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planes plane-over-roof StopAirportExpansiontshirt BRITAIN HEATHROW AIRPORT EXPANSION

For key news stories see Latest News

Gatwick: For more on the flight path trial, and increased aircraft noise around Gatwick see                                              Flight path changes and trials

Due to holiday absence, this website may not be updated                   till 12th August.

CCC confirm UK air passenger rise of 60% by 2050 only possible if carbon intensify of flying improves by one third

The Committee on Climate Change has reported to Parliament on progress on the UK’s carbon budgets. They say: “Under the current rate of progress future budgets will not all be met.” Carbon budgets do not currently include emissions from international aviation and shipping, but these are included in the 2050 carbon target. The government will review aviation’s inclusion in carbon budgets in 2016. In 2012 the UK’s international aviation emitted 32 MtCO2, and domestic aviation 1.6 MtCO2. The CCC and the Airports Commission say a new runway can fit within climate targets, but their own figures show aviation growth exceeding the target for decades. Growth in passengers of “around” 60% above 2005 levels could only fit within the carbon target if there is an improvement in the carbon intensity of aviation of around one-third by 2050. The Airports Commission’s own interim report says there can only be 36% growth in flights by 2050, to stay within targets. They say any more growth than that should not happen, “unless and until” there are the necessary technology improvements, cutting aviation emissions. But neither the government, nor the CCC, nor the Airports Commission can pin down what these will be, or when they will happen. UK aviation emissions remain the highest in Europe.

CCC and AC aviation CO2 projections to 2050

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Plans to fit a new south east runway within UK climate targets are based on a ‘wing and a prayer’ – rather than reality

Two new reports have been produced, which seriously challenge the Airports Commission’s claim that it is possible to build a new runway and still meet the UK Government’s climate change targets. The reports also argue that building a new runway in the south east would worsen the north/south divide, as growth at the regional airports would need to be constrained in order to ensure CO2 emissions from aviation fall to their 2005 levels by 2050. The RSPB report, “Aviation, climate change and sharing the load” and the WWF report, by the AEF “The implications of a new South East runway on regional airport expansion” demonstrate that if a new runway is built, commitments under the Climate Change Act cannot be met unless significant constraints are imposed on the level of activity at regional airports. Both reports illustrate that if aviation emissions were allowed to soar, that would impose costs on the rest of the economy rising to perhaps between £1 billion and £8.4 billion per year by 2050 as non-aviation sectors would need to make even deeper emissions cuts. The regulatory regime for aviation carbon emissions is still just aspirational. Contrary to the impression given by the government and the Airports Commission, the issue of climate in relation to airport expansion has not been resolved.

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Residents in Chicago, fed up with O’Hare airport jet noise, take to the streets to fight it

O’Hare airport in Chicago has been upsetting residents to the northwest of the city, by changing flight paths, so some people are being over flown a great deal than before. This is the result of the O’Hare Modernization Project that took effect in October 2013. The changes mean that 85% of O’Hare arrivals and departures between 11 pm and 6am will fly over homes in certain suburbs. Those living under these flight paths face not only the noise, the annoyance, the potential impacts on their health and the loss of sleep, but also a decrease in their property prices. The local community campaign, FAiR (Fair Allocation in Runways) has been touring affected neighbourhoods giving out door hanger signs encouraging people to get active and fight the flight paths, or else “kiss your property values goodbye.” They plan to hand out door hangers to well over 30,000 homes. They also have “yard signs” (placards to stick in the front garden) for the campaign, selling these to raise campaign funds. Just as in London and near other UK airports, people are devastated by the new noise pollution. One commented that even with noise insulation, it was impossible to avoid the noise in the neighbourhood, even by going shopping, going swimming, going to the park. It cannot be avoided.

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Four Inner Thames estuary airport studies for Airports Commission finally kill off “Boris Island”

The Airports Commission has now published all four of the studies it has commissioned on an Inner Thames Estuary (ITE) airport. These reports are on environmental impacts, operational feasibility and attitudes to moving to an estuary airport, socio-economic impacts, and surface access. The first report, on environmental impacts was utterly damning, confirming the massive extent of the harm done to highly conserved habitats and their wildlife, and the near impossibility of successfully moving the wildlife elsewhere. Now the report on the feasibility of moving the airport shows the problems of flood risk, fog, wind direction, bird strike, explosives on the SS Montgomery and the Isle of Grain gas terminal – with many practically insurmountable. The report on socio-economic impacts demonstrates that aeronautical charges would have to be very high to pay for the airport, and be too high to compete with Dubai etc. Heathrow would have to close, at immense cost. The surface access report shows the cost of even minimal rail services to get most passengers to the airport would be £10 billion and more like £27 billion for a good service. The cost of road improvements would be £10 to £17 billion. The reports’ conclusions now make it nearly inconceivable that a Thames Estuary Airport will ever be constructed.

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Battle of Balsall Common’ over plane noise, from Birmingham flight path trial, goes to Parliament

The Battle of Balsall Common – which has triggered waves of complaints of noise nuisance from planes taking off at Birmingham Airport – is to go to Parliament. Angry residents are raising a protest petition to be sent to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, to ask him to look at this trial, and call it in. People affected say their lives are being made a misery by trials launched in May in advance of new flight paths being made permanent. This has happened because of the runway extension. People are deeply angry and anxious, because these flight paths are away from the NPR routes (Noise Preferential Routes), which everyone has known about for years. People have checked, in the past, to ensure they have not chosen to live near an NPR. Now, areas which nobody could have guessed would be overflow have planes overhead every few minutes. Campaigners took to the streets of Balsall Common last weekend to get signatures, in a bid to force a Government rethink of the new flight path. David Ellis, of the Balsall Common Action Group, said: ““We are told they are over 3,000 feet but that is not the point – the noise is the problem.” There will be a public meeting on July 16th on the problem.

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Around 20,000 attended a damp but determined weekend at Notre Dame des Landes, against planned Nantes airport

Un festival de musique a été organisé à Notre Dame des Landes, le 5 juillet.

Up to 20,000 or so people (estimates vary) gathered at Notre Dame des Landes over the weekend of 5th and 6th July, from across France, to support the campaign against the planned airport, and show their solidarity. Though dampened by almost continuous rain on the first day, spirits were not dimmed, and some 50 talks and debates went on – under canvas. There were also concerts by popular French singers, as well as stalls and activities for all ages. Some of those taking part in the weekend are opposing other Large Unnecessary Imposed Projects (Les Grands Projets Inutiles Imposés) across France, with a sincere desire to stop mega-projects that do great environmental harm, for dubious economic benefit. Work on the airport project has been frozen since 2012, largely due to legal obstructions. The last large protest by the Nantes opponents, organised by ACIPA, was on 22 February 2014, attended by between 20 000 and 50 000 people in streets of Nantes, which was severely policed, and from which there were injuries and some public damage.This weekend’s event was peaceful, and once the sun came out, the sky was filled with protest kites.

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Improving its passenger service would undercut Heathrow’s case for a 3rd runway

In much the same way as landowners, especially in the Green Belt, tend to try to let their land get into such bad condition that planners allow planning permission on it, so it is with Heathrow. A comment piece by Philip Stephens, an associate editor of the Financial Times, reflects how Heathrow has a vested interest in managing to make the service they provide inadequate. The more passengers are inconvenienced – and told it is because the airport is so full – the stronger Heathrow hopes its case becomes to be allowed to expand. Philip says: “Absolute genius…….[Heathrow wants passengers to believe that] … If the government gave the go-ahead for expansion – specifically a 3rd runway – all would be well. Try that again: the only way to improve the dismal lot of passengers is guarantee Heathrow still higher profits. As I said, brilliant!” And “Heathrow dominates London’s air traffic and the two companies [Heathrow and BA] have a quasi-monopoly. They are extracting large rents. This is how monopolists behave, the more so when overseen by a weak regulator. Most importantly, a half-decent level of passenger service would be counter-productive because it would undercut the case for that 3rd runway.”

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Report for Airports Commission on environmental impact sinks Boris’s estuary airport plans

Boris Johnson’s dreams of a massive airport in the Thames Estuary have had a major setback, from the new report produced for the Airports Commission, looking at the environmental impacts. The study shows it would cause huge environmental, financial and safety risks and would cause “large scale direct habitat loss” to hundreds of thousands of migrating birds. The cost of creating replacement habitats could exceed £2 billion and may not even be possible. Even if replacement habitat could be found, planes using the airport would still be at a “high risk” of lethal bird strike. In order to counter this risk, even larger areas of habitat would need to be destroyed to secure the airport. The report also found huge regulatory hurdles to any potential estuary airport going ahead. Under environmental regulations,the airport’s backers would have to prove there were “imperative reasons of overriding public interest (IROPI)” for placing the airport in such an environmentally sensitive area. Even if that could be proven, they would also need to demonstrate that all of the habitat displaced by the airport could be placed elsewhere. The report found that while this was “technically possible,” it was highly uncertain, as such a large scale displacement had never been attempted before.

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Heathrow 3rd runway would mean demolishing Colnbrook incinerator and relocating it – maybe to Stanwell?

The Heathrow airport plan for a 3rd runway to the north-west of the airport, demolishing most of Harmondsworth and making Sipson impossible to live in, also demolishes the current incinerator at Colnbrook, run by Grundon. In Heathrow’s expansion plans they propose that a new incinerator should be built just south of the airport, in Stanwell -between Long Lane and Stanwell Farm. This is, at best, controversial. Residents are concerned about the prospect of an incinerator so close to their homes and with the spectre of the eco-park in Shepperton also looming, questions of just how much Spelthorne can take are being asked. The hope it, by advocates of locating a new incinerator there, that the prevailaing wind from the west would blow any pollution away from Stanwell, and towards the east or north east. Incinerators are unpopular in most areas, as people fear not only dioxins in air pollution, but also the associated heavy traffic from lorries. People in Spelthorne are not convinced they want to host two large incinerators.

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Holland-Kaye wants raised Heathrow landing charge, and public subsidy by cutting APD, to pay for runway

John Holland-Kaye has now taken over as CEO of Heathrow, from Colin Matthews. He has already angered airlines by saying he wants to give an adequate return to foreign investors in a 3rd runway, by raising the landing charges at Heathrow. Mr Holland-Kaye wants the landing charge to rise – in real terms – from £20 now, per passenger, to £24 within a few years, and it might rise to £27 by around 2040 (though predictions that far ahead are futile). Heathrow has been battling with its regulator, the CAA, for years on the level of its aeronautical charges. The CAA recently cut its cost of capital to 5.35% in the 5 years to 2019, though Heathrow says its weighted average cost of capital needs to be 6% in the period between 2019 and 2048, to repay its investors. Mr Holland-Kaye also let slip that he wants a cut in Air Passenger Duty (APD) on long haul flights, which would effectively be a loss to the Treasury, and thus be the equivalent of a public subsidy, for a 3rd Heathrow runway. The level of APD on the longest flights was cut this year in the budget, combining the two top distance bands, effectively giving them a government subsidy. He also said he “could not rule out the case for a 4th one in the future.”

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Heathrow’s noise claims do not stack up, according to new reports

Heathrow’s claims that a third runway will improve the overall noise climate for residents do not stack up, according to analysis done by HACAN. Their new briefing, “Do Heathrow’s noise claims stack up?” has compared Heathrow’s arguments with the findings of 2 recently-published reports (by the CAA and by the Mayor of London) and concludes that “Heathrow’s claims are unravelling in the face of the independent evidence.” The most damning indictment of Heathrow is in the Atkins report showing their claim that a 3rd runway will mean “at least 30% noise reduction” by 2030 is based on the assumption that the new runway will be only operating at one-third capacity. Both reports challenge Heathrow’s prediction that 90% of the planes using the airport in 2026, when any new runway is expected to open, will be the quieter ‘new generation’ aircraft. They are dubious of steeper landings, and believe people under the current flight paths will get shorter respite periods in order to give people under the new flight paths some respite too. HACAN chair John Stewart said the 2 new independent reports illustrate the near-impossibility of sorting out noise at Heathrow.

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Gatwick airport announces first profits for years and returns for its investors … UK tax?

Gatwick airport has announced its results for the year to 31st March 2014. It has made a profit, for the first time in 4 years. Gatwick says its passenger numbers reached 35.9 million in 2013/14 (4.8% up on 2012/13). Their turnover is up 10.2% to £593.7 million and EBITDA is up 14.2% to £259.4 million, with a resulting profit of £57.5 million. This compared to a loss in the financial year ending 31 March 2013 of £29.1 million. The airport has spent a great deal improving the airport, and so made losses – and paid no tax to the UK government for years. Gatwick says their investments and more marketing is being effective in attracting more passengers. It now has more aircraft movements at peak times (a cause of the noise nuisance being caused from new flight paths). Gatwick now claims 20% are travelling on business, largely on EasyJet. The figure was 17.5% in 2012. Gatwick says it will now be paying dividends to its investors, though it has not in recent years. It expects to pay £125m to investors in the current financial year, £65m return in the 2015/16 financial year and £60m in 2016/17. [Maybe also pay some UK tax?]

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Heathrow film competition presents 15 impressive anti-3rd-runway campaigning films

At a packed event held in Richmond Theatre, organised by MP Zac Goldsmith, with some 800 people present (free seats), Hugh Grant, Holly Willoughby and Rachel Johnson were the celebrities judging the competition for short films, of 2 minutes or less, opposing a 3rd Heathrow runway. The evening was ably and entertainingly compered by Giles Brandreth. The first prize was £10,000, the second prize £3,000 and the 3rd prize £2,000. Some 50 short films were entered into the competition. The 15 considered the best were shown at the gala event, for the judges to select the top three. The audience then voted on these three. All the 15 films shown were of a very high quality; any one of the 15 films could have been the winner. They all showed a high level of film expertise; there was a wide range of styles and approaches; all showed great originality and creativity, and put the message across powerfully. Anyone present at the gala event would be left in no doubt about just how determinedly people in the areas badly affected by Heathrow will do whatever it takes to ensure no new Heathrow runway gets built.

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1. “Heathrow Won’t Listen”

2. “Say NO”

3. “Life under the Flightpath”



MPs initiate “Gatwick Coordination Group” – saying 2nd runway is not in the local or national interest

MPs Crispin Blunt, Sir Paul Beresford, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Soames, Rt Hon Sir John Stanley, and Charles Hendry have formed the Gatwick Coordination Group. The Group is established to represent the serious local concern at the plan for a 2nd runway. The MPs’ group released a statement saying they believe a 2nd Gatwick runway would be a disaster for the surrounding communities and environment. They say the level of development, associated with an airport serving nearly three times as many passengers as it does now, would devastate the local environment and leave the UK with its major airport in the wrong place. Also that there is no adequate plan yet presented to provide the necessary infrastructure, of all types, to support this development. “The size of the Gatwick site only lends itself to a single runway airport, serving as a sensible, competitive alternate to London’s main hub airport. While they pursue that objective, Gatwick Airport Limited will have our support, but this proposal is not in the local interest, nor is it in the national interest, and this group will work to prove that case.”

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Level playing field on transport costs vital to proper assessment of runway options – says TfL

TfL assumptions on transport costs for runway options June 2014The issue of surface access to airports was the subject of the RunwaysUK conference on 2nd June. Michèle Dix, planning director of Transport for London, said that the costs for surface access for each of the runway options must be assessed against a level playing field of criteria. Michèle said it was vital that estimates by runway promoters reflected that actual needs of transport in the capital. “You need to compare like with like. What are the true and full costs of accommodating this additional demand? If airports are placing a greater demand on the network then we need a greater transport provision.” The Thames estuary proposal had not compared the surface access needs, like for like.

She estimated that comparable “optimal” investment level of investment needed – the total package of transport schemes required to deliver an optimal level of surface transport access – for Heathrow was £17.6bn, Gatwick £12.4bn and an Inner Thames Estuary airport £19.1bn.  Even just “high” provision, rather than “optimal”, would need £7 billion for Heathrow, £11.6 billion for Gatwick; and £10.9 billion for the Inner Thames Estuary option.

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Gatwick claims that with better public transport it will be “road & rail ready” for 2nd runway by 2021

Gatwick has produced a glossy document setting out how it will have fantastic road and rail links in place by 2021, that there will be no road or rail congestion, and everyone will have smoother and easier journeys. And at no cost to anyone. There are some stunning omissions. Most things that are inconvenient are just left out. They say “Gatwick will increase the cost efficiency in the rail industry by filling off-peak trains as well as providing passengers for trains operating in the opposite direction to peak commuter services. While it is estimated that, on the busiest trains, only 5% of travellers will be air passengers, the overall benefit they will bring will be around £3 billion in additional fare income.” Gatwick says: “Junction 9 of the M23 … will need to be upgraded to cater for expansion. Gatwick has committed to funding a doubling of this motorway junction capacity.” The only thing Gatwick has said it will pay for. Also: “we have re-designed the local road network to be no busier than it is today, even after a general increase in demand, which will lessen local noise and air quality effects of background traffic, benefit economic activity and the quality of life of those using and living along the affected roads.”  ……….Really?

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GACC calls on all councils around Gatwick to hold public meetings on flight path plans

Gatwick airport is consulting on future changes to flight paths. The consultation is long, complicated and almost incomprehensible to the average lay person. It is very hard indeed for those to be over flown, with no experience of aircraft noise, to understand. The proposals could have a serious impact on many towns and villages around the airport, and potentially affect an area from Guildford to Tunbridge Wells and from Petworth to Sevenoaks. Now GACC has called on all parish councils and town councils around Gatwick airport to hold public meetings to enable residents to understand and discuss the new flight paths proposed by the airport. If the parish or town is not affected by the new flight paths, then GACC suggest that a meeting should be held to discuss the proposals for a new runway. John Byng, Vice chairman of GACC, said: ‘Many people are telling us that the flight path document is difficult to understand. The proposals affect each area differently, so we believe that local meetings are the best answer.’ GACC will be asking for a simpler version of the consultation to be sent to all those under the new flight path, and for maps showing the full length of the new flight paths, not merely below 4,000 feet.

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American FoI documents show USA is barring John Stewart from the country on allegations it admits are unfounded

On 29th September 2011 John Stewart set off for the USA for a speaking tour. He was arrested and taken off the plane by armed US police at New York JFK airport, under suspicion – in theory – of threatening Barak Obama. But he was held for lengthy questioning. He remains barred from entering the US. Now the Telegraph’s David Millward reports that official US documents obtained by The Telegraph under American FoI legislation have raised fresh questions over John’s treatment. John spearheaded the campaign to block a 3rd Heathrow runway in 2010, and continues to lead the anti-runway campaign. Documents now show that less than an hour before John’s Delta Airlines flight landed at JFK – it received reports that he had made a threat against the president. The source of this incorrect information remains unknown. It is now clear that the US authorities knew as early as 4.29pm that: “previous reports were unsubstantiated”. But the questioning by the American secret service and FBI continued until around 9.15pm. The authorities decided to deport John, with no reason given, and with no redress.

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CAA urges UK aviation to improve noise performance & engage communities better, so it can continue to grow

The CAA have produced a new report about aircraft noise in the context of airport expansion. They realise that airports and airlines should do all they can to reduce noise. Some of their recommendations are that when looking to expand, airports should do more to ensure local residents see benefits from additional capacity – whether through funding community schemes, direct payments, or tax breaks. Also that airports seeking expansion should significantly increase spending on noise mitigation schemes to get closer to international competitors – including full insulation for those most affected. Airlines should focus on noise performance when purchasing new aircraft, and airports should structure their landing charges to incentivise airlines to operate so called “cleaner” (lower carbon emissions?), and less noisy flights. The CAA also propose creating a new Airport Community Engagement Forum, bringing together local residents, the aviation industry, policy makers and planners focussed on how (not whether) new airport capacity can be developed and operated with least annoyance, or complaint, from those over flown.

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Gatwick flight path changes revealed as 12 week airspace consultation launched

Gatwick airport has started another consultation on changes to its flight paths. This will last for 12 weeks and end on 15th August. The earlier “consultation” done by Gatwick, that ended on 15th May did not include any flight path details, which many who attended the exhibitions found frustrating. Gatwick’s consultation is complex and not intended to be easy for a non-expert to understand. It is rich in acronyms and jargon, that is not properly explained. One could conjecture that making the consultation so hard to understand is deliberate. At its heart the consultation is about Gatwick managing to get more planes using its current flight paths, with changes to get planes taking off separating earlier, so more planes can use the runway with shorter intervals between them. There remains the issue of whether the noise should be concentrated down narrow routes, or dispersed in “swathes” of several kilometres. The Noise Preferential Routes, for planes below 3,000 feet or 4,000 feet, are meant to be routes where the least noise nuisance is caused. However, planes above 4,000 feet are still a real noise irritation. Gatwick’s proposals for more planes on more routes will mean many more people being exposed to a lot more plane noise, either way.

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Airports Commission data shows the UK has NO urgent airport capacity crisis

While the endlessly repeated publicity from the airports and airlines, and their lobbyists, has succeeded in getting most people in the UK to believe there is some sort of airport capacity crisis, the reality is different. The Airports Commission has been given the task of looking at this alleged shortage of airport capacity, and understanding it in detail. While the Commission’s interim report in December said the “UK requires one net additional runway in south east by 2030″ they add that the “UK does not have a connectivity crisis today.” The Commission has produced several charts to illustrate this, and says many more could be produced showing how well served the UK is, by different measures. Their charts illustrating short haul destinations by country show the UK far ahead of European rivals; UK 2nd only to Germany on long haul destinations; UK first in Europe for long haul services (now overtaken by Dubai); London far ahead of European rivals by destination for both cities and countries. The UK really is better connected than its rivals, and the Commission say there is “Little evidence of a significant downward trend in UK/London connectivity.”

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Survey by Medway Council & Kent County Council shows 84% against Thames Estuary airport

Five out of six people would oppose building a new airport in the Thames Estuary if it meant closing Heathrow and other airports, a survey has found. An estuary airport on the Isle of Grain and the closure of Heathrow has been proposed by London Mayor Boris Johnson. The online survey of 2,000 adults from across the UK was commissioned by Medway Council and Kent County Council, which oppose a new Thames Estuary airport. They say that financially, geographically and environmentally the estuary airport project is wrong – and it would be a huge waste of public money. The survey found 38% of those asked supported an estuary airport. But when they were told Heathrow, City and Southend airports could close as a result, (which they would probably have to) the support dropped to 16%, or just over one in six. Boris is due to submit final plans for the estuary airport to the Airports Commission today. The cost of the airport has now risen to £148bn for the Isle of Grain option. Boris wants a city of 190,000 homes on the Heathrow site, if the airport shuts [which is utterly unlikely].

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Over 4,000 take part in Frankfurt’s 100th protest evening – including supporters from Heathrow and Gatwick

May 20, 2014      Many more photos, and video links

The 4th runway at Frankfurt airport was opened in October 2011. The flightpaths for this runway overfly thousands of residents in the Frankfurt, many of whom had not previously been overflown. They suddenly found the noise of aircraft overhead every few minutes, relentlessly (day after day, week after week) for most of the day intolerable. Other areas were also affected by changes to flight paths. Ever since the opening, the people of Frankfurt have absolutely refused to accept this, and have campaigned continuously and relentlessly. They hold unique and remarkable protests, almost every Monday night, in the airport terminal. These are attended by well over 1,000 people, every time. On 19th May, the 100th airport terminal protest was held, with around 4,000 (maybe more) protesters. Some campaigners from the Heathrow and Gatwick campaigns went out (by train) to show solidarity and share this remarkable achievement with their German friends. John Stewart, Chair of HACAN and of AirportWatch, addressed the protest, saying they were making aviation history, and the tenacity, persistence and determination of the opposition to Frankfurt flights is increasingly a matter of concern to the aviation industry.

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GACC says the public misled by Gatwick’s “consultation” – with far higher figures in airport’s submission to Airports Commission

GACC (the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) has now studied the new runway plans announced by Gatwick Airport Ltd on 13 May. Brendon Sewill, chairman of GACC said: “They are horrendous – much larger in scale than in the recent consultation. The proposals will so infuriate local people that they will be determined to oppose the runway scheme at every stage. Any hopes that the airport may have had of building a new runway on time will have disappeared.” The new plans are set out in a 3,200 page document that has been sent to the Airports Commission but which has not been published. The Gatwick press summary shows that the new airport would be bigger than anything previously envisaged. The maximum number of passengers per year has gone up to 97 million compared to a maximum of 87 million in the consultation. That would make Gatwick much bigger than Heathrow today (72 million in 2013), and nearly three times as big as Gatwick today (35 million). The new plans show utter disdain for the 6,000 people who have visited the runway exhibitions during the past months “consultation”, and for the thousands more who have responded online. It is clear that Gatwick’s owners had already decided on their preferred option. GACC has been proved 100% correct it was a phoney consultation.

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Gatwick submits its 2nd runway plans to Airports Commission – little detail published, but loads of spin

Gatwick is submitting its proposal for a 2nd runway to the Airports Commission. Unlike Heathrow it has not produced a glossy version for the public, but says it has produced a 3,200 page “evidence-based” report. They claim it would produce more economic benefit to the UK and not cost the taxpayer anything. By contrast the KPMG report done in December for the Airports Commission said it might cost the taxpayer up to £17.7 billion. Gatwick
claims: “The economic benefit to the UK of this enhanced competition will be £40 billion more than Heathrow’s 3rd runway.” Gatwick tries to make out their runway is an obvious choice, and say of their rival Heathrow: “Why tunnel part of the busiest motorway in Europe – the M25 – causing serious traffic disruption, when you can build on land already set aside for expansion?” They say: “The Gatwick proposal is best placed to align with key future trends – including continued market share gains by Low Cost Carriers, the spread of new technology hub-busting aircraft such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350, and the rapid rise of new hubs in the Middle East and Far East.” Loads of positive spin, absolutely ignoring all the negatives associated with building an airport the size of Heathrow in semi-rural Sussex.

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Heathrow publishes glossy 48 page document promoting its north-west 3rd runway plans

Heathrow airport has released a glossy 48 page document, for the public, promoting its north-west runway option. The document is very high on spin, aspiration, laudable future hopes and intentions of all sorts – but very thin on any detail of how these might realistically happen. Wishful thinking, writ large. For instance, on carbon emission, there are hopes of huge cuts through aircraft not yet invented, fuels also not yet in existence, and carbon trading – not yet in existence. Heathrow makes 10 commitments, but gives no detail about time-scale or who would enforce these commitments, or what would be the penalty for failing to deliver them. There are hopes of better air quality near the airport, 100,000 new jobs, £100 billion (no time scale given – probably over years ….) to the UK economy, and a lot on listening to the public. There are some very carefully chosen sentences about the increase in aircraft noise and numbers affected. Heathrow says it will reduce aircraft noise etc ….”by encouraging the world’s quietest aircraft to use Heathrow, routing aircraft higher over London, delivering periods with no aircraft overhead and allocating £250m to provide noise insulation.”  The airport will submit its plans to the Airports Commission on 14th May.

Click here to view full story…       Document is at  “Taking Britain forward”

Heathrow hopes to buy off Harmondsworth with about £320,000 per property demolished

Heathrow is to spend hundreds of millions of pounds in an attempt to buy off local opposition to a proposed 3rd runway, with plans to use a massive new fund to compensate homeowners and insulate homes and public buildings against aircraft noise. Heathrow knows noise is a key reason why its runway is politically toxic. It also knows the bad publicity of destroying Harmondsworth and Sipson, and making other areas un-liveable. Now – publicising its runway plan tomorrow – Heathrow is proposing to pay the market price, unblighted, of homes plus 25% and the costs of legal fees, moving costs and stamp duty of buying a new home. For a £250,000 property, homeowners would receive £312,500 compensation, plus £7,500 stamp duty costs and legal fees. [About £320,000 each - for a £250,000 house. ie £304 million for the 950 houses Heathrow would demolish]. This of course does not cover homes nearby, where life would become unpleasant. Heathrow is planning another public consultation in July to decide how the money should be divided up. There might also be more money for noise insulation in areas beyond the usual”noise contour” (57dB) and help for schools.

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Gatwick chairman says 2nd runway would benefit UK by just £667 million per year

The day before Heathrow will publicise its runway plans, the Chairman of Gatwick has done his bit for Gatwick’s PR. He has told the Telegraph that he claims the economic benefits of choosing Gatwick’s 2nd runway plans over Heathrow expansion would be £40 billion over the next 60 years. (That is a very tiny sum indeed per year. It is about £0.67 billion ( ie.£667 million) /year benefit …. about £13 per passenger ( with 50 million passengers)? The alleged Gatwick benefit is massively eclipsed by the tourism deficit in 2012 of some £13.8 billion per year link to which Gatwick contributes heftily). Sir Roy says (which is quite true) that Heathrow is a “politically toxic” monopoly and he obligingly sets out a lot of good reasons why a new runway should not, and cannot, be built at Heathrow. Heathrow retaliates by saying their new runway would make air fares cheaper … on and on it goes. Who can envy Sir Howard Davies his job? Sir Roy McNulty of course conveniently ignores the estimate by KPMG link for the Airports Commission that a new Gatwick runway would need as much as £17.7 billion in public funding, much of it stumped up by people who do not even fly, or use Gatwick. Kinda negates the alleged benefits…. .

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Kent’s Manston Airport to close on 15th May

The owners of Manston Airport say it is to close on 15th May with the loss of up to 150 jobs as a buyer has not been found. The bid by a US firm, RiverOak Investment, was rejected a few days ago, and another bid fell through in April. An airport spokesman said there had not been “a viable alternative” to allow the airport to remain open. The spokesman said Manston had also considered business proposals put forward by staff but those would have still required losses to be subsidised. The local MP, Sir Roger Gale, said the airport should have negotiated over the offers. Individual consultation will now take place with all staff members “who will be supported through this process.” In March, the airport said it was losing £10,000 a day. Several airlines have pulled out, including KLM, which ran two daily flights to Amsterdam. Local campaigners keep hoping this is not the end yet, and they are trying to keep fighting “to the bitter end.”

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Gatwick 2nd runway aircraft noise could threaten Hever Castle – it harms the visitor experience

Hever Castle – the childhood home of Anne Boleyn – near Edenbridge in Kent fears increased aircraft noise, from Gatwick planes, could deter people from visiting the attraction. The chief executive of Hever, Duncan Leslie, said: “If they increased aeroplanes I would be surprised if this business survived long term.” The noise is already bad, though Gatwick is 21 miles away, and a 2nd runway could make the situation worse. Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife, lived at Hever, which dates back to 1270. The relentless aircraft noise, with planes some 3 – 4,000 feet overhead, detracts from the experience of Hever, and for much of the day with a westerly wind, there is a plane about once a minute. Alastair McDermid, Gatwick’s airports commission director, said a new runway would be to the south of the existing one and would not necessarily increase noise at Hever. Gatwick is holding a consultation at present, and has done 16 exhibitions about it. However, they have chosen not to give any details on flight paths, which has caused a lot of annoyance.

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Gatwick Runway Exhibitions a huge success – for the opposition!

Gatwick Airport Ltd have held 15 exhibitions to explain their runway proposals to the public. Over 6,000 people in total will have attended but, according to local community group, GACC, some 75-80% of those visiting the exhibitions were opposed to any new runway. GACC volunteers manned a ‘picket line’ outside each exhibition, handing out leaflets and car stickers, and recruiting new members. According the GACC chairman Brendon Sewill, “people were coming out of the hall horrified at what they had seen, and queuing up to join GACC.” People were frustrated by the lack of key information on aspects of the plans, such as noise and supporting infrastructure. At Edenbridge the highly respected and respectable MP for Tonbridge, Sir John Stanley, organised a mass demonstration against aircraft noise and against any new runway. At Horsham around 200 people marched through the town to protest at the new flight path over Warnham and north Horsham, and to oppose any new runway. The Gatwick exhibitions have been helpful, in that they have alerted the public and have demonstrated the strength of feeling against the proposals.

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Eric Pickles decides against calling in Luton’s plans – trampling on views of local residents

May 1, 2014

Luton Airport operators LLAOL have announced that Eric Pickles, Secretary of State at the DCLG, has decided not to call in Luton airport’s expansion plans. This means Luton Borough Council can now grant planning permission for works designed to achieve a doubling of annual passenger capacity. Local opponents of the expansion are horrified and saddened. Earlier a local opinion poll showed some 70% of the public who responded to the consultation over Luton Airport Expansion said “NO” to it. Local community group opposing the expansion, HALE, commented that the application is effectively large enough to be a NSIP (Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project) as it could perhaps add 10 million passengers per year. NSIPs have to be called in, as their scale and the extent of their influence warrant proper scrutiny, in detail. The airport and the government, have failed to take proper account of the local impacts of an extra 9 million passengers per year on local transport infrastructure, and the effect of noise from 60% more flights. “The throwaway comment at the end about being a good neighbour is meaningless …” Luton Council gave consent to the plans in December but Eric Pickles asked to review the decision. Click here to view full story…



“Gatwick Obviously” poster subvertised into ” Gatwick Seriously?”

29.4.2014   ” A new runway at Gatwick could be ready by 2025, bringing huge economic benefits to its owners, while you get more traffic, more noise and a new town the size of Crawley. And they say it’s the obvious choice.”  Gatwick Obviously  1  Spot the differences.  Gatwick Seriously (Box 4 refers to the only way, on the Gatwick consultation form, it is possible to express opposition to any of the airport’s runway schemes).



Head of Gatwick Diamond tries to make out that a “silent majority” want a 2nd runway (they just don’t bother to say so)

April 25, 2014

The Gatwick Diamond is a business organisation, whose mission is to boost business in a large area around Gatwick, in all directions. They do not appear to have much environmental awareness, and have a blinkered approach of backing anything that might bring “growth.” Needless to say, they give their unwavering, and uncritical, support for a 2nd Gatwick runway. There are self-interest motives for many of their members in doing so. The airport has organised a recent spate of exhibitions across the area, promoting its runway, and with a “consultation” (which gives no proper option for those responding to say NO to a runway). Despite the huge amount of money it has cost, it appears Gatwick has found the majority attending are either against its plans, or deeply sceptical. This is confirmed by the local community group, GACC, which has had a presence outside each exhibition. Now the head of the Gatwick Diamond, Jeremy Taylor, has said there is huge backing from a “silent majority” for the runway, but they just have not expressed it. Jeremy – this is how democracy works. If people do not turn up to vote for an election, it does not matter what they might have thought, sitting at home. If you don’t vote, your vote does not get counted. Governments are not elected into power because somehow we manage to divine the views of those not voting.       Click here to view full story…


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?

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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.”

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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.’

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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.

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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.

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And Blog

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.    

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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.      

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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.    

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“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.”    

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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.   

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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.

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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.

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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 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.

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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.

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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.

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Aviation now contributes 4.9% of climate change worldwide

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

Committee on Climate Change.

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

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

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