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GACC launch its “Gatwick’s Big Enough” campaign against any 2nd runway

Gatwick's BIG enough April 14, 2014  Gatwick Fact File April 2014

The Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, GACC, has launched its campaign against a new Gatwick runway under the slogan “Gatwick’s Big Enough.” It has been carefully chosen to show that there is no opposition to the airport as it is, only to the plans to double its size. Thousands of car stickers have been posted to members with this logo. The campaign has also been attending all the Gatwick Airport exhibitions around the area, and has produced a new Fact File. This sets out the information that the airport is not telling people, on the actual impacts a new runway would have, in terms of noise, stress on infrastructure and public services, total change in the character of the area even some distance away, and deteriorating quality of life for many. In GACC’s experience, having been to several Gatwick exhibitions, “It is our impression that many people go in with an open mind but come out alarmed at the scale of what is proposed” and ‘My impression was that the overwhelming majority {in Crawley} were against a new runway” and many people “were irritated by the lack of information on flight paths.”      Click here to view full story…



Study suggests London City Airport site could be put to more economically & socially efficient use by closing the airport

London City Airport

April 11, 2014

A new report from the New Economics Foundation (NEF) makes the case for closing London’s City Airport and redeveloping the site to create more jobs, boost local business and build new homes. The report looked at the actual contribution, and the restrictions, caused by the airport on the surrounding area, and it has come to some conclusion that may seem surprising. They found London City Airport creates little value to the UK economy – despite occupying 500,000 square metres at the heart of London. Its direct contribution in 2011 was £110m – compared to £513 million generated by the nearby ExCeL Centre. It provides relatively few jobs, and restrictions on development near the airport due to the public safety zone and height restrictions in the nearby area limit many potentially more efficient uses of the land. Local residents bear all the costs but reap few of the benefits – the average salary of a London City Airport passenger is over £90,000, while 40% of Newham residents earn less than £20,000. Only about 28% of the airport jobs go to Newham people. London’s transport no longer needs City Airport – City Airport’s passengers account for just 2.4% of London’s total flight demand. These passengers could be readily absorbed by Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted. By 2019 Crossrail will allow City workers to reach Heathrow in just 30 minutes.   Click here to view full story…



GACC describes Gatwick consultation as “plush and bogus” – it gives no proper chance to say “no” to a new runway

April 4, 2014

The consultation published by Gatwick Airport today is described by GACC (the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) as ‘plush but bogus.’ It is plush because no expense has been spared in an attempt to make a new Gatwick runway look inevitable. But it makes no economic or environmental sense to build a new Gatwick runway when Stansted is not forecast to be full until around 2040. It is bogus because the Airports Commission has already ruled out Option 1, the close-parallel runway. GACC’s objections remain as strong as ever. They will campaign vigorously against any new runway. The consultation document contains no maps showing future flight paths – which is an issue of huge significance to local people. It also ignores the inconvenient issue of necessary increases in landing fees, to pay for a runway + terminal. The consultation is deeply flawed, as it gives no proper option to oppose any new runway. There is merely one small option of “None of these options” buried in its section D. That is difficult to find and somewhat confusing (it could mean a preference for some other runway location). A proper consultation would have given the public a straightforward chance to say ‘No’.

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European Parliament votes to continue with partial inclusion of aviation in weakened ETS – for intra-EU flights only till at least 2016

April 3, 2014

The European Parliament voted on 3rd April to alter the ETS so that, instead of airlines being charged for all the carbon of flights into and out of the EU, the scheme will only cover carbon emissions for intra-EU flights. This is the “Stop the Clock” (STC) deal, which started in 2013. It means charges for CO2 emissions will be made for flights by European airlines, and for the very few by non-EU airlines between European airports. This severe weakening of the ETS has been caused by relentless pressure from foreign powers (USA, China, India and Russia as the main opponents), and means the ETS will only cover a small fraction of total aviation carbon emissions associated with flights to and from all European countries. The vote on 3rd reverses the position taken by the European Parliament’s environment committee last month, when it rejected the change to intra-EU flights only, and very narrowly voted on a compromise that would have required non-EU flights to still pay for their CO2 emissions within EU airspace. The “Stop the Clock” weak version of the ETS will now run until the end of 2016 and the agreement allows for a return to the original full scope of the scheme from 2017 should an agreement at ICAO to implement a global market-based mechanism from 2020 not be reached at its Assembly in 2016.

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Heathrow business case looks shaky if it had to give £100 million + per year noise compensation to households

April 3, 2014

Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia says Heathrow’s business case is beginning to look very shaky. Heathrow’s owners would have to spend £100 million every year to households around the airport if it is to match Gatwick’s new noise compensation offer. In its PR efforts to win over local opposition, Gatwick has offered to pay £1,000 each to existing homes inside a 57 decibel catchment around the airport, once (if) a 2nd runway is built. This would include 4,100 homes, and the cost would be £4.1 million per year. Wandsworth calculates payments on this scale would cost Heathrow about £100 million per year. Gatwick has also offered to pay up to 2,000 qualifying local households a one-off grant of up to £3,000 towards noise insulation. If Heathrow was to match the terms of this scheme it could cost the airport a further £210 million per year. M r Govindia said the Airports Commission must give proper consideration to the “real noise impact of an airport set in the most densely populated part of the country. ….Once you weigh the real environmental costs – and those for improved surface access – against the claimed benefits of an additional runway, Heathrow’s business case begins to look very shaky.”

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Boris sets out his 4 ideas for future of Heathrow site if airport is closed

April 1, 2014

Boris has produced a report on what might happen to Heathrow and its surrounding area, if the airport was shut (and a massive airport built on the Thames estuary). The report sets out 4 schemes. Boris says he is “prompting a genuine, honest discussion about what London could achieve in a world post Heathrow.” He said: “The money seems to be going on Gatwick, but I do not think that is the long-term solution that London needs – in having a dual hub solution.” The 4 schemes are for a new education and technology quarter, with 2 new large campus universities; a new town, with over 48,000 homes for 112,000 people and 76,000 jobs created in total ; a new residential quarter, on the scale of Hammersmith and Fulham, with 82,000 new homes supporting a population of 200,000, and 54,000 jobs; or a Heathrow City, with education and commercial research, high value manufacturing, knowledge parks and office development – with 80,000 homes and 90,000 jobs created. The report says many of the jobs currently provided at Heathrow would “move to the new airport and be easily accessible via the world class transport links proposed.” There is a separate report by Hillingdon with its two scenarios for the Heathrow area.

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IPCC report sets out impacts, risks and threats of rising CO2 to security, food and human well being

March 31, 2014

The IPCC has released the report from its 2nd working group as part of its 5th Assessment Report (AR5). This comprehensive work is entitled “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability.” It sets out more clearly, and warns more starkly, than it has done in previous reports, the extent of the widespread and serious negative effects of climate change. They say every part of the world will be affected, and urgent action is now needed both to reduce carbon emissions, and to adapt to the inevitable changes that will happen. The report deals with food security, water supplies and human health, among other topics, and it says rising atmospheric CO2 will mean global warming could undermine economic growth and increase poverty, and the chance of conflics. The warnings on future ability to grow food, for an every growing human population, is chilling. Negative impacts can only worsen if global average temperature is allowed to rise by 2 degrees C and the IPCC warns that by impacts may become potentially catastrophic to human societies if temperatures rise higher than 4C, which is what we should expect if global temperatures continue to rise as predicted without drastic emissions cuts. [How does a rapidly growing, very high carbon, aviation industry fit into this carbon constrained future?]

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Cardiff to Anglesey air link continues to get large government subsidy as bus grants are slashed

March 31, 2014

The Welsh Government has defended a big increase in subsidy for the North-South Wales air service while it cuts funding for lifeline bus services. From 2010-11 to 2012-13, subsidy for the flights between Anglesey and Cardiff increased by 37.2%. Subsidy was £184 for each passenger who used the service in 2012-13. Over the same 2-year period, the Welsh government reduced its grant to councils for unprofitable bus services by 29.2%. At least 94 bus routes have been withdrawn since 2011. Other services are under review because subsidy per passenger exceeds £2 or £3. The Welsh Government has been reviewing bus funding since early 2012 – but has not evaluated the air service’s costs and benefits since the global financial problems and major reductions in public-sector budgets. The route from Cardiff to Anglesey has 2 flights each way, each weekday, and there were almost 15,000 passenger journeys in 2008-09, but only 8,406 passenger journeys in 2012-13. Subsidy for the air operator and the civilian air terminal at RAF Valley on Anglesey increased from £1.08m in 2008-09 to £1.55m in 2012-13.

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Stansted Managing Director tells London that Stansted is “solution” to aviation capacity demand

March 29, 2014

Stansted boss, Andrew Harrison, says the airport can meet London’s growing aviation needs over the next 15 years – and that Stansted could more than double the amount of flights it handles. Improving rail links into London would be key to unlocking its full potential.  Andrew Harrison said Stansted has the infrastructure and planning permission to handle 35 million passengers (up from 17.8 million in 2013) per year, and the ability to handle a further 10 million passengers beyond that. That is around the capacity of one runway, fully used, especially with larger planes than at present.  Stansted intends to “grasp the opportunity” in the period before any new runway (if one is ever agreed) could be built, to “make the best possible use of Stansted.” Some rail improvements, which could be implemented quickly, might cut the train journey time to London by 10 minutes.  If Gatwick was allowed to build a new runway, plus a new terminal, the cost of doing so estimated by the Airports Commission might be £10 – 13 billion. That would mean Gatwick landing charges would have to rise so steeply that the low cost airlines would be likely to prefer to move flights to cheaper Luton and Stansted, with spare capacity.    

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Zac Goldsmith and HACAN launch short film contest over Heathrow 3rd runway plan

March 24, 2014

Tory MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston, and environmental campaigner, Zac Goldsmith has launched a film competition (with HACAN) to highlight opposition to a 3rd Heathrow runway – with £10,000 as the first prize. In an escalation of the anti-expansion campaign at Heathrow, Zac Goldsmith has also recruited celebrities to the cause with actor Hugh Grant and former Tory MP Giles Brandreth among the competition judges. Entrants to the competition will need to submit a short film (under 2 minutes) to highlight opposition to the runway. Shortlisted entries will be judged by the panel at a gala evening of 800 guests at the Richmond Theatre on 18th June with the prize money provided by Zac. The competition is called “No Ifs, No Buts”, recalling David Cameron’s infamous pre-election pledge made in 2009 to an audience in Richmond not to allow a 3rd runway to be built at Heathrow. The competition is looking for powerful messages that will be taken up on social and conventional media, and ram home the message that Heathrow expansion is not only the wrong solution for our economy, it is politically undeliverable. The closing date for video entries is 1st June.

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Chancellor cuts rate of Air Passenger Duty for long haul (over 4,000 miles) flights from 1st April 2015

March 19, 2014

In the Budget 2014 the Chancellor has announced that rates of Air Passenger Duty (APD) are to be reduced for flights of over 4000 miles from London, from April 2015. Rates of APD will rise by the rate of inflation (RPI) during 2014. After 1st April 2015, distance bands for all journeys longer than 2,000 miles will all be lumped together. While the rate of APD during 2014 (from 1st April 2014) is £13 for a return trip below 2,000 miles (anywhere in Europe), and the rate for journeys of 2,000 to 4,000 miles in length is £69 – the rates from April 2015 will be £13 for the short flights, and £71 for all other distances. The rates of APD in 2015 for premium classes will be £26 and £142. Commenting on this retrograde move by the Chancellor, the Aviation Environment Foundation said it is a backward step environmentally and economically. Aviation is already massively under-taxed compared with the £10 billion that would be raised per annum if aviation wasn’t exempted from fuel taxes and VAT. APD was a means of redressing this problem but any cut means that taxes will have to be raised elsewhere to balance government spending. Long-haul flights contribute more greenhouse gases in absolute terms than shorter flights. It is therefore right that the duty is proportional to the distance flown and the associated emissions. Eliminating bands C and D breaks the link between environmental impacts and tax and breaches the principle of fairness.

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EU Parliament ENVI committee narrowly votes against compromise of extending ETS “Stop the Clock” to 2016

March 19, 2014

The European Parliament’s Environment Committee (ENVI) has very narrowly voted to reject a deal to exempt long-haul flights (those into and out of Europe) from paying for their carbon emissions until the end of 2016 – the so-called “stop the clock” measure. This is intended to prevent the EU from bowing to international pressure from the USA, China, India etc. Currently only intra-EU flights are included, (no long haul) so the only aviation carbon that is being paid for is from these flights. The aviation ETS is the only international climate measure in place today that tackles aviation’s soaring CO2 emissions. The compromise of an extension to 2016 would effectively have dismantled the ETS, and was not the best way forward. The vote was a clear signal to political leaders in member states, industry and foreign countries that the EU’s sovereignty is not to be undermined by external bullying, and threats of trade sanctions. The next stage is for a vote in the full Parliament on 3rd April. If the Parliament agrees to reject the compromise, then the existing law would automatically apply, requiring all flights using EU airports to pay for all their emissions.

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Gatwick airport to consult for 6 weeks on 3 “options” for its 2nd runway

March 17, 2014

Gatwick airport is starting a public consultation, on 4th April (lasting 6 weeks – ending 16th May) on its runway submission to the Airports Commission. The consultation has 3 options (not the same 3 as the 3 options in the July submission). The first is the close runway (which is little use to the airport) 585 metres to the south; the second is a wide spaced runway, 1,045 metres to the south, for segregated mode (ie. take-offs on one runway, landings on the other); or the wide spaced runway, 1,045 metres to the south, for mixed mode (both take-offs and landing) – the profitable option. Gatwick airport very definitely wants the 3rd option. The airport says they want to “refine and improve” their plans. However, they have to submit their plan to the Commission on 9th May, so the timing of the consultation is odd as it will end after the plans are submitted. When Gatwick submitted their schemes to the Commission in July 2013, there were 3 options; a close runway about 600 metres south of the current runway, for “dependent segregated mode”; or a medium spaced runway about 750 metres south for “independent segregated mode”; or a wide spaced runway about 1,035 metres to the south of the current runway, for “independent mixed mode.” Only the last option was short-listed by the Commission. There will be 16 exhibitions in towns and villages in Kent, Sussex and Surrey.                    

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EU compromise on inclusion of long haul flights in the ETS faces opposition – vote on 19th March

March 15, 2014

A number of EU politicians plan to vote against a deal to exempt long-haul flights, to and from Europe, from paying for carbon emissions until the end of 2016 in an attempt to prevent the EU from bowing to international pressure. The European Parliament’s 71-member Environment Committee will vote on March 19 on a deal brokered by EU diplomats earlier in March to extend a so-called “stop the clock” measure exempting intercontinental flights from regulation under its ETS. The vote on the 19th will be a preliminary indication of whether the proposal can win enough support in the full 766-strong EU Parliament, a step required before it can become law. If there is no agreement by the end of April, this is likely to reignite tensions with Europe’s major trading partners (US, China, India) and risk a trade war. Failure to reach agreement on continuing to allow flights into and out of the EU not to pay for their carbon emissions would be good news for environmentalists, as it would mean that an existing law that requires all aviation to pay for emissions would automatically apply. There is a lot of internal European politics involved.

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6 week consultation on Heathrow’s north west runway ends – criticised for not being transparent

March 15, 2014

Heathrow has been conducting a somewhat minimalistic 6-week consultation on its plan for a new runway to the north west. The questions in the consultation (only really 2 questions, with scope for further comments) are only on factors to take in to account, and whether more people should be affected by a slightly smaller amount of aircraft noise, or if fewer people should be subjected to a larger amount (dispersal or concentration). The consultation is not whether those consulted want a new runway. The public consultation sessions are now ended. The consultation did not mention the Heathrow Hub proposal for an extension of the northern runway. A Heathrow spokesman said: “We will take your opinions into account as we look to refine our north-west runway proposal…” Those opposed to the plans have been critical of the consultation, saying it has been neither honest nor transparent.  Heathrow has been disingenuous in making no effort to show where the landing or the take-off flight paths would go, making informed comment impossible. Either way there will be more aircraft noise for many thousands of homes. Claims that the airport will have 20 – 30% more flights and be “quieter” (properly defined) are manifestly not logical.

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A new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick would mean big increases in passenger fees – New report

March 10, 2014

Who pays

The Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) has submitted a new report to the Airports Commission which casts doubt on the feasibility of building a new runway at either Gatwick or Heathrow. So far there has been little realistic discussion about who will actually pay for the proposed runways. The new study,Who Would Pay for a New Runway” by Brendon Sewill, shows that a new runway at Heathrow would be likely to mean an increase in landing fees and other airport charges from £19 per passenger now, up to £31. At Gatwick there would be a larger increase, up from £8 now to £33.60. The study points out that with all the London airports separately owned, unlike in the days of BAA, the cost will have to fall only on the passengers using that airport. If an expensive runway (and terminal) is built, the options are either that the passengers pay for it – or that it has to have public subsidy. A report for the Airports Commission, by KPMG, concluded that a new Heathrow runway would need a subsidy of around £11 billion, and a new Gatwick runway a subsidy of nearly £18 billion. However, the Government is reluctant to commit public funds, and new EU guidelines ruling out subsidies to major airports. That leaves landing charges – will passengers put up with that, or vote with their feet by using cheaper airports?                   Click here to view full story…



Government wants new runway pushed through in next Parliament, with no chance to vote against it

Date added: March 7, 2014

Interview with Patrick McLoughlin, in the Spectator, by James Forsyth. It states: “But McLoughlin has a plan that may stop airport expansion being dragged into the next general election campaign. In opposition, David Cameron was against expanding Heathrow. But in 2012, the government asked Howard Davies, an economist, to do a report on what runways Britain needs. He has been told not to publish his final conclusions until after the general election. So I ask McLoughlin: does that mean there’ll be no general election between the report and the beginning of the building process? “Sitting here now, that would be what I would hope.” Residents who’ll have to put up with a new runway, or even a new airport, will thus never get a chance to vote against it.”                                                                 Click here to view full story…



GACC calls for flight path trial to stop due to anger and outrage in the village of Warnham

The Argus: Angry Warnham residents

March 5, 2014

A new flight path for take-offs from Gatwick airport has caused outrage in the parish of Warnham, near Horsham. Designed as a 6-month trial to enable more aircraft to take-off from the Gatwick runway it has already caused a wave of protest. A member of the GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign), Sally Pavey, who lives in Warnham, says: ‘The tranquillity of our 14th century, conservation village has been lost and we seem powerless to do anything about it. Everyone is up in arms as we are woken at 6.00 am with an aircraft overhead every few minutes. Living in Warnham has turned into a nightmare!’ GACC has called for the trial to be stopped. The new route is causing an unacceptable degree of upset and maximum anger. It is just a small foretaste of what is to come if a new runway were to be built. “With a new runway the new flight paths would bring anger and misery to perhaps 30 or more towns and villages. And that would be permanent, not just for 6 months. Warnham is a wake-up call for why we should all oppose a new runway.’          Click here to view full story…



London MPs and Councils challenge Airports Commission on aircraft noise with updated “ANASE” report

February 27, 2014

In 2005 the ANASE (Attitudes to Noise from Aviation Sources in England) report into what level of sound caused community annoyance was undertaken, and it indicated that the 57 decibel contour – the measure the UK authorities still use – did not satisfactorily measure aircraft noise. In reality, significant annoyance was caused at much lower level of sound exposure. However, this finding was inconvenient and so the report was shelved by the government. The 57 dB contour is still being used, and is the measure being used by the Airports Commission. The ANASE report has now been revised and updated, and this new report has just been launched by Hillingdon Council on behalf of the all-party 2M Group of councils opposed to Heathrow expansion. It shows far more people are badly affected by aircraft noise than the 57 dB countour would suggest. The 2M group are asking that the Commission investigate a new, more rigorous noise metric with which to assess and compare the noise impacts and costs of all the airport proposals. They say the Commission’s decision on a new runway cannot be based on seriously out of date evidence which bears no resemblance to real-life experience.      Click here to view full story…


Huge protest in centre of Nantes against new airport – forceful police resistance; some rioting, violence and injuries

February 23, 2014

La manifestation des opposants à l'aéroport de Notre-Dame-des-Landes a dégénéré samedi 22 février à Nantes.

A huge protest took place in Nantes on 22nd February, against the planned new replacement airport to be built at Notre Dame des Landes, some miles to the north. The organisers estimated some 50 – 60,000 protesters, who came in from supportive groups from regions all across France. There are reported to have been 65 coach loads of protesters who travelled to Nantes to take part, and 520 tractors, brought by supportive farmers from surrounding areas. The protests were put down with considerable force by the police, using water canon, rubber bullets and tear gas. The issue has become very political in France. With elections coming up this year, the Prime Minister (and former Mayor of Nantes and ardent backer of the new airport) is thought unlikely to back down from pressing for the airport. However, it is not thought likely that there will be forceful evictions of the farmers and activists who are occupying the land allocated for the airport, called the ZAD – Zone à Défendre as it would be unpopular. An opinion poll found 56% of those surveyed were against the new airport. The courts have ruled it can go ahead, but there are appeals on ground of the law on water and on biodiversity.   Click here to view full story..

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FT reports that uncertain privatisation of AENA casts doubt over its stalled Luton expansion plans

February 22, 2014

Spanish airport operator, AENA, bought Luton airport in summer 2013 from Abertis. AENA is one of the world’s biggest airport operators in terms of passenger numbers, and manages Spain’s major airports. It also owns minority stakes in 15 more airports around the world. The FT says that now their plans are in doubt and Luton has a question mark over its future. Luton is the UK’s 5th largest airport in terms of passengers, and is the base for easyJet. AENA had plans to expand Luton, taking its annual number of passengers from around 9 million to 18 million – plans that have been fiercely opposed locally. AENA had plans to compete with French airport operator ADP, Germany’s Fraport and Singapore’s Changi. The FT says now AENA’s future is unclear and whether the Spanish government will allow it to be largely privatised. This is having an impact on its Luton plans. The Luton expansion is being held up, or is on a back burner. The privatisation is a political matter within the Spanish government, and whether it has to sell assets to rescue the nation’s economy. The government hope to avoid selling much of AENA, and if it stays under state control, its Luton expansion plans may be scrapped.    Click here to view full story…


Redhill Aerodrome runway appeal, for a hard runway, dismissed by Planning Inspector

February 21, 2014

Plans to build a hard runway in place of its 3 existing grass runways at Redhil aerodrome have been refused by a planning inspector. The owners of Redhill Aerodrome, RAV, had wanted the hard runway in order to have aircraft movements all year, even in bad weather, and to increase the number of flights from 60,000 to 85,000 a year. Following last month’s public inquiry, the planning inspectorate ruled the development was “inappropriate” and could “harm the green belt”. Reigate and Banstead Council and Tandridge Council rejected the scheme last year, saying it was inappropriate development in Green Belt, so RAV appealed. Local residents groups and Surrey Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) were among objectors who gave evidence to the inquiry. Local Conservative MPs Crispin Blunt and Sam Gyimah lodged formal objections against the development, saying the economic case was weak and it would cause major detrimental impacts on the surrounding area. The airfield flooded as a result of heavy storms last month.      Click here to view full story…



Heathrow bid to end Cranford Agreement – allowing easterly take-offs from northern runway – is rejected by Hillingdon Council

February 12, 2014

The Cranford Agreement was a binding commitment the UK government made in 1952 to the residents of Cranford to reduce the impact of aircraft noise on residents. It prohibits, under normal Heathrow Airport operations, easterly take-offs (i.e. towards central London) on the northern runway. In January 2009, the government announced it was ending the Agreement (as part of consultations on a proposed Third Runway). In September 2010 the current UK government reaffirmed the decision to end the Cranford Agreement. A planning application by Heathrow airport in June 2013 concerns the creation of taxiways on the Northern Runway, required to enable the practical implementation of the ending of the Agreement as well as consideration of the associated environmental impacts. It also included the erection of a 5m high noise barrier around parts of the village of Longford. This application has now been unanimously rejected by Hillingdon Council – which means Heathrow will not be able to have regular departures to the east from the northern runway. This preserves the 60-year-old gentlemen’s agreement protecting Cranford residents from the noise. The downside is that people living in Windsor and Maidenhead continue to endure more landings. Heathrow is considering whether to appeal.    Click here to view full story…


“London Councils” – representing 32 London boroughs & councils – calls for an end to night flights from 2017

February 5, 2014

“London Councils” is a cross-party organisation which represents London’s 32 borough councils and the City of London and works on behalf of all of its member authorities regardless of political persuasion. It has responded to the 2nd stage of the government’s consultation on night flights from Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted by repeating its call for a total ban on night time flying from 2017. At present there is no ban on flying from the three airports at night but a limit on take-off and landing is in place. At Heathrow this is currently 2,550 in winter and 3,250 in summer. Councillor Catherine West, Chair of London Councils’ Transport & Environment Committee, said: “Night flights are an unacceptable part of the capital’s airport operations. This consultation is disappointing as it discusses keeping the current system, or extending the time period of the restrictions. It does not allow a proper assessment of the economic or health implications of banning night flights, which is what the majority of our residents want.” London Councils believes night flight noise is a serious well-being issue and has a big impact on quality of life for ordinary Londoners. “Any new technical and operation procedures could help, but ultimately communities across the capital would like a ban on night flights from 2017.”    Click here to view full story…


Heathrow consultation starts – 140,000 leaflets distributed – as airport hopes to minimise opposition on noise increase

February 3, 2014

Heathrow airport has started its 6-week consultation, to ask people living near the airport how they can “improve” on their runway plans – and reduce opposition to it as much as possible. The airport is sending out 140,000 short (12 page) booklets, to many neighbouring boroughs, but not Richmond (where there is fierce opposition). The thrust of the consultation is on noise. It is extremely simplistic, and should not really be considered as a proper consultation. Except for people motivated to write a lot of their own text, there is no simple way to say “No, we do not support a new runway” in the consultation response form itself. There are no questions along those lines. The form only has two questions – the first asking respondents to rank a list of criteria; the second asking if people think it is more important to have fewer communities living under flight paths affected more badly, or more communities affected a bit less. There is stunningly little detail. Colin Matthews says: “This consultation is to make sure we correctly understand what local people value and that we can take their views into account as we refine our proposal.” Everyone with an interest in Heathrow and its runway plans should reply to the questionnaire, and tell Heathrow just what they think, in the space for responses in Question 3. The consultation ends on 16th March.   Click here to view full story…



Stop Stansted Expansion calls for reduction and phasing out of Stansted’s night flights

February 3, 2014

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has made a detailed submission to the DfT consultation on night flights, calling for Government action to end the scourge of these flights. The government consultation proposes that Stansted should continue to be allowed 12,000 flights a year between 11.30pm and 6.00am. This is more than twice as many as are permitted at Heathrow and far more than are needed. The 12,000 cap was set in 2006, when Stansted was still expanding rapidly, and a 2nd runway was planned. However, today Stansted is handling 30% less traffic than in 2006. Logically allowing Stansted 12,000 night flights a year can no longer be justified. SSE argues that those living under Stansted’s flight paths should have the right to an uninterrupted night’s sleep, ie. a full 8 hours and not just the 6½ hours covered by the current restrictions. Stansted handled just over 8,500 night flights last year – well below the Government limit of 12,000. SSE is pressing for the limit to be cut to 7,500 night flights from October 2014 and then further reduced by 500 flights each year until night flights are totally phased out. The recent announcement by British Airways that it pulling the plug on its cargo operations at Stansted means that reducing the number of permitted night flights at Stansted from 12,000 to 7,500 should now be easily achievable.      Click here to view full story…



Campaigners target airport investors to warn them off risky investment in politically undeliverable 3rd Heathrow runway

January 27, 2014

Heathrow’s investors are to be targeted as part of a campaign by residents, MPs and local authorities who argue a 3rd runway in west London will be “politically undeliverable”. Campaigners will highlight the potential risk to shareholders of spending millions of pounds developing detailed plans for a new runway, when they are likely to face the same level of fierce and determined opposition that led to a previous scheme being ditched in 2010. MPs, local authorities and anti-Heathrow campaigners have met to draw up a plan of attack. These include Zac Goldsmith MP, John McDonnell MP, representatives of Richmond, Hillingdon, Hounslow and Wandsworth councils and HACAN. The main shareholders at Heathrow now are Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial (25%), Qatar Holding LLC (20.00%), Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (13.29%), the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (11.88%), Alinda Capital Partners (11.18%), China Investment Corporation (10%) and Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) (8.65%). The 3rd runway is also strongly opposed by Boris Johnson. Daniel Moylan, the Mayor’s chief aviation adviser, said: “The Mayor shares HACAN’s view that the expansion of Heathrow is neither acceptable nor politically deliverable.” A report by KPMG for the Airports Commission indicated the funding problems for either a new Heathrow, or a Gatwick, runway.     Click here to view full story…



Presentation by Tim Johnson, Director of AEF, at the recent RunwaysUK conference

Tim Johnson speaking at RunwaysUK 2014

This is the video of the presentation by Tim Johnson, (Director of AEF – the Aviation Environment Federation) at the recent RunwaysUK conference, on 16th January. 14 minutes of important environmental information (noise, carbon, air pollution, biodiversity, impacts on local communities) and valuable common sense.  It sums up concisely why a new runway could not be built and used, even keeping within the current Committee on Climate Change guidelines.  If a new runway is built in the south east, it will mean growth having to be limited retrospectively at other, regional, airports across the UK.  Increasing the north-south divide.  Well worth watching.

Tim was the only speaker on environmental matters at the conference. Almost all others speaking were in favour of a new runway. The other videos from the conference are at


Airports Commission launches 6 week consultation on appraisal framework for short-listed runway schemes

January 17, 2014

The Chairman of the Airports Commission, Sir Howard Davies, launched the most recent consultation by the Commission, at the RunwaysUK conference on 16th January. This consultation is on its appraisal framework, and ends on 28th February. The aim is to set out how the runway schemes it short-listed (2 at Heathrow, one at Gatwick and the possibility one for the Isle of Grain will be added by late summer 2014) will be assessed in terms of social, economic and environmental criteria. A summary of responses will be published within 3 months of the consultation closing. The document is 127 pages long, requiring detailed and carefully considered responses. On environmental matters, the Commission lists their objectives, for appraisal of schemes, to include: minimising noise impacts; protecting local air quality; minimising CO2 emissions in airport construction and operation (not from flights); protecting quality of ground and surface water, using water efficiently and reducing flood risk; and minimising impacts on existing landscape character and heritage assets. Under the heading “People” their objectives are to maintain and where possible improve the quality of life for local residents; manage and reduce the effects of housing loss on local communities; and reduce or avoid disproportionate impacts on any social group. They also ask: Are there any other objectives that the Commission should consider, and if so what are they?   Click here to view full story…


Airports Commission now consulting on Thames estuary airport options – deadlines 14th February and 23rd May

January 18, 2014

On 16th January the Airports Commission published its consultations on Thames estuary airport options. It did not short-list an estuary option, in its interim report on 17th December. Now there will be a first consultation, ending on 14th February on four options in the inner estuary. The Commission are asking for comments on its current position on the proposed terms of reference, especially if they contain gaps or weaknesses and whether other specific analyses need to be undertaken. There will be a second deadline date, ending on 23rd May, on an inner Thames proposal in which respondents are invited to submit analysis, evidence, and additional research or comments. The Commission says this will give sufficient time to ensure that appropriate evidence can be considered to inform the final study outputs before the studies are concluded and published. The Commission says it “expects to procure expert assistance from consultants in environmental appraisal and technical support; in the provision of engineering, airport operations and logistics consultancy and in the provision of economic modelling, commercial and financial appraisal.” Presumably at public expense (the Commission has a budget of £20.35 million over 4 years, from DfT). The Commission expects to be in a position to publish many of the study outputs by July 2014, to ensure that any further evidence from interested parties is taken into account before a decision is made in September.” Final public consultation on the schemes starts in October.    Click here to view full story…



Heathrow to hold 6 week consultation (starting 3rd Feb) with households on their north-west runway plan

January 17, 2014

Heathrow will start a six week consultation with local households on 3rd February, lasting till 17th March. It will ask for their views on Heathrow’s own short-listed north-west third runway plan. The airport wants to get its application as acceptable as possible to locals, to give it more chance of being permitted. “The results will help Heathrow understand what is most important to local residents and will be used to refine the runway proposal before it is resubmitted to the Airports Commission in May.” The consultation will be by post, and will be sent to the 120,000 households and businesses likely to be most impacted by the proposed plans. Those outside this area will have the opportunity to share their views online. There will also be drop-in events in nine local areas, to give people the chance to ask questions and “influence the plans.” The results will be shared with the Airports Commission, as part of Heathrow’s evidence. Heathrow knows that the issue of noise is key, and they will fail in their runway plans if there is strong enough opposition by enough people, on noise. They are hoping “mitigation” measures will be enough to reduce opposition. In reality people from huge areas of London, currently hardly affected by Heathrow aircraft noise, would be affected by this runway.   Click here to view full story…

Heathrow  north west runway approach path         Map indicating approximate approach flight path, on westerlies, for north west runway 


Heathrow had 3.4% more passengers in 2013 than in 2012. Gatwick had 3.6% more.

January 14, 2014

Heathrow and Gatwick have both reported growth in passenger numbers for 2013. Traffic at Heathrow reached 72.3 million, an increase of 3.4% on 2012, Aircraft movements totalled 469,552 for the year at Heathrow, which was down 0.4% on 2012. Colin Matthews used the figures as another opportunity to put in a plug for another Heathrow runway, saying Heathrow is full [but it keeps adding passengers - its terminals are not full, though its runways are nearly full] and so Heathrow has to watch other European airports adding more flights. Heathrow said BRIC passengers were up 6.9% over the year, with China up 18.9%, and India up 8.7%. Meanwhile at Gatwick traffic reached 35.4 million passengers in 2013, an increase of 3.6% on 2012. Gatwick’s aircraft movements totalled 244,552, which was a rise of 1.6% on 2012. Gatwick said its European routes were the main source of its growth, and they were increasing the number of long-haul routes, with more flights to Dubai. There will be a daily A380 service to Dubai from Gatwick from March.” Gatwick had fewer charter flights to European leisure destinations, reflecting the longer-term market move towards scheduled, low cost airlines.Heathrow load factor was 76.4% and Gatwick’s 79.4%.     Click here to view full story…


CAA decides on only RPI -1.5% charges at Heathrow and more controls on Gatwick. No further price regulation at Stansted

January 11, 2014

The CAA has published its final decisions on economic regulation at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted after April 2014. They say the new situation, with each airport having a different owner, reflects the unique circumstances of individual airports. Considering the market power of each airport means passengers would not benefit from further regulation of Stansted, but that Heathrow and Gatwick will both need further airport licences from April 2014 onwards. Current landing charges are £20.71 per passenger at Heathrow and £8.80 (2014 prices) at Gatwick. CAA says: “At Heathrow, the CAA’s price control decision will see prices fall in real terms by 1.5% per year between 2014 and 2019 (RPI-1.5%). This has changed from the CAA’s Final Proposals published in October, which suggested prices rising in line with inflation. The changes have been made as passenger traffic forecasts have strengthened since October, and the cost of capital has been revised. The CAA supports more diversity in what Gatwick offers to its various airlines, so passengers receive a tailored service. It has therefore based regulation on the airport operator’s own commitments to its airline customers.” Heathrow is deeply displeased. Gatwick is mildly displeased. Stansted is happy. Ryanair’s share value fell.       Click here to view full story…



Heathrow Airport plans to get residents’ views on preferred option for a 3rd runway attacked by campaign group

Date added: January 3, 2014

Heathrow Airport has intimated to the FT that it plans to consult residents on which of the two options, chosen by the Airports Commission, they prefer for a 3rd runway. This has been condemned by campaign group HACAN as like being asked ‘whether you prefer being murdered by Jack the Ripper or the Boston Strangler.’ Heathrow was probably surprised to find one option proposed by the Commission was by Heathrow Hub. They are not keen on this option. The aim of a consultation will be to get backing for their own scheme, for a northern runway. It will hinge on the noise issue. The extent of respite from aircraft noise will be a critical aspect of any runway proposals.. If there is a 3rd, northern, runway it could mean those living under the existing two runway flight paths would only get a shorter respite period per day, and a whole linear expanse of London would then start to be affected by aircraft noise. For a 3rd northern runway to be profitable, it will have to be used intensively. The reduction in respite periods, perhaps of only one third of a day, rather than half the day (from 3pm as at present) will be deeply unpopular. Even less popular would be the lack of respite at all with the Heathrow Hub northern runway. See H acan’s comment on the two options.       Click here to view full story…



Committee on Climate Change to report in summer 2014 on climate implications of Davies runway proposals

December 23, 2013

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has announced it will report to parliament in July 2014 on the impact of the Airports Commission’s plans on the UK’s climate commitments. The Commission’s report referred to the previous recommendations of the CCC, but was opaque on how those targets could be met, if expansion is permitted. The Commission said aviation CO2 emissions could be kept at 2005 levels by 2050 if passenger demand growth is kept to 67% by 2050. [The earlier CCC advice in 2009 was maximum 60% passenger growth over 2005 level by 2050]. The CCC’s David Kennedy said: “The expansion of Heathrow by one runway would stay within the 60% limit, depending on the extent of demand growth at other locations.” But a second runway probably would not. The Commission itself suggested that to meet the CO2 targets, the carbon price would have to rise to £600 per tonne of CO2 by 2050, as opposed to the current price of £3 per tonne, if runway capacity was totally unconstrained. The cost of flights would have to rise substantially. The CCC said that the cost of long-haul flights would need to rise by up to £200 to curtail demand and stay within the UK’s carbon emissions targets. “The higher the level of aviation emissions, the deeper the emissions cuts required in other sectors to meet the economy-wide targets”.     Click here to view full story…



Responding to the Airports Commission’s interim announcement, campaigners vow to fight any expansion at Heathrow

December 17, 2013

The long-awaited interim report from the Airports Commission has now been released. After leaks that Heathrow had been the main choice for another runway, this was confirmed. The shortlist sets out 3 main options: the north west runway at Heathrow, (not demolishing Sipson, but putting it right under the flight path); the northern runway option of the Heathrow Hub concept, which had suggested two runways, built west of the existing ones; and a second runway at Gatwick. Stansted is ruled out. Most Thames estuary options are ruled out, but the Isle of Grain proposal will be given further consideration and is not yet “ruled in or ruled out”. The Commission will be deciding over the next 18 months on whether the runway should be at Gatwick or at Heathrow. There is already fury over much of west London, that people face not only uncertainty for the next year and a half, till the Commission’s final report in summer 2015, but also the nightmare of a massive increase in the number of flights. The announcement will act as the trigger to 18 months of intense campaigning against Heathrow expansion, and against Gatwick expansion. John Stewart, chair of HACAN, said that at Heathrow “The scale of the opposition will be so great that we believe that they are politically undeliverable and should have been dropped at this stage.”  Click here to view full story…

North west runway – built over M25 and moves Heathrow closer to Windsor. Cost £17 bn and demolition of 950 homes  Heathrow northwest runway option 

The westerly extension of Heathrow’s northern runway (from the “Heathrow Hub” proposal)

Heathrow hub north runway

The southern Gatwick runway option

Gatwick wide spaced runway


 Airports Commission publishes interim report with 2 options for a runway at Heathrow and 1 at Gatwick. Estuary still being considered

December 17, 2013

The Airports Commission’s interim report has put forward 3 options for a new runway, and have kept their options open on an estuary airport. There would only be one runway, not two and they consider this should be in operation before 2030. At Heathrow the choices are a north west runway, 3,500 metres long, destroying Harmondsworth; and an extension westwards of at least 3,000 metres, of the existing northern runway. They also consider a wide spaced Gatwick runway to the south. The Commission also says “there is likely to be a demand case for a 2nd additional runway to be operational by 2050.” They claim this is “consistent with the Committee of Climate Change’s advice to government on meeting its legislated climate change targets.” Stansted is ruled out, and on the Thames Estuary they say: “The Commission has not shortlisted any of the Thames Estuary options because there are too many uncertainties and challenges surrounding them at this stage. It will undertake further study of the Isle of Grain option in the first half of 2014 and will reach a view later next year on whether that option offers a credible proposal for consideration alongside the other short-listed options.” The report also contains recommendations to the government for immediate action to improve the use of existing runway capacity. Among others, these include better airspace organisation and surface transport improvements such as enhancement of Gatwick station, a rail link from the south to Heathrow, and a rail link between Heathrow and Stansted.    Click here to view full story…



Speculation that Airports Commission interim report may say need for new runway not urgent – not before 2030

December 15, 2013

There are now suggestions that the Commission’s interim report, to be announced by Sir Howard Davies on 17th, will downplay the urgency of the alleged airport capacity problems, and may look instead at the possibility of a new runway being in place as late as 2030. The Observer reports that Government sources said that they expected Davies to say that, while extra capacity will be needed in time, there is no “crisis” yet. The Tories would be relieved if Davies were to downplay the urgency of the problem, as they are worried about their electoral chances in west London, having clearly said at the 2010 election: “No ifs, no buts, no 3rd runway”. Heathrow is not losing out on flights to key destinations, despite the propaganda that it is. Even the 2013 DfT forecasts of passenger demand show there is no shortage in capacity for years ahead, and no need for a runway before 2030. Lord Adonis, who is heading Labour’s economic growth review, has said the final report by the Airports Commission should be published earlier than 2015. – as people affected by its proposals have a right to know. Stansted airport owners have said they would question the integrity of Airports Commission if Stansted not on their shortlist.       Click here to view full story…



Heathrow campaigners furious over leak that Sir Howard Davies is backing 2 new runways at Heathrow

December 11, 2013

Heathrow campaigners have reacted with anger and disbelief to the leaked news that the Airports Commission Interim Report, which is due to be published on 17th December, favours 2 more runways at Heathrow. From the leaks, the Commission is expected to go for a 3rd runway at Heathrow followed by a 4th Heathrow runway or a second runway at Gatwick. The draft of the report, presented to Chancellor George Osborne, ruled out new runways at Stansted or an Estuary Airport. It is thought, however, that Tuesday’s report may formally retain more options in an attempt to give it some balance. This news will cause fury across whole swathes of London and the Home Counties. with the Airports Commission’s work over the next two years in selecting from its “short list” seen as a “busted flush” with its decision already taken. John Stewart, Chair of HACAN – which represents residents under the Heathrow flight paths, said: “It is astonishing that Davies has put so much faith in an option he must know is politically the hardest to deliver. The one good thing is that he will force political parties to come out for or against a 3rd runway before the 2015 General Election.” Another Heathrow runway means thousands of people stand to lose their homes. They are not going to stand by and let that happen. The campaign against a 3rd runway starts today.     Click here to view full story…



Stop Stansted Expansion fail in their bias challenge against Airports Commission in the High Court.           SSE comment

December 2, 2013         High Court Judge Mrs Justice Patterson has issued her ruling on the challenge brought by SSE arising from the role played by Mr Geoff Muirhead as a Commissioner on the Airports Commission. She agreed it was right for him to step down from the Commission as soon as it became known that his former employer, MAG, the owners of Stansted Airport, would be submitting proposals for extra runways there. But she ruled against SSE in deciding that no previous harm could have been done by Mr Muirhead, in terms of bias, during his involvement with the Commission from 2.11.2012 until his resignation on 20.9.2013 – which happened only after SSE had instructed its lawyers to commence legal proceedings. She did say that it could not be regarded “as the most wise” for him to remain on the Commission for so long. SSE still has some concerns about the integrity of the process going forward. SSE say that because there is so much at stake and the position is still not entirely satisfactory, they will be considering the ruling and whether aspects need to be taken to the Court of Appeal.      Click here to view full story…



SSE challenges Airports Commission at the High Court on “apparent bias” due to involvement of Geoff Muirhead

November 22, 2013        Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has launched a High Court bid to force the Airports Commission to revise its work on the future of aviation expansion in the UK. SSE’s case, asking that the Airports Commission should re-determine its so-called “sift criteria” for assessing growth options, was heard by Mrs Justice Patterson. SSE claims that the sift criteria process was infected by apparent bias because Geoff Muirhead, then still a member of the Commission, had worked as Chief Executive for – and continued to work for – MAG. The sift criteria will ultimately guide the Commission in its final decision on where any new runways in the UK should be built. SSE’s barrister, Paul Stinchcombe QC, argued that Mr Muirhead’s resignation was too late to save the sift criteria proceedings and that his involvement had tainted and was continuing to taint the activities and decisions of the commission by reason of apparent bias. The DfT said “there is no evidence whatsoever of bias and the Airports Commission is content that decisions taken to date are robust.” The Commission said its processes to date were “appropriate and robust”. Mrs Justice Patterson said she will make a decision on the matter in writing at a later date.     Click here to view full story…


“Let Britain Fly” taken to task for exaggerating and wrongly claiming London’s economy is being damaged by any lack of runway capacity

November 20, 2013       In a blog, John Stewart pours some cold water on the infant “Let Britain Fly” campaign launch. Its proud parent, London First, surrounded by a glittering array of big names from the business world, overdid the hyperbole. Baroness Jo Valentine, chief executive of London First, said that it was not acceptable for politicians “to dither” over new runways “and let our economy wither.” She even went on to ask somewhat over-dramatically, “Do we really want to become an also-ran in the global race?” Baroness Valentine must know this is exaggeration, even scaremongering. Whatever the pros and cons of expansion in the longer term, the facts are clear: there is no rush for a decision to be taken. The DfT has said that there is enough spare runway capacity in London and the South East until nearly 2030. And survey after survey shows that London remains the top city for business in Europe because of its unparalleled air connections to the rest of the world. Let Britain Fly – and London First – will lose credibility if they continue to exaggerate the urgency of the need for expansion. Giving the impression that London’s economy is in crisis because of a lack of runways is simply not true.     Click here to view full story…



Government to make no significant change to night flights regime at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted until Airports Commission report

November 11, 2013      In January 2013 the DfT put out the first part of its consultation on the night flight regime at the UK’s 3 designated airports,Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. The DfT said then that the 2nd consultation would be publishes later this year, to include specific proposals for the new regime, such as the number of permitted night flights – informed by the evidence from the first consultation. The DfT has now published this 2nd stage, but instead of any specific measures, it proposes no significant change to the night flight regime at Heathrow until 2017. It says it does not want to pre-empt the findings of the Airports Commission which is due to publish its final report in summer 2015. The current night flight regime for the 3 airports ends in October 2014. Normally a new regime is put in place to cover the next 5 – 6 years. This time the Government has decided in effect to roll-over the existing regime until 2017. The only change for Heathrow is a proposal “to extend the operational ban on the noisiest types of aircraft to include an extra half hour, the 23.00-23.30 period.     Click here to view full story…


Heathrow launches a “Fly Quiet” programme + quarterly “Fly Quiet” table – in a bid to reduce opposition on noise grounds

November 6, 2013        Heathrow airport has launched its ‘Fly Quiet programme’ which will produce a “Fly Quiet” table 4 times per year, ranking the 50 airlines that use the airport most on various noise measures. The airlines are listed according to six noise related criteria. These are given a red/amber/green rating for each criterion, as well as an overall score. The criteria are: Noise quota count/seat/movement, which adjusts noise according to seat capacity and movements per airline; the noise certification Chapter number; the number of Continuous Descent Approach violations; the number of track deviations on departure; the number of arrivals before their 4.30am slot, and those arriving before their 6am landing slot. Heathrow says it will work closely with airlines to improve their rating – it knows that noise will be the issue on which their bid for a new runway will fail, so are attempting to overcome opposition on noise grounds. The terminology of “quiet” planes, rather than “less noisy” planes is part of the PR spin. These planes are not “quiet” in any normal sense. Fractionally less noisy would be a better description.     Click here to view full story…



Green organisations tell Sir Howard Davies that allowing another runway jeopardises UK climate goals 

8 NGO logos for Airports Commission letter

November 1, 2013         Eight of the key environmental organisations in the UK have written an open letter to Sir Howard Davies, Chairman of the Airports Commission, to express their concern about the Commission’s “emerging thinking” that more runway capacity is needed for the south east, as expressed in Sir Howard’s speech on 7th October. They have serious concerns about how adding a new runway could be compatible with UK climate targets, and they call on the Commission to demonstrate how its recommendations will avoid gambling on our future ability to meet the UK climate target. The NGOs say the Committee on Climate Change’s analysis concluded that stabilising UK aviation’s emissions at their 2005 level could translate to a maximum 60% growth in the number of passengers at UK airports. They set out 4 key arguments why no new runway capacity is needed even if passenger numbers are permitted to grow by up to 60%. They also urge the Commission to retain a “no new runways” option in its deliberations as the best way of achieving the targets set in the UK Climate Change Act. The eight green NGOs which have signed the letter are: Aviation Environment Federation; Campaign for Better Transport; Friends of the Earth; Greenpeace; RSPB; Stop Climate Chaos; The Woodland Trust; WWF-UK.       Click here to view full story…


Packed seminar confirms opposition to any new Gatwick runway

IMG_4947 (1)

October 28, 2013      A packed seminar organised jointly by CPRE Surrey, CPRE Sussex and GACC on 25th October examined the arguments for and against a new runway at Gatwick. Some 150 representatives of county councils, borough, district and parish councils, planning officers and other experts, the Wildlife Trusts, plus four local MPs and one Member of the European Parliament, crowded into the conference centre at the Stanhill Court Hotel. There was also support from national representatives from WWF, and the National Trust. The opening speech was made by Cabinet member, Rt Hon Francis Maude, who said that the voice of opposition ‘needed to be heard with clarion certainty.’ Great concern was expressed about drawing more workers and passengers from around the country, climate change, increased noise, the impact of 40,000 extra houses, the pressure on schools, hospitals, local road and rail services. Also the recent unconventional decision by West Sussex council to support a new runway, on which the public had not been consulted. A resolution that “Those here would oppose any new runway at Gatwick airport” was passed with overwhelming support.      Click here to view full story…



GACC warns that new flight paths proposed by NATS and Gatwick airport could affect thousands around Gatwick

October 20, 2013      GACC has reacted strongly to proposals to revamp many of the existing flight paths around Gatwick , which have been put forward for consultation jointly by NATS and Gatwick Airport Ltd. These plans, which are nothing to do with a 2nd runway, include new flight paths over areas which are at present peaceful – in order to increase the number of aircraft able to use the runway; more concentrated flight paths based on more accurate aircraft navigation, which will effectively make life hell for many people affected; a major reform of the pattern of aircraft queuing up to land, which will bring aircraft noise to many areas currently not affected; and the possibility of ‘respite’ by using two flight paths on alternate days. This consultation includes nothing to show where the new flight paths might be. Instead it is couched in general terms, asking people to comment on broad concepts. There are no maps, and it is apparently intended that no maps will be produced until after the end of the consultation, and NATS and Gatwick do not intend to hold a second consultation. GACC is advising its members to study the new consultation and to express their views forcefully.      Click here to view full story…



Put the “No New Runway” option back on the table, AEF tells Sir Howard Davies

October 17, 2013       .Writing in the Huffington Post, James Lees ( (Research and Communications Officer, Aviation Environment Federation – AEF) says the Airports Commission is wrong in its preliminary conclusion – announced by Sir Howard Davies on 7th October – that a new runway is needed. In his blog James goes through the list of strong arguments why no new runway capacity is needed. These include climate impacts. The CCC guidance suggests the number of air passengers could perhaps rise by 60% over 2005 levels, by 2050. However, this does not take any account of the non-CO2 impacts of air travel. Even allowing for 60% more passengers means the carbon emissions from UK aviation would rise to be a quarter of total UK emissions and require large carbon reductions from other sectors to meet the UK’s 2050 target. And if a runway is built, how do we put the brakes on the aviation industry’s growth? James concludes that Sir Howard is aware of all these arguments, but has made the wrong conclusion. “To show that he really is ‘alive to the climate change problem’, Sir Howard should put the no new runway option back on the table.”      Click here to view full story…



Grey day for environment as Europe reduces its aviation ETS coverage to only European airspace

October 16, 2013      The European Commission has, under intense international pressure, proposed to reduce its ETS for aviation to only cover flights in European airspace. The proposal would only cover 35% of aviation emissions compared to the original aviation EU ETS. It would cover flights by all airlines, except from less developed countries, which contribute 1% or less of global aviation CO2. Bill Hemmings, aviation manager at Transport & Environment, said: “It is disgraceful that foreign and industry pressure has obliged Europe to shrink its own aviation emissions law to the bare minimum.” The EC’s text comes shortly after the conclusion of the ICAO triennial assembly, where delegates, in a political decision, finally agreed to talk about the details of a global market based measure for 2020 but rejected interim measures like the EU ETS. The current proposal would leave the vast bulk of EU aviation emissions – which come from long-haul flights – unregulated. T&E urges the European Parliament and Member States to include an option to extend the aviation emissions coverage of the ETS to a 50/50 basis in 2017.       Click here to view full story…


Stop Stansted Expansion lodged papers at High Court alleging Airports Commission criteria “infected by apparent bias” due to Geoff Muirhead

October 15, 2013

The Stop Stansted Expansion group (SSE) have lodged papers at the Royal Courts of Justice alleging that the criteria being applied to decide on possible options for new runway sites in England are “infected by apparent bias”. SSE want High Court judges to order the Government-appointed Airports Commission to delay the publication of any shortlist of options until the “sift criteria” have been re-determined. They argue that there was apparent bias because Geoff Muirhead, a recently-resigned member of the Commission, had a conflict of interest. Mr Muirhead is a former chief executive of Manchester Airports Group (MAG), the owners of Stansted since February. He stepped down from the Commission three weeks ago after SSE warned Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin they would take legal action if he stayed. “For almost a year, Mr Muirhead was allowed to play a pivotal role on the Commission.” The High Court is being asked to order the Commission “to re-visit certain key decisions made by the Commission during the time that Mr Muirhead was involved”. Brian Ross, from SSE, said: “With proposals on the table from MAG to make Stansted the world’s busiest airport with four runways handling up to 160 million passengers a year, there is far too much at stake to allow the issue of apparent bias to go unchallenged.”         Click here to view full story…



New study links aircraft noise from Heathrow to increased risk of heart disease and strokes

October 9, 2013     A new study by researchers at Imperial College and King’s College in London – and published in the BMJ – has found that deaths from stroke, heart and circulatory disease are 20% higher in areas with high levels of aircraft noise than in places with the least noise. The research compared on day- and night-time aircraft noise with hospital admissions and mortality rates among a population of 3.6 million people living near Heathrow airport. Their study covered 12 London boroughs and 9 districts outside London where aircraft noise exceeds 50 decibels – about the volume of a normal conversation in a quiet room. The researchers made every effort to eliminate other factors that might have a relationship with stroke and heart disease, such as deprivation, South Asian ethnicity and smoking-related illness. This new study confirms the findings of the 2008 “HYENA” study, also by Imperial College, which looked at people living near Heathrow and 5 other European airports. The research is clear that living with a lot of aircraft noise damages health, though this needs further work. The study indicates that planners need to take the health impacts of aircraft noise into account when expanding airports in heavily populated areas or planning new airports.    Click here to view full story…


Sir Howard Davies speech gives provisional support for a new south east runway – but shows how borderline the decision would be

October 7, 2013        In a speech in central London Sir Howard Davies set out what he described as the Airports Commission’s “emerging thinking” after their first 11 months of work. He said it ” it would be helpful at this stage to set out some of our early thinking on the issue of overall capacity.” He said: “Our provisional view…. is that additional capacity will need to be provided, alongside an overall framework for managing emissions growth, if we are to deliver the best outcomes in both environmental and connectivity terms.” Also that: “…our provisional conclusion from this analysis …is that we will need some net additional runway capacity in the south east of England in the coming decades.” He first went through 4 sets of arguments against a new runway (less future demand for air travel than anticipated; future demand can be met by existing capacity; carbon emissions from growing aviation could breach UK climate commitments; regional airports could take the extra demand). He then gave explanations for each why he believed the optimal solution would be more runway capacity. He said, on the guidance from the CCC on aviation CO2 emissions needing to be restricted that: “We are in the process of updating the Committee on Climate Change’s analysis and will present our findings in our Interim Report”. Comments on the speech are welcomed by the Commission until 31st October.    Click here to view full story…


ICAO forgoes immediate emissions reductions for only promise of a future global plan

October 4, 2013     In their response to the disappointing outcome of the ICAO negotiations on curbing global aviation emissions, WWF said ICAO had missed the opportunity to start reducing emissions immediately. They have only committed to possibly agree an MBM in 2016, to come into effect in 2020. There is no guarantee they will agree it. This means little will be done before 2020. WWF said the science is clearer than ever – and 2020 is too late. Jean Leston, Transport Policy Officer of WWF-UK, said: “The world has waited 16 years for ICAO to demonstrate its serious commitment to reducing aviation emissions. What we got today seems a very small return for that effort. We expect a lot more ambition and commitment from ICAO over the next three years if a global, market-based mechanism is ever going to materialize. …..By essentially restricting the EU’s ETS for aviation to its own carriers and airspace, ICAO has handicapped the world’s leading legislation to put a price on aviation pollution and once again allowed skyrocketing emissions to continue climbing.” With the IPCC saying we need to cut CO2, leaders need to be taking every opportunity to do so.   Click here to view full story…



“Flying Clean” Alliance buzz ICAO talks trailing “Can’t Spell Procrastination Without ICAO” banner

cropped-ICAO-fly-over.jpgOctober 1, 2013     The American Flying Clean Alliance took flight and buzzed the 38th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization in a plane trailing the banner, “Can’t Spell Procrastination Without ICAO.” The flyover took place as delegates from 191 countries entered the assembly to again consider controls for aviation CO2. Flying Clean said ICAO has been talking about dealing with carbon pollution from planes for 16 years, but doing nothing. ICAO needs to know that the world is watching and expecting action. The Flying Clean Alliance, in the USA, represents thousands of elite frequent flyers and tens of thousands of everyday flyers who believe the aviation sector needs to stop blocking meaningful action on climate. The ICAO vote is expected on 2nd October, when they need to agree to a global market-based system to curb aviation climate emissions in 2016, which would go into effect in 2020. Global aircraft emissions are anticipated to almost double by 2020, if the industry expands as much as it hopes it will. This increase comes after 16 years of conversation since ICAO was first charged with addressing aviation and climate. That’s procrastination for you.   Click here to view full story…


Third runway at Heathrow would mean local surface transport chaos

October 1, 2013    .One of the most pressing, but least considered problems when proposals are made to expand Heathrow is that of surface transport to and from the airport. The Campaign for Better Transport, in a recent report, says Heathrow sits in the most congested quadrant of London. The roads around Heathrow are already full and journey times are getting longer. So much so that the Department for Transport has said that it’s likely to need to take action to relieve congestion due to traffic growth regardless of what happens at the airport. The Piccadilly Line, which provides most of the public transport capacity to Heathrow, is already one of the most crowded on the underground. Even if you include Crossrail, it is clear that public transport will not have the capacity to accommodate the extra demand that Heathrow envisages from a 3rd runway – 40% more passengers by 2030 and nearly double that by 2040 – and additional pressure will therefore be placed on the roads. An additional Heathrow runway would cause widespread transport chaos  and would also have knock-on impacts on traffic between London and the south west.   .Click here to view full story…


GACC says Gatwick site is too cramped and constrained for an efficient 2nd runway

September 25, 2013       .GACC, the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, has submitted a document entitled “Gatwick Unzipped” to the Airports Commission, in response to their invitation to submit comments on the various plans for new runways. GACC believes, based on past evidence from British Airways and others, that the airport site is too cramped to efficiently accommodate an additional runway. The Chairman of GACC, Brendon Sewill, says those calling for a second runway at Gatwick ‘have never looked at a map’ and “When examined carefully the Gatwick runway plans are not nearly as good as they seem at first sight.” Some of the main points made in the GACC analysis include the suggestion ‘the so-called ‘wide-spaced runway’ is too close to the existing runway’; the plans for new runways at Heathrow, Stansted or in the Thames Estuary all show a wider separation between the runways; and the length of the new runway would be constrained by the main London-Brighton railway line to the east and by high ground to the west. Also that noise would be unacceptable in rural areas, as Gatwick is surrounded on 3 sides by Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.   .Click here to view full story…


Essex County Council submission to Airports Commission warns against “super-airport” at Stansted

September 24, 2013     .ESSEX County Council has warned the Airports Commission against proposals for an “unwanted and unviable” super-airport at Stansted. It has instead called for greater focus on realistic, affordable and practical options that will allow “sensible growth” in Essex. Earlier this summer, Stansted’s owner, MAG agreed with Boris Johnson that 4 runways at Stansted was one solution to the alleged airport capacity shortage. Essex CC have produced a new report showing that plans to close Heathrow to replace it with a massive airport at Stansted or in the Thames estuary would be too costly and disruptive to deliver. Council leader Cllr David Finch said the UK does not have the time or the money to waste on impractical or undeliverable schemes that “could suck up a sum of taxpayers’ money equivalent to twice the UK’s defence budget.” Essex say any plan for a giant super-hub airport at Stansted is completely unacceptable to the council and Essex residents, and that “If ministers in London do impose further capacity on our airport, they need to know that a bill comes with that.”       Click here to view full story…


Global analysis of aviation CO2 shows Heathrow far above any other global airport and UK 9th highest aviation CO2 per capita

September 21, 2013      .Dave Southgate is an Australian aviation expert, with many years of experience of working on the measurement of aviation emissions. He has produced a new e-book, on the carbon footprint of global scheduled domestic and international passenger flights in 2012. It contains detailed information covering some 85% of global aviation emissions, and gives some interesting insights. For the UK, domestic flights are a very much smaller proportion than in larger countries. However, Heathrow remains by a very large margin the airport with the largest carbon emissions of any worldwide, about 16,584 thousand tonnes of CO2 per year, with Los Angeles in second place with some 11,866 thousand tonnes. The book also shows the UK ranks 9th in the world for carbon emissions per capita from aviation, with (of European countries) Switzerland in 6th place, the Netherlands in 8th place, far above Germany (12th) and France (13th), with the highest per capita aviation emissions being Qatar, UAE, Singapore and Hong Kong, Australia and USA. By total emissions per airline, Lufthansa and British Airways are almost the same, ranked 5th and 6th, with Air France ranked 8th and Ryanair ranked 20th.     .Click here to view full story…


Geoff Muirhead steps down from his position at the Airports Commission

September 20, 2013     . Geoff Muirhead, who has been a commissioner at the Airports Commission, has agreed to step down. This comes in response to the challenge from Stop Stansted Expansion, due to Mr Muirhead’s previous work for the Manchester Airports Group, which now owns Stansted. Mr Muirhead continued to work for MAG in an advisory capacity even when he had accepted his role on the Commission. As MAG owns Stansted, which is one of the sites being seriously considered for expansion and a new runway, there is an obvious conflict of interest. Despite the claim that he was impartial, it has been clear all along that he is very pro-aviation. The problem now remains that Mr Muirhead has been with the Commission for almost a year, and his input may already have influenced the Commission. It will be necessary to establish to what extent the process may have been tainted by his involvement. SSE included this point in their pre action protocol letter that was sent to the Secretary of State for Transport, and Howard Davies in August.     . Click here to view full story…


FoI request reveals TfL has spent £1.4 million so far, with a budget of £3 million, on promoting Thames estuary airport (or Stansted)

September 20, 2013     . Figures from Transport for London (TfL) – obtained from a Freedom of Information request – show Boris Johnson has spent £1.4 million promoting the idea of a Thames Estuary airport. Some £1.2 million has gone to paying consultancy fees, for work such as looking at environmental impacts of an airport and the infrastructure that would need to be built. £15,000 was spent on hiring College Public Policy, a consultancy group, to help with TfL’s submission to the Airports Commission. In contrast, Medway Council budgeted £50,000 in 2012 to fight against the airport, although it is not clear how much of this was spent. Boris backs building the airport, which would be the world’s biggest airport, at Grain. This would have 4 runways and operate 24 hours a day. “Boris has been throwing away public money on his flight of fancy and it needs to stop” – Mark Reckless MP. TfL say in May 2011, £200,000 was set aside by TfL to consider the options for expanding the country’s aviation capacity. A further £3 million has been budgeted by TfL up until April 2014, of which there is around £1.7 million remaining.     . Click here to view full story…


MAG / Ryanair 10 year growth agreement at Stansted to increase Ryanair passengers by 50% in 10 years

September 17, 2013      .Manchester Airports Group (MAG) and Ryanair have announced a new long-term growth agreement which will see Ryanair increase its number of passengers at Stansted from just over 13 million a year, to more than 18 million by 2018 and then to almost 21 million passengers a year by 2023. In return it wants lower costs and better facilities. MAG bought Stansted from BAA in February 2013. Ryanair is Stansted’s largest airline – with 140 + destinations during the past year; it has now announced 4 new Stansted routes for summer 2014. The new destinations – not currently served from Stansted – are Lisbon, Bordeaux, Dortmund and Rabat. MAG said they are confident Stansted can grow, though it has had consistently declining numbers of passengers for several years. MAG believes it can compete more effectively “to make the most of the airport’s untapped potential and spare capacity.” MAG says “Stansted has a really bright future in providing international connectivity for the UK” – (which broadly means more holiday destinations for cheap flights, taking more Brits to spend their money abroad.)    . Click here to view full story…



AirportWatch calls on Airports Commission to safeguard communities under threat of blight from airport proposals

September 11, 2013

AirportWatch – which includes campaign groups at a number of airports facing the threat of expansion – have joined forces in writing to Sir Howard Davies, Chairman of the Airports Commission, calling upon him to safeguard all the threatened communities against blight. The Commission is due to produce an interim report at the end of this year and, if it concludes that the UK needs more airport capacity, it will publish a shortlist of options. The Commission’s final report and recommendations won’t be published until mid-2015, after the next general election, and it will then be for the Government of the day to take any final decisions. As soon as such a list is published, every single one of the areas under threat will be hit by generalised blight and people will immediately experience not only stress and uncertainty, but difficulties in selling their homes. The campaigners’ letter asks Sir Howard “to make it a pre-condition for being shortlisted for the promoter of an airport development proposal to undertake to introduce fair and reasonable arrangements to address the problem of generalised blight arising from their proposal within three months of being shortlisted and to operate such arrangements for a minimum period of two years.”    . Click here to view full story…



Study finds a 2nd Gatwick runway could require 40,000 new houses – a town the size of Crawley

September 2, 2013      . A study by independent consultants jointly commissioned by the West Sussex County Council and the Gatwick Diamond business association has found that the total number of houses in Crawley at present is around 40,000, and some 30,000 – 45,000 new houses would be needed if a new runway is built at Gatwick. The study predicts that the number of jobs created by a new runway plus the number of jobs created in firms attracted to the area by doubling the size of Gatwick would be far in excess of any available labour. That would require a substantial influx of workers from other parts of the UK or from the EU. Local councils, which are already struggling to find sites for the current demand for housing – without Gatwick expansion. Councils would need to decide whether to build a whole new town or whether to add hundreds of new houses to every town and village – perhaps a thousand houses added to forty villages! A new runway would lead to widespread urbanisation of parts of rural Sussex and Surrey, and the “dream” could turn into a nightmare.   Click here to view full story…


Airports Commission publish long term airport capacity, short and medium term capacity proposals – and plans for its Phase 2 work

August  7th 2013

The Airports Commission has published a paper summarising the range of options received  for making best use of existing capacity in the short and medium term (meaning measures that do not require new runways or terminals, and could be introduced within under 5 years, or over 5 years). They have also published the range of long term airport proposals, and other proposals on surface access, that have been submitted. They are still inviting comments from individuals or organisations on any of these until 27th September. The Commission has also published a note on how it sees its work after December 2013, which it calls Phase 2. The Commission will make its interim report in December, both on short and medium term measures to boost UK airport capacity, and also on which long term airport expansion schemes merit further, detailed consideration. “If the Commission reaches a view in its interim report that a significant increase in aviation capacity is needed, the second phase of our work will develop the list of credible long term options into detailed schemes, and subject them to a thorough appraisal process. This is likely to include looking not only at individual proposals in isolation, but also at how they might be combined.”  Details at



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 …..