for the Committee on Climate Change, sets out several important recommendations on how to reduce the demand for, and the carbon emissions from, air travel. One recommendation is to impose a frequent flyer levy, that not only takes account of the number of flights a person takes in a year, but the distance travelled (and thus the carbon emitted). This should also include class of ticket bought, as premium classes cause the emission of much more carbon than economy seats. The levy would help discourage long-haul flights: as most flying is for leisure, some shift from long-haul to short-haul destinations would be expected, delivering further emissions reductions. Averaging-out flying habits over a longer period than one year would also be fairer: a 3-4-year period, for example, could mean a traveller could take a long-haul trip without incurring a substantial levy if they took few other flights during the rest of the period. The complexity of administering this levy need not be onerous, though would need a central database storing total miles flown in the accounting period under a passport number.

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Imperial College report for the CCC says Air Miles schemes, which needless encourage frequent flying, should be banned

Air miles schemes should be axed as they encourage jet-setters to take extra flights in a bid to maintain “privileged traveller status”, according to a report by Imperial College, London, commissioned by the government’s climate change advisers, the Committee on Climate Change. Encouraging those who already fly a lot, to fly even more, is completely the wrong way to try to cut the carbon emissions from aviation. The report says: “The greatest beneficiaries of aviation’s generous tax treatment in the UK (it is exempt from fuel duty and zero-rated for VAT) are therefore those who pollute most and could most easily afford to pay more. The norm of unlimited flying being acceptable needs to be challenged and, as a very highly-polluting luxury, it is suitable to taxation.”  It also recommends: “Introduce regulation to ban frequent flyer reward schemes that stimulate demand”. And: “Raise awareness and encourage more responsible flying by mandating that all marketing of flights show emissions information expressed in terms that are meaningful to consumers.”  Also: “Introducing restrictions to ‘all-you-can-fly’ passes and loyalty schemes which offer air miles would remove incentives to excessive or stimulated flying.”

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Offsetting by passengers on flights won’t get us to net zero, says AEF in response to government offsetting consultation

The Department for Transport’s held a consultation “Carbon offsetting in transport: a call for evidence” which closed on 26th September.  The consultation outlined a proposal to require all air travel providers and other providers of ticketed travel to give passengers the option to buy a carbon offset for their journey. The Aviation Environment Federation did a response, in which they agree with the CCC’s view that “the UK should not plan to meet is climate change obligations using international offset credits.” They also agree with the EU’s decision to exclude international offsets from its ETS. There are few good quality carbon offsets available, and very few deliver CO2 reductions beyond what would have happened anyway. In the not-too-distant future, when all countries and sectors are cutting their emissions, there will not be many spare credits available. AEF say: “But a key argument against offsetting is that it risks distracting from the need to rein in aviation demand in order to tackle emissions.” People think that having bought a cheap offset for a few ££s means that’s all OK, and they can book another flight.  It delays real cuts in aviation emissions, that can only be achieved by the industry not expanding.

See the excellent response in full

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IAG now rattled by growing awareness of carbon emissions from flying, and possibly lower passenger numbers

The airline industry is feeling under threat, from growing awareness across society – and it many other countries – that its carbon emissions are a problem. It fears there will be a drop in passenger numbers, if the concept of “flying shame” catches on, and if more people decide to fly less. So the industry is fighting back, with claims about how it is a “force for good” in the world, and how it is working really, really hard to reduce its emissions. Doing everything it can, other than actually not trying to keep growing. Willie Walsh admits aviation will keep on burning huge amounts of fossil fuel for decades, as there are no real alternatives (other than very tiny amounts of alternative fuels). He admits that the only solution is carbon offsets, as the emissions from aviation rise, and so at best emissions are net, not gross.  Increases in aviation carbon just wipe out the cuts made elsewhere.  The industry like to keep emphasising that the cost of flying must not be raised, putting it out of reach of the poor – but ignores the solution, that a frequent flyer levy could be imposed, giving each person a free flight per year, with escalating tax on subsequent flights. Most flights are taken by people who fly several (or many) times per year.  IAG wants to give the impression of being a leader in carbon responsibility …while continuing with “business as usual” flying as much as it can.

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Skeleton arguments by Plan B Earth for their legal appeal against government approval of the Airports NPS

The legal appeals against the decision of the High Court, to reject the legal challenges against the Secretary of State for Transport (SST) decision to designate the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), starts on 17th October, at the Appeal Court, in the Strand. The ANPS gave approval for a 3rd Heathrow runway.  One of the four parties who are appealing is Plan B Earth, on grounds of the increased carbon emissions that the runway would produce. The Plan B skeleton argument (14 pages) has been publicised, and this says the SST and the court below proceeded on the false assumption that “Government policy relating to … climate change” was confined to a) (The minimum target established by CCA s. 1 as it was then, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 compared to a 1990 baseline) and that  b) (a commitment to introduce a new UK target in accordance with the Paris Agreement (a commitment which has now been implemented into law, via a change to CCA s.1)  should be disregarded.  Also that neither the SST nor the court below, have advanced any explanation for disregarding the Committee on Climate Change’s clear position on this issue. “If the court below had given proper account to these matters, and properly considered the advice of the CCC, it would have been driven to the conclusion that the ANPS was fundamentally flawed and that it should be quashed.”

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Islington Council agrees motion on opposition to Heathrow Expansion & the introduction of concentrated flight paths over Islington

Islington Council has agreed a motion, to oppose the expansion of Heathrow, and the introduction of concentrated flight paths over Islington. This was debated by the Council on 26th September. The Council believes:  That expansion of Heathrow is not compatible with the climate emergency recently declared by the UK Parliament and by this Council. And  That noise impacts from additional flights over London would have a negative impact on the health and quality of life of Islington residents.  It therefore resolves to:  Oppose expansion of airport capacity in London if the Government cannot demonstrate that it is accommodated within the emissions budget that the CCC recommends for aviation in 2050, as well as other environmental limits, such as air quality.  Make representations to London City Airport and the CAA calling for a fairer distribution of flight paths in London.  Make representations to the Government urging UK Aviation Noise policy to be brought into line with WHO recommendations.  Register as an ‘Interested Party” in the Development Consent Order Process for the proposed expansion of Heathrow.  Investigate joining the No Third Runway Coalition as a local authority member

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Badly thought-through aviation carbon targets, involving biofuels, risk massive deforestation to grow palmoil and soya

A new report shows that the aviation industry’s attempts to cut its carbon emissions (caused by encouraging more and more people to take more flights….) are likely to lead to a dramatic increase in demand for palm oil and soy for aviation biofuels. They suggest the amount of tropical forest that would be taken for this could be 3.2 million hectares – an area larger than Belgium. The aviation industry hopes to be able to use as much alternative fuel as possible, and hopes this will be classed as lower carbon than conventional kerosene jet fuel. These hopes are unrealistic. To try to prevent climate destabilisation from worsening, the world needs as much forest as possible left standing, intact and health. The last thing we need is forest being cut down, in order to produce fuel for planes – largely for hedonistic leisure travel.  It makes no sense to destroy so much forest, and its biodiversity, for such an inessential reason. The report says the only technology currently operating at a commercial scale to make bio-jet fuel is the ‘HEFA’ (Hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids) process using vegetable oils and animal fats. The cheapest and most readily available feedstocks for HEFA jet fuel are palm oil and soy oil, which are closely linked to tropical deforestation – not to mention competition for land for human food.

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Climate perks: new scheme encouraging employers to give staff extra paid holiday days, to travel overland, not by plane

Travel habits may be starting to change, as climate awareness – and our sense of personal responsibility for it – are growing.  A survey by Trainline indicated about two-thirds of Brits  want to try to try to choose more sustainable options. But people still want to travel a lot, and a constraint is time time travelling overland takes – compared to air travel. A new initiative, the the 10:10 climate action campaign, called Climate Perks, is being launched, to encourage employers to help staff take lower carbon forms of transport for their holidays. That means giving them a few extra paid days holiday, on which to travel.  This can empower staff to act on their values.  In exchange, employers receive Climate Perks accreditation in recognition of their climate leadership. The carbon emissions from travelling by train or coach are far lower than those for the same trip by plane – they might be a quarter or a third of those by plane. Even a [non-gas-guzzler …!] car, with 4 people in it, has far lower CO2 emissions than if those people all flew. And there are benefits of appreciating the distance travelled, and stopping off at places en route, to visit them too. The journey becomes a valuable part of the holiday.

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Increase in numbers trying to cut the amount they fly could reduce plane sales by Airbus and Boeing

The Swedish concept of “flygskam” or “flight shame” appears to be spreading.  A survey by (bank) UBS of more than 6,000 people has revealed that a growing number of travellers in Europe and America have already reduced the number of flights they took over the last year,  because of heightened environmental awareness. Around 25% of flyers in France, Germany and the U.S said they had reduced flights. Only 16% of Brits (16%) said climate change had encouraged them to take one less flight.  It may be that over 25% are now “thinking about it,” when asked if climate worries could affect travel plans – up from 20% in May. Global air travel has been grown by between 4% and 5% a year, so overall numbers are doubling every 15 years. UBS is expecting higher costs of flying, and growing climate concern, could reduce intra-European traffic growth over the next 20 years to 1.5% per year versus the 3% per year currently estimated by Airbus. The number could be 1.3% growth in the US, compared to 2.1%, over the next decade or so. That could have a big impact on aircraft manufacturers, cutting profits.

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Heathrow might get over £1 billion per year from its congestion charge, at £29 or more per day per vehicle

Heathrow could make £1.2 billion a year from a congestion (vehicle access) charge levied on drivers arriving at the airport by car, according to analysis. Heathrow has committed to expanding without any extra cars on the road. The new charging, that might be introduced when (or IF) a 3rd runway opened – which the airport hopes would be in 2026 – could grow by 2040 to yield as much as £3.25 million per day.  The charge, is set to cost £29 a day, based on today’s prices, then rising. As many as 65,000 vehicles would pay the charge each day.  It would eventually be levied on all cars, including those with the lowest emissions, and is designed to act to encourage drivers to choose public transport to get to and from Heathrow. In reality, there would not be enough bus and train capacity to deal with all the extra passengers. The number needing to travel by public transport might be 140 million more than now – a 75% increase.  There is likely to be no way for drivers in the area, not associated with the airport, to avoid being charged.  Heathrow says then money it gets (why does Heathrow get to keep it?) from the charge “will help to improve sustainable transport and keep passenger charges affordable…”

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More direct Eurostar services to be created, including western France and German cities – helping cut flights

At present, travellers to Amsterdam by Eurostar have a direct trip on the way out, but have to change at Brussels on the return, for security, customs and immigration checks. This is now to change. Direct services will start, between Amsterdam and St Pancras on December 15th.  In future these checks will take place at Dutch stations. For London – Amsterdam passengers, security and customs checks take place before boarding at St Pancras, and that will continue. Netherlands Railways (NS) and Eurostar are working to complete facilities such as segregated platforms and waiting facilities, so security and immigration checks can be transferred to Rotterdam Central and Amsterdam Central. Another change, helping more travellers to use rail rather than flying, is that Eurostar plans to merge with another operator, enabling direct train services and an integrated network covering 5 countries. With the new system, a direct rail journey from London to Bordeaux would take about four-and-a-half hours. There would also be direct trains to Cologne, Düsseldorf, Essen, Aachen and Dortmund. Already in summer there are trains to Marseilles.  The number of passengers across the combined network might rise by by two thirds over the next 10 years, from 18.5 million to 30 million.

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Heathrow expansion dealt huge blow by Committee on Climate Change aviation carbon advice

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has advised the Government that aviation will become the biggest source of carbon in the UK by 2050 and that expansion at Heathrow leaves very little room for growth at any other airport. In the letter, CCC Chair Lord Deben states that demand for aviation will need to be reduced and policies implemented to help limit that demand. The CCC state that Government need to reassess its airport capacity strategy to ensure that the increase in air travel demand by 2050 is half what is currently predicted. They suggest that a frequent flyer levy would help to curb the demand for growth or alternatively Government could raise taxes on airlines or restrict airport capacity growth. In a direct blow to aviation industry claims of technological solutions to aviation’s carbon problem, the CCC states that zero-carbon aviation is highly unlikely to be feasible by 2050. It estimates that aviation emissions could be reduced by around just 20% through improvements to fuel efficiency, some use of low carbon fuels, and limiting demand growth. Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said:  “The Government must now commit to amending the Airports National Policy Statement in light of the climate emergency.”

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Committee on Climate Change advice to the Government on aviation: it must be included in the UK net-zero target

The advice from the Government’s statutory advisors on climate issues, the CCC, to the Government, says it is important that the carbon emissions of international aviation and shipping (IAS) are formally included into the UK net-zero target. This needs to complement international action to reduce aviation carbon.  The CCC letter, from its Chairman Lord Deben, says the aim should be for international aviation to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and this should be reflected in the Government’s forthcoming Aviation Strategy . “It means reducing actual emissions in the IAS sectors” and the CCC considers this “is likely to require some use of greenhouse gas removals (GGRs) to offset remaining emissions.” The limit of 30 MtCO2 per year, by UK aviation, requires demand growth of no more than 25%  compared to 2018. That would only be possible if there are significant improvements in aircraft efficiency, maybe 10% of low carbon fuels, and some increased flight charges.  But the UK is aiming at net zero by 2050. The CCC says aviation will have to pay to capture some CO2 from the atmosphere, and that only offsets that actually remove CO2 – rather than trying to stop more being emitted, would be acceptable. 

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Committee on Climate Change advice to government on aviation: flying will have to become more expensive

In a letter to Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport, Lord Deben, Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC – the government’s statutory advisor) warns that flying will have to become more expensive, especially for frequent flyers, to avoid climate chaos and keep the UK within its carbon targets. The letter also warns that going ahead with a Heathrow 3rd runway would all but rule out airport expansion in the rest of the country.  Demand for aviation will have to be reduced, in order that aviation carbon is kept under some degree of control, while the UK has a zero carbon target for 2050. Ways demand could be reduced might be increased APD, new levies on frequent flyers and changes to air taxation relative to rail and road. Aviation is likely to become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK by 2050. The CCC says the government “should assess its airport capacity strategy in the context of net zero. Specifically, investments will need to be demonstrated to make economic sense in a net-zero world…” In other words, does it make sense to build another Heathrow runway, when future demand for air travel will have to be limited. The CCC’s Chairman, Chris Stark said: “But it’s very important that the government is honest about aviation emissions.”

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Global airlines’ CO2 emissions rising up to 70% faster than predicted by ICAO

Worldwide CO2 emissions from commercial flights are rising up to 70% faster than predicted by the UN, according to analysis by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT).  They found that CO2 emitted by airlines increased by 32% from 2013 to 2018, and was about 918 million tonnes (for passengers + freight) in 2018. This rate of growth is higher even than the projections by ICAO. ICCT says: “The implied annual compound growth rate of emissions, 5.7%, is 70% higher than those used to develop ICAO’s projections that CO2 emissions from international aviation will triple under business as usual by 2050.”  The UK has particularly high aviation CO2 emissions, per capita – being responsible for 4% of global aviation CO2 emissions, behind only the US (24%) and China (13%), and the whole EU (18%). The only plan ICAO has to cut aviation carbon is an “aspirational goal” to make all growth in international flights after 2020 “carbon neutral” by buying carbon offsets from other sectors (effectively cancelling out carbon cuts made elsewhere). Small efficiency gains have been made, of 1 – 2% per year, but are dwarfed by industry growth rates of over 5% per year. Our Grant Shapps is waffling about electric planes …. which will NOT solve the problem.

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Jeremy Corbyn urged to block all airport expansion under radical plan to slash carbon emissions by 2030

Labour could end all airport expansion in the UK under radical plans drawn up by party activists to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2030. With Corbyn saying climate change one of his top priorities, his supporters hope to push their proposals to a vote at the Labour conference next week, to make them official policy.  There are at least 7 motions to the conference, submitted by local branches, asking for an end to more construction and growth of airports. Environmentally aware Labour members “specifically want to see radical policy on the climate and if you’re talking about net zero by 2030…one of the less radical things, to help decarbonise the economy, will be not building any more airports.”  Separately, Labour for a Green New Deal, a prominent grassroots campaign group, has claimed that “opposition to airport expansion should be as natural to the Labour Party…as support for new green jobs.”  Labour party members are being asked to boycott the many events at the conference sponsored by Heathrow and Gatwick airports (they always sponsor conference stuff, hoping to gain favour…).  The problem for Labour is the unions, Unite in particular, which have members working in the aviation sector..

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Ealing Council demands Heathrow pay up £190 million to offset the impact of a 3rd runway

In its response to the Heathrow consultation, Ealing Council has said it will do everything it can to oppose the expansion of Heathrow Airport – unless it is given £190 million for mitigation measures, investment and new transport links.  Ealing Council said the current plans would create unacceptable levels of noise and pollution for its residents. “The council is demanding a £190 million package [it was £150 million in October 2016] of mitigation and investment for the borough, should expansion go ahead.  This includes getting better insulation for home owners to combat noise and increasing the catchment area covered by the scheme.  The council also wants new investment to improve public transport, so more airport passengers and employees can travel to the airport by greener means, reducing air pollution locally.” Other demands included greater investment in skills and employment – and also a commitment to a total night time flight ban, except in emergencies.  The Council Leader said there has to be a balance  between economic benefits and the very real noise and environmental impacts on local people, and  “Despite some positive engagement, we haven’t really seen much movement on some of the concessions we’ve been seeking.

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Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) announce a major campaign to challenge Gatwick’s Master Plan

Under the banner Gatwick’s Big Enough community groups around Gatwick have joined forces with GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) to call Gatwick to account over their Master Plan growth proposals.  The airport plans to grow to be the size of Heathrow today, with an increase in flights in the next 10 years to 390,000 pa (1,050 or more per day), and passenger numbers to 70 million passengers per year (190,000 or more per day). By contrast the current numbers are around  283,000 flights in 2018, and 46 million passengers.  That growth will bring increased misery to thousands through noise, pollution and impacts on local infrastructure.  They also mean a massive increase in CO2 emissions caused by the additional flights estimated at an increase of almost 1 million tonnes CO2 (circa 37% increase) per annum by 2050. The new campaign group is already challenging Gatwick’s attempts to bypass full scrutiny on its main runway growth plans through use of the Planning Permitted Development processes. It has made a submission to the Planning Inspectorate for Gatwick’s use of its emergency runway to be fully used. It is also planning challenges to plans for a 3rd runway.

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Rival scheme, Heathrow Hub, estimate true costs of Heathrow runway could be £61 billion, by 2050 (not £14 bn)

The rival scheme, to try to build a 3rd Heathrow runway – Heathrow Hub – have put together figures indicating the final cost of Heathrow’s 3rd Runway Plan could be £61 billion by 2050.  That is in contrast to the £14 billion claimed by Heathrow itself and even the £32 billion assed by IAG.  Heathrow Hub say the cost of the initial phase, included in Heathrow’s current consultation, could be as much as £37.7 billion, when it is supposedly completed in 2026.  The figure of £14 billion is based on 2014 prices, 5 year out of date, and assumes a pared down scheme with no new terminal capacity. Heathrow’s current consultation shows a completely different scheme, which would cost far more.  There is no clarity on how Heathrow would bridge the M25 (12 lanes wide at that point) and what it would cost.  Over 5 years, there are now higher costs from inflation and higher land acquisition and relocation costs.  Heathrow Hub say Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps should announce a review of the project.  They want the CAA to make Heathrow provide proper figures on costs.  The CAA disclosed pre-planning application spending by the Airport has tripled to £2.9bn. The Hub’s scheme would, of course, also cost more than they estimate now …

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YouGov poll indicates about 67% of UK adults appreciate that amount of flying should be restricted

A YouGov poll of 2,000 adults in the UK found that about two-thirds of people in the UK think the amount people fly should be reined in to tackle climate change. The poll indicated about 28% said air travel should definitely be limited, with 38% said it should probably be restricted. Just 22% felt there was no need for limits, and 11% said they did not know. The poll was commissioned by the Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST), at Cardiff University, partly in the light of the publicity created by Heathrow Pause, in drawing attention to the nonsense of expanding Heathrow and increasing UK flying, when we are in a climate crisis.  The poll findings of 67% of people believing flying should be restricted is much higher than a few years ago, and signals a shift in social attitudes. This has happened because of more informed media coverage of climate issues, and more understanding that the climate is changing already. The polling also found that 48% of people had become more worried about climate change in the past year, up from around 25% in 2014. Whether people will actually cut the amount they fly remains to be seen – people prefer to opt for smaller changes …

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Complaint submitted to Advertising Standards Authority about misleading Ryanair emissions advert

The misleading advert by Ryanair

A complaint has been made to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about an advert Ryanair has placed in newspapers saying it is “Europe’s lowest fares, lowest emissions airline” on the grounds that it is systematically misleading about the airline’s carbon emissions. While that may be true in terms of carbon emissions per seat kilometre flown, it is certainly NOT true for the airline as a whole. Ryanair is in fact now the 10th largest carbon emitter in Europe, on an assessment of power stations, manufacturing plants and airlines. Its emissions were around 10 million tonnes CO2 in 2018, up 6.9% on 2017.  The complainant says the “unqualified statements” in the advert combine to make the advert “comprehensively misleading as to the impact of both past and future expansion of low-cost air travel on carbon emissions, an expansion which was, and is still, being led by Ryanair.” 

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Wokingham council poised to change stance to opposing Heathrow 3rd runway, as local Labour launches petition against it

Wokingham Council is poised to change its stance over a 3rd Heathrow runway – it had previously been in favour of it, but now the council leader realises the damage it would bring. It is utterly in conflict with the council having declared a climate emergency recently. “Wokingham Borough Council has declared a climate emergency. We only have 10 years to take drastic action. If we’re really serious about climate change, we must object.”Separately Wokingham’s Labour group leader has launched a petition calling on the council to ditch its support for Heathrow expansion as “it is bad for the environment and bad for the Thames Valley and we do not want it.” …“We are in a Climate Emergency – encouraging more flights will make it harder to win the fight against climate change….The expansion of Heathrow will concentrate even more economic growth in the Thames Valley and increase the demand for housing here.”  The council’s position has changed, because “things have moved on since five years ago.”…  “Few, if any, of our communities will escape noise and many will be affected seven days a week.”

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What will be the impact of the UK ambition of “Net Zero” on the Airports NPS?

Lawyers, BDB Pitmans, for whom airport planning is an area of work, have commented on the change by the UK to a net zero carbon target by 2050 – and its effect on the aviation sector. They say the 1990 baseline was 778 million tonnes of CO2. With the 80% cut target, until 27th June, the UK had to cut CO2 emissions to 155.6 million tonnes by 2050. It now has to be reduced to 0 tonnes. The government understands that: “Achieving net-zero GHG emissions for the UK will rely on a range of Speculative options that currently have very low levels of technology readiness, very high costs, and/or significant barriers to public acceptability.” One change that will be needed is for people to fly less. The legal challenges in March 2019 against the Airports NPS had grounds relating to carbon emissions, but these were dismissed, on the basis of developments like the Paris Agreement had not yet being translated into UK law. Now the Appeal Court will hear the legal challenges, and as the CO2 target has been changed, presumably the conclusions of the NPS are now vulnerable. The Sec of State for Transport will need to review the NPS, considering whether there has been a “significant change in any circumstances.”

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Plan B Earth skeleton argument for Heathrow legal Appeal in October – that Grayling’s designation of the NPS was unlawful

The legal challenge by Plan B Earth is one of the four that will be heard at the Appeal Court from the 17th October. They have published their skeleton argument, which says, in summary that on 27th June 2019, the UK carbon target was amended by statutory instrument to read “at least 100%” cut by 2050 (ie. net zero) rather than the previous target of an 80% cut.  Plan B say the “Secretary of State [Grayling] proceeded on the false premise that the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Government’s commitment to introducing a net zero carbon target in accordance with the Paris Agreement were “irrelevant” considerations for the purposes of s.5(8) of” the 2008 Climate Change Act.  And the Secretary of State “chose to ignore these developments and proceeded as if there had been no material developments in government policy relating to climate change since 2008 and as if no change were in contemplation.”  And  “The basis of the Appellant’s claim that the designation of the ANPS was unlawful, and that it should be quashed, is that the Secretary of State approach to these matters was fundamentally flawed.”

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London Assembly – wholly opposed to Heathrow expansion – urges people to respond, rejecting 3rd runway plans

The London Assembly is totally opposed to a 3rd Heathrow runway. They have set out clearly 5 key reasons why it should be opposed, and are asking Londoners to reject the plans. They point out that the Heathrow consultation is confusing, and very difficult indeed for anyone who is not an expert to fill in. The Assembly says: “We are gravely concerned that Heathrow is prioritising the interests of the airline industry and passengers over and above the wellbeing of Londoners, who are going to be the most affected by the expansion.”   The plans would mean unacceptable levels of noise, air pollution, carbon emissions and amounts of road traffic. The extra noise is likely to harm health and well-being of thousands of people. As the consultation is too hard to respond to, using the online or paper forms, the Assembly suggests that people send a short message to the Heathrow email address feedback@heathrowconsultation.com  The text they suggest – vary it however you wish – is “Heathrow expansion fundamentally goes against the UK’s commitment to cut carbon emissions and improve air quality in the capital.  It’s going to make air pollution worse, increase carbon emissions and increase noise, and we don’t support it. I stand with hundreds of others calling for it to be CANCELLED.”

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AEF explains why Gatwick expansion adds to UK’s aviation CO2 headache – at least 1 million tonnes more CO2 per year

If Gatwick was allowed to increase its number of flights and passengers, that would be a huge increase in its carbon emissions. Already the UK aviation sector is not on track to stay under even the outdated cap of 37.5MtCO2. That was when the UK was aiming for an 80% cut in carbon emissions, compared to 1990, by 2050. But now the UK has signed up to zero carbon  – ie. 100% cut – by 2050.  The corresponding carbon cap for aviation would then be more like below 30MtCO2 by 2050. As the ongoing growth, from incremental increases in flights and passengers from most UK airports, will take the UK aviation sector well over the 37.5MtCO2 limit, let alone the 30MtCO2 cap. So there is absolutely no room for a Heathrow 3rd runway, or the semi-new-runway at Gatwick – achieved by making use of its emergency runway for much of the time. The AEF has pointed out that Gatwick’s Masterplan is for 390,000 flights per annum by 2032/33, around 39% more than in 2018.  Gatwick carefully avoids giving any CO2 estimates in future, let alone to 2050. Extrapolating the carbon emissions from 2017 estimates by the DfT, it is likely that Gatwick’s carbon emissions would rise by about 1Mt CO2 per year, to 3.6MtCO2 (or more, if Gatwick has a larger % of long-haul flights in future) if it uses its emergency runway as a second runway.

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Heathrow gets £9M payout from DfT for HS2 work at Old Oak Common affecting Heathrow Express

In mid-July, before he left the job, Transport secretary Chris Grayling signed off on a £9M payout to be handed to Heathrow Airport to prepare for HS2.  The pre-emptive payment from the DfT to Heathrow is compensation for knocking down a rail depot at Old Oak Common where Heathrow Express trains are kept.  The £9M figure was reported in Heathrow Express’ annual accounts. It is understood that the sum will be paid irrespective of whether or not HS2 gets the go ahead, with the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson in charge. A DfT spokesperson said the compensation would be part of “a series of agreements to secure the future of the Heathrow Express service, while enabling the construction of a new HS2 station at Old Oak Common”.  For the £9 million, Heathrow Express “agreed to vacate its train care depot at Old Oak Common to make way for the development of HS2.” In the Lords, on 24th July (the day Boris became PM), Lib Dem Baroness Elizabeth Randerson asked the DfT if the £9 million was still being paid, and the then Transport Minister Baroness Vere replied that “Work continues on HS2 and that £9 million was part of that work.”

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Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, hints at scrapping Heathrow expansion and “taking a really close look” at whether it stacks up

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has hinted that the Government could scrap Heathrow expansion, in his first public utterances on the topic in his new job. He told Sky News that “there are questions about whether the whole plan stacks up” and that Heathrow are going to need to “make sure they bring in enough income to justify the billions of pounds spent on it.” Mr Shapps also mentioned the upcoming legal challenge appeals, starting on Thursday 17 October. He said “there are of course court cases to do with emissions, that sort of thing so what we’ve said is we’ll watch that process very carefully and in the meantime I’ll be having a really close look at whether figures stack up or whether building more capacity, another runway there, would add to the charges to such an extent that it doesn’t.” Rob Barnstone, from the No 3rd Runway Coalition said: “Whether it is Heathrow’s overconfidence of being able to deliver the necessary funds for this project or the catastrophic environmental impacts, it is becoming clearer than ever that a third runway won’t be able to be delivered on time or budget and certainly does not fit within the Government’s environmental commitments of net zero emissions by 2050.”

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Key facts about Heathrow 3rd runway: total EXTRA CO2 emissions would be about 183 MtCO2 between 2022 – 2050 (above staying with 2 runways)

Heathrow is attempting to make out that the carbon emissions to be caused by its 3rd runway would be insignificant. They would either not be counted in UK totals; or they would all be offset by airlines and so “vanish”. They also ignore all non-CO2 impacts. Or they would in some other miraculous ways be offset by various untested, unproven technologies.  These are the key facts people need to realise:  Heathrow’s own figures show a total of 173 MtCO2 MORE carbon emitted, over 2022-2050, with the 3rd runway than without building it. The emissions could reach 25MtCO2 per year from flights alone. The increased CO2 would be as much as 9MtCO2 per year more, in the peak year (2035) than with 2 runways. The total extra CO2 from more surface access transport would be 7MtCO2 over that time period. The extra CO2 from all the construction work would be 3.7MtCO2, to build it all. The total of all that would be 183MtCO2 MORE carbon produced in total (flights, surface access + construction) than if the runway was not built. The estimates may be on the low side, as Heathrow has factored in future carbon efficiencies. Heathrow has taken no account of the fact that we now have a net zero target for 2050. The CCC has now said the total cap for UK aviation CO2 should be no more than 31MtCO2. Not the earlier 37.5MtCO2 it had recommended earlier.

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4.4 billion air trips taken world wide in 2018 –  up 6.9% on 2017; number was 2.63 billion in 2010

IATA data show more Britons travelled abroad last year than any other nationality, when 126.2 million air trips were made by Brits – which is 8.6%, roughly one in 12, of all international air travellers. The UK was followed by the USA (111.5 million, or 7.6% of all passengers) and China (97 million, 6.6%). In total there were 4.4 billion air passenger journeys (that does not mean that number of people flew – many take multiple flights, and even in rich countries, many people do not fly at all, or not in any one year). The 4.4 billion is an increase of 6.9% compared to 2017. The number was 2.63 billion in 2010.  There were 1.674 billion in 2000. The load factor on average across airlines was only 82%.    IATA’s Director General, Alexandre de Juniac, does admit there is “an environmental cost that airlines are committed to reducing.” But any possible future cuts in aviation CO2 are tiny, dubious, and far ahead.  In 2018, Asia had  1.6 billion passengers, (37% of market share), which grew by 9.2% over 2017. Europe had 1.1 billion passengers ( 26.2% of market share), up 6.6% over 2017.

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FoI documents show Scottish airports would lose perhaps 220,000 passengers per year, if Heathrow got 3rd runway

Scottish airports could lose more than 220,000 passengers per year, if Heathrow got a 3rd runway.  The regions have been led to believe the runway would benefit them, in terms of links to Heathrow and more jobs. The reality is different. The Scottish Government had backed the runway plans, hoping Scotland would benefit. But the DfT’s own data – revealed in emails – shows they expect number of passengers using  Scottish airports would reduce, with the 3rd runway, as Heathrow would increasingly have a monopoly of lucrative long-haul routes.  There might be more domestic flights to Heathrow from Newcastle, cutting demand from Glasgow and Edinburgh airports. The Scottish government needs to consider their position on Heathrow very carefully. The figures on alleged jobs were based on very, very dodgy, out of date data, (assuming benefits of the runway to the UK over 60 years as £147 bn, when in reality they might at most be £3bn – or an actual cost) that cannot be believed. “Estimates of aviation emissions from an expanded Heathrow were redacted in the emails released.”

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Willie Walsh (IAG) warns again of excessive, out-of-control, unknown Heathrow 3rd runway costs

Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG, has always been against the very high costs of expanding Heathrow. He has again said he does not trust Heathrow to keep costs reasonable, and he is opposed to expansion – for which costs would escalate. He said Heathrow has “understated” the costs of expanding and the project is “out of control”, and there was “absolutely no way” Heathrow could build everything planned on budget. He thinks that while Heathrow continues to quote a figure of £14 billion for the investment required, the “true costs” would be over £32 billion. He believes building the 3rd runway and associated works alone will require £14 billion. And then a further £14.5 billion would be required to add terminal capacity and other infrastructure on the existing site. Walsh thinks just extending Terminal 5 could cost a further £3.5 billion. Heathrow now claim their costs even before building anything, are £3.3 billion for planning and preparation. Far higher than earlier estimates.  It is a risk that the runway would be under-utilised, as costs would have to be too high – to pay for the excessive spending – to tempt airlines to use it.  That would also make any net economic benefit to the UK very negative.

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The elephant in the newsroom – despite nice words on climate, the media promote high carbon travel and holidays

Brits fly a lot – even more than people in most other rich countries. The campaign group Flight Free UK has challenged the British media to confront the awkward reality, that they are complicit in supporting, promoting and benefiting from carbon-heavy travel promotion. The media likes to consider itself independent, and that its journalism speaks truth to power and holds it to account. But in reality, they get a lot of funding from companies that increase CO2 emissions.  Flight Free UK says it is time we and the media properly faced up to the toll that flying has on our planet and future generations. Why is flying still being promoted so widely across all the media, without restrictions or health warnings to accompany advertisements and travel features? Unfortunately for the economics of journalism, adverts for long distance travel and flights partly funds it. Too often, travel journalists have nice trips paid for,  by the companies they are promoting. The media have a big influence on the holiday decisions of millions. The carbon from flights can easily double an individual’s annual carbon footprint. Or worse. It is time the media stopped promoting high carbon travel, and started to act responsibly on climate. 

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HACAN East new major campaign against London City’s expansion plans, asking people to fill in postcard responses to the consultation

HACAN East has launched a major campaign against London City’s expansion plans. It is encouraging people to fill in postcards opposing the expansion plans, and send them in to Freepost LCY MASTER PLAN CONSULTATION. People can also download and display posters. The postcards call on residents to back the existing 24 hour weekend ban on aircraft using London City.  HACAN East wants the airport drop its proposals to end the 24 hour break as well as its plans to almost double flight numbers from today’s levels and to increase flights in the early morning and late evening. The postcards say:

I SUPPORT the 24 hour London City Airport weekend flight ban.

I DO NOT want up to 40,00 more flights. 

I DO NOT want more early morning or late evening flights.

I DO NOT want more climate damaging airport expansion.

Overall, I DO NOT support the plans in the draft master plan.

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Heathrow plans to increase 3rd runway costs – to £2.9 bn – before approval, hoping it will be too costly to scrap its plans

Heathrow plans to triple the amount it spends on its third runway proposal, to £2.9bn – well before getting final approval. This either means air passengers using Heathrow would be charged more (something the industry and the government do not want), or else the taxpayer will be charged. Even if the runway never goes ahead.  The CAA has a consultation about the costs and how Heathrow has been speeding up the process, spending ever more money. (The legal challenges are now going to appeal in October, but Heathrow is pressing ahead with its DCO consultations). Especially on carbon emissions, air pollution and noise grounds, it is entirely possible the runway will be blocked and the DCO will not be granted.  The CAA says it has asked Heathrow “to consider different options for this spending and the implications of this spending for the overall programme timetable and the interests of consumers.” [Not to mention the taxpayer, who may end up paying …] Heathrow is increasing the amount of its “Category B” costs and “early Category C” costs. They want to increase the amount spent already to be so large, that it effectively cannot be cancelled. Detailed costs still have to be outlined, but Heathrow is expected to submit its initial business plan to the CAA for review towards the end of this year.

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Caroline Russell: Action is needed on aircraft noise

Caroline writes in a blog that in parts of London, people are now living with severe levels of noise disruption. This is not acceptable, and urgent, decisive action is needed across the board to alleviate it. For some, the onslaught from Heathrow planes is made worse by the addition of London City planes using narrow, concentrated routes. The noise has significant health impacts for many. A report by the London Assembly’s Environment Committee, which Caroline chairs, concluded that the Government and CAA should regulate noise disturbance more stringently. They should use lower thresholds for noise disturbance (taking into account WHO guidelines and the need for residents to keep windows open) and mapping the combined effect of all London’s airports, especially Heathrow and City.  The WHO guidance is that 45dB is the threshold for health impacts, but the UK government persists with 54dB as the ‘disturbance’ threshold. Also that flight paths should be rotated, to give relief to those under concentrated flight paths – and flight paths should be designed to minimise noise impacts, including avoiding overlapping flight paths. Increasing exposure to aircraft noise is unacceptable, and must be challenged

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All the claimants, whose challenges against the DfT on Heathrow expansion were rejected, now given leave to appeal

The Court of Appeal has granted the claimants against the Government’s plans to expand Heathrow permission to appeal their claims in a hearing beginning on 21 October 2019. The Government had argued permission should be refused.  Lord Justice Lindblom stated: “The importance of the issues raised in these and related proceedings is obvious.”  Four Councils (Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith & Fulham, Windsor & Maidenhead) with Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Plan B Earth and the Mayor London sought the appeal, after judges at the High Court ruled against the legal challenges  on 1st May.  Rob Barnstone, of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, commented: “Boris Johnson knows that Heathrow expansion cannot meet environmental targets, including on noise and air pollution. Mr Johnson has indicated he will be following the legal and planning processes very carefully. Then at the appropriate time, the project can be cancelled. We don’t expect any gimmicks but remain confident that Mr Johnson will stop this disastrous project, albeit at the correct time in the process. The decision by the Court of Appeal today may make that time a little sooner than previously thought.” Heathrow Hub has also been given permission to appeal.

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Environmental Audit Cttee inquiry into environmental damage of tourism (in UK and by Brits abroad)

Holidaymakers’ responsibility for foul beaches, overcrowding, traffic, plane carbon emissions, harm done by cruises and other environmental impacts will come under parliamentary scrutiny. The Commons Environmental Audit Committee (chaired by the remarkable Mary Creagh) has an inquiry to address problems caused by tourism, including aviation emissions, pollution, habitat damage etc in UK and abroad. Deadline for comments 13th September.  It will look at whether the UK government should play a greater role in offsetting the waste and damage caused by the tens of millions of Britons who go on holiday overseas each year – and of the impact on domestic tourism in the UK.  The Committee says global tourism is responsible for 5% of greenhouse gas emissions. People do not often consider the environmental, and climate, impacts of their holidays. “While there are some sustainable practices, we want to look closely at the government’s actions to ensure the economic, social and environmental impacts of tourism are minimised.” Due to ever cheaper flights, and zero tax on aviation fuel, the holiday business is one of the world’s fastest-growing industries and accounts for more than 10% of global GDP. Many countries have had to take strict measure to prevent serious damage done by excessive tourism, eg in Philippines, or Venice or Thailand.  Or US hiking trails.

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Gatwick plans to use emergency runway as 2nd runway, to increase passengers by 50% by 2030

Gatwick has published its Final Master Plan which confirms its plans to use its emergency runway as a second runway, by widening and re-aligning it.  Gatwick says it is not considering building another runway to the south of the existing main runway, but wants to keep that land “safeguarded” for up to 25 years, in case it wants another (3rd) runway in due course. It hopes to have the emergency runway brought into use for departures by the mid-2020s. They will start to prepare a planning application for this, which will have to go through the Development Consent Order (DCO) process. Local group GACC commented that Gatwick’s new owners, the Vinci Group, have shown immediate disregard for their local community neighbours. The plans will damage and blight the lives of thousands of residents surrounding the airport, due to the noise and severe effects on a local infrastructure that is already overburdened. The extra flights, including those at night, will have serious impacts on those further away living under flight paths. The proposals to grow the airport’s capacity by between 20% and 50% over the next 10 – 12 years involve not only the 2nd runway, but also use of new technology on the main runway.  This will hugely increase the airport’s carbon emissions.

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Letter by Gatwick area MPs opposing Gatwick 2nd runway expansion plans – to increase passengers by 50% and flights by 36%

MP’s from the Gatwick Co-ordination Group have expressed concerns about the rapid growth plans for Gatwick, in their “master plan”.  The MPs say more people are negatively impacted by Gatwick’s noise operations than 10 years ago, both close to the airport and many miles away under flightpaths, creating health issues and congestion locally through inadequate infrastructure. They say: “Over the past few years Gatwick Airport has continually under invested in the local amenities and social infrastructure that would be required to support a project of this size and scale. We cannot support expansion of the airport without a comprehensive investment in the local area which would ease pressure on the over-stretched road and rail systems serving the airport.  At a time of increasing concern about the environmental impact of global aviation growth, the proposed expansion plans would see a marked increase in carbon emissions, with clearer environmental consequences for us all. … The safeguarding of land for a new full runway is a clear indication that Gatwick has future plans to build a 3rd runway, as well as converting the current standby runway into a second runway.”

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Government sleep guidance advises at least 7 hours’ sleep a night – while it allows plane noise that prevents this

Official guidance on how many hours people should sleep each night is set to be introduced by government, to improve public health. They say people should regularly get 7 – 9 hours sleep per night, most nights. If people often sleep for less than 7 hours, there are numerous health impacts (eg, diabetes, dementia risk, depression, obesity, cardiovascular disease, other mental illness).  Making up sleep on some nights, after not getting enough on others, is not as good as enough sleep most of the time. Ensuring people get enough sleep is important and could save the NHS money, by being “the tide that rises all other health boats.”  Lack of sleep can have a “negative impact” on recovery from illness and surgery.  The need for over 7 hours of sleep per night for adults (younger people need even more sleep) is particularly relevant in the context of proposals to expand airports.  The UK government policies and targets on noise at night are inadequate and out of date, and new targets must be incorporated into national policies. The cost and long-term consequences of damage to the health of millions due to government inaction will be considerable. The Department of Health should take a stronger lead on this.

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Used cooking oil imports for use as biodiesel may, in fact, fuel palm oil deforestation (so not an aviation get-out-of-jail-free card…)

It had been assumed and hoped that used cooking oil (UCO) might be a genuinely low carbon fuel, causing a lot less environmental damage that other liquid fuels. Because UCO is classed as a waste product within the EU, UK fuel producers are given double carbon credits for using it in their fuels. This has sparked a boom in demand for used cooking oil that is so great it is being met in part with imports from Asia.  A new NNFCC study found that in fact rising demand is increasing deforestation, for more palm oil plantations. The price they can get selling used cooking oil to makers of biodiesel is far higher than the price of new palm oil – so they pocket the difference. This provides the perverse incentive to make money by selling more used oil, just replacing it with (cheap) palm oil. Between 2011 and 2016 there was a 360% increase in use of used cooking oil as the basis for biodiesel. The available evidence indicates that palm oil imports into China are increasing, in line with their increasing exports of used cooking oils. The NNFCC authors want the government to review the practice and perhaps end the EU’s double credit for imported oil. 

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Committee on Climate Change report shows up government failure to do anything to tackle UK aviation carbon emissions

The latest annual Committee on Climate Change (CCC) progress report, submitted to parliament and government, says the UK is not making much progress on cutting CO2 and the time to strengthen climate policy is “now”. The UK government only has 12-18 months left to raise its game on climate policy, or not risk “embarrassment” as the likely host of the COP26 UN summit late next year, but risk failing to get anywhere near “net-zero” before 2050. On aviation, there has been no progress on a limit for aviation emissions in line with carbon budgets. The CCC’s chief executive, Chris Stark, says the government “has not set out the implications of limiting emissions for aviation demand”. Nor has it formally included those emissions within the UK’s carbon budgets, despite stating its intention to do so.  This was a missed opportunity that should be remedied within the year. The CCC will write to the (new?) secretary of state for transport to set out the scale of the net-zero challenge for international aviation and shipping.  Just having a net-zero target “will not magically fix this problem” – it needs positive and effective action, from right now. Not just nice words.

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Stanwell Moor residents demand better compensation from Heathrow over negative expansion impacts

Heathrow has rejected pleas from Stanwell Moor residents to be included in a compensation package designed for those who will experience more noise. The residents now appreciate that the negative impact will be far greater than they were previously led to believe, from effects of more noise, pollution, HGV traffic, more car parking, more taxis etc. A campaign has been launched to ask for better compensation, with those involved labelling Heathrow’s current offer as “derisory compensation and precious little else”.  Heathrow has not included the area in its Wider Property Offer Zone (WPOZ) which would make them eligible for compensation. On 7th July there was a protest march, and public meetings have been held. Stanwell Moor Residents’ Association (SMRA) said villagers feel they have been “kept in the dark” about the plans; in their talks with Heathrow till now, they had been led to believe they would receive a “world-class compensation package befitting the impact”. The residents “call upon the future Prime Minister (whoever that may be) and the new Secretary of State for Transport, to uphold and safeguard the interests of Stanwell Moor residents.”

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Local residents launch new “HEATHROW’S PREFERRED DISASTERPLAN” campaign

The group, Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE), has launched a new campaign entitled “Heathrow’s Preferred Disasterplan”. The title of the campaign is a reference to the current Heathrow consultation on its “Preferred Masterplan” for expansion. Residents and campaigners against a third runway are strongly supported by Hillingdon Council, and  John McDonnell MP. The impacts of building a 3rd runway would be horrendous for those in areas facing compulsory purchase, or living close to the airport.  SHE has sent a booklet to all those living nearest to the airport. It is called “How a Third Runway Will Affect You and Your Family”, and details some of the main impacts the expansion proposals would have in West Drayton, Hayes and the Heathrow Villages, without the gloss and spin of Heathrow consultation documents. SHE has organised 3 public meetings locally, so residents can learn more about traffic congestion, noise, pollution, the plan to relocate Harmondsworth Primary school to the Stockley by-pass.  SHE chair, Jackie Clark said: “The current Heathrow consultation is a Disasterplan for our area. It is left to us to provide the true scale of Heathrow’s monumental expansion proposals …without Heathrow’s usual gloss and spin. Expansion is far from certain and the key message to residents is that it is can be stopped.”

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Heathrow’s ‘forgotten people’ – Those who rent stand to lose the most if the 3rd runway gets built

Many who live in the villages around Heathrow will be forced to sell their homes and businesses and relocate away from the lives they have known, if the 3rd runway is built. People who currently rent homes and businesses, rather than own them, face a particularly  uncertain future. They will get far less compensation than those who own their own property.  Homeowners are set to receive 125% of the unaffected market price for their property, along with the coverage of legal bills and stamp duty on a new home. Those who rent would receive only statutory compensation, set at £6,300 per household, though Heathrow will add reimbursement of reasonable legal fees, removal and other disturbance costs. Those who lease their business property face harsh criteria to qualify for enhanced compensation – including the length of their lease, and their location. Heathrow estimates 300 commercial properties will need to be acquired, for its expansion plans – plus about  760 homes in their Compulsory Purchase Zone (CPZ).  People are warned, by the local campaign, SHE, not to sell up until they knew whether expansion plans would go ahead. That happened in 2008 in Sipson, last time around – and it had left those who remained in a “ghost town” that was “devoid of community” and packed with short term rentals. Often those who rent do so because they could not afford to buy.

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Study highlights the non-CO2 climate warming impact of aircraft contrails, that is currently ignored by governments

The issue of how much global warming is caused by the contrails from aircraft is complicated, and there is no firm agreement about how it should be added to the climate impact of aviation – in addition to the CO2 itself.  Contrails are ice crystals that form high altitudes, in certain conditions, around sooty particles from burnt fuel – they then often become large areas of cirrus cloud, that can last for hours – trapping heat, (like a blanket) which does not radiate back out into space. A new study sheds more light on this issue, and says the contrails are having a bigger impact on global warming than usually recognised. While the CO2 from flights will stay in the atmosphere for decades or centuries, the impact of the increased cloud cover from contrails is quite short term. With the huge expansion of the aviation industry, that it is hoping for in future decades, this will only get worse. Its effects might triple by 2050. That is the year in which Britain is committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions, though that includes only CO2 from domestic but not international flights. The UK currently takes NO account of the impact of contrails, which conveniently makes the overall climate breakdown impact of aviation appear smaller than it is, in reality. 

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Stansted planning application going back to the Uttlesford Planning Committee – SSE says it’s the right decision, legally, procedurally and democratically

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has welcomed the decision by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) on Friday 28 June to refer the 2018 Stansted Airport planning application – to increase passengers from 35m to 43 mppa – back to the Planning Committee for further consideration. Local campaign SSE (Stop Stansted Expansion) said this is vital due to all the outstanding issues.  The proposal to refer the application back to the Planning Committee was tabled by 2 councillors from the Residents for Uttlesford (‘R4U’) party which took control of the Council in May.  R4U Leader John Lodge also supported the proposal as did the leader of the Liberal Democrats.  The proposal to re-consider the application received overwhelming cross-party support with 31 councillors voting in favour, only one against and one abstention. There was loud applause from the packed public gallery when the result of the vote was announced in the Council chamber.  Many of those present had signed the residents’ petition calling for the application to be referred back to the Planning Committee for further consideration – signed by 1,700 people. The application was initially approved, (only by the Chairman’s casting vote) in a very unsatisfactory and flawed decision, in October 2018

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Over £500,000 needed to properly soundproof Megan and Harry’s house – not an option of ordinary people suffering the Heathrow din

The bill to renovate Harry and Meghan’s home has been hugely increased by their wish to have the very best, most effective soundproofing – to block out the noise of planes using Heathrow. Their house, Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, is about 5 miles from Heathrow, under a main flight path. Experts claim specialist insulation work could have cost between £500,000 and £1 million. This money comes from the Sovereign Grant, valued at £82.2 million this year and is profits from the Queen’s property portfolio (the Crown Estate), which are paid to the Government.  25% of these profits are paid to the monarchy to fund the upkeep of its property, travel, security and staff. While the Sovereign Grant isn’t taxpayer money, it is considered to be public funds. The work done on Frogmore Cottage includes extra layers above the ceilings, plus on about 12,000 sq ft of external walls. Also all exterior doors would need to be soundproofed and 68 windows upgraded to triple-glazing, at up to £1,000 each. Then there would be a new air-conditioning system, as the house would be so sealed up. Ordinary people living over 3 miles from Heathrow have to pay for all the sound insulation work themselves. Those nearer get basic payment only.

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RESIDENTS DISMAYED BY LONDON CITY AIRPORT EXPANSION PLANS TO DOUBLE FLIGHT NUMBERS

London City’s Master Plan has been released, for consultation, and it is very bad news for local residents who suffer from the noise of its planes.  It is proposing to double the number of flights by 2035; to end the break when currently there are no flights between 12:30pm on Saturday and 12.30pm on Sunday; and to bring in more planes in the early morning and late evening. Residents are dismayed by the London City expansion revealed in its Master Plan published today.  The airport wants to lift the current cap of 111,000 flights allowed each year to 137,000 by 2030 and to 151,000 by 2035. Last year there were just over 75,000 flights. John Stewart, chair of HACAN East, which gives a voice to residents under the airport’s flight paths, said, “For all its green talk, this plan would be disastrous for residents.  Flight numbers could double from today’s levels.” Increasingly the airport caters for leisure passengers, not business. The consultation ends on 20th September.  The airport would need to go to a Planning Inquiry to get permission for any proposals it intends to take forward, after applying to Newham Council for its plans. Newham borough has pledged to make the borough “carbon neutral by 2030 and carbon zero by 2050”.  The airport will not be helping with that.

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Research shows ultrafine particles from aircraft in the vicinity of Schiphol Airport negatively affect health

A thorough study of 191 primary school children who live near Schiphol Airport, in the Netherlands, shows that  high concentrations of ultra-fine particles from aircraft can affect health seriously. The research showed that when the wind blows in the ‘wrong’ direction children with respiratory complaints suffer more and use more medication. Complaints include shortness of breath and wheezing. These are the conclusions of new research by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), in collaboration with Utrecht University and the Academic Medical Centre (AMC). There were 3 sub-studies: a study of 191 primary school children in residential areas near Schiphol, a study of 21 healthy adults immediately adjacent to Schiphol, and a laboratory study with lung cells. Such extensive research on ultrafine particles and health has never been carried out around airports before. The findings should alarm everybody responsible for the tremendous worldwide growth of aviation.  There are no indications that the health effects of air traffic are different from those of road traffic. The study is part of a long-term study of the RIVM.  In 2020 and 2021 they will research the effects of long-term exposure to ultra-fine particles from air traffic.

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Research shows planned growth of Heathrow and other airports ‘will stop UK hitting climate change targets’

The planned growth of Heathrow and other airports is likely to stop the UK hitting its 2050 net-zero climate goals, researchers have warned. UK airports are set to increase capacity by  some 59% by 2050 – that does not fit with the government-backed carbon target. It’s more than double the increase accounted for in a report outlining the net-zero target by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), according to researchers (Dr Declan Finney from Leeds University and Dr Giulio Mattioli from the Technical University of Dortmund). Heathrow has now published its consultation, aiming to increase its number of flights by about 50% with a 3rd runway.  Even Heathrow expansion itself could breach the carbon limit there should be for aviation, but all the other airports plan expansion too (Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Bristol etc).  “These airport expansion projects need to be urgently reconsidered if the government is to follow the carbon reduction plan set out by the CCC report.”  The CCC has accounted for some growth in aviation, but said it cannot be “unfettered”. The researchers pointed out that adding runway capacity is not just a response to higher demand – it would make flying easier and cheaper – so increasing the numbers of air passengers. The opposite to what is needed, to cut aviation CO2. 

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“Pledge to Fly Less” campaign launched at the House of Commons – asking people to reduce their flying

Campaigners from the Gatwick group, CAGNE (Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions) are launching a new campaign, at the House of Commons to encourage people to “Fly Less”. This is part of the national climate change MP lobby day  #thetimeisnow at which thousands of people will be talking to their MPs about climate breakdown, and the role the UK should be playing. “Pledge to fly less” has a website www.pledgetoflyless.co.uk  where anyone, individuals, groups, businesses, can sign up to this campaign and “pledge to fly less”.  A running total will show how many have signed and the website goes live on the 26th. The campaign says:  “In an ideal world we would all stop flying until aviation truly found a way not to be such a major threat to our planet, but as a start we are asking residents and businesses to think before they fly; pledge to fly less to reduce their own carbon footprint as we must …” Sally Pavey, Chair of CAGNE said it is about what future generations will have to deal in terms of climate breakdown. We need to concept of “flying shame” that originated in Sweden, to catch on in the UK. There is also the Flight Free UK campaign, which is asking people to cut down on flying and pledge not to fly in 2020, and is associated with the new “Pledge to fly less campaign.

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Research shows planned growth of Heathrow and other airports ‘will stop UK hitting climate change targets’

The planned growth of Heathrow and other airports is likely to stop the UK hitting its 2050 net-zero climate goals, researchers have warned. UK airports are set to increase capacity by  some 59% by 2050 – that does not fit with the government-backed carbon target. It’s more than double the increase accounted for in a report outlining the net-zero target by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), according to researchers (Dr Declan Finney from Leeds University and Dr Giulio Mattioli from the Technical University of Dortmund). Heathrow has now published its consultation, aiming to increase its number of flights by about 50% with a 3rd runway.  Even Heathrow expansion itself could breach the carbon limit there should be for aviation, but all the other airports plan expansion too (Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Bristol etc).  “These airport expansion projects need to be urgently reconsidered if the government is to follow the carbon reduction plan set out by the CCC report.”  The CCC has accounted for some growth in aviation, but said it cannot be “unfettered”. The researchers pointed out that adding runway capacity is not just a response to higher demand – it would make flying easier and cheaper – so increasing the numbers of air passengers. The opposite to what is needed, to cut aviation CO2. 

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Areas like Chiswick: Residents affected ‘will find out too late’ about new Heathrow noise only after final consent

The current Heathrow consultation on its plans for a 3rd runway does not give details of flight paths. Conveniently (for Heathrow) the information on those will only come after about 2023, well after (Heathrow hopes) it will have got planning consent for its scheme.  Wickedly, that means people do not know now, and will not for several years, whether they are due to have a narrow, concentrated route above them, or nearby. That will only become obvious too late for them to do anything about it.  It could mean a noisy plane, below – say – 4,000 feet – over head many times per minute. Hour after hour – most of the day. Day after day – most days. Local group Chiswick Against The Third Runway (CHATR) has said it is “unacceptable” that the details of the proposed new flight paths are not part of the Heathrow consultation.  “The scale of environmental degradation and destruction is monumental.” The absence of flight path information – which for many people is THE most important aspect of the expansion – is “clearly unacceptable. We believe this is fundamentally dishonest, since the hundreds of thousands of people affected will not discover until after planning consent.  When it is too late”.  

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Leo Murray: Why a third runway at Heathrow is a litmus test for environmental breakdown

If Heathrow’s 3rd runway plan goes ahead, it will be a sure sign that the UK is incapable of effectively responding to the climate crisis. “Common sense might suggest that massive expansion at the UK’s single largest source of carbon emissions cannot possibly be consistent with plans to eradicate Britain’s net contribution to climate change. But the consultation documents assure us that there will be no increase in carbon emissions from the airport’s operations after 2022 – although there will be a 50% increase in flights.” …  On how the emissions are to be dealt with by offsetting: “Offsetting is problematic in principle – it actively defers structural change in high carbon sectors. It’s also demonstrably ineffective in practice.”  Less than 15% of offsets under the UN’s CDM were found to have actually reduced emissions … which is why the CCC explicitly advised the Government against using offsets to meet the UK’s Net Zero target.” Due to devious policy manipulations, it will not be possible to challenge planning permission for the new runway on climate change grounds – they will not be considered a legitimate complaint. “Our collective ability to reflect on the wisdom of this project is a litmus test of our ability to rise to the epic challenge of environmental breakdown.”

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Heathrow claims there will be NO NET INCREASE IN CO2 EMISSIONS, with 50% more flights….

The expansion of Heathrow, with a 3rd runway, would – logically and in the absence of any real means of reducing the carbon emissions per plane in any significant way – be likely to increase the CO2 from flights by something like 40%. But the consultation by Heathrow, published on 18th June, gives NO figures for the amount of extra carbon that would be emitted by the extra planes. They say the current amount of carbon emitted by flights, the airport, surface access is about 20.83 million tonnes of CO2 per year. But they consider the extra fights not to add any carbon at all (except domestic flights) because all will be offset using the UN CORSIA scheme. So it is entirely cancelled out and ignored. Heathrow say: “Current baseline GHG emissions have been estimated at 20.8 million tonnes of CO2e (MtCO2e). Air transport accounts for over 95% of Heathrow’s GHG emissions followed by surface access transport at 3%.” And “”Heathrow’s carbon neutral growth aspiration means that growth in CO2 emissions from additional flights after expansion would be offset through carbon credits, resulting in no net growth in emissions. ” Caroline Lucas MP commented: “Heathrow is taking economy with truth to new levels`’ 

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Heathrow consultation starts – trying to cover up the devastating impacts the 3rd runway would have, in so many ways…

The main Heathrow consultation – before the DCO consultation – on its proposed 3rd runway has opened. It closes on 13th September. It is a massive consultation, with dozens and dozens of long documents – making it impossible, in reality, for a layperson to read.  Below are links to the key documents. Heathrow says it is proposing “tough new measures to reduce emissions”. It proposes a slight increase in the amount of time when scheduled flights are not allowed at night – just 6.5 hours (that does NOT include planes that take off late….) so little change there. This is a statutory consultation (the earlier ones were not) and Heathrow says it “will inform the airport’s Development Consent Order (DCO) application, which is expected to be submitted next year.”  There will be 43 consultation events to be held during the 12-week consultation period. Heathrow says its “expansion will be privately financed and costs will not fall on the taxpayer.” It will be interesting to see how they pay for the work to bridge the M25, paying for it all themselves. There is no information on flight paths, as those will not be decided upon until perhaps 2023. They use only indicative flight paths. There expected to be more flights, even before the runway is built, by 2022.

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Extinction Rebellion delays protest at Heathrow – disrupting the airport likely to only create opposition to the campaign

Climate activism group Extinction Rebellion has postponed until later this year a plan to shut down Heathrow, using drones. It had said, on 1st June, that it had plans to cause a lot of disruption during June and July, to highlight the problem the UK has with the CO2 emissions from aviation – and the huge increase a 3rd runway would generate. There had never been any risk of lives being endangered, as drones would not have been flown near planes. XR had consulted widely among supporters, who feared a furore over safety concerns would eclipse Extinction Rebellion’s broader message over the need to take radical action to tackle the climate crisis. It could end up with overall very negative publicity, and hinder the message getting out effectively to a wider audience.  XR says any protests would take place within an exclusion zone in a 5km radius around the airport, avoiding flight paths, and the notice period for any drone action would be at least two months.  The intention is to push for the systemic change needed to cut Britain’s emissions as quickly as possible, by causing economic disruption – but trying to minimise disruption to passengers.

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Heathrow plans its 3rd runway to bridge the M25 in 3 sections – one runway and two separate taxiways

The Times has published images from Heathrow, showing their plans for expansion (consultation due to start of 18th) including what they do to get the runway over the 12 lane M25 (the busiest section of motorway in the UK, and probably in Europe). Heathrow has only ever said it would be just over £1 billion for the work, though it would cost much more. The plan appears to be for the M25 to be lowered a bit, into a tunnel. There would be two separate taxiways over the motorway, with the planes probably visible to drivers travelling below. Also a wider section on which would be the runway itself. Distracting for drivers?  Heathrow claims having two openings in the tunnel between the taxiways and runway would “improve stability, ventilation and visibility on the road.”  Might it also be cheaper?  The Times says: “Plans to cross the M25 have been revised after talks with Highways England, which had raised concerns about the risk of damage to the tunnel by landing aircraft. It was also feared that drivers may be distracted by planes overhead.”  Nowhere else in the world is a road a busy as the M25 crossed by a runway or taxiways.  Heathrow will seek to soften the impact of expansion by spreading the work over as long as 30 years – easier to pay for.

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UN Environment article critical of carbon offsetting taken down, then republished – but criticism watered down

“UN Environment” published, then retracted, an article criticising the use of carbon credits to make up for carbon-emitting activities. It published an unusually stark critique of carbon offsetting on 10th June (been archived); on 11th the article was taken down, following queries by Climate Home News.  In the original article a climate specialist at the UN organisation warned against considering carbon offsets as “our get-out-jail-free card”. He said: “The era of carbon offsets is drawing to a close. Buying carbon credits in exchange for a clean conscience while you carry on flying, buying diesel cars and powering your home with fossil fuels is no longer acceptable or widely accepted.”  Asked about this he said it was a web story not an official position paper, and that UN Environment does see offsets as an intermediate solution. The revised article on the 12th removed the comment above, saying instead that buying carbon credits is “being challenged by people concerned about climate change.” The paragraph in the earlier version saying: “Carbon credits are increasingly coming under fire for essentially allowing some to continue on their polluting ways while the rest of us are left scrambling to contain the climate crisis” was removed in the later version. Carbon offsets are the way the aviation sector intends to carry on increasing its carbon emissions. The earlier article showed how inadequate that would be.

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Theresa May commits to net zero UK carbon emissions by 2050 – but aviation not properly included in that

Theresa May has sought to cement some legacy in the weeks before she steps down as prime minister by enshrining in law a commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, making Britain the first major economy to do so. This is an increase from the current target of an 80% cut on the 1990 level, by 2050.  However, it is a far cry from a net zero target by 2025, that Extinction Rebellion has called for. The change is in an amendment to the Climate Change Act (2008) that was laid in parliament today.   The wording just makes the change from 80% to 100%.  This does make the UK the first member of the G7 nations to legislate for net zero emissions. It is a step in the right direction. However, it is a NET target, not a gross one, so it will depend on buying carbon offsets (often ineffective) from other countries (usually poorer countries), rather than the UK actually cutting CO2 emissions that much. It excludes the embodied carbon in imports. AND it does not properly include international aviation and shipping.  The government just says: “For now, therefore, we will continue to leave headroom for emissions from international aviation and shipping in carbon budgets…”   Is expanding UK aviation compatible with that?

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Aviation Strategy Green Paper: AirportWatch position on aviation carbon emissions

The government consultation on its Aviation Strategy Green Paper ends on 20th June. For those wanting to respond, there is some guidance from AirportWatch on carbon emissions. This says the Aviation Strategy must take into account the likely implications of a shift to higher climate ambition for the UK’s aviation plan than the current Committee on Climate Change guidance, which is only approximately in line with an 80% cut in UK carbon emissions, from their 2005 level, by 2050. Due to the Paris Agreement and the UK aspiration to be carbon neutral by 2050 (the CCC guidance in May) the target of UK aviation being allowed to emit 37.5MtCO2 by 2050 is far too high. Aviation growth as envisaged in the Green Paper cannot in this context be justified.  The Government should accept the CCC recommendation that international aviation (and shipping) emissions should be part of Net Zero target, and formally included in the UK carbon budget. Aviation must make a fair contribution to reductions in actual UK CO2 emissions (without offsets), first by capping aviation emissions at their existing level and then reducing them along an established emissions reduction pathway. See further details …

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ICCAN consultation on its Corporate Strategy – public welcome to respond – deadline 16th June

The Airports Commission suggested, back in 2015, that there should be an independent body looking into aircraft noise issues – largely to help reduce public opposition to the massive increase in noise that would be generated by a Heathrow 3rd runway. The ICCAN (Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise) was finally set up earlier this year, with a chairman (Rob Light) and three commissioners (Colin Noble, Howard Simmons and Simon Henley). It has been visiting a lot of airports, and also community groups. It plans to take two years to make its recommendations, and it will then decide if it needs to have some statutory powers – it currently has no powers to get the industry to do anything. ICCAN says: “Our two-year aim – To improve public confidence and trust in the management of aviation noise, by building our expertise, credibility and profile across the UK.”  There is currently a consultation on ICCAN’s corporate strategy, which the public are requested to fill in.  No technical expertise is needed – and the views of ordinary people, to whom plane noise is of interest or concern, are solicited. Deadline 16th June.

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IATA – aviation CO2 emissions in 2018 approaching 1 billion tonnes

IATA has produced its annual report, with information about how the airline industry had done in the past two years, and how they think it will do in the coming year. Among many other details, it has the growth rates in RPK (Revenue Passenger Kilometres – the number of paying passengers flying a kilometre) for each region. Growth in RPK for 2017 was between about 7 – 10% for most regions; about 5 – 9% for 2018; and expected growth in 2019 is a little lower, about 3 – 6%.  The amount of CO2 emitted by the airline sector was 860 million tonnes in 2017; 905 million tonnes in 2018; and expected to be 927 million tonnes in 2019. In fact, the AEF comments that in 2018, global aviation emissions – including an estimate for other airline and military emissions, based on EIA data, takes the total above 1,000 million tonnes of CO2 (ie. a billion). The fuel efficiency has not changed much. It was 23 litres of fuel per 100 atk in 2017; 22.8 in 2019; and it is expected to be 22.4 in 2019.  As an investment, IATA says: “Airlines continue to create value for investors, but only just … This year we forecast the industry to generate a return on invested capital (ROIC) of 7.4%, which is only marginally above the cost of capital.”  And “consumers will spend 1% of world GDP on air transport in 2019.”

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Airlines increasingly worried about polluter stigma as “flygskam” -“flight shame” – movement grows

A Swedish-born anti-flying movement is creating a new vocabulary, from “flygskam” which translates as “flight shame” to “tågskryt,” or “train brag.”  Many Swedes have stopped flying. There are similar movements in some other European countries.  An activist in this movement, Susanna Elfors in Stockholm says membership on her Facebook group Tagsemester, or “Train Holiday,” has reached some 90,000 members – up from around 3,000 around the end of 2017.  She said: “Before, it was rather taboo to discuss train travel due to climate concerns. Now it’s possible to talk about this on a lunch break … and everybody understands.” People who do not fly are no longer seen as so odd. It is not seen as such a peculiar sacrifice. But the “Flygskam” movement is worrying the aviation industry. At the ATA conference in Seoul, the head of IATA said:  “Unchallenged, this sentiment will grow and spread.”  That would seriously damage profits. It must be stopped (obviously). The sector wants to get the public to believe it is not a major polluter, and it doing everything possible to emit less carbon. Trouble is, there are no magic fuels on the horizon, and though efficiency gains of 1-2% per year can be made, the sector entirely cancels these out by expansion of 4-5% per year.

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Might rationing the amount people fly be the only fair way to restrict use of air travel?

Chief Leader writer at the Observer, Sonia Sodha writes about how she almost cares about climate change, but not enough to give up flying or eating meat etc.  A common attitude. She writes, on the measures needed:  “It’s naive to think that we can achieve these sorts of lifestyle shifts by imploring people to do more. I already know we’re fast approaching a catastrophic climate tipping point and yet I’m just not very good at forgoing a steak, particularly when I know plenty of others won’t be either.”   Green taxes, (or sin taxes) tend to “hit the least affluent hardest. It’s people on low incomes who are most sensitive to marginal increases in the cost of their food and flights.” … “I need someone to force me to take my carbon footprint more seriously.” …“Rationing to tackle the climate crisis could be given a modern-day makeover. People could be allocated polluting credits to cover activities such as meat eating and flying that they can sell and buy in an online marketplace. If you’re short of cash, or not that bothered about eating meat or flying abroad, you can …sell your credits to someone who is, which makes this far more equitable than green taxes.” it’s surely an idea whose time has come.

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Extinction Rebellion plans to use drones to shut down Heathrow on 18th June and then for up to 10 days

Extinction Rebellion (XR) demands the Government begins to act on its declaration of a Climate and Environment Emergency by cancelling all Heathrow expansion. On June 18th (start of Heathrow’s consultation), XR plan to carry out nonviolent direct action to ensure Heathrow has to close the airport to flights. This is to create a “pause” in recognition of the impact of high carbon activities, such as flying, on the natural world. If the Government does not cancel all Heathrow expansion, XR will act to shut the airport down for up to 10 days from July 1st. XR is consulting its members on the proposed action. They say it is not intended to target the public, but holding the Government to their duty to take leadership on the climate and ecological emergency.  Adding the planned 3rd runway would make Heathrow the single biggest carbon emitter in the UK; to expand the airport at this critical point in history would be madness.  XR understands the action will cause disruption to a great number of holiday makers and other travellers, but believe it is necessary – given the prospect of far greater disruption caused by ecological and societal collapse. XR say by giving early warning of the disruption, travellers have time to make alternative plans.

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Val Shawcross, once a fierce critic of Heathrow expansion, now chair of “Heathrow Area Transport Forum” (paid by Heathrow)

Val Shawcross worked as deputy mayor of London for transport, and was vehemently against the expansion of Heathrow, last week took up a job as chair of the “Heathrow Area Transport Forum”.  The Forum is an (allegedly) “independent” statutory body whose chair’s salary is paid by Heathrow airport. It does not have powers to penalise Heathrow if it misses its targets.  Part of Ms Shawcross’s role will be to develop Heathrow’s transport access strategy, and monitoring the airport’s performance against the strategy’s targets.  If they miss targets, then in theory the DfT (a huge supporter of Heathrow expansion) and the regulator, the CAA, are meant to “hold it to account.”   She knows well that “If Heathrow expanded without tackling issues like air quality, public transport growth, active transport . . . it would be a disaster for London.”  In January 2018, Ms Shawcross told parliament’s Transport Select Committee that the NPS, “completely fails to show how you could expand Heathrow without worsening air quality, not just locally but with an impact across central London as well”. She says now she will  “walk my talk” by challenging the airport  from a statutory role. Time will tell …

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Heathrow plans a ULEZ from 2022 for passenger cars, taxis etc coming to car parks or drop-off areas

Heathrow knows it has to try to do something to cut its high levels of air pollution. So it has proposed some changes, to slightly reduce pollution from road vehicles (nothing about the pollution from the planes). The plan is to introduce charges for passenger cars and all private hire vehicles, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  It would be the world’s first airport ULEZ. That might start in 2022, and then turn into a VAC (Vehicle Access Charge) on all passenger cars, taxis and private hire vehicles coming to car parks or drop-off areas,  if the runway finally gets built.  Heathrow says: “We want to reduce congestion by decreasing the number of cars on the road and encourage more people to use sustainable ways of getting to and from the airport…”  And “The Heathrow ULEZ will introduce minimum vehicle emissions standards identical to the London Mayor’s ULEZ…” Initial proposals set the charge figure between £10-£15 per vehicle. “Revenue collected from both schemes will help fund initiatives to improve sustainable transport, contribute to community compensation and help keep airport charges affordable as the airport expands.” (sic)  [ie. keep flights cheap, so there can be more flights, which will lead to more air pollution]. 

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Heathrow airport expansion ‘will expose 1.6 million people to near constant noise’

A third runway at Heathrow will expose 1.6 million people to “near constant” noise, according to an investigative report by Greenpeace.  There could be up to 47 flights passing over London every hour (except during the night period) if expansion goes ahead. By overlaying  flightpath maps published earlier this year with population data, Greenpeace found perhaps 11 million people lived in areas could be exposed to Heathrow noise above 65 decibels (about as loud as being in a busy office). About 1.6 million people live in areas closest to the airport; they are almost certain to experience noise levels at or above 65 decibels. Currently around 492,000 people experience at least 65 decibel Heathrow noise. This is NOT a local problem – it is far wider than that, and opponents cannot be accused of being “nimby”.   Greenpeace Director John Sauven said: “This project is not in the interests of people living in the west of London. It is not in the interests of the UK economy. And it most certainly is not in the interests of the global climate. …The government has all the public support they could possibly want for radical climate action. Cancelling Heathrow is the easiest measure available.”

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T&E found the EU sat on data showing benefits of ending airlines’ tax break on jet fuel

A leaked report for the European Commission shows that taxing aviation kerosene sold in Europe, by duty on all departing flights to all destinations of €0.33/litre, would cut aviation emissions by 11% (16.4 MtCO2). It would have no net impact on jobs or the economy as a whole while raising almost €27 billion in revenues every year.  Unlike road transport, airlines in Europe have never paid any excise duty on the fuel they take on at EU airports. Airlines are not even taxed on domestic flights where taxation barriers were lifted in 2003.  In contrast, jet fuel taken on for domestic aviation has been taxed for many years in countries such as the US, Australia, Japan, Canada and even Saudi Arabia.  European member states have, since 2003, had the power to start taxing kerosene uplifted for flights within Europe by using bilateral agreements, but have failed to do so. Over 20 EU states don’t tax international aviation at all (at least the UK has APD).  Aviation CO2 emissions grew 4.9% within Europe last year – while emissions from all other industries in the ETS fell 3.9%. CO2 from flying in Europe has soared 26.3% in the last five years – far outstripping any other EU emissions source. With realisation about the reality of climate breakdown, this increase cannot be allowed to continue. Fuel tax would mean more expensive flights, which would reduce demand.

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Climate emergency realisation in UK to cause review of Heathrow expansion – climate change may limit future UK flying

The government (DfT) has admitted that concerns over climate change might restrict the growth of flying in the UK.  The government’s statutory advisors, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) recently said the UK’s planned increase in aviation would need to be curbed to restrict CO2. Now a senior civil servant, Caroline Low (in charge of Heathrow expansion at the DfT) has told Plan B Earth that means ministers may have to review the UK’s aviation strategy (due to become a white paper later in 2019). The aviation strategy is currently out to consultation, till 20th June. Plan B says the level of climate concern is so high that the decision on Heathrow expansion – the Airports NPS – should be brought back to Parliament. (It was voted for in June 2018, with carbon issues glossed over so MPs were unaware of the extent of the problem). The DfT hopes expanding Heathrow would create economic growth etc. When the government first laid out proposals for increasing aviation, the UK had an overall target of cutting CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050. But the CCC now recommends that Britain should adopt a target of net zero emissions. Growth of aviation needs to be constrained to fit within a Net Zero target. Caroline Low said the DfT will now have to give aviation carbon emissions “careful consideration” and even look at whether the ANPS should be revised. 

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Senior DfT civil servant confirms aviation CO2 issues to now be “given careful consideration” for ANPS review

Tim Crosland, Director of Plan B, wrote on 2nd May to the government’s lawyers, asking for clarity on how Heathrow expansion would be assessed against the UK target of Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, including emissions from aviation. In a response on 8th May from Caroline Low, the senior DfT civil servant working on Heathrow expansion, she confirms that: “…the department will carefully consider this request against the statutory criteria set out” in sections of the 2008 Planning Act. And “As well as giving careful consideration to the Net Zero report and the declaration of environment and climate emergency, mentioned in the request, it may be necessary to consider the Committee on Climate Change’s recommended policy approach for deviation which, the Committee has stated at chapter 6 of the report, will be provided to the department later in 2019 and any relevant decisions taken by the government in the coming months as a result. These decisions are likely to include decisions on relevant policy being developed as part of Aviation 2050: The future of UK aviation, which is currently the subject of consultation. At the end of this consideration, the department will provide advice and a recommendation to the Secretary of State, to enable him to take a decision on whether the statutory criteria for a review of part or all of the ANPS are met, and whether or not it is appropriate to carry out such a review.”

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London Borough of Southwark joins No 3rd Runway Coalition

The London Borough of Southwark has become the latest local authority (joining Richmond, Wandsworth, Windsor & Maidenhead, Hillingdon and Hammersmith & Fulham) to join the fight against Heathrow Expansion.  Its residents get a great deal of noise from Heathrow aircraft already, and that would get much worse with a 3rd runway. Cllr Richard Livingstone, Cabinet Member for environment, transport management and air quality for Southwark, said: “We are happy to be joining the No 3rd Runway Coalition, to stand alongside other groups, organisations and individuals, in opposition to a third runway”… Southwark councillors are already concerned about the noise, and also now the carbon emissions.  With the Westminster Parliament now joining the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, London Assembly and over 500 councils around the UK in declaring a climate emergency, it is clear that the unconstrained growth of carbon intensive infrastructure is no longer politically palatable.  And it is no longer just environmental campaigners who are considering the proposed expansion of Heathrow to be the totemic issue in the battle against climate change, but mainstream politicians too.

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Hillingdon and the other 4 Councils seek permission to appeal Heathrow ruling

Following the Divisional Court’s decision on 1 May 2019 to dismiss the legal challenge brought by Hillingdon Council and others, expert legal opinion has been sought by them in relation to whether there are any grounds to appeal this decision. There is no automatic right of appeal and permission to appeal is needed, in the first instance, from the court which heard the legal challenge. Therefore, an application for permission to appeal is being made to the Divisional Court on behalf of Hillingdon Council and the other local authorities involved in the legal challenge (Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith & Fulham, Windsor & Maidenhead) – it will be supported by Greenpeace and the Mayor of London.  The appeal is on 2 specific grounds which both have their origin in European Law. 1). Relating to the Habitats Directive, and 2). the relationship of the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) to the councils’ Local Plans, and the noise assessment and metric used by the government, under the SEA Directive. If the Divisional Court refuses the application, the councils can apply for permission to appeal directly to the Court of Appeal. Plan B and Friends of the Earth are also appealing, on different grounds. The councils have always known this would be a long slog …

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Plan B to appeal against the Court’s judgment rejecting the Heathrow legal challenges

Plan B Earth is to Appeal against the decision of the Judges, on 1st May, to reject the legal challenges by the five councils etc, by Friends of the Earth,  Plan B Earth, and Mr Paul Spurrier (as well as Heathrow Hub).  Plan B Earth has published its application for permission to appeal against the judgment of Hickinbottom LJ and Holgate J . “The Appellant wishes to challenge the Secretary of State’s decision … to designate the Airports National Policy Statement (“the ANPS”) in support of the expansion of Heathrow Airport under the Planning Act 2008 (“the 2008 Act”), on the basis of his failure to give proper consideration to the climate change impacts of the proposal.  Plan B mention specific errors, including that the “Court erred in law in treating the minimum target of 80% greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2050, established by the Climate Change Act 2008 (“CCA”) as precluding Government policy which implied emissions reduction of greater than 80%: The Court proceeded on the basis that “Government policy relating to … climate change” could not differ at all (or at least could not differ materially) from the base level of the emissions target set out in the CCA. That approach is fundamentally flawed.”

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Scottish government has decided not to remove APD – tax-free flying is inconsistent with policies to cut CO2 emissions

The Scottish Government has decided to scrap plans to cut Air Passenger Duty (APD). The tax (just £13 for a return flight to anywhere in Europe) is paid by any passenger leaving from a UK airport.  Aviation pays no VAT on tickets and there is no duty of jet fuel. The Scottish government had wanted to reduce the tax by 50% initially, before eventually abolishing it. This has been threatened since 2016. Cutting APD would have the effect of making air tickets a little cheaper, so increasing the number of flights taken – and therefore the CO2 emissions from Scottish airports. Edinburgh airport said the number of extra passengers at Scottish airports could be one million. Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said reducing air departure tax was “no longer compatible” with Scotland’s climate targets, and all sectors have a contribution to make to meeting the challenge of climate change. Cutting the tax would possibly slightly increase the number of visitors flying to Scotland, but the increase in the number of Scottish people flying abroad would be higher. Nicola Sturgeon declared a “climate emergency” in her speech to the SNP conference last month. Cutting the tax would have been entirely inconsistent with that.

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CCC Net Zero Report: Aviation emissions to rise a little bit less fast than now … probably … speculative …

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has produced its report on how the UK should aim for zero-carbon GHG by 2050. There are a lot of mentions of aviation (most copied on this page, for ease of reference). The CCC advice is that aviation emissions must not rise as much as they are on track to do. International aviation emissions must be fully included in carbon targets, not just taken account of, as currently. They must be in the the 6th budget period (2033-37), on which the CCC will advise next year. So people will not be able to keep increasing the amount they fly by quite as much … But as it is a “hard to treat” sector,  the CCC knows aviation will be emitting more CO2 than any other sector by 2050. The CCC’s “Further Ambition” scenario, setting out a pathway to net zero GHGs, anticipates that the aviation sector will still be emitting 31MtCO2 in 2050 (the current limit is 37.5MtCO2 per year). The CCC sees the use of synthetic fuels perhaps being 10% by 2050. It also hopes equivalent carbon, as produced by aviation, will be removed from the atmosphere through measures such as ‘direct air capture’ or BECCS, to be paid for by the aviation industry. But measures such as tree planting will not be enough. There will be a need to limit increases in air travel demand, but no ideas how to do that.  The CCC will says it “will write to the Government later this year on its approach to aviation, building on the advice in this report.”

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MPs make history by passing Commons motion to declare “environment and climate emergency”

May 1, 2019

MPs have passed a motion making the UK parliament the first in the world to declare an “environment and climate emergency”. (It was not a vote, and it is not binding on the government). The symbolic move – recognising the urgency needed to combat the climate crisis – follows a wave of protests launched by the Extinction Rebellion strikers in recent weeks. Jeremy Corbyn called for the motion to “set off a wave of action from parliaments and governments around the globe”. He added: “We pledge to work as closely as possible with countries that are serious about ending the climate catastrophe and make clear to US president Donald Trump that he cannot ignore international agreements and action on the climate crisis.”  Theresa May had decided not to whip her MPs against Labour’s motion, and instead encouraged them to be out campaigning … to avoid voting. [What a government….]  Michael Gove said the government recognises “the situation we face is an emergency”, but stopped short of meeting Labour’s demands to officially declare one. Caroline Lucas said “words are cheap – we need urgent action. So to be clear: you can’t declare a climate emergency AND continue business as usual – fracking, building new runways, industrialised farming etc.”

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Councils that brought legal challenge re. Heathrow say Londoners face added noise and long-term health impacts from Court decision

Councils say the High Court’s failure to quash the government’s Airport National Policy Statement (ANPS) backing Heathrow expansion could bring long-term damage to the health of millions of Londoners. They warn that large areas of London and the Home Counties will be affected by noise from the new north-west runway. The court has refused all the applications for judicial review of the ANPS essentially because it has decided that at this policy stage the decision to support a third runway at Heathrow needs to only meet a low level of judicial scrutiny.  All the damage caused to life and health and the environment by a third runway and its associated traffic (damage causing air pollution, noise pollution and contributing to climate change) will have to be more closely scrutinised at the DCO stage. Objections to a third runway must be heard then and any decision to approve it will be open to challenge through the courts. The councils will continue to explore every avenue possible to protect their residents from the health and environmental consequences of a third runway.  Hillingdon “has set aside sufficient funding to defend our environment and the health and wellbeing of our people for however long it takes to do so.” See the comments of the Council Leaders.

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Judges reject judicial review challenges against DfT’s Heathrow 3rd runway NPS

The judges at the High Court have handed down their judgement, which was to reject all the legal challenges against the DfT and the Secretary of State for Transport, on the government decision to approve a 3rd Heathrow runway, through the Airports NPS (National Policy Statement). The judges chose to make their ruling exclusively on the legality, and “rationality” of the DfT decision, ignoring the facts and details of the Heathrow scheme and the NPS process – or the areas where relevant information was ignored by the DfT.  In the view of the judges, the process had been conducted legally. They threw out challenges on air pollution, surface access, noise and habitats – as well as carbon emissions. The latter being on the grounds that the Paris Agreement, though ratified by the UK government, has not been incorporated into UK law, so the DfT did not have to consider it. The Paris Agreement requires countries to aim for only a global 1.5C rise in temperature, not 2 degrees (as in the current UK Climate Change Act). Read comments by Neil Spurrier, one of those making a legal challenge.  There are now likely to be appeals, perhaps even direct to the Supreme Court.

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Comment by Plan B Earth and Extinction Rebellion, on Judges’ rejection of Heathrow legal challenges

The High Court dismissed all the legal challenges to the Government’s plans to expand Heathrow, including the claims brought by Friends of the Earth and Plan B on the grounds of inconsistency with the Paris Agreement on climate change. Tim Crosland, Director of Plan B and a legal adviser to Extinction Rebellion, said: “…it is increasingly difficult to see how the Government’s reckless plans to expand Heathrow Airport can proceed. Following the recent Extinction Rebellion protests there is widespread recognition that we are in a state of climate and ecological emergency. The Court has upheld Chris Grayling’s surprising contention that the Paris Agreement is “irrelevant” to Government policy on climate change. It ignored the fact that the Government stated in May last year that it planned to decarbonise the economy by 2050. Instead it accepted Grayling’s argument that the CCC considers the current target of 80% emissions reductions by 2050 to be consistent with the Paris Agreement. Tomorrow the CCC is expected to expose the fallacy of that position by recommending that the Government implement a target of net zero by 2050,… Since that recommendation is obviously inconsistent with the expansion of Heathrow, presumably the plans will now need to be reviewed.”

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HEATHROW EXPANSION JUDICIAL REVIEW VERDICT Wednesday 1st May at 10 am at the High Court

Judgments on the legal challenges to the Government’s decision to permit Heathrow to apply for the expansion of its airport with a new 3rd Runway, will be announced at the High Court on Wednesday, 1 May, at 10am  The presiding judges, Justices Hickinbottom and Holgate, will be handing down judgments on the judicial review claims made by 5 separate parties that the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), as approved by Parliament in June 2018, was unlawful.  Four of the claimants’ cases relate to undue consideration being given to the environment, noise and climate change.  Regardless of the Justices’ pronouncements, it is expected that appeals will be made against the judgments – whether by defendant (the government) or claimants.  Even if the judgments were to find in favour of the Secretary of State for Transport (DfT), and these were to then survive the appeals process, this is unlikely to mark the end of legal battles to expand Heathrow airport. Heathrow’s application for its Development Consent Order – DCO (the detailed planning application, which Heathrow is expected to submit in 2020) – is also certain to attract legal challenges.

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Swedish flygskam (or flight shame) is spreading across Europe – Finland, Germany … Brits yet to catch on….

Fears about climate change have led many to rethink the way they travel and, in Sweden, there is a new word – flygskam (flying shame) – for the shame associated with flying, knowing the carbon emissions it causes. The subject has come higher up the agenda with the vast protests in Central London by Extinction Rebellion, since Monday 15th April.  And there are protests in many other cities and countries. The Swedes are now travelling a bit less by air, and a bit more by rail. But it’s not just the Swedes racked with guilt about their carbon footprints. The Finnish have invented the word “lentohapea”, the Dutch say “vliegschaamte” and the Germans “flugscham”, all referring to a feeling of shame around flying. Brits are lagging behind ...  In the UK, plans continue for a 3rd runway at Heathrow despite the airport already being the country’s biggest single source of CO2 emissions. The Swedish rail company reported 32 million passengers in 2018, a good increase. Many understand that flying has a huge negative climate impact, and there are other words associated with this: “tagskryt” (train bragging) and “smygflyga” (flying in secret). The 16 year old Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg, started the world wide movement of school strikes, to draw attention to climate change, only travels by train to meetings in other countries.

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Government tries to deny its climate responsibility to aim for 1.5C temperature rise, in pushing for 3rd Heathrow runway

The pre-trial hearing for the series of legal challenges against the Government’s decision to expand Heathrow takes place at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Tuesday 15th January.  In legal correspondence between the defendant (Government) and one of the claimants, Plan B Earth, the Government argues that “[Plan B] is wrong to assert that “Government policy is to limit warming to the more stringent standard of 1.5˚C and “well below” 2˚C’.  This means that the Government is effectively denying that its own policy is to limit warming to the level that has been agreed internationally is required to avoid climate breakdown. The legal challenge brought by Plan B Earth and Friends of the Earth assert that the Government decision to proceed with Heathrow expansion was unlawful as it failed to appropriately consider climate change. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell described the case as “the iconic battleground against climate change”.  The Committee on Climate Change had previously expressed surprise that neither the commitments in the Climate Change Act 2008 nor the Paris Agreement (2015) were referenced in the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement (aka. the plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway).This is a huge inconsistency.

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Aviation now contributes 4.9% of climate change worldwide

Work by the IPCC now estimates that aviation accounted for 4.9% of man-made climate impacts in 2005. This contrasts with the 2% figure that is constantly quoted by aviation lobbyists, and 3% which the same authors quoted two years ago. They have now revised their estimates with 2 important changes: including for the first time estimates of cirrus cloud formation and allowing for aviation growth between 2000 and 2005. The effect of these is to increase aviation’s impacts to 3.5% without cirrus and 4.9% including cirrus. 23.5.2009  More  …


Committee on Climate Change.

4th Carbon Budget UK should commit to a 60% cut in emissions by 2030 as a contribution to global efforts to combat climate change.

Aviation emissions must be no higher in 2050 than in 2005, and to do this, all other sectors must cut by 85% by 2050 to allow aviation to grow by 60%

The Committee on Climate Change today recommended a Carbon Budget for 2023-27 and a target for emissions reductions in 2030 – halfway between now and 2050. The recommended target for 2030, to cut emissions by 60% relative to 1990 levels (46% relative to current levels), would then require a 62% emissions reduction from 2030 to meet the 2050 target in the Climate Change Act. The Carbon Budget says international aviation and shipping should be included, and it is vital that UK aviation emissions in 2050 are no higher than in 2005.  Also that, as technologies to cut aviation emissions are not readily available, other sectors of the economy will need to cut by 85% in 2050 in order to let aviation grow by 60%.  7.12.2010  More ….. . . .