* * * * main Heathrow news stories * * * *
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.
“Be the change you want to see”: How individuals (not only governments) are vital in cutting global CO2 emissions. Individual lifestyle choices are important.
What can we do in the face of the climate emergency? Many say we should drive less, fly less, eat less meat. But others argue that personal actions like this are a pointless drop in the ocean when set against the huge systemic changes that are required to prevent devastating global warming. Research from a PhD researcher into Environmental Leadership (Cardiff University) shows that doing something bold like giving up flying can have a wider knock-on effect – by influencing others and shifting what’s viewed as “normal”. These effects were increased if a high-profile person had given up flying, such as someone in the public eye. Far from the small actions by individuals having no impact, they are important. The role of people, in changing their lifestyles, cutting their carbon emissions and environmental footprint, is as big as that of governments or major corporations. But significant lifestyle changes by individuals need to be encouraged by effective government policy. It has to be both – policies, government action etc PLUS actions by individuals. Millions of them. Behavioural change has the potential for far greater emission reductions than the political pledges made under the Paris Accord.
SSE takes Communities Secretary James Brokenshire to JR on Stansted expansion, including its CO2 emissions
Campaign group, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) say they will use latest EU figures showing Ryanair as one of Europe’s biggest polluters in their latest judicial challenge. Currently about 21 million of Ryanair’s 130 million passengers in 2018 travelled via Stansted. Ryanair has the highest CO2 emissions (for intra-EU flights) of any European airline. Its flights emitted 9.9 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, up 6.9% on 2017, and up 49% over the past 5 years. SSE say the added argument of the vast carbon emissions, to only be hugely worsened by expansion to 43 mppa, is another reason why the planning consent by Uttlesford council, for the airport expansion, should be called in for determination by the government. The Communities Secretary James Brokenshire has said his reason for not intervening was that the application does not involve issues of “more than local importance.” Carbon emissions are indeed of much more than local significance – they are a global issue. Brian Ross, from SSE said: “You can’t just allow local authorities to approve an increase in carbon emissions as they like. There needs to be national co-ordination.”
Ryanair the biggest but not fastest growing EU airline CO2 emitter – whole airline sector emissions rising very fast
The carbon emissions of 8 airlines for intra-European flights grew even faster than Ryanair last year. Low-cost airlines Jet2 (20% up); TAP (>12% up); EasyJet, Finnair, Wizz (up about 11%); Vueling and Norwegian (over 8%) and Lufthansa all increased CO2 emissions faster than Ryanair, though Ryanair has the highest emissions on European routes in 2018. Transport & Environment (T&E) says the top 10 growing polluters show that aviation’s runaway emissions are a huge problem. But governments have left airlines untaxed and under-regulated compared to other transport. Emissions from intra-European flights account for 40% of the aviation CO2 – the remaining 60% comes from flights to destinations outside Europe. Those are entirely unregulated, not being part of the EU ETS. Aviation regulators are consistently underestimating the extent of the emissions growth in their planning forecasts. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) anticipated a 3.3% increase in carbon emissions on flights within Europe last year, but official data shows they grew 4.9% – or 1.1 megatonnes of CO2 more than expected.
Ryanair’s carbon emissions within Europe make it the EU’s 10th largest emitter
Ryanair has become the first non-coal company to join Europe’s top 10 biggest carbon emitters, according to EU ETS figures. That is for flights within the EU. Ryanair declared 9.9 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, up 6.9% on 2017 and up 49% over the last 5 years. The only larger emitters of carbon within Europe are power stations. Andrew Murphy, the aviation manager at T&E said: “When it comes to climate, Ryanair is the new coal. This trend will only continue until Europe realises that this undertaxed and under-regulated sector needs to be brought into line, starting with a tax on kerosene and the introduction of mandates that force airlines to switch to zero-emission jet fuel.” Emissions from airlines, have risen over 25% since 2014, outpacing all other transport sectors. EasyJet was 31st on the list, after an 11% rise in emissions in 2018. Prof Kevin Anderson at the University of Manchester, said: “Ryanair use new and efficient aircraft rammed to the rafters with passengers, illustrating how technology alone cannot reconcile aviation’s rocketing emissions with the Paris climate commitments…we need to drive down the demand for aviation.”
Heathrow finally shortlists 18 areas as possible sites for its 4 “logistics hubs” – out of the original 65 possible areas
Heathrow has – for several years – been dangling the carrot of being one of 4 “logistics hubs” around the UK, for its expansion plans, to over 65 possible sites. It was a way to get local support from MPs, councils, business etc. It has now made a list of 18 shortlisted sites that “remain in the running to help deliver the infrastructure project”. So that leaves 47 sites disappointed and let down. Heathrow makes out that these are going to bring “jobs and economic opportunities up and down the country years before the additional trade and tourism that will follow from unlocked runway capacity.” And it will be “sustainable” due to “transporting assembled components in consolidated loads.” The sites shortlisted have “showcased a strong base of local support, their area’s thriving supply chain, convenient connectivity links and the potential to tap into a skilled workforce.” So those 18 shortlisted are still kept on tenterhooks, to see if they might get lucky, eventually. In the autumn, they will have the opportunity to pitch to the airport for their chance to become one of the final 4 construction centres, to be announced early next year, ahead of work [possibly, bearing in mind all the legal and planning hurdles] “starting in 2021”.
New AEF briefing: Why Heathrow can’t solve its carbon problem (and the trouble with offsets)
The Government and Heathrow are trying to pretend that adding a 3rd runway, increasing the number of flights by around 50% (many or most to long-haul destinations) somehow is not a climate change impact problem. Now in an excellent new briefing from the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF), “Why Heathrow can’t solve its carbon problem (and the trouble with offsets“, they explain how the carbon emissions cannot just be wished away and there are no mechanisms currently proposed to properly deal with them. Heathrow has a “roadmap” on how it aspires to be “carbon neutral”. AEF says the roadmap “does little more than recycle existing – inadequate – measures to limit aviation emissions” and their briefing sets out why the plan falls short. AEF says: “…almost all the proposed actions involve Heathrow riding on the coattails of other Government or industry initiatives.” ... and “The kind of offsetting that CORSIA will deliver …isn’t designed to deliver a zero emissions target but instead to reduce emissions, at best, to half of what they might have been. … the idea that offsetting makes a tonne of CO2 from aviation “neutral” is misleading.”
Stop Stansted Expansion to start legal challenge to government decision not to call in expansion application
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has confirmed that it will commence legal proceedings to challenge last week’s decision [20 March] by the Communities Secretary James Brokenshire not to intervene in the decision by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) to approve the expansion of Stansted to 43 mppa. Brokenshire said his reason for not intervening was that “the application does not involve issues of more than local importance”. SSE considers this conclusion to be completely wrong. In the next month or two, Stansted is expected to overtake Manchester to become the UK’s 3rd busiest airport. The noise, air pollution, community health and road traffic impacts of Stansted are felt far beyond the borders of Uttlesford, and the 3.7 million equivalent tonnes of carbon dioxide attributable to Stansted flights this year will have significant adverse global impacts. SSE will apply to the High Court for a JR of Brokenshire’s decision. SSE solicitors have written to UDC pointing out that it would be inappropriate for UDC to issue any decision in relation to the airport planning application whilst these legal challenges are pending. SSE already has an outstanding JR application against the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, over his decision of 28 June 2018 to allow the airport planning application to be determined locally by UDC.
Grayling’s team at DfT deliberately tried to conceal information about Heathrow 3rd runway noise, which might have risked “further scrutiny”
A totally damning, ‘smoking gun’ memo has been located, showing how DfT staff in November 2017 were keen to avoid information showing how bad Heathrow noise would be – and how many people would be affected – with a 3rd runway. The Times reveals how DfT staff plotted to cover up warnings about the extra aircraft noise, with a 6-page document sent to Chris Grayling (Transport Secretary) recommending blocking a plan to tell millions of households (up to 13 million people) about the extra noise they could face from a 3rd runway. Grayling and the DfT claim publicly that a 3rd runway could be introduced with fewer people affected by plane noise even with 265,000 more annual flights – which, of course, beggars belief of anyone with half a brain. The DfT memo wanted to avoid alerting people to the noise problem, for fear that would cause “disruption” and “public debate” and “further scrutiny” and “unnecessary controversy” before the parliamentary vote on the NPS (in June 2018). The memo included a map that reveals DfT officials knew well how badly vast swathes of London and southern England (and Grayling’s own constituency) would be badly affected. Disgraceful DfT behaviour.
Summary of the hearings into the legal challenges against DfT approval of Heathrow 3rd runway
The hearings at the High Court, into the legal challenges against the government’s decision to press for a 3rd Heathrow runway, were complicated. They were hard to follow, even with daily transcripts – as there were constant references to text in documents in “bundles” that the public are unable to see. Neil Spurrier, who individually brought one of the legal challenges, and is a solicitor, has done a user-friendly summary of some of the key points that came up. Four of the challenges were largely on environmental grounds (the 5th was a rival runway builder, Heathrow Hub). Neil gives a brief summary of some of the points on noise, air pollution, carbon emissions, and economic benefit including comments on the response by the government’s barristers and their attempts to brush aside the criticisms. The judges may make their judgement in about May – there will probably be a few days notice before hand. As well as the summary, there are some notes made during the hearings, to help clarify some points. The Résumé
Government (James Brokenshire) rejects ‘call in’ of Stansted Airport planning application to increase passengers from 35m to 43 mppa
The Government has decided not to ‘call in’ Stansted Airport’s planning application to increase passenger numbers, which was approved by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) last year. In February 2018, Stansted Airport owners, Manchester Airports Group, submitted a planning application to UDC that sought permission for the airport to increase the annual passenger number from 35 to 43 million per year. UDC granted this planning permission in November 2018, by a narrow vote of the Planning Committee, only won by the Chairman’s casting vote. The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire, has now written to say the decision by UDC is correct, saying: “… the application does not involve issues of more than local importance justifying the secretary of state’s intervention.” That is, of course, wrong as planes using Stansted fly over a wide area. Brian Ross from campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) said the planning consent still faces a legal challenge from SSE, versus the transport secretary in the High Court, which began last September. The case has been on hold for 4 months, pending the decision, but SSE is now takin legal advice on whether to widen the basis of its legal challenge.
Open letter from 90 academics to European governments – carbon offset markets (eg. CORSIA) will not effectively cut carbon
There is an interesting letter from 90 academics calling for governments to withdraw support from new carbon offset markets – with a specific reference to the UN Corsia scheme for aviation emissions. The academics call on European governments that care about climate change to withdraw their support for the creation of a new doomed carbon offset market at the COP25 this December. The proposals for carbon offsets are entirely unable to meet necessary criteria, needed to ensure they actually succeed in “offsetting” carbon. The letter says: “Yet, beyond the well-known issues of excess permits and frauds, it has also been demonstrated that carbon markets have major conceptual flaws that cannot be fixed, such as the inability to provide a reliable price signal or the fact that the climate impact of offset projects is not calculable….It is well documented that carbon markets have failed spectacularly in achieving their environmental objectives and that many carbon offset projects have a devastating social impact. In spite of this evidence, carbon markets remain the main policy tool to address climate change in Europe, based on the misguided hope that they will work “once the price is right”.”
Austrian higher court approves construction of 3rd runway at Vienna Airport, refused on climate & noise grounds in Feb 2017
The Supreme Administrative Court in Austria has approved construction of a 3rd runway at Vienna Airport. The court overturned appeals made by local residents and environmental groups on the basis of noise complaints and environmental impact of the runway. Opponents had successfully argued that noise would be a problem across urban Vienna. Also that it could not be justified on climate change grounds. But the airport appealed – and has now won. It says the noise will not be a problem as there will not be landings over the Vienna city area during normal operations, and it aims at “decreasing noise pollution in the area.” There are the usual claims that it will “reduce delays, fuel consumption, and noise by abolishing allotment patterns and queued aircraft during peak hours”. Back in February 2017 a court said the increased greenhouse gas emissions for Austria would cause harm and climate protection is more important than creating other jobs. Also that the ability of the airport to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by its own measures were not sufficient, and emissions would rise too much. All now forgotten, it seems. Making money trumps climate stability. No wonder young people want the ways things are done to change.
Evidence on air pollution, given to the High Court hearings on a 3rd Heathrow runway, by Neil Spurrier
Neil Spurrier, a solicitor from Teddington, made one of the 5 legal challenges against the Secretary of State for Transport’s decision to approve a 3rd Heathrow runway, through the Airports National Policy Statement. The legal hearings from the councils, the Mayor of London, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Plan B Earth and Mr Spurrier took place between the 15th and 19th March. There are transcripts of each day’s proceedings here. Neil addressed the issue of air pollution in particular, and the emissions of NO2 and particulates from planes themselves. He made important points, such as that air pollution is known to spread much, much further from an airport than the 2 km that the DfT has tried to use. Also that there is evidence of possible damage to the foetus from particulates found in placentas of people affected by air pollution, and that the government should not be risking the health of future generations. He made the point, on ultrafine particles, that merely because they have not been specifically studied (being part of the wider category of PM 2.5, is no reason for the government to discount them or consider their impact to be negative. The absence of evidence is not enough to avoid the precautionary principle. Read the full transcripts for details.
At High Court legal hearings, Friends of the Earth says 3rd runway illegal as DfT failed to consider the need for stringent CO2 targets
Friends of the Earth have accused the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, of acting unlawfully when he agreed to the 3rd Heathrow runway, in the Airports NPS. Their lawyers at the High Court legal challenge hearings the DfT failed to consider the full impacts of climate change and the need for more stringent targets to avoid catastrophic global warming. “Friends of the Earth is concerned that the expansion of Heathrow by adding a 3rd runway will jeopardise the UK’s ability to make the very deep reductions in greenhouse gases that are necessary to prevent global warming from causing catastrophic, irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.” The Court heard that the government knew when it approved the third runway that the Paris agreement, which UK ministers have signed, was likely to involve more stringent emissions targets than domestic law required under the 2008 UK Climate Change Act. David Wolfe QC, for FoE, said ministers were told by the Committee on Climate Change in January 2018 that as a result it was “essential that actions are taken now to enable these deeper reductions to be achieved”. But Grayling pressed on regardless, ignoring the advice.
At Heathrow legal hearings, Court told Grayling left thousands of people in the dark over the impact of Heathrow flight paths if expansion allowed
Chris Grayling left thousands of people in the dark over increased noise pollution from an expanded Heathrow by under-stating the impact of new flight paths. At the High Court hearings, lawyers for five London councils, the London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Greenpeace claim this amounts to a breach of the law under which the Transport Secretary should have identified all areas that might be affected. The Councils say that instead of an environmental report showing which communities were going to be hit by noise from flights, Mr Grayling only published “indicative flight paths.” They say “The flight paths were drawn in such a way that the numbers of people affected were minimised. This meant the health and environmental costs of the north west runway were under-stated.” Maps compiled by the councils suggest as many as 1 million more households will be affected by planes at 7,000 ft, or below, with decibel levels of at least 65, (equivalent to a vacuum cleaner in a room). A vast circular area stretching from Didcot in the west, Dartford and Romford in the east, Tring, Harpenden and Welwyn Garden City to the north, and Godalming, Leatherhead, Epsom and Copthorne – and many more places – to the south would be affected. The NPS failed to deal properly with the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion.
Severe impact of 3rd Heathrow runway on residents laid out in High Court hearing
The Government’s approval of a third runway is being challenged at the High Court by a coalition of councils, residents, environmental charities and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. Representing five London boroughs, Greenpeace and Mr Khan, Nigel Pleming QC said the plans could see the number of passengers using Heathrow rise to around 132 million, a 60% increase. Mr Pleming said: “The new development, if it goes ahead, will add, in effect, a new airport with the capacity of Gatwick to the north of Heathrow” and that the adverse effects and consequences for local residents of such an expansion are “bound to be severe”. The legal challenges (other than the one by Heathrow Hub) say the Government’s National Policy Statement (NPS) setting out its support for the project fails to properly deal with the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion. The claimants argue the NPS is unlawful and should be quashed, which would mean the Government would have to start the process again and put it to another vote in Parliament. Scores of demonstrators gathered outside the court ahead of the hearing, addressed by MPs, Council leaders and campaigners. All are determined that this runways is NOT going to go ahead. The hearings will last for 2 weeks.
The transcript of the proceedings on the first day of the hearings, Monday 11th March, can be seen here: https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/110319.txt
Judicial reviews into government approval of Heathrow 3rd runway plans begins on 11th March
People are invited to join the protest gathering outside the Courts at 9am on Monday 11th March, and then (focused on climate change) on Wednesday 13th March too.
London’s High Court will on Monday 11th March begin a judicial review into the government’s approval of a third runway at Heathrow airport, with local authorities, environmentalists and rival bidders arguing the £14bn scheme should be scrapped. Five legal challenges to the decision are being heard together, including one brought by a consortium of local authorities (Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Windsor & Maidenhead), Greenpeace and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, on the grounds of air quality, climate change, noise pollution and transport access. The negative impacts of Heathrow already affect many councils, and those would get far worse with planned expansion to have 50% more annual flights. John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: “Governments are very happy to talk the talk when it comes to protecting the air we breathe and the climate we all share, but unfortunately getting them to walk the walk often takes legal action.” There is also a legal challenge by Heathrow Hub, which wants to build a 3rd runway by extending the current northern runway, rather than adding a runway further north. The hearings are expected to last about two weeks, with the judgment being reserved.
How Heathrow has been getting away with paying so little tax to the UK government
UK tax rules have allowed airports like Heathrow to pay far less tax than they should. It is estimated that Heathrow’s foreign owners have been able to get a tax break of perhaps £120 million per year from the UK government. And the airport’s shareholders (which include the governments of China, Qatar and Singapore – with only 10% by the USS being British – .have paid themselves about £3 billion in dividends in 5 years. Rules on how firms can cut tax bills due to large debt interest payments began in 2017, but the Treasury has given an exemption for infrastructure projects like Heathrow. The think-tank, Taxwatch, said: “In the case of Heathrow, the benefits of the exemption appear to flow overwhelmingly to the owners of the company.” …“The company was bought using a huge amount of debt. Instead of paying back the debt themselves, the new owners managed to push this liability on to Heathrow, making the company liable for large interest payments… The large debt repayments wiped out the company’s pre-tax profit.” Revenues at Heathrow have risen to £2.9billion but its owners have paid little corporation tax, due to massive debts. Between 2007 and 2014 the group reported a total pre-tax loss of more than £2 billion, and paid just £15 million in corporation tax. In the past 3 years it declared pre-tax profits of more than £1 billion, leading to corporation tax payments of £122 million (ie. £70 million in 2018 and £53 million in 2017.
Epsom & Ewell Borough Council sends highly critical response to Heathrow’s expansion plans – inflicting hugely more aircraft noise on them
Epsom & Ewell Borough is an area that is currently overflown by Heathrow planes at about 6,000 and 7,000 feet. Its Council has submitted a robust response to Heathrow’s airspace change consultation, furious about the vastly worse noise burden with which the borough is threatened. The proposals would perhaps mean additional flights operating as low as 3,000 feet at a frequency of up to 47 flights per hour for arrivals, and 17 flights per hour for departures. Even the extra flights, in the short term, through IPA, could result in 25 flights per hour operating as low as 3,000 feet between 6am to 7am and 6 flights per hour at other times. Cllr Eber Kington, Chairman of the Council’s Strategy & Resources Committee, said the changes could mean a four to five-fold increase in noise levels in addition to the significant additional impact from the frequency of flights overhead and the impact on air quality. Cllr O’Donovan complained at how bad the consultation was. Residents are angry that their own MP, Chris Grayling, is pushing for these hugely damaging noise impacts on his own constituents and voters – with inevitable decrease in local quality of life.
Heathrow’s shareholders get £500m as profits rise (including income of £126m from car parking)
IAG, the owner of British Airways, is angry that Heathrow has paid out £500 million in dividends to its foreign investors while charging its airline customers more. IAG says the dividend payments – now totalling £3.5 billion since 2012 – make Heathrow more costly for airline passengers (so slightly deterring them from flying perhaps). Heathrow said “It is right that our shareholders receive returns in record years and it will ensure we expand whilst keeping airport charges close to 2016 levels.” Heathrow’s top shareholders include the Qatar Investment Authority, Singapore’s GIC and the China Investment Corporation. Its largest single investor is Spain’s Ferrovial. The only UK shareholder is the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) with a 10% stake. Heathrow’s figures out last week show revenue growth of 3% to £2.97 billion in 2018 with 80.1 million passengers (up 2.7% from 78 million). Car parking income was £126 million (up 5% from £120 million in 2017). Retail revenue per passenger was £8.94 (up 5.8% from £8.45 in 2017). Total retail income was £716 million (up 8.6% from £659 million in 2017). Heathrow paid £70 million (2017: £53 million) in corporation tax.
Council leaders say Grayling’s claim a 50% larger Heathrow, with new flight paths, will mean fewer people affected by plane noise is a giant con
Heathrow’s own noise maps in its current “consultation” show vast areas in and around London to be negatively affected by aircraft noise from Heathrow, if it was allowed 25,000 more annual flights or a 3rd runway. Many areas of the capital and the home counties that have not previously suffered jet noise, could be getting up to 47 flights per hour overhead. Many areas not currently overflown could have planes over them as low as 3,000 feet. Some areas currently somewhat overflown will get more planes going over them, and at lower altitudes. Heathrow deliberately keeps the details vague. In October 2016 Grayling promised parliament that “fewer people will be affected by noise than is the case today” after the third runway was built – even though there would be than 250,000 extra flights a year, equivalent to bolting an additional airport almost the size of Gatwick onto the existing site. Affected councils are challenging the government decision in the courts, starting on 11th March. Ravi Govindia, the Tory leader of Wandsworth council, said the public had been the victims of a “giant con”: “It beggars belief that people will believe Chris Grayling in his assertion that no more people will be affected.” The DfT commented that “We absolutely refute these claims and are confident that fewer people will be affected by noise pollution under the new flight paths planned.” (sic)
Heathrow expansion plan involves large number of low planes over lovely, tranquil (now) Richmond Park
Richmond Park has been known for its rich wildlife and tranquil landscape for hundreds of years, but the proposed expansion of Heathrow would mean hundreds of aircraft flying at low altitude it. Maps of the new flight paths, from Heathrow’s consultation, show the extent of proposed air traffic over Richmond Park, with some aircraft flying as low as 300 metres (1,000ft). Current flight paths to Heathrow are not routed directly over the park. The consultation documents indicate that – with a 3rd runway – up to 47 arrivals per hour and between 17 and 47 departures would fly directly over the park (a SSSI and national nature reserve) at below 900 metres. Heathrow’s flights are currently capped at 480,000 a year, but it wants to increase this by 25,000 in 2021 and further to around 720,000 when/if the 3rd runway is built. The noise and pollution from the planes overhead would be disastrous for the sensitive wildlife and the tranquillity. The Park is visited by more than 5.5 million people per year. Thousands of nocturnal animals – including 11 of the UK’s 17 bat species, (all protected by law), as well as little owls and tawny owls – will be threatened. This is just another “price that Heathrow is demanding of residents, so that it can increase its operations” by 50%. It is “simply disproportionate and unacceptable.”
Highways England warned Heathrow (spring 2018) about problems (including driver distraction) with the M25 being in a tunnel under the 3rd runway
Highways England has said that Heathrow’s possible 3rd runway over the M25 may lead to more accidents because of drivers being distracted by aircraft landing on a large bridge above them. The sight of huge passenger planes landing (or even taxiing) could cause motorists to take their eyes off the road. Highways England has told Heathrow to introduce measures to “reduce driver distraction” on the affected section of the M25, which is Britain’s busiest stretch of motorway – 6 lanes in each direction at that point. This could include lengthening the tunnel under the runway or simplifying the road layout. Heathrow was also told to consider the “landing zone of aircraft”, suggesting they should avoid arrivals directly over the road itself. The intention is to lower the M25 by 7 metres, while raising the runway slightly. Highways England is also concerned that there is a high risk of “fatigue damage” to the tunnel caused by aircraft as big as the A380 and Boeing 747, on the runway above it, so it could have a reduced lifespan. They also say the runway must be “raised enough to avoid the M25 having a gradient of more than 3% which would cause lorries to move slowly, leading to congestion. Heathrow was told this in spring 2018. The full details will be published for public consultation in June.
GMB union (keen on the 3rd runway) calls on Heathrow to force airport contractors to pay living wage (which they do not)
GMB – the union representing many staff at Heathrow (that strongly backs a 3rd runway) – has urged it to force contractors to pay their employees the living wage, after the airport announced the busiest year in its history. Revenue climbed by 3% last year to £3 billion, and £2.3 billion was raised from private investors across 7 currencies (up from £1 billion in 2017). Adjusted profit before tax was £267 million, up 23% on 2017. The airport also said airport charges fell 1% to £21.78. Last year, GMB welcomed the airport’s announcement that all contracted staff working at Heathrow will be paid the London Living Wage of £10.55 per hour by 2020. But contractors have been slow to back the commitment. Over the past 3 years GMB have led the campaign for ensuring all staff at Heathrow, both direct and contracted, are paid the London Living Wage. GMB’s regional organiser for aviation and Heathrow, Perry Phillips said Heathrow’s profits mean “that success is built on the back of 1000s of workers who keep the airport clean, safe and operational. Yet despite these blockbuster results, many of them don’t earn enough to live on, enough to make sure their rent is paid and their families are fed. That can’t be right.
Greta Thunberg: EU needs a minimum of 80% CO2 reduction by 2030 (not 40%) and that must include aviation & shipping
The remarkable Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg, says the EU cannot just “wait for us to grow up and become the ones in charge”. She told political and business leaders in Brussels that the EU should double its climate change reduction targets to do its fair share in keeping the planet below a dangerous level of global warming. She started doing a solo school strike, in Sweden, on Fridays outside the parliament, to try to draw attention to the problem of climate change – and how no real action is being taken to combat it. The school strikes have spread around the world, with tens of thousands of students taking part. We need a fall in global carbon emissions soon. The EU intention to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels. Greta told them this is not going to keep global warming below 1.5C. “This target is not sufficient to protect the future for children growing up today. If the EU is to make its fair contribution to stay within the carbon budget for the 2C limit then it needs a minimum of 80% reduction by 2030, and that includes aviation and shipping.” Greta said “When people talk about the climate strikes … they talk about almost anything except for the climate crisis… They don’t want to talk about the climate crisis … they just want to change the subject.”
Letter from Lord Deben, Chairman of the CCC – to Grayling on “Aviation 2050” the DfT’s aviation strategy green paper
In a letter to Chris Grayling, dated 12th February, Lord Deben provides the Committee on Climate Change’s views on the current aviation strategy green paper consultation, Aviation 2050 – The future of UK aviation [the aviation green paper]. He says “You will be aware that my Committee has been asked by Ministers to offer advice on the implications of the Paris Agreement for the UK’s statutory framework, including when ‘net-zero’ emissions can be achieved. A stronger UK target would require more effort from all sectors, including aviation. We intend to provide an updated view on the appropriate long-term ambition for aviation emissions within our advice on the UK’s long-term targets. We will publish our report in spring. Following that, we will write to you directly to set out the implications for the Aviation Strategy.” It also says: “The final white paper should further clarify that this will be met on the basis of actual emissions, rather than by relying on international offset credits.” And “Achieving aviation emissions at or below 2005 levels in 2050 will require contributions from all parts of the aviation sector,… It will also require steps to limit growth in demand. In the absence of a true zero-carbon plane, demand cannot continue to grow unfettered over the long-term.” Read the whole letter.
Chiswick, Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush, etc residents horrified & stunned by likely impact of Heathrow proposed airspace changes
Residents from Chiswick, Shepherds Bush and Hammersmith were stunned to hear that their area would experience 25,000 extra flights by 2022 – and a further 260,000 by 2026 if a 3rd Heathrow runway were ever to open. Over 300 residents turned out to a heavily over-subscribed meeting, organised by the No 3rd Runway Coalition, to learn how the plans for airspace change at Heathrow will drastically impact their area. The meeting also heard from local MPs Ruth Cadbury and Andy Slaughter, Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council Stephen Cowan, as well as local campaign groups Chiswick Against the Third Runway, Bedford Park Society and Hammersmith & Fulham No 3rd Runway. The airport is currently consulting across west London (and wider) on how future operations at the airport would work with a 3rd runway, with a range of options put forward for consultation. By the end of the meeting there was outrage as people understood the impacts, and the extent of the noise nuisance, that is proposed for the communities of Chiswick, Stamford Brook and Ravenscourt Park. Those changes could start within a few years. It is vital that people who will be newly, and very negatively affected, respond to the consultation, stressing their strong opposition.
Plan B Earth’s skeleton argument against the DfT on how the Airports NPS (Grayling …) failed on climate
Plan B Earth is making one of the 5 legal challenges against the government, due to their decision to support the building of a 3rd runway at Heathrow, through the “Airports National Planning Statement” (ANPS). They have filed their skeleton argument, which is the basis of their submissions at the trial. Plan B says: “In essence, it’s a simple argument. Chris Grayling considered the Paris Agreement “irrelevant” to his decision. He was wrong.” Part of the skeleton argument states: “(1). At the heart of all three grounds of Plan B’s claim, lies a common concern: the Secretary of State’s failure to assess the ANPS against the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (“the Paris Agreement”) and specifically the Paris Agreement temperature limit (“Paris Temperature Limit”), which, according to the best available science, demarcates the boundary between humanity and an intolerable risk of disaster: disaster for the environment; for the economy; and for international security. (2.) Initially the Secretary of State purported to have taken the Paris Agreement into account. His own witnesses, however, undermined that claim. Once Plan B drew that to his attention, the Secretary of State modified his position: when he said that he had considered the Paris Agreement, he meant only that he had considered it to be irrelevant.” Read the full skeleton. Another Grayling “fail”.
European aviation report “in numbers” highlights growing noise and carbon problems which will continue
A report about aviation in the EU has been produced as a joint publication by EuroControl, the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Called the second European Aviation Environmental Report(EAER), it shows the growing impacts of the industry in recent years, saying: “the contribution of aviation activities to climate change, noise and air quality impacts is increasing, thereby affecting the health and quality of life of European citizens”. Comparing 2005 and 2014 with 2017, on noise, in 2017 more people were exposed to noise than in 2005. Measured across some of Europe’s busiest 47 airports, the number of people inside the 55dB Lden noise contours rose to 2.58 million in 2017. The average noise energy per flight decreased by only 1% between 2014 and 2017 compared to a decrease of 14% between 2005 and 2017. On carbon emissions, though aircraft fuel efficiency improved 8% for commercial flights between 2014 and 2017. But the increase in flights meant that compared to 2014, gross CO2 emissions in 2017 rose by 10% to 163Mt CO2. So there was a 3% rise in net European aviation CO2 emissions from 2014 to 2017. NOx, which has a net climate warming impact when emitted at altitude, increased by 12% to 839,000 tonnes
Heathrow court case won’t be live-streamed but there will be transcripts and maybe link into another court
An application to live-stream a legal proceedings at the High Court on the expansion of Heathrow has been refused at a hearing on 5th February. Justice Hickinbottom ruled that the trial by five claimants, versus the Secretary of State for Transport – set to begin on 11 March for two weeks – could not be live-streamed as the law dating from 1925, and 1981, did not allow for proceedings within the court to be recorded. The Judge agreed that the case was of considerable public interest, and being able to watch hearings live would be a benefit to many people. However, the court will seek to provide another large and accessible additional courtroom for members of the public wishing to watch the proceedings who won’t be able to fit in Court 76. Tweeting from both courtrooms is also to be permitted. Additionally, on application, screening of the proceedings in other courts around the country will be considered, an acknowledgment that the case is of wide public interest, allowing those from other parts of the country to avoid considerable costs of attending the hearings in London – a point acknowledged by Justice Hickinbottom. Transcripts of proceedings will also be published, online, although it remains to be decided as to how costs of these scripts will be apportioned.
Richmond Council reaffirms opposition to more Heathrow flights, as plans show there will be no escape from aircraft noise
Richmond Council voted to reaffirm its stance against Heathrow expansion last night, in a motion criticising the airport’s proposal to add an additional 25,000 flights a year, prior to expansion. Last week the Council condemned Heathrow’s latest consultation which considers several issues, including; 25,000 flights added prior to expansion, noise, runway alternation and night-flying relating to its 2 existing runways, as well as the proposed controversial new 3rd runway. At the full Council meeting, members from all political parties were united in agreeing that the proposals were unacceptable and would prove disastrous for Richmond upon Thames. The impact from the additional flights would be felt across the whole borough, as curving flight paths may impact on areas that haven’t been impacted by aircraft noise before. By contrast, currently most aircraft noise from approaching aircraft is concentrated over the north of the borough including Barnes, Kew and Richmond. A key councillor said this 25,000 is just the tip of the iceberg. An extra runway would mean an additional 260,000 flights a year. That is unacceptable for our health, our sleep and our environment. It will ruin the lives of thousands of people.
Heathrow slammed for ‘by-passing Chiswick’ for one of its consultation events
Local MP Ruth Cadbury has joined Chiswick campaigners against Heathrow expansion who say they are angry at the airport’s failure to hold a local consultation on changes which will significantly affect W4, particularly north Chiswick. The airport’s current round of consultation events (Airspace And Future Operations ) features events in Hammersmith, Ealing and Hounslow Civic Centre, but none in Chiswick. This is despite the fact that the area faces significant potential disruption by proposed changes to flight paths or changes to respite periods even without a third runway. With a 3rd runway, the area will be intensely overflown by planes arriving to the new north runway, from the east. Campaigners say the level of low flights directly over the North Chiswick area area could reach 47 per hour (almost 1 per minute). It is likely that, with a 3rd runway, an estimated 35,000 residents could be affected. They consider that Heathrow is avoiding holding events in areas where opposition is likely to be strong and forceful, to try and ensure a more positive overall response to the consultation. The Bedford Park Society (BPS) and local group CHATR are planning a public meeting in Chiswick instead.
London Assembly report says Heathrow 3rd runway should be scrapped, due to ‘severe effects’ of aircraft noise
A report, by the London Assembly environment committee, calls for Heathrow expansion to be stopped, due to the effects of aircraft noise. The report has renewed calls for the 3rd runway to be stopped. The noise from aircraft negatively affects work, relaxation and sleep, with “severe effects” on health and wellbeing. Caroline Russell, chairman of the committee, said: “The experiences of residents living with the daily nightmare of overhead noise are deeply worrying. This drive towards filling airspace capacity must be checked. For too many people, including children, aircraft noise is a major dominant intrusion into their everyday lives.” If Heathrow builds the new runway, the number of flights will increase from around 475,000 to 740,000 a year. It is likely that around 200,000 more people will be badly affected by aircraft noise. Heathrow also plans to increase its flights by 25,000, to around 500,000 per year and change flight paths, including overflying new areas, even before any 3rd runway. Ms Russell added: “…aviation authorities and operators must prioritise the health and well-being of Londoners and give us a break.”
Report from London Assembly says due to noise, air traffic should NOT increase at Heathrow or London City airport
The London Assembly’s Environment Committee has produced a report on aircraft noise, particularly now that Heathrow not only wants a 3rd runway, but has also recently announced plans for 25,000 extra flights a year, bringing new areas of London under its flight paths. The noise is increasing the negative impact for those who have no choice but to live with a debilitating noise invasion. The report found that noise nuisance levels are unacceptable; it calls for a halt on all air traffic growth at Heathrow and London City airports. The report details the impact of altitude, flight paths and out-of-hours flights on the noise suffered by many Londoners. Among its recommendations are that the noise thresholds for disturbance should be lowered, to take account of people needing to open their windows. They say: “Air traffic at Heathrow and London City should not increase and Heathrow’s third runway should not go ahead.” It also says that planes should be kept higher, and the impacts of noise from both Heathrow and London City should be considered together, not separately. Night flights should be stoped, and there should be better restrictions on flights in the early morning.
New study by London TravelWatch shows more airline passengers using cars or cabs to get to Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton
A new report has been produced by London TravelWatch. “Way to go: Improving public transport access to London’s airports”. It gives comprehensive details about the various components of surface access transport, with information on what works well and what does not for each airport, and current state of any improvements. The report indicates that airline passengers are more likely to travel by car or taxi to catch flights from Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton than they were 7 years ago, in a trend they say is “concerning”. Despite major investment in rail and coach links to the three airports, the proportion of passengers using public transport actually fell slightly between 2012 and 2016. But at Stansted, with accessibility improved by new coach connections, the use of public transport had improved. The proportion using public transport fell from 41% to 39.1% at Heathrow, 44% to 43.6% at Gatwick and 33% to 31.4% at Luton. Failings of public transport and the growth of taxi apps like Uber cited as reasons. Numbers using public transport rose at Stansted from 51% to 54.7% and at London City from 50% to 50.9%. Heathrow continues to encourage car parking, from which it earns huge revenues.
Bristol airport hope to expand from 8 to 12 million annual passengers; 73% rise in CO2 emissions
Bristol Airport is hoping to expand. There is a consultation that started on 19th December, and ends on 26th January, on their plans. Details can be found here. The headline application issue is a 50% growth in passengers – from the current 8.2 million per year, to 12 million by the mid 2020’s. Carbon emissions from flights are estimated to rise by 73% from 746 ktCO2 in 2017 to 1,290 ktCO2 with 12 million passengers. The increase in passengers will be achieved by de-restricting night flights up to 4,000 per year, expanding car parks, changing road lay outs, and building a multi-storey car park (persuasively capped with some wind turbines). There are further plans to raise passenger numbers to 20 million by 2040. There is a lot of local opposition, focused on issues such as congested roads, ‘parking blights’ (cars parked in lanes etc), other local environmental impacts, noise pollution – through the night and day. There are some minimal hyper-localised ‘Noise Insulation Grants’ (up to £5000 for glazing). The airport plans to get more income in from cafes, shops and car parking, to boost profits. Bristol Airport is entirely owned by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan – it is not British owned at all.
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.
Pre-trial hearing on 15th January of the 5 legal challenges against ‘unlawful’ Government decision to approve 3rd runway
Campaigners are taking the government to court in a bid to overturn the “unlawful” decision to approve a 3rd Heathrow runway. The pre-trial hearing for Friends of the Earth’s case will take place on Tuesday at the High Court, when the activists will lay out their opposition based on several grounds. There are 5 separate legal challenges being brought by a range of organisations, on grounds of climate, air quality and harm to the wellbeing of local residents. It would be virtually impossible for Britain to meet its obligations to cut emissions under the Paris climate agreement if a new Heathrow runway is built [or for that matter, one at Gatwick either]. The Government’s advisory body on climate change, the Committee on Climate Change, has warned the expansion also threatens the government’s own legally binding pledge to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. Transport secretary Chris Grayling said, without any justification for his belief, that he was “confident” that technical innovations would cut aviation CO2 emissions enough, so expansion could happen without breaking the targets. Hopes that either biofuels or electric planes would enable aviation to become a low carbon means of transport are unrealistic.
Richmond Council condemns latest Heathrow consultation – for unacceptable increases in noise and air pollution
Heathrow has a consultation, closing on 4th March, on its future airspace, both for the existing 2 runways and with a possible 3rd runway. Heathrow claim they will take the responses and view of residents etc into account. However, Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, has condemned the latest consultation – claiming 25,000 extra flights would be disastrous for the borough. He, said: “We have always said that Heathrow needs to be better and not bigger. But clearly size is everything to the airport. Heathrow are proposing the biggest changes to its flight path since it opened. People living in Richmond and other areas of West London will find their respite from overhead noise cut under these proposals. Not to mention the additional 25,000 more flights a year – which will no doubt be crammed into the early morning schedules, delivering more misery for our residents. Let’s not forget, these extra flights will still require Planning consent.” He said it was a bad case of the government “putting the cart before the horse” in having got a parliamentary vote in favour of the runway (many votes by MPs who very little indeed about it) before details of flight paths and other impacts were known.
Heathrow opens new consultation on airspace – including 25,000 more annual flights, by using IPA
Heathrow has opened another consultation – this on is on “Airspace & Future Operations”. It ends on 4th March. Not only is Heathrow planning for a 3rd runway, and up to 50% more flights eventually, it is also now trying to get another 25,000 flights (about 5% more). fairly soon. And it wants these extra 25,000 flights whether it gets its 3rd runway, or not. The current flight numbers cap is 480,000 per year, set after the Terminal 5 Inquiry. It is currently using about 475,000 – with the few spaces at unpopular times of the day or week. Heathrow plans to get the extra flights, added at times already very busy, by what it calls IPA – Independent Parallel Approaches, which mean planes can come in on two runways at once, at the same time. Currently if they do this, they have to be staggered, at slightly further distances apart than with IPA. Heathrow admits this will mean different flight paths, and people not currently being overflown, by narrow concentrated flight paths. Planes on IPA would join the final approach path about 8 nautical miles from the runway. It will be important that the areas to be newly negatively affected are made aware of what is going to hit them. The extra flights would also give Heathrow more income in the short term, to help it pay the immense cost of its 3rd runway plans.
New Fellow Travellers report on the potential for electric aircraft to mitigate aviation emissions. Spoiler: it’s very limited.
A new report, “Electric Dreams – the carbon mitigation potential of electric aviation in the UK air travel market” (by Jamie Beevor for Fellow Travellers) looks at how much, realistically, electric planes could cut UK aviation CO2 emissions in the foreseeable future. They conclude that though small electric planes might be able to serve domestic and short haul routes, the cut in CO2 would not be large. The report says: “Delivering this level of emissions reduction before 2050 would require regulation and major market intervention to accelerate product development and fleet turnover industry cycles …Engineering constraints mean larger gains are unlikely in this timeframe, and it is probably not possible for transatlantic-range battery powered craft to be economically viable …There are no electric aircraft currently in development which could compete with the majority of the current global civil aviation fleet on range or capacity”. It concludes: “There is no realistic prospect – and there are no industry plans – for improvements in aircraft technology to bring about large overall reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from passenger flights within a timeframe that is meaningful to averting catastrophic temperature rises.” This is useful in countering aviation industry techno-greenwash.
Gatwick airport: majority stake 50.01% sold to French group Vinci; GIP and partners retain 49.99%
New owner says Brexit threat helped Vinci get 50.01% stake in UK’s second-busiest airport for ‘reasonable’ £2.9bn. A consortium led by the US investment fund Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) is selling a majority stake of 50.01% in the airport to Vinci Airports, one of the world’s top airport operators and part of the infrastructure group Vinci. Vinci and GIP will manage Gatwick together. Gatwick will be the largest in Vinci’s portfolio of 46 airports spread across 12 countries. The French group’s network includes Lyon-Saint-Exupéry airport, Nantes Atlantique and Grenoble Alpes Isère in France; Lisbon and Porto in Portugal, Funchal in Madeira, and Osaka Itami and Kansai International in Japan. The GIP-led consortium bought Gatwick from the airport operator BAA for £1.5bn in 2009 and spent £1.9bn modernising the airport in subsequent years. The shareholders are selling down their stakes, leaving GIP with 21%, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority with 7.9%, Australia’s sovereign wealth fund with 8.6% and two public pension funds in California and South Korea with 6.4% and 6% respectively.
No 3rd Runway Coalition comment on DfT’s Aviation Strategy: IT UNDERMINES GOVERNMENT CREDIBILITY ON ENVIRONMENT
The Aviation Strategy Green Paper published today is seeking to deliver sustainable growth of the aviation sector to 2050. It fails to set out how continued aviation growth is compatible with existing environmental commitments, with the Government appearing content to let action on CO2 to be delivered at an international level This attitude is in stark contrast to the advice from the Committee on Climate Change, which the DfT has ignored, warning recently as June 2018 that that higher levels of aviation emissions in 2050 “must not be planned for” and raised a series of concerns about how one additional runway would be compatible with efforts to reduce emissions, let alone two. They also warned that expansion of Heathrow will require significant operational restrictions on all other UK airports. The paper will also consult on the decision-making process for delivering a further runway in the UK by 2050. The DfT claims that the need for exploring another runway is due to higher growth than was predicted in the 2015 forecasts. Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition said: “The Green Paper simply contains no strategy, either for delivering on existing environmental commitments or for addressing the significant negative impacts of airport operations on local communities.”
DfT consultation starts, on its aviation strategy green paper, for huge growth of UK airports
The Department for Transport will today publish a long-awaited aviation strategy that pledges to deliver “greater capacity at UK airports”. It intends airports other than Heathrow all growing and having more flights – “if tough environmental and noise restrictions are met” (ignoring CO2, of course). The strategy also outlines plans for the biggest overhaul of Britain’s airspace in more than 50 years to create new flight paths into the biggest airports. There would be a considerable increase to the 600 or so dedicated flight paths in operation now, and will subject households directly beneath the flight paths to unbearable noise levels. The DfT hopes to offer a sop, in terms of being able to alternate flight paths, so people get periods of less noise, in compensation for periods of intense noise. New flight paths are expected to be designed by the summer of 2020 and introduced in 2024 and 2025 subject to CAA approval (CAA gets its funding from airlines – so not dispassionate). The strategy, which will go out for public consultation. The Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN) has been created to police the system. NATS says the number of UK flights is expected to grow 700,000 to about 2.9 million by 2030.
Crawley Council object to Gatwick Master Plan – due to detrimental effect on the local environment
Recently a YouGov poll commissioned by Gatwick airport – unclear what the exact wording was, or who was polled – claimed about three quarters of residents backed the airport’s expansion. However, at a Crawley full council meeting, the majority vote was against the proposal. This is what they will put in the council response to the Gatwick Master Plan consultation that is currently going on. The opposition is unsurprising as Crawley council have made their feelings clear in previous years, objecting to the 2nd runway. A year ago Crawley approved the building of a new Boeing hangar, for aircraft maintenance, as they hoped this would bring local jobs. In the council there is a real concern that the growth proposed would have too detrimental an effect on the environment. Gatwick claim it is making less noise now (a claim that many severely overflown residents would not believe, especially with noise at night) and “30% of its fleet will comprise quieter aircraft by 2022.” Local group CAGNE has asked hat the airport disclose details the safety incidents that have already occurred whilst using the emergency runway when the main runway is closed for maintenance. Crawley opposed the 2nd runway strongly (25:11) in January 2015, during the time of the Airports Commission.
IATA anticipates profitable years ahead for aviation sector – cheap fuel etc – average ticket price 61% below 1998 levels
IATA (International Air Transport Association) says carriers are ‘cautiously optimistic’ about 2019 as it predicts the global airline industry will net US$35.5 billion throughout the year. This forecast comes before the final result for 2018 is know, but is expected to be $32.3 billion. Overall airline industry revenues in 2019 are expected to reach $885 billion, which is 7.7% higher than in 2018. IATA believes demand growth for passenger traffic will be 6% (about 4.59 billion, compared to 4.34 billion this year) and for growth for air cargo will be 3.7%. Due to lower fuel costs (predicted at $65 per barrel) – due to increased output from the US, the industry expects profits, even if there is slightly slower world economic growth. In Europe profits may drop fractionally in 2019, with net profit expected at $7.4 billion in 2019 compared to $7.5 billion in 2018, due to “intense competition” between airlines. There were profit reductions in 2018 in Europe due to air traffic control strikes, and not enough air traffic controllers. Average fares are expected to be $324 (at current currency rates, before surcharges and tax), which IATA says is 61% below 1998 levels – when adjusted for inflation. IATA’s CEO De Juniac said: “Air travel has never been such a good deal for consumers.” No concerns about the carbon emissions.
Study by German NGO, Atmosfair, shows airlines are failing to take up the most fuel efficient planes – so not reducing CO2
Airlines are failing to take up the most efficient planes in sufficient numbers to make a significant dent in their carbon dioxide emissions, a new study by Atmosfair has found. The most efficient new aircraft models, such as the Boeing 787-9 and Airbus A350-900 and A320neo, can achieve substantial CO2 savings over older models, but no airlines have invested sufficiently in the new types to reach the top levels of energy efficiency, according to the 2018 ranking by the German NGO. In it no airlines received an A for efficiency, and only 2 airlines were ranked in efficiency class B. Atmosfair also found that only 10% of airlines worldwide were succeeding in keeping their greenhouse gas emissions constant (let alone not reducing them) while flight numbers grew. Carbon emissions from airlines grew by about 5% last year, while the number of kilometres flown increased by 6%. The results show that the efficiency improvements of the vast majority of airlines worldwide is not sufficient to keep within the 2C or 1.5C target of the Paris agreement. The sector needs new and radical measures to limit their carbon emissions, and CO2-neutral fuels – if they were possible [which is probably unlikely]. British Airways was placed at 74th, with an efficiency rating of D.
Head Commissioner for the ICCAN announced – Robert Light
Robert Light has been announced by DfT as the Head Commissioner for the new Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN). He has stood down as a Conservative councillor after 30 years. Details Formerly a Yorkshire council leader, deputy chair of the Local Government Association, and Environment Agency board member. The DfT is now recruiting for 3 further ICCAN Commissioners – candidates should have a strong background in one of three areas: acoustics & aviation noise, aerospace & the aviation industry, community engagement & representation. The job is 2 days per month, salary £12,000 pa. Applications close 2nd January 2019. Details
More about ICCAN here
AEF discussion paper on what – on air pollution – needs to be in UK’s forthcoming “Aviation Strategy”
The Aviation Environment Federation have produced a series of discussion papers, on environmental aspects of aviation policy that need to be properly dealt with in the government’s forthcoming new “Aviation Strategy” consultation, and then an Aviation White Paper in 2019. There are papers on noise and carbon emissions, and now one on air pollution. The AEF says the UK needs clarity on how airport expansion can be achieved keeping to air pollution commitments. We need better information on pollution that comes from planes, outside the “landing and take off cycle”, which only covers planes up to 3,000 feet altitude. We also need better mapping of where the air pollution is, around airports, showing legal limit values and WHO maximum levels for pollutants. There should be clarity on how air pollutants will increase, if the number of flights at an airport increase, and how this affects the “National Emissions Ceiling Directive” (NECD) limit values. AEF says a lot more clarity is needed, on whether it is true most of the air pollution around airports comes from road vehicles (associated with the airport or not) and how much is from planes themselves. There has been no national review of airport air pollution since 2003, for airports other than Heathrow.
“Heathrow unveils its plan for carbon neutral growth”: except there is no credible plan … not for a 50% increase in flights
Heathrow has set out a “plan” to (magically) help it to increase the number of flights by up to 50% but do this in a “carbon neutral” way. Needless to say, there is no detail of how it can actually do this. There is plenty about how it will be investing in “sustainable” fuels. Plenty of blather, without any actual details, about how can achieve an entirely impossible goal. Heathrow says it is looking at action on 4 key areas including: cleaner aircraft technology, [by that it means more fuel efficient, not more clean]; improvements to airspace and ground operations; sustainable aviation fuels [none probably exist, without huge unintended side effects]; and carbon offsetting methods [ie. keeping on emitting, and paying to cancel out the carbon savings made by others elsewhere, postponing the evil moment when they actually reduce aviation CO2 emissions.] There is hype like how they will: “Make Heathrow a leading hub for the development and deployment of sustainable aviation fuels by providing the necessary airport infrastructure, and support for pilot projects” and how they are calling on “ICAO to develop global goals for the uptake of sustainable alternative fuels.” And lots of hope about those peat bogs, which they are hoping will save their bacon ….
No 3rd Runway Coalition’s message loud and clear at London Climate March
At the Climate Change march in London on 1st December, to mark the start of the COP24 climate talks in Katovice, Poland, the No 3rd Runway Coalition was out in force. Many hundred people marched – 700 or more? – with a large input from anti-fracking activists, and many from Extinction Rebelling. After rallying outside the Polish Embassy for speeches, including Neil Keveren from Stop Heathrow Expansion, the march set off down Regents Street and Piccadilly to Whitehall. The key concern was that in the UK, from fracking to a Heathrow third runway, our government is failing to face up to the climate crisis. The recent IPCC report is a landmark for our planet, setting out just what is at stake if we breach 1.5C warming. We need action now to move to a Zero Carbon Britain, with climate jobs to build the future we need. Instead of rapidly committing to effective action to cut CO2, the UK government is actively backing measures to make CO2 emissions higher or cut funding for initiatives that would cut burning of fossil fuels. The No 3rd Runway Coalition banner took up pride of place at the start of the march. There were many Coalition members present, many placards on show, the huge Chatr black plane clearly stating “No 3rd Runway”, and a good turnout by Stop Heathrow Expansion.
Approval of Stansted expansion: UTTLESFORD COUNCIL PLANNING CHAIRMAN DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WHAT HE WAS VOTING FOR!
Following the decision of the Chairman of Uttlesford Planning Committee, Councillor Alan Mills, to use his (additional) casting vote in favour of the airport planning application, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) health adviser, Professor Jangu Banatvala, wrote to him to ask whether he had reviewed the latest important WHO Noise Guidelines, published on 10th October, prior to voting. The disturbing reply from Councillor Mills suggests that he was not aware of the WHO Guidelines and he believed the planning application was for 174,000 flights, rather than 274,000. He did not appear to have understood that the application was for an increase in flights, by about 25,000 per year, despite claiming to have read a third of the documents. Five councillors voted in favour of the Stansted application, but SSE has found that at least some of them had either not read, or had not understood, even the most basic information about the application. SSE said this is entirely unsatisfactory. It confirms that this application should be dealt with at a higher level than a small district council, with limited resources to deal with such a significant application with such widespread implications. SSE’s lawyers are now working on the detailed legal submissions to the Secretary of State on why he must now ‘call in’ the application for national determination.
No 3rd Runway Coalition blog: Still no clarity on Heathrow finances for its expansion
In a blog, from the Chairman of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, Paul McGuinness, he says that serious concerns remain about how Heathrow might fund its hoped-for 3rd runway. The CAA has written to the DfT asking for clarity, as it does not have adequate or detailed information from Heathrow. As Nils Pratley highlighted in the Guardian “in most industries, a rebuke from the regulator would be met with an immediate promise to do better. Heathrow’s response, however, amounted to a shrug of the shoulders”. In Heathrow’s “Scoping Report” to the Planning Inspectorate in May they said, buried deep within the highly technical documents, it says that it seeks ‘early release of capacity’ that would be created by a 3rd runway. In short, Heathrow are trying to secure an additional 25,000 flights each year, (68 per day) above the current cap of 480,000, years before the 3rd runway opens. The current cap was a key condition of the T5 planning permission. Heathrow wants the income from these extra flights to help pay for the runway. Nobody knows who would be affected, or what noise, pollution, congestion etc impacts there would be. There has been no assessment. Read the full blog.
New structure for GACC Committee as they continue longstanding fight to protect residents from Gatwick airport
GACC, Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, announces a new structure to better utilise the dedicated long standing GACC Committee, with the aim of being more agile and responsive in its work to counter the threat from Gatwick Airport and its expansion master plan. Brendon Sewill, having being the Chairman of GACC for over 6 decades and hugely respected, is now GACC President. Lisa Morris, after 5 years on the GACC committee, becomes Chairman, and said “I am honoured to be entrusted with the role of Chairman at a time when GACC seeks to fight Gatwick’s master plan for a 3 runway airport. The GACC committee is poised to use its combined forces of knowledge, expertise and sheer determination, to challenge Gatwick’s master plan, which includes bringing the emergency runway into routine use and safeguarding land in the Gatwick vicinity for a 3rd runway”. Peter Barclay, Brendon’s successor last year, steps down from his role as Chairman to take on the important role of Vice President in addition to continuing to be the GACC lead with Gatwick, nationally and regionally. GACC will be further strengthening and enlarging the Committee, to fight on behalf of all communities negatively affected – and not only from noise – by Gatwick airport.
Warning at UN Biodiversity Conference that humanity’s rush into biofuels/biomass will devastate global biodiversity
Growing enough plants to provide biomass and biofuels, that are meant to slow climate change (climate breakdown) compared to burning fossil fuels, will need a biofuel land grab: a 10 to 30-fold rise in land devoted to these crops from the level now. This means the destruction of the habitats for plants and animals, seriously undermining the essential global biodiversity. This warning was spelt out at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Egypt by Anne Larigauderie, executive secretary of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, IPBES. The latest IPCC report, on limiting climate warming to 1.5°C, had given “a sense of extreme urgency” for ways to cut CO2 emissions, fast. But this mean “tradeoffs and synergies between climate, biodiversity and land degradation.” More land would be used for monocultures of plants like maize. Perhaps by 2050 up to 724 million hectares, an area almost the size of Australia, might be used for biofuel crops – compared to perhaps 15 to 30m ha now. There is very little “marginal land” that could be used for these crops (they need water etc, and decent soils). This use of biomass will inevitably have “negative consequences for biodiversity.” By contrast, reforestation and forest protection helps reduce carbon more effectively. As does cutting energy use. Tragic that the global aviation industry hopes to use huge volumes of biofuel, just so it can keep expanding and creating ever more desire for hyper-mobility, and a sense of entitlement to inter-continental jet travel, largely for leisure and recreation.
PhD study indicates flight ban until 6am could save £ millions on NHS prescriptions for health impacts
A PhD thesis by an economics researcher at Kings College London, Silvia Beghelli, looked at “The Health Effects of Noise and Air Pollution”. She looked at the medications prescribed to patients in areas affected by Heathrow planes, and the medical costs of the health impacts. She looked at a trial performed over 5 months at Heathrow in 2012, when planes did not fly over designated areas in the early mornings, between 4:30am and 6am. She found that fewer drugs were prescribed for respiratory and nervous system conditions in areas with the reduced air traffic. Mrs Beghelli cross-referenced NHS data with the trial’s findings and found a link between air traffic and health, notably a 5.8% decrease in spending on pills including anxiolytics for conditions such as insomnia, anxiety and depression in the no-fly zones. As well as meaning the quality of health of people in these areas must have been better, the lower prescribing saved the NHS money. She calculated that modifying flight schedules could save £5 million in NHS prescription costs. It could also cut demand for hospital appointments. The study suggests that early morning planes are causing people to need more prescriptions.
Uttlesford DC approves Stansted expansion plan, only by Chairman’s casting vote – but plans may now be “called in”
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has expressed dismay and disappointment that the vote on 14th November)by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) Planning Committee granted approval for Stansted’s planning application to grow – to an annual throughput of 43 million passengers per annum (from the 35 million cap now). If this approval is allowed to stand, it would mean that Stansted could increase its flights by 44% and its passenger throughput by 66% compared, to last year’s levels. The Planning Committee, comprising ten elected Uttlesford councillors, split right down the middle with 5 in favour of the application (including the Planning Committee Chairman) and 5 against. Where there is a split vote, the Council rulebook gives the Chairman an additional (casting) vote – so he gets 2 votes. Both BBC and ITV regional news teams filmed the session, which was attended by many local people. UDC cannot issue a decision notice until the Sec of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (James Brokenshire) has considered whether the application should be called in. This should have been done already, as the planned expansion is very near the threshold necessary – of an increase by 10 million annual passengers. SSE will now submit further representations to the Secretary of State asking him (again) to call in the application. They are currently also legally challenging the decision.
Government, not content with ONE new runway breaching UK carbon targets, is now planning for TWO
The Government will open the door for another new runway by 2050, in addition to the plans for expansion at Heathrow, in a consultation to be launched next month. The DfT’s “Aviation Strategy Green Paper” will consult on the decision-making process for delivering a further runway in the UK by 2050, according to Sarah Bishop, DfT’s Deputy Head of Aviation Policy. This would be in addition to a 3rd Heathrow runway, and perhaps Gatwick making use of its emergency runway. Ms Bishop says there could be a “need” (sic) for more expansion, to meet air travel demand. Classic outdated “predict & provide” thinking. [The DfT gives the impression it is entirely unaware of of global climate breakdown, or the UK’s responsibilities on its carbon emissions]. It remains unclear how even ONE further runway (perhaps Heathrow) could be delivered within the UK’s legally binding CO2 emission targets – which require the aviation sector to keep its CO2 emissions to their 2005 level by 2050. The Committee on Climate Change warned as recently as June 2018 that higher levels of aviation emissions in 2050 “must not be planned for” and raised a series of concerns about even ONE new runway (let alone two). The No 3rd Runway Coalition believes the possibility of yet another runway being approved by the DfT would cause concerns for investors in Heathrow.
Living near to a busy road or airport TRIPLES your risk of a heart attack and stroke because the noise triggers a harmful response in the body
More evidence – now from Massachusetts General hospital – is showing that living near to a noisy road or a busy flight path significantly increases risk of a heart attack or stroke. The added risk is in addition to risks of smoking and diabetes. It is thought that exposure to environmental noise alters the amygdala – a brain region involved in stress regulation and emotional responses. This then promotes blood vessel inflammation, which can lead to cardiovascular problems. Those exposed to chronic noise, such as near an airport, showed “a greater than three-fold risk” of suffering a heart attack or a stroke and other major cardiovascular event. People with the highest levels of noise exposure had higher levels of amygdala activity and more inflammation in their arteries. The study looked at 499 people, with an average age of 56 years old. None had cardiovascular illness or cancer. They all underwent simultaneous PET and CT scans of their brain and blood vessels. To gauge noise exposure, the researchers used participants’ home addresses government noise maps. The researchers say more research is needed to determine whether reduction in noise exposure could meaningfully lower cardiovascular risk and reduce the number of cardiovascular events on a population-wide scale.
Birmingham airport unveils draft Master Plan, for huge growth over next 15 years
Birmingham Airport has unveiled its draft Master Plan, with its hopes of expansion over the next 15 years. There is a consultation till 31st January. It wants to increase its capacity by 5 million passengers a year (mppa) Much of the intended spending will be for a larger departure lounge with a mezzanine floor, new retail and restaurant units, more toilets and seating. Also more self-service desks (ie. fewer jobs…) and “the latest bag-drop technology and a new back-of-house baggage sorting area aimed at improving efficiency.” (ie. fewer jobs). This has been seen by the airport’s consultative committee on 5th November. There is no plan for a 2nd runway, but the expansion will cause more environmental damage, more noise, CO2 emissions etc. – of which, no mention is made. (The usual airport attitude is “the majority of emissions are from planes in the sky and that is nothing to do with us…”). In the 2006 Master Plan the forecasts were for 25mppa by 2030; now they have reduced that to 18mppa by 2033. There were 12.9 mppa in 2017. Local campaigners suspect this will not be encouraging shareholders to fund expansion plans till the runway situation in the south east is sorted out. The airport is claiming the increased number of passengers will boost the local economy by £xx billion, and increase jobs by yyy. (These claims never materialise).
“Back Heathrow”, massively funded by Heathrow airport, tries to discredit Hillingdon, for their spending to protect residents
“Back Heathrow” is the “astroturf” group set up, managed by and (probably entirely) funded by Heathrow airport, to promote its 3rd runway, largely by claiming it has huge local support. Their accounts show that in 2017 “Back Heathrow” had current assets of £1 million (£1.24m in 2016). They have Net Worth of about £951,300. They complained in January 2017 about how much money Hillingdon Borough had spent in trying to defend its residents from the adverse impacts of an even larger Heathrow airport. Back Heathrow is complaining again. It has got figures from Hillingdon Borough Council, through FoI, for what it has had to spend to oppose Heathrow’s plans. (Not being a council etc, Back Heathrow cannot be FoI-ed). It says Hillingdon has spent £1.4 million of taxpayers’ money on this, between 2007 and now. In fact Hillingdon has spent about £1.12 million, as they received some funding towards the expenses, from other councils. Meanwhile, it is known that Heathrow spent £1.25 million advertising on Transport for London between June 2016 and 2017. It is also known that, between July 2015 and January 2017, the DfT spent over £3.8 million on external firms such as financial advisers N M Rothschild & Sons, law firms DLA Piper UK and Allen & Overy. No wonder local councils are given little alternative to spending money, to counteract this. Lots of info at the link below.
Might Heathrow only be able to afford its 3rd runway scheme, by being allowed another 25,000 annual flights well before runway was ready?
The Times’ Chief Business Commentator, Alistair Osborne, has written on the deeply unclear finances of a possible Heathrow 3rd runway. Alistair suggests, one way the airport could try and get in some extra cash, early in the building programme (when no airlines can use the new runway yet) is increasing the current numbers of flights and passengers. Heathrow loves to say it is full, but it is not. Each year the number of passengers creeps up – there is spare terminal capacity. But if instead of the current cap of 480,000 annual flights, Heathrow could get consent for an extra 25,000 (ie. to 505,000), it could add perhaps 6-7 million more passengers, up from the current 78 million or so. That could bring in much needed income, to help fund the vast project – including what to do with the M25. But adding 25 million more annual flights means about 65 more per day. Heathrow hopes to appease the ire of badly impacted local residents, by saying they would start flying at 5.30am rather than the 4.30am start now. But there would then be plane after plane after plane then, when people are still trying to sleep. And the airlines don’t like the idea, as it upsets their lucrative long haul schedules, and causes less resilience if there are delays, at the peak periods.
SSE say Stansted airport spin doctors are in a desperate final attempt to sway Uttlesford DC planners
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has described the latest Stansted press release claiming public support for its expansion plans as a complete distortion of the facts and a desperate eleventh hour attempt by the airport’s spin doctors to influence members of Uttlesford District Council (UDC) Planning Committee. The Committee is due to consider the airport planning application – for 44% more flights and 66% more passengers per year – on 14th November. The expansion would mean far higher CO2 emissions (over 1 million tonnes) from Stansted flights than now. SSE says the expansion plan “would have very serious environmental consequences for this generation and future generations. It would inflict yet more noise misery upon local residents and it would be a recipe for gridlock [local roads]. … We simply do not have the infrastructure to support an airport the size of Gatwick”. When Stansted claim hundreds of people support its plans, this is in part due to “repeatedly badgering all airport employees to trigger automatic computer-generated “I support expansion” emails. Only 16 members of the general public sent individual letters or emails to UDC backing the proposals. But UDC received 934 individually-written letters and emails opposing the plans including objections from 47 Parish Councils. No Parish Council has registered its support for the expansion proposals.
Heathrow regulator, the CAA, demands answers urgently on airport’s 3rd runway plan
The CEO, Richard Moriarty, of aviation watchdog body, the CAA, have written to the Department for Transport (DfT) asking that they should “decisively and urgently” address major concerns about the funding for the 3rd runway scheme – at least £14 billion, and doubtless more with cost over-runs and things not going to plan. They say Heathrow must “provide assurance that its revised timetable is realistic” and would “ensure timely delivery” of the expansion. The CAA threatens enforcement action against Heathrow to force it to provide clear evidence about how it would finance the scheme, while avoiding pushing up costs for airlines and passengers. The CAA says the project had been hit by a further delay, with a public consultation on detailed plans for the new runway now scheduled for June rather than in the first three months of next year. Heathrow is already the most expensive airport in the world, with landing charges of over £20 per ticket, and that is likely to rise – regardless of flimsy Heathrow assurances. Mr Moriarty said there is a “lack of high quality and comprehensive information” about how Heathrow would keep costs down, while being commercially viable, and these concerns had “not been adequately addressed, despite repeated requests”.
Stop Stansted Expansion says Uttlesford DC planners’ recommendation is just an uncritical rehash of MAG’s claims
The recommendation by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) planning officers, published on 22 October, that the current airport planning application should be approved, will not surprise anyone who has followed UDC’s handling of this airport planning application from the beginning. As far back as July 2017 – before the application was even submitted – UDC were openly discussing concessions that might be extracted from Manchester Airports Group (MAG), the owners of Stansted, in return for approving the application. SSE say the UDC officers’ report is little more than a rehash of MAG’s planning statement with no attempt made to challenge the many unsubstantiated and misleading claims made in the planning application. They say UDC planning officers haven’t even bothered to check the many wholly implausible assumptions made by MAG which allow it to claim that there would be no significant adverse impacts if the application is approved – thought that would mean a 66% increase in passengers and a 44% increase in flights compared to last year. But UDC say this “would not result in significant adverse impacts.” It is now for UDC councillors on the planning committee to decide. This case seems too large and complex for a small team of planning officers in a small local authority, without the necessary resources or expertise.
Local group SHE advises residents they should NOT be intimidated by, or respond to, Heathrow demands for their household information
Residents living in the CPO (Compulsory Purchase Order) area for the proposed Heathrow 3rd runway have received a letter, questionnaire and information sheet from Heathrow even though many of those people have already refused to take part in its surveys linked to the proposed runway. Local group, Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) says this repeated pestering of residents for data looks like harassment. In a long, detailed article here SHE gives information on what Heathrow is doing, what they ask for, and how residents do NOT have to give Heathrow any of the details they ask. The runway is NOT a done deal, and until it is, no resident is under any obligation to reveal personal information about themselves, their household members, their mortgage etc. The details are wanted by Heathrow, in order to facilitate future acquisition of the properties. The persistent propaganda by Heathrow, and the letters etc are having a demoralising effect (which suits the airport) on residents. SHE advises residents that they should NOT feel under any obligation to help Heathrow, and they should “NOT let this letter and accompanying paperwork upset or stress you. It can be binned with a clear conscience if that helps. Otherwise, just put it at the back of a drawer and get on with your life.”
Edinburgh Airport flight path plan rejected by CAA, as it was not the same as in the consultation
A deeply unpopular plan to change a flight path at Edinburgh Airport has been rejected by the CAA. The proposed changes would have seen aircraft flying to the west of Cramond and along the Firth of Forth. The CAA said it could not approve the proposal due to “significant” differences between the final plan and the version developed in consultation with local communities. Had the correct information been in the consultation, it could have made people respond differently to the questions asked. It was the second set of plans submitted to the CAA after the industry regulator told Edinburgh Airport to do more work on the original proposal. Helena Paul, of Edinburgh Airport Watch, said: “On behalf of communities affected by these damaging proposals we are highly relieved the CAA have looked carefully and agreed the process was fatally flawed and could not be allowed to stand. Our hope now is the regulator does not allow Edinburgh Airport to continue using an outdated set of rules for any future consultations and instead enforces the new set of rules brought in for any consultations on new flight paths.” Further consultation would be necessary. The airport said modernising the airspace was necessary for growth.
Campaigners fighting Gatwick expansion issue “State of Emergency” for the Sussex countryside
CPRE Sussex has taken the unprecedented step of declaring a “Countryside State of Emergency” in response to Gatwick Airport’s new expansion ‘Master Plan’, published on October 18th. The Master Plan details the airport’s proposal to expand from one to potentially three runways. A 2nd runway created from Gatwick’s existing emergency runway could result in an estimated 14 million extra passengers travelling through Sussex to/from the airport every year. A 3rd runway to the south – on the “safeguarded” land – would add millions more passengers and require “significant changes to the airport and surrounding roads”. “This plan would have a devastating impact on our countryside,” says CPRE Sussex Chair, David Johnson. “It would change the landscape and rural character of Sussex forever – scaring our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and deeply damaging the tranquillity and ecology of our National Park.” He commented: “It would be unthinkable to allow Gatwick to urbanise Sussex in this way, so we will be joining with all other community and conservation groups to oppose these plans”. We need to give our National Parks and AONBs more, and better protection – not risk ruining them with the impacts of developing an airport about the size Heathrow is now.
Gatwick opens 12 week consultation on using its emergency runway, for some take-offs, adding 30% + more flights
Gatwick has announced its draft “Master Plan” which (quote) “sets out how Gatwick can grow and do more for Britain.” In order to cram more flights into a one-runway airport, they hope to make more use of their emergency runway, parallel but close to the main runway. It is too near to be used properly as a second runway, on safety grounds. There will now be a 12 week consultation period on the plans, and Gatwick hopes to finalise its plans some time into 2019. The plans also include how the airport hopes to “meet future aviation demand with sustainable growth” (sic) into the 2030s. Under its 40-year current planning agreement, Gatwick’s existing standby runway is only used when the main runway is closed for maintenance or emergencies. But Gatwick hopes it “could potentially bring its existing standby runway into routine use for departing flights, alongside its main runway, by the mid-2020s.” This could mean a maximum of 390,000 flights annually (P. 88) compared to 290,000 in 2016, (ie. about 34% more.). That could mean up to 70 million annual passengers, compared to 43 million now – and a current theoretical maximum of 61 million (ie. about 15% more). “We would be able to add between 10 and 15 additional hourly aircraft movements in the peak hours.” (P.10) Oh …. and with no extra noise …. obviously….
Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is looking to buy part of GIP’s 42% stake in Gatwick
The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is looking to buy part of a stake in Gatwick airport that could be worth more than 3 billion pounds $3.92 billion, Sky News on Friday. CPPIB is said to be part of a group of investors proposing to buy out Global Infrastructure Partner’s (GIP) 42% stake in the second-busiest airport in Britain, the Sky News report said. The Canadian pension fund would invest “hundreds of millions of pounds” in the airport, if the deal gets finalised, insiders told Sky News.
Teddington TAG shows London Assembly data proves Heathrow NOx travels far, far away from the airport (not just Grayling’s “2km”)
The Airports Commission had, as its study area for the effects of Heathrow expansion, an area of just 2 kilometres from the boundary of the expanded airport. Chris Grayling wrote to the Chair of the Transport Committee on the 23rd February 2018 letter saying that this area “captures over 98% of additional emissions that could occur from expansion”. Teddington TAG asks if this figure of 98% emissions captured within 2 km of the boundary is true. They located air pollution data from the London Assembly, available by Borough. It apportions how much of the NOx in different areas is from vehicles, aviation and other sources. This shows that in Richmond Old Deer Park, according to the Data Apportionment Tool, about 77% of the NOx is from aviation. In Kew / North Sheen, 11km from touch-down, about 57% is from aviation. At Putney, which is under the flight path but is over 15 km from touch-down at Heathrow, about 33% of the NOx is from aviation. Putney is worse off than Kew as total emissions are greater. And all that is just from 2 runways! Aviation apportionment readings stretch back to Clapham Junction and beyond. So why did Grayling tell the Transport Committee that 98% was within 2km. Ignorance of the facts? Failure to be properly informed?
WHO Europe publishes tough guidelines & recommendations for policymakers to cut aircraft noise
WHO Europe has now published its long-awaited environmental noise guidelines, (for aviation, road, rail, wind turbine and leisure noise) the first complete update of the guidelines launched in 1999. For aircraft noise, the relevant guidelines strongly recommend reducing noise levels to below 45 dB Lden during the day, as aircraft noise above this level is associated with adverse health effects. For night noise exposure, they recommend reducing noise levels to below 40 dB Lnight, as aircraft noise above this level is associated with adverse effects on sleep. They say that to reduce health effects, policy-makers should “implement suitable measures to reduce noise exposure from aircraft in the population exposed to levels above the guideline values for average and night noise exposure.” Groups concerned about aircraft noise have long asked that WHO health guidelines are included in UK aviation policy documents, but they are not. There is no mention of WHO in the Government’s Aviation Strategy documents so far. Tim Johnson, AEF Director, said: “The Government has the perfect opportunity to respond positively in its draft Aviation Strategy due later this year. Rather than electing to ignore the WHO’s advice on the basis that it is too challenging, it should use set out appropriate measures to tackle this issue.”
NGOs urge EU to stand firm on aircraft emissions, keeping ETS and not letting ineffective CORSIA replace it
NGOs working on aviation’s climate impact have called on the European Commission (EC) to reject industry demands to hastily sign up to the controversial ‘Corsia’ carbon offsetting scheme for international aviation. T&E is warning that Corsia threatens the only effective measure currently in place to address aviation emissions, the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). In 2016, ICAO’s general assembly agreed a Corsia to come into effect in 2021. Its aim is to stabilise net emissions from aviation at 2020 levels – a low level of ambition. It also relies on offsetting – a mechanism which is increasingly discredited. T&E said: “Corsia is essentially an attempt by industry to dismantle the only effective measure in place to address aviation emissions – the ETS – and replace it with a weak and uncertain Corsia. The motivation is clear: emissions trading is working, but as the rules for Corsia get close to finalisation they are being weakened to the point where Corsia will have next to no environmental benefit.” That’s why industry is lobbying the EC to accept the Corsia rules without reservation. Three NGOs working on aviation’s climate impact, T&E, AEF and Carbon Market Watch, have written to the EC, calling on it to keep aviation as part of the ETS, and object to Corsia’s draft rules, that prevent the EU being able to regulate its aviation emissions.
UN climate science body’s (IPCC) report highlights that aviation must accelerate emissions reductions
The IPCC’s Special Report on trying to keep global warming to 1.5C highlights that we are not on target to keep global warming to below 2 degrees C much less 1.5C as countries agreed to in the Paris Agreement in 2015. Most notably, the report shows that progress in the transportation sector is lagging behind and needs to start its own transformation immediately This includes the global aviation sector. Some downplay the extent of aviation’s climate impact – some 5% of global warming when accounting for both CO2 and climate effects at altitude. The international portion of aviation’s emissions was “excluded” from the Paris Agreement and is being addressed entirely inadequately by the UN’s ICAO instead. But the IPCC report makes clear that cutting emissions from the fast growing aviation sector is essential. ICSA (the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation) says: “The IPCC makes clear that, without action on this major and growing source of emissions, the goal of limiting a temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C cannot be achieved. The report’s finding that efficiency improvements alone aren’t enough is a wake-up call to governments to put aviation on a flightpath to decarbonization to ensure the sector plays its part in delivering a zero-carbon future.”
Launch of “Stay Grounded” network – organisations around the world opposing unsustainable aviation/airport expansion
The Stay Grounded network has been officially launched. It now has over 130 signatories, (including the No 3rd Runway Coalition, and others in the UK) and more than 80 member organisations. Stay Grounded aims to reduce the environmentally and socially damaging impact of aviation, by stopping its fast rate of expansion across the world. The industry has privileged status in many ways, including its out-of-control increasing carbon emissions. The Stay Grounded network has published a position paper outlining 13 steps for a transition towards a transport system that is more socially just and ecologically sustainable. Many non-violent actions took place in countries around the world, in a recent week of action. These were directed against airport infrastructure projects, many of them leading not only to rising CO2 emissions, but also noise and health issues, loss of homes, biodiversity and fertile lands. Around the world there are about 1200 airports planned to be built or being expanded. Stay grounded will also highlight the industry’s inadequate “greenwashing” strategies, which will lead to increasing pressure on ecosystems, local farming communities, and indigenous peoples, particularly in the Global South.
The 5 legal challenges against a 3rd Heathrow runway will be heard over 2 weeks in March 2019
Five legal challenges against the Government’s plans to expand Heathrow have reached the next legal hurdle and will proceed to a full judicial review in March 2019. Justice Holgate today (October 4th) confirmed, in a hearing at the High Court, that the cases lodged by five different parties would be heard over 10 days in March 2019. Due to the size of the cases, amount of paperwork involved, and the public interest in the case, the hearings in March will be heard by two judges and will be heard in the largest courtroom at the Royal Courts of Justice. It was also noted that a separate courtroom may have to be used as overspill, with a TV link to the main proceedings, also due to level of interest. Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “These legal challenges are of the Government’s own making. It is not insignificant that the judge has permitted all five claimants to proceed to judicial review. In addition to the claim from several councils and the London Mayor, the four other claims raise some serious points of law. If the government had not ignored available evidence in their blinkered enthusiasm to expand this already highly disruptive airport, parliament would not have supported the proposal, and these actions would not have been necessary.”
Stansted Airport expansion decision delayed again, (from 17th October) – no date set
Plans to expand Stansted have been grounded, for now. Uttlesford District Council (UDC) has postponed a meeting to determine the future of the plans, under pressure from expansion opposition. The airport wants to increase the annual passenger limit by 35 million, from 8 million now up to 43 million. Expansion plans include work to build new aircraft stands and taxiways for additional aircraft (not a runway). The meeting was originally due to be held in July, before being pushed back until October 17th. A rearranged date has yet to be set. Expansion opposition group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) successfully requested the latest delay so that technical issues can be discussed. Highways England also complicated matters with concerns about road traffic implications. SSE said it is important that approval is not given before all the implications have been properly considered. They say it is “astonishing” that UDC were preparing to approve the expansion “even when important issues were – and still are – unresolved.” UDC said:“As a consequence of accommodating this request, officers expect to need extra time to address any technical issues that may arise from these enhanced consultation arrangements”.
Legal proceedings against Heathrow expansion begin – groups against the 3rd runway welcome “decisive action”
Plans for Heathrow expansion will meet their first legal test on Thursday 4th October, as claimants against the proposals seek to proceed their cases to full judicial review. Five parties have lodged judicial review claims against the plans including a consortium of 5 local authorities with Greenpeace and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Also Heathrow Hub Limited (promoters of a rival scheme to expand Heathrow), and Friends of the Earth. Also Plan B and a Twickenham resident, Neil Spurrier. The claims are against the Government’s National Policy Statement (NPS) – which only included Heathrow expansion – which Parliament voted on in June 2018, despite many unanswered questions about the projects legality and wider environmental impact. Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “Having ignored evidence, such as the report of parliament’s Transport Select Committee, the decision to expand Heathrow was always going to end up in the courts, under judicial review …” Government lawyers have conceded that all applicants are likely to get permission to proceed with their applications for JR, they are unlikely to oppose the granting of permissions at this pre-trial hearing.
Environmental NGOs write to European Commission asking that they do not allow CORSIA to replace the ETS for aviation
AEF, along with Carbon Market Watch and Transport & Environment, recently wrote to the European Commission to warn against any decision taken to exclude aviation from the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) before details of ICAO’s offsetting scheme (known as CORSIA) have been firmly established. The EU ETS covers only intra-EU flights and requires airlines to surrender sufficient carbon permits to cover their CO2 emissions in the previous year. CORSIA (Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation), a global market-based measure, was agreed in 2016 and its first phase is due to come into effect in 2021. Under CORSIA, operators will be expected to buy carbon credits equivalent to the additional carbon the sector emits above its 2020 level, for international flights globally. The aviation industry would like to see CORSIA take over from the ETS and replace it, as it is weaker and less effective in reducing CO2 emissions. The NGO’s letter asks that the European Commission should not allow CORSIA to replace the ETS for aviation, as CORSIA has many unresolved issues and well as “environmental weakness and lack of alignment with European climate ambition”.
AEF discusses how UK’s aviation strategy should effectively tackle climate change
The Government has promised that by the end of this year it will have laid out proposals to address one of the key policy gaps left by the Heathrow NPS, namely how UK plans to square its growth plans for aviation with its commitments on climate change. In the second of their discussion papers on the key issues the AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) want to see addressed by the Aviation Strategy Green Paper, and the AEF sets out – in some detail – why the current set of UK, regional and international policies fall short, why the Government’s carbon forecasts for aviation underplay the scale of the action needed, and just how big the challenge of fitting aviation into a net zero future is going to be. AEF argues that the strategy should: 1. Show as much ambition on climate change as on safety, technology and customer service. 2. Make an unambiguous commitment to limit aviation emissions to 37.5 Mt by 2050 as a maximum level. 3. Map out a policy plan for ensuring that emissions do not exceed this level. 4. Consider the implications of the Paris Agreement for domestic aviation policy. 5. Set out a clear UK position in relation to international efforts. 6. Propose policies to address aviation’s non-CO2 emissions. Details
Air pollution by NOx linked to much greater risk of dementia
Research published in the BMJ indicates there is an increase in the chance of developing dementia. About 131,000 patients in London aged between 50 and 79 were followed for 7 years, with air pollution exposure estimated by post code. People over 50 in areas with the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air showed a 40% greater risk of developing dementia than those with the least NOx pollution, according to the data from London. The observational study cannot establish that air pollution was a direct cause of the dementia cases, but the link between higher pollution and higher levels of dementia diagnosis could not be explained by other factors known to raise risks of the disease. Air pollution has already been linked with cardiovascular and respiratory disease, but this is one of the first studies to examine links with neurodegenerative illness. It is possible that perhaps 60,000 of the total 850,000 dementia cases in the UK may be made worse by air pollution. This adds to the body of research on the wide-ranging effects of air pollution, including evidence that particles of pollutants can cross the placenta – an evidence from China of a “huge” reduction in intelligence associated with breathing dirty air, equivalent to losing a year’s education.
Heathrow pays towards peat bog restoration – but its contribution to offsetting Heathrow’s carbon is infinitesimal
Heathrow has invested in the restoration of UK peatlands, not just because it is a good thing to do, but to give the airport good PR, with an infinitesimal contribution to offsetting their CO2 emissions. Working with the Lancashire Wildlife Trust and DEFRA, Heathrow’s first restoration priority will be Little Woolden Moss, west of Manchester, which has been subject to commercial peat extraction for more than 15 years. Heathrow says [sic]: “The restoration of the UK’s peatland bogs forms part of Heathrow’s plans to be a carbon neutral airport by 2020. ” ….and, worryingly “Heathrow hopes to show that projects like this will make a good option for airlines’ CORSIA commitments.” Heathrow has (paid already probably?) about £94,000 towards the project. They omit to mention that Defra has already paid £334,000 for the project. Heathrow claims “the restoration of this project area could lead to savings of 22,427 tonnes of CO₂ over 30 years …” As Heathrow departing flights emit over 18 million tonnes CO2 per year, that comes to 540 tonnes of CO2 over 30 years (ignoring a possible 3rd runway, with emissions perhaps 50% higher). The 22,427 tonnes comes to all of 0.004% of that carbon. So in reality, irrelevant. But greenwash.
Monbiot: “It doesn’t matter how many good things we do: preventing climate breakdown means ceasing to do bad things” (eg. expanding aviation)
An excellent article by George Monbiot, includes these comments in relation to aviation: “There may be more electric vehicles on the world’s roads, but there are also more internal combustion engines. There be more bicycles, but there are also more planes. It doesn’t matter how many good things we do: preventing climate breakdown means ceasing to do bad things.“… “When a low-carbon industry expands within a growing economy, the money it generates stimulates high-carbon industry. Anyone who works in this field knows environmental entrepreneurs, eco-consultants and green business managers who use their earnings to pay for holidays in distant parts of the world and the flights required to get there.” …”Labour guarantees that any airport expansion must adhere to its tests on climate change. But airport expansion is incompatible with its climate commitments. Even if aircraft emissions are capped at 2005 levels, by 2050 they will account for half the nation’s carbon budget if the UK is not to contribute to more than 1.5C of global warming. If airports grow, they will swallow even more of the budget’ …Airport expansion is highly regressive, offending the principles of justice and equity that Labour exists to uphold. Regardless of the availability and cost of flights, they are used disproportionately by the rich…”
Date set for Stansted Airport expansion planning decision by Uttlesford – 17th October
The passenger limit at Stansted could be lifted from 35 million a year to 43 million. Now the date of the special planning committee hearing at Uttlesford District Council, (UDC) to decide a planning application that would mean potentially millions more people going through Stansted, has been announced. UDC said the special planning committee is will be on October 17th, following 3 public speaking sessions the week before the decision will be made. The decision on whether to allow the airport to increase its annual passenger numbers was due to be decided in July, but because of the lack of information on sections of the application the meeting was delayed. There has been staunch opposition from residents fighting to stop any increase in passenger numbers. In August, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) filed legal papers to try and force the government to make the decision on the application, saying that UDC didn’t have the experience or expertise to handle such a complicated application. Currently the airport is operating with around 27 million passengers per year, eight million fewer than its current passenger limit. SSE will continue with legal action to make central government decide the plans, irrespective of the decision taken by UDC’s planning committee.
Trade Unions sceptical about extravagant jobs claims for a Heathrow 3rd runway
The Trade Union movement appears split on the issue of Heathrow expansion, following a fringe meeting (organised by the No 3rd Runway Coalition and the PCS) held at the Trade Union Congress in Manchester. Unions such as Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) spoke at a fringe meeting on the issue of transport, climate and jobs, highlighting their continued opposition to a 3rd Heathrow runway, despite other trade unions supporting the hugely environmentally damaging project. Chris Baugh (Assistant General Secretary, PCS), said though workers would not support the agenda to transition away from fossil fuels if their jobs were put in jeopardy, claims of large numbers of high quality jobs were hard to believe. Manuel Cortes (General Secretary, TSSA), raised concerns that the transport sector was heading backwards in addressing the challenge posed by climate change, while the UK urgently needs to address the crisis of CO2 emissions. Paul Beckford of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said the role played by trade unions in helping the transition to a low carbon economy will be crucial. Unions have to be clear about the reality of future jobs, generated by the runway.
Heathrow airport is battling debt pile of £13bn – enough to build the third runway
Heathrow has blown more than £6bn in interest on its debts over the past 12 years, a Mail investigation has found. It spends more than £500m a year on interest payments alone, accounts for Heathrow Airport Holdings show. Meanwhile its debt pile has risen to £13.4 billion – about the cost of aa possible 3rd runway. Heathrow is planning to spend around £14 billion on the project, but its mammoth debts reveal just how stretched the airport has become. Airline bosses fear Heathrow may not be able deliver the runway on budget, and want Heathrow to guarantee not to increase these to pay for the runway. While it has paid more than £6 billion in debt interest over 12 years, shareholders have extracted £3.6 billion in dividends. Heathrow makes money by charging landing fees to airlines, which are passed on to passengers – around £22 for each fare. The airport is planning to spend £33 billion on infrastructure in coming decades – including the runway and terminals to serve an extra 52m passengers a year. Most of the work is due to be completed by 2035, and there is growing concern that the airport will have to raise charges significantly to pay the bills.
Data shows the NOx produced by Heathrow planes is over double that produced by road vehicles
There is a widely held belief that Heathrow’s NO2 air pollution is largely due to road vehicles, and as long as measures can be taken to reduce these a bit, then a 3rd runway could be allowed. However, research indicates that the aircraft are producing even more NOx than the road vehicles, and there is far less that can be done to cut these emissions. Indeed, if there were to be almost 50% more Heathrow flights, the amount of NOx generated by the aircraft alone would mean a massive increase locally. That is not taking into account all the extra road traffic that would inevitably be generated by a larger Heathrow, including businesses etc that locate near the airport and all their traffic. The 2013 figures from a study for Heathrow, by Ricardo-AEA Ltd show the amount of NOx emitted from planes up to 1000 metres altitude was 2761 tonnes NOx/ year, and 1524 tonnes from aircraft on the ground (ie a total of 4285 tonnes/ year). Also 274 tonnes/year from other airport sources. Then 350 tonnes/year from Heathrow associated trips on main roads in a 11km x 11km area, and 1661 tonnes/ year from non-Heathrow associated traffic in that 11x11km area. (ie. a total of 2011 for all road traffic). So the amount of NOx from planes is way over twice the amount from road vehicles. And that ignores the NOx from planes in the wider area, over 1000 metres altitude.
Friends of the Earth launches High Court legal challenge against Government decision on Heathrow runway NPS – on climate change
Friends of the Earth (FoE) believes the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement, (NPS) which backs building a Heathrow 3rd runway, fails to address the UK’s climate change obligations. So they have started formal legal action at the High Court. The legal action challenges the legal basis of the government’s decision to designate the NPS, which gives the go-ahead to a 3rd runway. Lawyers Leigh Day, on behalf of FoE, have filed papers with the High Court – asking for the Airports NPS published in June to be quashed. They argue the NPS is illegal because • it does not explain how it takes account of domestic targets for greenhouse gas emission reduction under the Climate Change Act 2008; • it does not factor in the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C; • it fails to factor in the non-CO2 climate impacts of a 3rd runway, such as the emission of nitrogen oxides, which generate warming effects of a similar magnitude to CO2 emissions; and • it does not lawfully and fully consider the likely impact on future generations. A decision on whether there will be a full hearing about these issues is expected to be made this autumn.
Climate Change charity Plan B begins legal action against Grayling over Government’s Heathrow expansion plans
Climate change campaign Plan B, has started legal action against Transport Secretary Chris Grayling over his plans for Heathrow expansion. Plan B say the proposal breaches legal obligations in the Planning Act to alleviate the impact of climate change. Plan B join 4 other legal challenges against the runway plans (5 councils and Greenpeace UK, Heathrow Hub, a resident Neil Spurrier, and Friends of the Earth UK). Tim Crosland, Director of Plan B, said: ‘The Government has an express obligation under the Planning Act to promote sustainable development, with specific reference to the impacts of climate change. That means safeguarding the interests of current and future generations of UK citizens. Plan B says the NPS does not even consider the Government’s obligations under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change or that in April this year, the Government committed to a review of its climate targets in light of the Paris Agreement. Plan B’s legal action focuses exclusively on climate change impact.
Lawyers acting for a consortium of local authorities and others have issued JR proceedings in the High Court re. Heathrow runway
Lawyers acting for a consortium of local authorities and others have now issued judicial review proceedings in the High Court against the Secretary of State for Transport, on the basis that he has unlawfully designated the Airports National Policy Statement [NPS] under the Planning Act 2008. The proceedings challenging the expansion of Heathrow airport have been brought by the London Boroughs of Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith and Fulham, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Greenpeace and the Mayor of London. The grounds of challenge are on air quality, inadequate environmental assessment, climate change, surface access, breach of the habitats directive and a flawed consultation process. Councillor Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: “Once again we have a government that is trying to avoid applying both the correct legal process and common sense to the question of airport expansion. The abject failure to address the far reaching consequences for both the environment and the health and wellbeing of tens of thousands of residents across London is simply not acceptable.” The many flaws in the scheme need to be subjected to the rigorous scrutiny of the legal process, and its serious failings exposed.
Lillian Greenwood, Chair of the Transport Committee, accuses Grayling of ignoring its Heathrow recommendations
The UK government has largely ignored recommendations from the Transport Select Committee, a key parliamentary body, about Heathrow’s 3rd runway scheme. The committee’s Chair, Lilian Greenwood, said this makes it more likely the courts will strike down the project. She said Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, “gave the impression that 24 of our 25 recommendations had been accepted”, but said his comments were just “rhetoric”. … “The reality was that only two or three of our recommendations were actually accepted. …“I suppose at best you could say that the government said they agreed with the spirit of our recommendations and would ensure those matters were dealt with in the [planning] process.” The committee’s recommendations, if the runway went ahead, included adopting stricter air-quality standards, setting a binding target to prevent more airport-related traffic and defining noise-pollution limits. Now a Judicial Review of the government’s Airports NPS (ie. the Heathrow runway) by 5 local councils and Greenpeace, with the backing of the Mayor of London, is starting. If the courts overturn the government’s decision, it will “make the economic case on which Heathrow expansion is predicated less favourable”. ie. not good for investors.
Stop Stansted Expansion wants Uttlesford District Council to allow more time (not 31st August deadline) for consultation on airport expansion plans
Campaigners against plans to expand passenger numbers and flights at Stansted are calling for more time for the public to consider new information about the plans. Airport owner MAG is seeking permission to raise the upper threshold for passenger numbers and flights. Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) argues Uttlesford District Council’s (UDC) August 31 deadline for comments on an extra 900 pages of information is not enough. SSE says the council and the airport owners were seeking to “rush through” the application, and corners were being cut. SSE chairman Peter Sanders said: “This is an impossible deadline to achieve, unless Uttlesford only wants to receive superficial responses. Parish and town councils don’t even meet during August, nor does UDC council or cabinet. August is a lost month so far as a public consultation is concerned. It is especially galling because Uttlesford caused this problem in the first place. The council should not have accepted such a deficient planning application back in February. It is a case of more haste, less speed.” SSE is pursuing a high court challenge aimed at transferring responsibility for determining the planning application from UDC to the Secretary of State.
Heathrow runway rival – “Heathrow Hub” – launches legal challenge to DfT on its 3rd runway decision
The sponsor of a rival project to build a 3rd runway at Heathrow, Heathrow Hub, has started its challenge against the DfT for its decision to back the airport’s north-west runway scheme. Sky News has obtained a letter sent on Friday 27th July by lawyers acting for Heathrow Hub, which paves the way for it to seek a full judicial review of the Government’s decision. They have engaged Martin Kingston QC, a planning expert at No5 Chambers, and Robert O’Donoghue, a prominent figure in cases of competition law from Brick Court, to fight its case. In the pre-action letter, the law firm DAC Beachcroft accused the DfT of failing to provide information about the Heathrow decision-making process sought under freedom of information (FoI) laws. It requested that the DfT’s Airports National Policy Statement (NPS) be quashed on 5 principal grounds. These include a flawed understanding by ministers of the capacity for new air traffic movements created by extending the airport’s northern runway, to the west. Heathrow Hub also believes it was unlawful for the DfT to “effectively [give Heathrow] a veto” over their proposal (the airport always favoured their own scheme). Heathrow Hub is a privately owned company, funded by a hedge fund manager. There is also the challenge by 5 councils and the Mayor London, and one by a private citizen, Neil Spurrier.
Heathrow 2.5% rise in pax in 1st half of 2018, 5% rise in retail, 7% more on car parking cf. 2017
Though Heathrow always says it is almost full, in reality it has terminal capacity for many more. Its latest half year results, to the end of June, show the number of passengers increased by 2.5% to 38.1 million (half year). There are more larger planes, and the load factors are higher, now up 1% to 76.9% on average. Revenues for the 6 months were up 2.3% to £1.4 billion. Retail profits were up 5% to £206 million, far outstripping many high streets. Income from bars, restaurants and cafés was up by 11.5%. While trying to persuade politicians etc that it is not going to worsen already very bad air pollution with a new runway, Heathrow made 7% more from car parking in this first half, at £62 million. Car parking is very lucrative to the airport, while passengers arriving by public transport are not. Income from the Heathrow Express (owned by Heathrow) rail link (very expensive) from Paddington, fell by £2 million to £61 million. Spending more on security and the “passenger experience” cut pre-tax profits from £102 million to £95 million now. The payroll bill rose by nearly 2% to £183 million; operational & maintenance costs rose by nearly 9% to £223 million.
Heathrow increases its debt by almost £1 billion (total net debt £13.7 bn) to protect it from a worst-case scenario Brexit
Heathrow’s CEO John Holland-Kaye has raised nearly £1bn in debt to keep it going through a “worst-case scenario” following a hard Brexit. He said this was equivalent to 2 full years’ funding, to give the airport the level of financial resilience for a worst-case scenario. He said he expected “something close to continuity” through a Brexit agreement, but “our funding levels . . . mean we are protected. Even if we have no income for two months, we would be financially safe.” The debt deals, primarily refinancing, total £981m and take Heathrow’s total net debt to £13.7bn. A financial commented that this was an attitude of “let’s raise it while we can”, and a hard Brexit might raise fears over access to financial markets. Heathrow’s first half financial results showed a 2.3% increase in total revenue to £1.4bn compared with the 2017, but a 7% fall in pre-tax profit to £289m. Heathrow had spent money on more operational investment, such as in facilities for disabled passengers and in keeping the airport going during snows this winter. Passenger numbers rose 2.5% to 38.1m, its busiest ever first half, by use of higher load factors. Heathrow expects to spend £160m this year on the expansion project.
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has served legal papers requiring the Government to take control of deciding the airport’s expansion plans
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has served legal papers requiring the Government to take control of deciding the latest Stansted Airport expansion proposals, or face proceedings in the High Court. This puts the Secretary of State for Transport on formal notice of a Judicial Review application if he fails to designate the airport’s planning application as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) within 14 days. Such a designation would mean the application would be considered nationally (a longer, more detailed, more thorough process) rather than by the local planning authority, Uttlesford District Council (UDC). The application for expansion at Stansted was submitted by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) on behalf of the airport last February. If approved it would mean a 44% increase in flights and a 66% increase in passengers compared to 2017 levels. From the outset, SSE fiercely opposed the attempt to rush through the application and has argued that the scale of the application – the threshold is 10 million more annual passengers – meant that it had to be determined nationally rather than by the local Council. Stansted is trying to put the increase at 8 million (35m to 43m) to avoid the NSIP process.
Hillingdon Council Leader writes to residents to ensure they know the 3rd runway is not at all certain – despite HAL propaganda
Heathrow has been telling local residents that the 3rd runway is definitely going ahead, and people should act accordingly. However, now Hillingdon Council’s Leader, Ray Puddifoot, has written to residents to let them know that is not at all true. He says: “I have been informed by a number of residents in the Heathrow Villages that Heathrow Airport Ltd. (HAL) are producing highly misleading and disingenuous propaganda regarding airport expansion that is causing unnecessary distress and anxiety. HAL are unashamedly frightening residents by informing them that Heathrow expansion will definitely be taking place now that the Secretary of State has taken the decision, on 26th June 2018, to designate the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS). For the avoidance of doubt Heathrow expansion is very far from certain. The designation of the NPS is not in any way tantamount to the grant of planning permission for Heathrow expansion. Instead, it acts as an umbrella’ for an application for a Development Consent Order to be made by HAL. I can confirm that no such application has been made. In the circumstances, I would urge you and your fellow residents not to believe anything that HAL is saying and certainly, no steps should be taken to market any properties in Heathrow Villages.” And it continues ….
Councils notify Secretary of State that they will seek Judicial Review of Government’s decision to approve Heathrow 3rd runway NPS
A group of local authorities has formally notified the Secretary of State for Transport that it intends to seek judicial review of the Government’s decision to give policy support in the Airports National Policy Statement (‘NPS’) for a 3rd Heathrow runway. The councils are challenging the Government on the grounds of air quality, climate change, and strategic environmental assessment (SEA) including failing properly to deal with the noise consequences and surface access impacts. On air quality they say, amongst other things, that the Government has misunderstood and misapplied the law on air quality. On surface access the councils say, amongst other things, that the NPS fails to recognise the scale of the challenge to accommodate additional trips without unacceptable effects on the transport network and unacceptable effects from traffic pollution. The Government must now respond to the councils’ formal letter before action. If the Transport Secretary does not agree to quash the NPS, the local authorities will bring judicial review proceedings.The Boroughs taking the legal action are Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond, Windsor & Maidenhead Council, and Hammersmith & Fulham.The group has also been joined by the Mayor of London and Greenpeace.
Legal challenges against Heathrow runway plans – first chance for proper assessment of the NPS details – plans delay inevitable
Although MPs voted to back the Heathrow 3rd runway, lawyers say legal challenges are likely to substantially delay – by at least a year – the start of construction, even if they cannot prevent it. As well as the legal challenge by 5 London councils, and the Mayor of London, that has now started, there will be one by “Heathrow Hub”, the rival runway scheme. The challenges will go to the High Court and could take up to 6 months. The losing party could then appeal to the Court of Appeal, and even if they lose there, they could then appeal to the Supreme Court. The legal process is the first opportunity for Heathrow expansion opponents to take the proposal for a 3rd runway to the High Court, and have all the issues properly assessed – not merely depending on information provided by and for the Department for Transport. There will also be a second opportunity to challenge the plans after the development consent order (DCO) is completed. Under the current plans, Heathrow intends to lodge its development consent order with the secretary of state in 2021, ahead of a 2025 completion date – but that could be delayed due to the legal challenges. Then there must be a General Election by 2022, which Labour might win – with no guarantee they would not oppose the runway plans.
Windsor & Maidenhead Council sets aside further £100,000 (adding to £50,000 already) for Heathrow legal battle
A further £100,000 will be set aside to fund the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead’s [the Prime Minister’s own constituency] legal challenge against a 3rd Heathrow runway. Council Leader Cllr Simon Dudley said on Friday, following a meeting with legal counsel and a vote within the ruling Conservative Group, that councillors had overwhelmingly agreed to take a stand against the proposed expansion. The Royal Borough is taking part in the legal challenge, alongside Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth, and Hammersmith & Fulham local authorities and the Mayor of London to challenge the Government’s decision. Cllr Dudley said: “We’re putting another £100,000 in which is right at the top end of what we’ll need. We don’t put spending taxpayer’s money lightly and I have been clear that we won’t be caught up in frivolous legal action.” The additional money will be taken from the council’s cash reserves and will be added on to the £50,000 that has already been set aside for a potential legal challenge. The Government has left itself ‘wide open’ over its air quality obligations, and there is no clarity how adding the runway would comply with air quality limits. The DCO to build the runway would be derailed if the pending judicial review succeeds.
5 issues surrounding the expansion of Heathrow the Staines area still doesn’t have answers to
A local newspaper in the Staines area has set out 5 key areas on which there are no assurances that Heathrow expansion will not be bad for their area. Areas like Stanwell Moor and Stanwell would be seriously affected by the addition of a 3rd runway, and they are angry and frustrated at the lack of clarity on exactly what expansion will mean for them. One issue is the WPOZ (Wider Property Offer Zone) where people have the opportunity to sell their homes to Heathrow for 125% their market value. Heathrow has remained tight lipped about the possible inclusion of the villages in the WPOZ, but has insisted all options remain on the table. On air and noise pollution, there is no clarity at all, and Heathrow continues (unsuccessfully) to try to give the impression there would be no increase to current amounts. On the Immigration Centre, the existing one in Harmondsworth would have to be demolished, but there is no indication where it might be relocated. Spelthorne Borough Council has insisted it is not built in the borough. There are also huge problems with the M25 and protection of the valuable Staines Moor SSSI area, which is home to endangered species of birds, and the possible diversion of the River Colne, which runs through the moor. Local MP Kwasi Kwateng, and Spelthorne Council still, despite all the negative impacts, back the runway …
Heathrow trying to persuade doubters that it will not need public money to funds its plans and will not struggle to fund £14bn 3rd runway
Heathrow airport is denying it will struggle to fund its possible new £14bn runway, as there are concerns that taxpayers will have to help pay for one of Britain’s biggest infrastructure projects in decades. Paul Deighton, Heathrow’s chairman, has written to the CAA to “set the record straight” after noting “a continuing debate regarding the financials” of expansion. “We have an investment grade credit rating, and existing shareholders will invest equity to maintain this through the higher risk expansion period,” he said. “This is a very strong position from which to finance the expansion of Heathrow. There will be no cost to the taxpayer.” [Don’t forget this comment!] However, it is likely to need higher landing charges and that taxpayers have to foot much of the bill. Heathrow is already £13.4bn in debt — not far shy of the £15bn value of its regulatory asset base. Equity was just £703m. Much of the £14bn price of the runway would be borrowed money, and financing costs of that could be £2bn-£3bn over a 6-year construction period — might stretch the balance sheet to breaking point. These sums don’t include likely of cost overruns and legal claims. See here for Heathrow broken promise to never build a 3rd runway, made in 1999, and Heathrow saying (16.9.2014) “The people who made those promises weren’t in a position to make these promises.”
London City Airport may seek permission for more flights – up from its current cap of 111,000 per year
London City Airport is considering an application to raise limits on flights and passenger numbers, its boss has revealed. Chief executive Robert Sinclair believes the airport will approach existing caps on its operations in the next 3 – 4 years. London City Airport is trying to make out it is vital, in the years before Heathrow gets a 3rd runway (if it ever does, which is still fairly unlikely …) Sinclair said: “In the fullness of the next year or two we will be reflecting on the future and life beyond our current planning caps… We will be considering the potential options, which could include raising the caps.” The current limit is 6.5 million passengers and 111,000 flights per year. Annual passenger numbers have grown by 50% since 2012 and might be over 5 million next year. Annual air traffic movements currently stand at around 80,000. Any bid to increase operational caps would be made to Newham Council. John Stewart, chairman of campaign group Hacan East, said: “Local residents would fight tooth and nail any attempt by London City to raise its limits on flights and passengers. Many of them feel their lives are already blighted by planes from the airport.” The airport had no passenger increases in 2017 over 2016, and only 5% growth in 2016.
Opinion: We need a responsible attitude to flying, not another Heathrow runway
Responsible Travel customer director Tim Williamson asks: “Do we really need another runway at Heathrow? At Responsible Travel we don’t think so.”… “At some point we have to face the fact that the IATA predictions for the growth of air travel are not sustainable and will be very detrimental to the planet. The ability to jump on a plane at a very affordable price for most of the developed world and get to nearly all places on earth in less than a day is a wonderful privilege but it’s not a right and each flight has a consequence and that’s the increasing damage to our environment from aviation.” …”What we can start doing now is thinking about each flight we take and ask is it really necessary? We should all be thinking now about that short city break by air and looking at alternatives, especially if our choice is also fuelling the new concept of over-tourism where tourists and locals suffer as result of too many tourists. If we are travelling to a conference – is it really necessary that we are there in person?” …”If we are travelling for work do we need to be there in person? I’m sure most meetings that include air travel would be far less attractive if the company that paid for the ticket collected the air miles and points rather than the individual.”
Committee on Climate Change says DfT must publish a plan, by summer 2019, to limit aviation CO2
The CCC’s report says a key action needed from the UK government by the first half of 2019 is to: “Publish a plan to limit UK aviation emissions to the level assumed when the fifth carbon budget was set (i.e. around 2005 levels in 2050, implying around a 60% potential increase in demand), supported by strong international policies.”. They say the UK’s 2050 target requires an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions including the UK’s share of international aviation and shipping (IAS) emissions. But if IAS is not included, all other sectors would have to cut their CO2 emissions by around 85% (cf. 1990)by 2050 – which the CCC do not believe is possible. The CCC say: “The Government have committed to publish a new Aviation Strategy in 2019. This will need to include a plan to limit UK aviation emissions to the level assumed when the 5th carbon budget was set (i.e. around 2005 levels by 2050, likely to imply around a 60% potential increase in demand), supported by strong international policies.” UK aviation CO2 emissions were already at 35.5 Mt CO2 in 2016, having risen by 1.2% in that year over 2015. Aviation emissions will continue to rise, and rapidly exceed the 37.5MtCO2 cap. Around spring 2019 the CCC will set out its thinking on whether the CORSIA is an appropriate mechanism for formally including international aviation CO2 in carbon budgets.
Explanation by Prof Alice Larkin of why UK aviation must fit within UK climate commitments – and Heathrow runway makes that hard
Alice Larkin, Professor of Climate Science and Energy Policy at The University of Manchester, and Dr John Broderick say the proposed 3rd Heathrow runway jeopardises the UK’s long term legal carbon commitments, including the 2015 Paris Agreement, given the absence of a policy framework for establishing long-term decarbonisation of the sector. They say rising aviation CO2 would need to be off-set by fuel-efficiency gains, the use of alternative carbon-neutral fuels or additional reductions in other sectors. But there are no mechanisms in place to guarantee this within the UK’s climate policy framework. For the UK to try to meet Paris targets, UK aviation emissions need to be greatly reduced, along with all other sectors. Even if there were effective carbon credits available for aviation, they would become scarce in coming decades as further CO2 cuts are ever more challenging for all sectors to achieve. There are substantial concerns about the wider effects of biofuel production including their carbon balance; synthetic fuels are necessarily energetically costly to produce and requiring additional zero-carbon energy generation capacity – so neither can effectively cut aviation’s CO2 emissions. And there are no “negative emissions” technologies that work.
IAG boss Willie Walsh says there is “zero” chance of Heathrow being able to build a 3rd runway by 2026 (or for £14bn)
Heathrow expects to have a 3rd runway built and operating by 2026 but the boss of IAG, Willie Walsh, believes there is “zero” chance of that happening. He thinks there might be a 60% of it being built by 2028 – 2030. He says the £14bn cost to build the runway is “perverse” and cast doubt on the airport’s ability to deliver the project. “I don’t believe that Heathrow Airport can build this in an efficient manner and a cost-effective manner. When you talk about an expected bill of £14bn sterling, it’s a perverse amount of money. It’s ridiculous. It’s outrageous. It has always been incentivised to spend money. The airport has a bizarre, perverse incentive to spend more money than it needs to because it gets remunerated based on the money they spend. …The airport hasn’t figured out how it will build over the top of the M25 and that is a challenge.” Mr Walsh, whose company holds the most coveted landing slots at Heathrow, wants a runway, but at a price that does not negatively impact his business. And he is not keen on a lot of new competition coming into Heathrow, to weaken his monopoly position.
Heathrow runway after being voted for in Parliament. NEXT STOP: COURT, for the legal challenges …
Campaigners vow to stop plans to expand Heathrow airport once and for all in court, following a parliamentary vote in favour of a 3rd runway. The vote was 415 in favour, 119 against, with a majority of 296. Despite claims that over 75% of MPs support the plans, the actual number was much lower, at 63%, with 3 out of the 4 main political parties adopted a position against expansion. Labour, whilst offering a free vote, adopted a recommendation to vote against expansion, saying the plans failed to meet the party’s 4 tests. The SNP decided to abstain in the vote, stating they were ‘unconvinced’ by the government’s case for Heathrow expansion, whilst the Liberal Democrats remained strongly opposed to the plans. From the Government benches, Greg Hands, Justine Greening and Theresa Villiers voted against their party whip for the first time in 13 years. The No 3rd Runway Coalition believe that large infrastructure projects, which stretch well beyond the lifetime of one parliament, require strong cross-party unity in order to actually be delivered. The runway does not have that, and Heathrow’s shareholders will have noticed. There’s a long way to go before Heathrow can start knocking down villages or putting spades in the ground – the legal challenges can now begin …
The government has won the Heathrow vote (Airports National Policy Statement) by 415 votes to 119. Majority of 296.
Justine Greening MP asked the Speaker whether for such an important matter, a debate of just 4 hours was enough. Speaker said he expected there would be many more debates on the Heathrow issue…
No 10 ‘fixes’ Heathrow runway vote to deliberately get it before MPs can read damning report on CO2 by the CCC
Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, has scheduled the vote on a 3rd Heathrow runway just days before publication of a government report warning that surging aviation emissions would destroy Britain’s greenhouse gas reduction targets. It means MPs will have had no chance to read the report, from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) on Thursday, before voting. The report will warn that aviation and other emissions are growing so fast that homeowners and businesses may have to sacrifice gas cookers, central heating boilers and petrol cars for Britain to meet its climate change targets. Andy McDonald, the Labour transport shadow secretary said this deliberately duplicitous timing was disgraceful. Last year UK aviation emissions hit 37m tonnes, close to the pre-recession peak of 37.5m tonnes in 2005. The CCC says this must not be exceeded if the UK is to meet its 80% carbon reduction target. However, a report published on Grayling’s department website last week says aviation emissions will hit 43m tonnes of CO2 by 2030 if Heathrow expands. Lord Deben, chairman of the CCC, has written to Grayling, saying CO2 levels higher than 37.5MtCO2 must not be planned for, since this would place an unreasonably large burden on other sectors.”
Jonathan Ford (FT) on the serious financing doubts: “Who will pay for Heathrow airport’s £14bn 3rd runway?”
With the vote on a possible 3rd Heathrow runway expected on 25th June, Jonathan Ford and Gill Plimmer write, in the Financial Times, of the very serious doubts over how the runway could be funded. They say: “Most agree that this leveraged structure is wholly inappropriate to support a project as large as the 3rd runway. It offers no leeway for construction risk on what will be a highly complex engineering challenge. There is also the question of how Heathrow might meet the financing costs, which could run to £2bn-£3bn over the six-year construction period, assuming an interest rate of between 4 -7%.” And …”investors have been pulling out more in dividends than Heathrow has been earning. Last year they received a payout of £847m even though post tax profits were just £516m, implying that the corporate debt was used, in part, to fund these returns.” … And “A key question is how much debt the markets will lend against the £2bn of operating cash flow Heathrow expects to have by the time construction begins in 2019.” … The Airports Commission said it could saddle Heathrow with up to £27 billion of debt. Ford also questions the opaque structure of Heathrow, with at least 10 corporate layers between Heathrow Airport Limited ….and shareholders.”
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 ….. . . .