Local opposition growing to expansion plans by Southampton airport

A group within Southampton Friends of the Earth has set up a campaign to oppose Southampton Airport expansion. Despite the Government’s recent commitment to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, there are many airport expansion applications across the UK. This expansion cannot enable the aviation sector to meet even its current, easy, carbon target – let alone the much more stringent one required for a zero-carbon Britain by 2050. The airport will probably submit its planning application to extend the runway by 170 metres to Eastleigh Borough Council in the next few weeks. The scoping report and Master Plan have received approval in principle from Southampton City Council. Twyford Parish Council has objected, due to a proposed increase of flights over the village. Eastleigh Greens are likely to be objecting as well.  Friends of the Earth Southampton are currently putting together a petition to Southampton City Council to ask them to re-think their support for airport expansion, given that the Government is asking for net zero carbon by 2050. Campaigners started a group here to oppose the proposed expansion but it has not got a name yet. People interested can get in touch via the local FoE group foesoton@gmail.com


Southampton airport expansion plans

The airport’s Masterplan is at  https://www.southamptonairport.com/draft-masterplan-2018/

There was a consultation last year, which closed in October.

The airport wants to extend the runway and increase the number of flights, allowing it to more than double passenger numbers from two million to five million a year by 2037.  A final version of the plans was then drawn up with a planning application due to be submitted soon.

The group’s FoE pages as contact: https://www.facebook.com/FriendsofEarthSouthampton/  and https://friendsoftheearth.uk/groups/southampton

People interested are invited to join the FoE mailing list. There will only be occasional emails about airport stuff – so best way to keep in touch –  email foesoton@gmail.com

Friends of the Earth Southampton are currently putting together a petition to Southampton City Council to ask them to re-think their support for airport expansion, given that the Government is asking for net zero carbon by 2050.

FoE is hoping for the November full Council meeting. However, they say if Eastleigh Borough Council puts the airport’s application for expansion into its September Planning Committee we will have to abandon the petition and go for an all out campaign asking people to contact their councillors to object, and putting in objections to the planning application.

We have heard that Hampshire Climate Action Network is putting together a Hampshire-wide group against airport expansion too.

There are issues about trees being felled. The airport are trying to argue that they can fell the trees in a copse under a “tree management” banner, rather than it being prior to and facilitating expansion. The trees are within the City Council boundary and are all protected. However, the City Council (although it objected to this work in 1983 and 2003) is giving the work the nod.

There is quite a bit of obfuscation going on about who is for approving the tree felling – whether it is the Forestry Commission for the large trees or Southampton City Council for the  Tree Protection Zone? The Forestry Commission has said “not us – its SCC” but it remains unclear.

The expansion issue compounded by the consultation and proposals for air space changes. Parts of Southampton could be badly affected by increased noise from more jets taking off daily.

Campaigners started a group here to oppose the proposed expansion of Southampton Airport. We haven’t got a name yet, but we can be contacted via the local FoE group.

It’s likely that the airport will submit it’s application to extend the runway by 170 metres to Eastleigh Borough Council in the next few weeks. The scoping report and Master Plan have received approval in principle from Southampton City Council. Twyford Parish Council has objected, due to a proposed increase of flights over the village. Eastleigh Greens are likely to be objecting as well.


See earlier:

Southampton Airport expansion moving forward as bosses prepare to submit plans

7th May 2019

Southampton Airport is pushing ahead with major expansion plans which could double the number of passengers travelling through the airport.

Bosses will submit a formal planning application to the local authority, following a public consultation.

But campaigners say it would increase noise pollution and damage the environment.

The airport has released impressions of how the expanded airport could look
Under the plans announced last year, the runway would be made longer, allowing more flights to travel to more destinations.

The terminal would also be expanded, with 4,000 extra parking spaces being built.

Airport executives predict that flight numbers would increase from just over 39,000 a year now, to more than 50,000 in ten years – reaching 58,000 by 2037.

The airport says:  “Our ambitions to grow the airport to provide more choice, more connectivity for passengers, are really taking shape now.”

Hundreds of people took part in a major consultation on the plans and the airport say it has taken into account concerns raised.

But not everyone agrees with the plans, with some worried about the affect it could have on their neighbourhood and the environment.

GARETH NARBED, CAMPAIGNER said:  “I’m appalled actually by the potential effects on the whole of Southampton…the expansion plan is really going to have a major effect on a lot of people.”

The airport says it’s due to submit plans to the council later in the summer.

Last updated Tue 7 May 2019





Read more »

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

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



28.6.2019  (By Angus Walker, Partner at bdb pitmans – lawyers)

Today’s entry reports on a highly significant amendment to the Climate Change Act 2008.

It is only changing an ‘8’ into ’10’, but will have a considerable effect on the future of life in the UK, including but not nearly limited to infrastructure projects.

Parliament has approved a change to section 1(1) of the Climate Change Act 2008 (CCA), an act that was given royal assent on the same day as the Planning Act 2008.

Section 1(1) stated until yesterday:

‘It is the duty of the Secretary of State to ensure that the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 is at least 80% lower than the 1990 baseline.’

It now states:

‘It is the duty of the Secretary of State to ensure that the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 is at least 100% lower than the 1990 baseline.’

[The Sec of State referred to is Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). AW comment]

Spot the difference? The 1990 baseline was 778 million tonnes of CO2, and so until yesterday that had to be reduced to 155.6 million tonnes by 2050. It now has to be reduced to 0 tonnes.

The change was approved by the Commons on Monday (24 June) and the Lords on Wednesday (26 June).

The Lords had a ‘regret’ motion passed (that there wasn’t enough information on how the new target would be met, amongst other things), but still approved the change. It was then signed into law by the relevant minister Chris Skidmore MP later that day.

By its terms it came into force yesterday (27 June).

Of the justifications for changing the target available in the CCA, the Government has chosen the following in the preamble to the statutory instrument making the amendment:

‘The Secretary of State considers that since the Act was passed, there have been significant developments in scientific knowledge about climate change that make it appropriate to amend the percentage specified in section 1(1) of the Act.’

The new target is commonly referred to as ‘net zero’. That phrase is also the title of the Committee on Climate Change’s advice, which must be obtained before the threshold can be changed.

Note that the advice was published in May and was sought in October 2018, so it is unfair to say that Theresa May only thought about this since resigning as leader of the Conservative Party – the wheels were in motion much earlier. The speed with which the change has been made could, however, have been prompted by her desire to leave a legacy.

The scale of the challenge should not be underestimated. The Net Zero report says (on page 168 and elsewhere): ‘Achieving net-zero GHG emissions for the UK will rely on a range of Speculative options that currently have very low levels of technology readiness, very high costs, and/or significant barriers to public acceptability.’

The speculative options considered (on pages 156-158, which are in addition to the recommendations to achieve the previous 80% reduction) are:

  • behavioural changes (ie eating less meat and flying less);
  • changes in land use such as growing more trees (50,000 hectares a year – more than two Rutlands);
  • removing CO2 directly from the air (four methods are suggested) and
  • (inventing and) using synthetic fuels.

Note that the Airports National Policy Statement legal challenge in March this year had grounds relating to climate change. These were dismissed because although developments such as the Paris Agreement had happened, they had not yet been translated into UK law – the Climate Change Act 2008 target was the thing.

Now that that target has been changed, presumably the conclusions of the NPS are now vulnerable.

The judges said (at paragraph 648 of the judgment):

‘In our view, given the statutory scheme in the CCA 2008 and the work that was being done on if [sic] and how to amend the domestic law to take into account the Paris Agreement, the Secretary of State did not arguably act unlawfully in not taking into account that Agreement when preferring the NWR Scheme and in designating the ANPS as he did. As we have described, if scientific circumstances change, it is open to him to review the ANPS; and, in any event, at the DCO stage this issue will be re-visited on the basis of the then up to date scientific position.’

That the judgment came out on 1 May and Net Zero came out on 2 May is no doubt a coincidence – even having received Net Zero, the Government could have taken ages to decide what to do with it rather than legislating only eight weeks later.

The Secretary of State  [presumably the Sec of State for Transport, not BEIS ?  AW note] must review an NPS or part of one if he or she thinks it is appropriate, which means considering:

‘(a) since the time when the statement was first published or (if later) last reviewed, there has been a significant change in any circumstances on the basis of which any of the policy set out in the statement was decided,  (see link)
(b) the change was not anticipated at that time, and
(c) if the change had been anticipated at that time, any of the policy set out in the statement would have been materially different.’ [point number 108 ]

The NPS says, eg at paragraph 3.52   link :

‘The Government agrees with the evidence set out by the Airports Commission that expansion at Heathrow Airport is consistent with the UK’s climate change obligations’.

Note that international aviation and shipping are currently not included in the calculation of UK emissions under the CCA. The Government appeared to say that they will be included when it comes to ‘net zero’ (see the debate in the Lords at column 1086) but was more circumspect in a written answer on the same day.

As can be seen from the above, the significance of this alteration to climate change targets is enormous and has the potential to affect life in the UK dramatically over the next 30 years.

By 2050, for any CO2 we emit, we will have to have in place equivalent carbon capture technology to cancel it out. So it doesn’t mean CO2 emissions will be impossible, but we will need technology in place that has not yet been invented on a large scale and an awful lot of trees.

Cancelling the £1 billion carbon capture and storage competition in November 2015 won’t help with that.



See also

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

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

Click here to view full story…






Read more »

Flight Free UK blog – “Train travel is a gem waiting for rediscovery”

People are signing up to the Flight Free UK website in good numbers. The campaign is asking people to commit to not fly at all in 2020. Many who have pledged not to fly have done blogs, about their experience. Now environmental scientist Alexandra Jellicoe report on her recent trip to Italy, by train. She loved the space in the train, the pull-down table for her laptop, the ability to walk down the train to the restaurant for a meal or snack. Alexandra worked out that her train trip probably cause the emission of about 480kg CO2 than if she had flown. By train, or even by road, you are reconnected with the place and the culture through which you are moving. You appreciate the huge distance travelled. You can stop off at places en route, for a few hours or a night, pleasantly and interestingly extending your holiday. Alexandra says: “I’ve completely reimagined how to explore the world. A holiday is no longer a jet to Mexico to lie by the beach for a week nor a quick weekend in Rome. I’ve rediscovered travel as something to be savoured rather than an inconvenience between home and holiday…. and a compulsion to discover new ways to live in a world so damaged by modern lifestyles. …Choosing NOT to fly has a powerful impact.”



Train travel is a gem waiting for rediscovery

By Alexandra Jellicoe

For Flight Free UK blog

Image result for flight free uk

Slow travel makes the whole experience far richer, as discovered by environmental scientist Alexandra Jellicoe on a recent trip to Italy.

It’s not often you get bumped up to first class for a tenner. I can’t believe my luck. The seats are like armchairs and pivot so you can recline into a perfect sleeping position. The pull-down table so generous I have plenty of space for my laptop, a coffee and a sandwich without having to channel my ninja skills, ready to catch a falling object at any moment. I managed to book last minute and the cabin is almost empty, the temperature perfectly controlled to ensure maximum comfort and I can stroll next door anytime I like for a hot meal. Oh, and did I mention the view? Train travel around Europe is a gem waiting for rediscovery.

I’ve been on a retreat at Villa Lugara near Baiso, Italy. I don’t envy my holiday mates on their return home, flying Ryan Air from Bologna to Bristol. Squished in like cattle, made to wait for two hours on the hot tarmac without explanation of the delay and refused free water. Modern air travel has been perversely designed to be endured rather than enjoyed. Tell me, when did you last enjoy a flight?

Perhaps this is the right time to mention that Ryan Air has recently joined the fossil fuel crew as one of the top ten most polluting companies on the planet. The latest research reveals that it’s not only carbon emissions are causing global heating: contrails left by aeroplanes are now so wide spread that their warming effect is greater than that of all the carbon dioxide emitted by aeroplanes that has accumulated in the atmosphere since the first flight of the Wright brothers. My choice to travel by train rather than fly has saved 480kg Co2 from the atmosphere. Currently, there are over 100,000 flights around the world every single day which melts Arctic ice the equivalent size to approximately thirty-seven Empire State buildings. Choosing NOT to fly has a powerful impact.

Slow travel is set to make a comeback. Travel that reconnects you with place and culture. If I didn’t have to whizz back to the UK to be with my young children, I would have stopped a day or two in all the places I’ve had to catch connecting trains – Paris, Turin, Milan, Bologna. Lingering to imbibe each cities’ culture, welcoming uncertainty as I navigate my way through unmapped streets and stumble over half understood conversations. Each city entices me to stay longer. This is not a holiday, this is akin to being the protagonist of a Hemmingway novel.

The booking engine LOCO2 offer a simple Europe-wide city to city search of alternative travel routes including overnight sleepers (expensive), high speed day trains (cheap) and every alternative you can think of in-between.

Trains are the lowest carbon emission form of easily accessible public transport. As a passionate traveller, mother and environmental scientist I’ve completely reimagined how to explore the world. A holiday is no longer a jet to Mexico to lie by the beach for a week nor a quick weekend in Rome. I’ve rediscovered travel as something to be savoured rather than an inconvenience between home and holiday. And this excitement has been triggered by a compulsion to discover new ways to live in a world so damaged by modern lifestyles.

Reduction in carbon emissions is critical to reduce global heating and whilst air travel may always be with us, it can no longer be the default mode of international transport. In order to prevent global heating in excess of 1.5 degrees we need Government action now, but we also need to reimagine our lifestyles. For many, modern travel lacks soul and adventure – jetting around the world in search of sun without engaging with the local people and culture deprives not only the traveller but also the destination community. The trend is economically non-specific and all are affected from the package holiday tourist to residents of vast complex five-star hotels. Slow travel immerses you in local culture and all are enriched.

I have to cross Paris from the Gare du Lyon to the Gare du Nord to catch my connecting train to London. Europe is experiencing a freak heatwave. I step down from the TGV and the 45-degree heat brings back memories of working in Sub-Saharan Africa. This oppressive weather makes it impossible to think and the city isn’t designed to withstand desert temperatures. As an environmental scientist my expertise is the provision of safe water to remote global communities. I’ve worked with indigenous tribes and small island developing states, both of which have been battling the consequences of climate change for decades. Yet little has been done to protect these vulnerable communities. Many have lost their homes and become aid dependent. As the consequences of unpredictable weather systems now threaten my own children, I feel that it is my duty to dedicate my life to protecting them – I may make little difference but I’m essentially an optimist, and hope is catching.

This summer we’re spending a month in France. We’ll take the kids by train, stop off in Paris, Lyon and Annecy. My eldest is always questioning the difference in local customs to ours and it’s this breadth of understanding and enquiry that I hope to inspire in all of my children. Travel, real travel, promotes empathy, compassion and tolerance of others, emotions that are severely under threat in modern society. If we’re lucky we may even pick up a little of the language too.

Alexandra Jellicoe runs environmental magazine/blog Monkey Wrench, where you can read an expanded version of this article.


Fight Free UK


Do you feel powerless taking action as an individual? Would you feel differently if you knew many others were taking the same action?

Flight Free UK is a people-powered campaign which asks people to agree not to fly in the year of 2020 – knowing that 100,000 others have pledged to do the same. It’s about taking collective responsibility to reduce the amount we fly in order to lessen our impact on the planet.

Flying less is one of the most powerful ways we as individuals can reduce our carbon footprint, and with experts predicting that we have just a handful of years to take meaningful action on climate change, there has never been a better time to address the issue.

Many of us fly without a second thought – it is an ingrained part of our culture, and a part of our global society, as people, goods and services are transported around the globe. Flight Free UK aims to raise awareness of the impact of those flights and inspire people to take action.

It is easy to think that individual actions don’t make a difference, and not to bother trying. But if we can show that there are 100,000 people who are prepared to take an air-free year, we send a clear signal to industry and politicians – and also to each other – that there are many who are willing to change their lifestyles to protect the climate.


Image result for flight free uk

Sign the pledge and join the growing number of people who will be flight-free in 2020. 

Make the pledge to be flight-free in 2020


When you sign up your name will automatically be counted towards the total signatories.* Your email address will be added to our mailing list where you’ll receive one email per month updating you on the campaign. You may unsubscribe at any time, but we’ll still hold your data otherwise your pledge won’t be counted. For information on how we use your data, please see our Privacy Policy.

*For your signature to count towards the 100,000, you must be a UK resident. If you select a different country your pledge will be held on the database as an international pledge.



Read more »

Caroline Russell: Action is needed on aircraft noise

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


Action needed on aircraft noise

27.7.2019  (By Caroline Russell, Green Party London Assembly Member)

Blog for the No 3rd Runway Coalition

In concentrated pockets in London people are now living with severe levels of noise disruption. This is not acceptable, and urgent, decisive action is needed across the board to alleviate it.

For some overflown Londoners the situation has worsened, with City Airport adopting performance based navigation (PBN) – an operation practice that concentrates arriving flights into narrower corridors.

The experience of people living with the daily nightmare of overhead noise are deeply worrying, as being unable to concentrate, relax or even sleep because of noise disruption has significant health impacts.

A recent report on aircraft noise produced by the London Assembly’s Environment Committee, which I chair, concluded that:

  • The Government and the Civil Aviation Authority should regulate noise disturbance more stringently.

  • This should include the use of lower thresholds for disturbance (taking into account WHO guidelines and the need for residents to keep windows open) and mapping the combined effect of all London’s airports, especially Heathrow and City.

  • Flight paths should be rotated to give respite for those living under concentrated flight paths.

  • Flight paths should be designed to minimise noise impacts: stacking, low-level overflying, and overlapping flight paths should be minimised.

  • All airports should provide predictable periods of respite for residents living under concentrated flight paths.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued guidance confirming that aircraft noise above 45 decibels on average is associated with ill-health, including cardiovascular disease and increases in hypertension.

Our current Government guidance is much less stringent, using a ‘disturbance’ threshold of 54 decibels – it was really disappointing that the recent Aviation Strategy Green Paper does not remedy this.

The impact of aircraft noise is also particularly damaging to children’s education, negatively affecting reading comprehension and memory skills.

The RANCH project, an international study that examined the effects of noise exposure, looked at reading comprehension in 2,010 children aged between 9 and 10 from 89 schools around Amsterdam Schiphol, Madrid Barajas, and London Heathrow airports. They found that a 5 decibel increase in noise exposure is associated with a two-month delay in learning for primary school children in the UK.[1]

And yet Heathrow Airport still proposes to build a new runway to increase flights from around 475,000 to around 740,000 a year. This will have a devastating impacet. The House of Commons Transport Select Committee concluded that more than 323,000 people will be newly affected by noise pollution if expansion at Heathrow goes ahead.[2]

Around 460 schools neighbouring Heathrow already hear aircraft noise above 54 decibels, higher than the onset threshold of the effect on children’s memory and learning. Some have resorted to building pods in the playground for children to shelter in to minimise noise exposure – but playgrounds should be for playing, for kids to stretch their legs, not to have to dash into hiding every few minutes.

A third runway would mean a minimum of 24 more schools suffering from aircraft noise that busts the maximum levels recommended by the World Health Organisation.

The latest noise guidance (Survey of Noise Attitudes, 2014) shows our sensitivity to noise has increased, but this wasn’t reflected in the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement.

The Government refuses to set what it determines an ‘acceptable’ increase in noise level, and can therefore avoid being held to account for the damage they are and will inflict on overflown Londoners.

The drive towards filling airspace capacity must be checked. For too many people, including children, aircraft noise is a major intrusion into their everyday lives. It is not an acceptable price to pay for air travel. It isn’t right and must be challenged.

Caroline Russell

London Assembly Member

Green Party

[1] Clarke et al (2005) “Exposure-Effect Relations between Aircraft and Road Traffic Noise Exposure at School and Reading Comprehension” https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/b9cc/64b991c3f981bf9e57dcfdd58e68953d41d6.pdf

[2] TSC (2018) Inquiry into the Airports NPS, Figure 43, p.133 https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmtrans/548/548.pdf





Read more »

Hammersmith Society gives its advice on Heathrow consultation – to respond, just say “NO”

The Hammersmith Society aims to ensure the borough is a “safer, more convenient and better place in which to live, work and enjoy ourselves.” They have been looking at Heathrow’s consultation on its expansion plans – equivalent to adding on a new airport the size of Gatwick. They warn that if people fill in the response document, giving a preference for one or other option in the questions, this may (quite illegitimately) be taken by Heathrow as “support” for their plans. So the Society’s advice is that people do not engage with the questions; the whole plan is bad for Hammersmith, so JUST SAY NO. The Society says on Heathrow plans to burn biomass and plant some trees  “that’s hardly the point considering the carbon footprint of the industry it facilitates – it’s not even a drop in the ocean – this amounts to lip-service greenwash, rather insulting to our intelligence”. On the consultation, the Society comments: “the weight of documents is tremendous, and more than a little excessive.  The reader eventually concludes this is an attempt to bamboozle and wear down those trying to interpret them, to make them give up in the belief that the project must have been well thought-through, because of the weight of documentation alone.”


Read more »

DfT launches call for evidence on carbon offsetting on travel, including plane

The DfT (under Grayling) has launched a call for evidence into whether more consumers could be given the option of buying carbon offsets to reduce the carbon footprint of their travel (plane, ferry, train, coach etc).  The DfT also asks if transport operators should provide information on carbon emissions. And it will explore the public’s understanding of carbon emissions from the journeys they make and the options to offset them. The transport sector contributes about a third of the UK total CO2 emissions, and these are not falling. Aviation CO2 is increasing. Presumably Grayling hopes that getting some passengers offsetting will somehow cancel out the horrific increases in transport carbon from infrastructure he has pushed through. The DfT seems aware that many people are not persuaded of the effectiveness of carbon offsetting. It seems aware that offsets should be from domestic schemes, not from abroad. But the main problem is offsetting does not reduce carbon. All it does is slightly absolve someone’s conscience, while effectively cancelling out the carbon savings made by others. Offsetting is essentially a con. Offsets are damaging, as they help to continue with “business as usual” behind the greenwashing.  See “Cheat Neutral” 

Government launches call for evidence on carbon offsetting

Call for evidence to look into if more consumers could be offered the chance to carbon offset to reduce their carbon footprint when buying travel tickets.

Ends 26th September.


  • more consumers could be offered the chance to carbon offset to reduce their carbon footprint when buying travel tickets
  • the call for evidence will also look at whether transport operators should provide information on carbon emissions
  • it will explore the public’s understanding of carbon emissions from the journeys they make and the options to offset them

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has today (Thursday 18 July 2019) launched a call for evidence on offsetting carbon emissions produced by transport.

Transport accounted for approximately one third of UK carbon dioxide emissions in 2018, and the government is inviting views on whether companies selling travel tickets including for flights, ferries, trains and coach travel should have to offer additional carbon offsets so that consumers can choose to compensate when they book.

This call for evidence will seek more evidence on the public awareness of carbon emissions caused by transport journeys and the various options available to offset them.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said:

Climate change affects every one of us and we are committed to ensuring that transport plays its part in delivering net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.An offsetting scheme could help inform travellers about how much carbon their journey produces and provide the opportunity to fund schemes, like tree planting, to compensate for those emissions.However, our focus remains to target the development, production and uptake of zero emission technology across all modes of transport.


Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK said:

UK airlines are committed to decarbonising aviation and are working with government to continue progress through the introduction of new greener technologies, including more efficient aircraft and engines, sustainable aviation fuels and vital airspace modernisation. As a global sector, international carbon offsetting has a critical role to play in enabling aviation to reach our targets, and UK airlines are participating in the global carbon offsetting scheme – CORSIA – which will deliver carbon neutral global aviation growth from 2020.Carbon offsetting can enable individuals and organisations to compensate for the carbon emissions produced from their journeys, by paying for projects that reduce an equivalent amount of emissions. These emissions savings are generated through a wide variety of projects, which can range from planting trees to installing solar panels.

Among the issues the call for evidence will address are concerns that some consumers may not trust that their payments are supporting worthwhile, quality projects. It will also look at consumer awareness around the carbon emissions from different journey types, what carbon offsets are available or how they might offset the emissions from their journey.The government also aims to set up a stronger and more attractive market for domestic carbon offsetting that will encourage more businesses to support cost-effective emission reductions.

In gaining valuable insights from the public and industry, the call for evidence aims to help consumers make more informed decisions by providing more information about the environmental impact of their travel options.

This is the latest move in the government’s drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from across the economy, including from the transport sector, following the Prime Minister’s historic commitment to make the UK the first major economy to legislate to end its contribution to global warming by 2050. With transport accounting for an increasingly large share of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, as emissions from other sectors are reduced, government has recognised the need to increase our ambition and step up the pace of progress.

That is why we have been developing our plans to drive down carbon emissions across transport, including in last year’s Road to Zero Strategy, our recently published Aviation Green Paper and Maritime 2050 strategy and Clean Maritime Plan. Later this year, we will also publish an ambitious Aviation Strategy which will map out our approach to ensure the sector plays its part in tackling climate change.




Consultation description

Call for evidence exploring:

  • options to improve the consumer understanding of the carbon emissions from their journeys
  • the role of carbon offsetting in transport
  • whether travel providers should be required to offer voluntary carbon offsets to their customers

Travel types include travel:

  • by train
  • by bus
  • by coach
  • by plane
  • by ferry
  • on holiday packages
  • on cruises
  • road transport


Carbon offsetting in transport: a call for evidence

Email to:


Write to:

1/33 Environment Strategy
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road


Cheat Neutral:

To appreciate the lunacy of offsetting, and how it does nothing to reduce the carbon your journey produces, see Cheat Neutral


or the longer version at

About how you can offset your infidelity, and affairs outside your relationship, by paying someone else to be faithful and celibate on your behalf.

Shows up the idiocy of it. And the danger that it encourages more of the behaviour – like Catholic “indulgences”.   Go, sin again ….






Read more »

Gatwick plans to use emergency runway as 2nd runway, to increase passengers by 50% and increase flights by 36% by 2030

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


Master Plan at 


Gatwick plans to use emergency runway to increase passenger capacity by 50 per cent by 2030

By  STEPHANIE COCKROFT (Evening Standard)

18th July 2019

Gatwick says it has abandoned plans to build an additional runway but will bring the airport’s emergency runway into “routine use” by 2020.

The airport said it is preparing a planning application to get the second airstrip ready so it can be used alongside the main runway for departures.

If the plans are approved, the airport would aim to be serving around 70million passengers by the early 2030s.

The airport currently caters for around 46m passengers, meaning the capacity would be increased by around 50 per cent.

Plans for an additional runway, which it has abandoned as part of the masterplan, would have served up to around 92m passengers.

Last year Heathrow – which is the location chosen by the government for a new full-length runway – handled 78 million passengers.

The airport, the second largest in the UK after Heathrow, said it hoped the runway would be in use by the middle of 2020.

The announcement follows public consultation, in which two-thirds of people said the airport should make the most of its existing runways.

Another public consultation will be held once the planning application for the standby runway is submitted.

Gatwick said the plan is the “most sustainable way” for the airport to expand over the next 15 years.

London Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate said: “The plans would deliver additional capacity for Gatwick, which will provide choices for the future – including incrementally growing our airport to meet demand and continuing to provide solid operational performance for passengers and airlines.

“This would be the biggest private investment for the region in the coming years, which would result in significant local economic benefits, including new jobs for the area.

“Gatwick’s global connections are needed more than ever but as we take our plans forward, we must do so in the most sustainable and responsible way and in full partnership with our local councils, communities, passengers and partners.”

The announcement has already drawn criticism from campaign groups with Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions saying: “This is simply a second runway by stealth.”

They added: “To use the emergency runway alongside the main runway is in affect a second runway as it will have to be moved by some 12 metres to allow it to be used.

“As such it is a second runway without the full parliamentary scrutiny or any funding for our roads or railway line that will see a huge increase in passenger and workers numbers migrating into Gatwick.”

Gatwick currently consists of the main runway and the standby runway, which is used certain circumstances, including when there is maintenance on the main runway.

The airport began campaigning for a new runway when management published proposals in 2013 as a solution to the chronic shortage of aviation capacity in South East England.

Its expansion plans were dealt a blow in October 2016 when the government rejected its proposal for a new second runway, giving the go-ahead for Heathrow to build a third runway.

At the time, a Gatwick Airport spokesman said it was disappointed with the decision, which was “not the right answer for Britain”.

It disputed the Airports Commission’s findings that the economic benefits of a Heathrow expansion would be greater.

Gatwick is the second-busiest airport in the UK and the busiest single-runway in the world in terms of flight movement.

It serves more than 230 destinations in 74 countries for 46 million passengers a year as well as generating around 85,000 jobs nationally, with 24,000 of these located on the airport.



This is Gatwick’s report on its consultation:


GACC comment on the news of Gatwick’s expansion plans:

18.7.2019 (GACC – Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)

Gatwick’s new owners, the Vinci Group, have shown immediate disregard for their local community neighbours.

The purchase deal was sealed on 14th May this year and just two months later GAL (Gatwick Airport Ltd) have announced devastating expansion plans that will damage and blight the lives of thousands of residents surrounding the airport as well impacting on those further away living under flight paths.

The proposals to grow the airports capacity by between 20% and 50% over the next ten to twelve years involves use of new technology on the main runway and re-aligning and widening the existing emergency (or standby) runway to form a second runway.

Despite claiming that Gatwick is no longer pursuing an additional full runway GAL also wish to continue to blight residents living to the south of the airport with its demand to maintain the safeguarding land from any other development for anything up to 25 years.

The use of the Emergency Runway in conjunction with the Main Runway will substantially increase the noise and health impacts particularly on residents living to the north of the airport. The increase in the number of flights would have considerable noise impacts on those beneath the already concentrated flight paths surrounding the airport. This proposed growth will have severe effects on a local infrastructure already overburdened as a result of current growth.

Chairman of GACC, Peter Barclay, concluded “Despite communities already rejecting the Draft Master Plan in November last year GAL continues to push for unsustainable growth. GACC and other local community groups have met and unanimously agreed to challenge these proposals as robustly as possible. In a world that is fast recognising aviation’s negative impact on health through noise impacts and air pollution, together with its contribution to climate change, GAL and the aviation industry ignore these impacts and blindly steamroller their unsustainable demands forward. “


See also:

Letter by Gatwick area MPs opposing Gatwick 2nd runway expansion plans

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

Click here to view full story…

Gatwick Airport PR says:

18th July 2019

Gatwick Airport today published its Final Master Plan which confirms plans to take forward the sustainable development of the airport.

In October 2018, our Draft Master Plan consultation set out three scenarios for future growth:

  1. Using new technology to build capacity and resilience on the main runway;
  2. Bringing the existing standby runway into routine use for departures only alongside the main runway by the mid-2020s;
  3. Recommending planning policy continues to safeguard land for an additional runway.

In total, we received more than 5,000 responses and were encouraged that two-thirds (66%) of people supported the principle of growing Gatwick by making best use of our existing runways, in line with Government policy.

As a result, we will progress with plans to introduce new technology to build capacity and resilience on our main runway. We are also announcing today that we will prepare a planning application to bring our standby runway into routine use.

The innovative proposals for the standby runway will deliver additional capacity at the airport that enables us to balance operational resilience and sustainable growth.

As one of the biggest private investments in the region, the scheme will deliver greater connectivity, a better passenger experience through greater competition, and an economic boost that secures jobs and opportunities for generations to come. These benefits can all be delivered while keeping the airport’s noise footprint broadly similar to today’s levels, and with minimal disruption to our neighbours and the environment. (sic).

The consultation report, also published today, provides extensive feedback on our consultation and those views will help shape our plans as we prepare a Development Consent Order – a rigorous planning process that will include further engagement and public consultation next year and culminates in a final decision by the Secretary of State.

We will now carry out a number of detailed studies to assess the impacts and benefits of our proposals before consulting the public again next year.

We are also recommending that national and local planning policy continues to safeguard the land that would be required for a new runway, should it be required in the longer-term.

However, we reiterate today that we are no longer actively pursuing plans for an additional runway.

We will of course keep you up to date at regular intervals as our plans progress. In the meantime further information on our plans is available at www.gatwickairport.com/futureplans

You can also sign up to our community newsletter at www.gatwickairport.com/communitynewsletter

Stewart Wingate
Chief Executive Officer, Gatwick Airport

Read more »

Caroline Lucas: aviation expansion plans make a mockery of the net zero target – our expectation of cheap flights cannot continue


The bosses at Heathrow must have been visiting another planet last week, or else they missed the government memo about legislating for net zero emissions by 2050.

The plans unveiled today for a 50% expansion in the airport by 2050, including a third runway, all to be done in “a sustainable way”, take dissembling to new levels. Heathrow is already the largest single source of carbon emissions in the UK.

The outline plans reveal the scale of what’s proposed: building a tunnel for the M25, rerouting rivers, building enormous carparks outside the perimeter of the current airport, destroying local villages. The government itself says nearly a million households will be affected by the third runway, which will allow another 700 flights a day.

Heathrow’s owners maintain that the airport’s expansion will not significantly alter the UK’s emissions, but only reach this conclusion by excluding international aviation emissions. That suggests they missed another memo, this time from the committee on climate change which has said emissions from international aviation should be formally included in the UK’s climate targets.

The IPCC has already warned us that we have only 11 years left to slash global emissions in half, if we are to achieve the Paris agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C. There is no technological magic wand which is going to transform aviation’s dependence on fossil fuels in this time.

We are unlikely to see a single electric aircraft big enough to carry passengers any further than the distances easily reached by train until after 2050. And while new aircraft engines are certainly more efficient than the old ones they replace, the environmental benefit is more than wiped out by the expansion in the number of flights.

An official strategy which not only wants to build a third runway at Heathrow but also expand regional airports is not going to rein in airline emissions – which raises the question of whether the government is serious about reducing the UK’s carbon emissions, let alone reaching net zero. And the plan to rely on international carbon offsets to balance the carbon books (as the legislation allows) is simply deceitful. Carbon offsetting will not deliver the net zero future that the science tells us we need to achieve, since all sectors in all countries will need to get as close as possible to zero emissions, and there’s a limit to how much remaining CO2 we can hope to soak up with new forests.

The truth is that aviation growth and our expectation of cheap flights cannot continue. The draft aviation strategy is an opportunity to address this, starting with a commitment to ensuring aviation makes a fair contribution to actual reductions in UK carbon emissions.

That means capping aviation emissions at current levels as a first step, cancelling plans for airport expansion, and investing in alternatives so that short- to medium-distance travel by train become attractive and affordable for all.

This is not only a carbon emissions issue. The unsustainable growth in demand for flights is being driven to a significant extent by a minority of wealthy individuals, raising the issue of inequality and fairness too.

About 70% of flights are taken by just 15% of the population, and most people don’t fly at all in any given year. It’s not families taking an occasional holiday or business travellers who are fuelling the growth in demand for flying – it’s a small minority of wealthy individuals taking multiple flights a year.

Yet the harms caused by aviation growth, from noise and air pollution to habitat destruction as airports expand, is felt disproportionately by the less well-off. That’s why policies like the frequent flyer levy must be front and centre of the new aviation strategy, so that social justice and environmental protection go hand in hand.

The EU’s transport commissioner Violeta Bulc told airline CEOs this month that the aviation industry’s licence for growth would in future be linked directly to perceptions of sustainability.

Heathrow’s owners – and the government – need to read that memo too.

 Caroline Lucas is the Green party MP for Brighton Pavilion









Read more »

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

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


Public will be advised how much sleep to get

Ministers plan alcohol-style guidelines for rest

Francis Elliott, Political Editor | Tom Whipple, Science Editor
July 13 2019,
The Times

Three quarters of adults in the UK regularly sleep less than seven hours per night

Official guidance on how many hours people should sleep each night is set to be introduced by ministers.

The suggested minimum amount will vary according to age group and will come with advice on “sleep hygiene”, according to government-backed proposals to improve public health. The move will resemble recommendations on weekly alcohol consumption.

However, the guidelines are expected to state that regularly getting less than seven hours’ sleep a night could damage most people’s health.

Experts said that the plans could help people to live longer and bring significant savings for the health service. “Sleep is the tide that rises all other health boats,” one neuroscientist said. “The potential cost savings to the NHS could be many millions.”

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, is due to publish a public health green paper as part of efforts to improve disease prevention. Much of the document deals with action to curb smoking and obesity but it also calls for official action to help people to get more sleep. “There’s growing evidence on the health impacts of lack of sleep,” a leaked draft seen by The Times says.

“Failure to sleep between seven and nine hours a night is associated with physical and mental health problems, including an increased risk of obesity, strokes, heart attacks, depression and anxiety. With up to three quarters of adults in the UK regularly sleeping less than seven hours per night, there is much more left to achieve.

“As a first step the government will review the evidence on sleep and health. This is with a view to informing the case for clear national guidance on the daily recommended hours of sleep for individuals in different age brackets and to raise awareness of the key ‘sleep hygiene’ factors that can support healthy sleeping.”

Lack of sleep can also have a “negative impact” on recovery from illness and surgery, the paper says, drawing on research in the Journal of Intensive Care Medicine showing that more than a third of hospital patients complain about being bothered by noise from other patients.

Ministers will order the NHS to review its practices, including introducing “protected sleep time” when staff do not disturb patients without good clinical reason.

Studies have shown that with every hour of sleep less than seven hours per night, an average person’s chance of contracting type 2 diabetes rises over time by 10 per cent. Women working during the night have a 30 per cent higher chance of getting breast cancer, and men have a 25 per cent higher chance of contracting heart disease. Mr Hancock is understood to be supportive of the proposals but will emphasise that the guidance is not meant to be prescriptive to the population at large.

The health secretary, who has declared his support for Boris Johnson, was caught out this month when the Tory leadership candidate said that he was opposed to extending a levy on sugary drinks to milk shakes, another of the recommendations in the green paper. Mr Hancock will be wary of laying himself open to another charge of encouraging state “nannying” from the man he wants to replace Theresa May.

The politician who pushed hardest for sleep to be included with smoking, alcohol and obesity in the range of policies is Steve Brine, a former public health minister who has quit the government to oppose a no-deal Brexit. He became interested after seeing a passenger reading Why We Sleep, by the neuroscientist Matthew Walker, on a train. The British academic and author, based at the University of California, Berkeley, says Shakespeare got it right when he had Macbeth describe sleep as the “chief nourisher in life’s feast”.

Mr Brine said: “We’re all familiar with the notion of being tired and grouchy as a result but there’s very little understanding of how a lack of sleep, and as importantly poor quality sleep, can impact our health in much more serious ways.

“Working with an increasing body of evidence in this area, I think it’s time we established sleep as a real public health issue. Certainly we need to if we’re serious about prevention of ill health.”

Professor Walker called the green paper a “landmark first step”. He said yesterday: “Sleep is the tide that rises all other health boats . . . Every major disease that is killing us in the United Kingdom has significant, and many of them causal, links to a lack of sleep.”

Russell Foster, professor of sleep and circadian neuroscience at Oxford University, agreed that the guidance was “fantastic”. He said that the evidence was now overwhelming that good sleep could protect against conditions including dementia, diabetes and depression. “In five years of training clinicians get one or two lectures on sleep,” he said. “Yet it is estimated that 30 per cent of the problems a GP encounters are linked to sleep.”

He added that it was important to be careful with the recommendations and that simply stating, for instance, that adults should get seven to eight hours may be a mistake. “The difficulty is there’s a lot of individual variation,” he said. “People have to understand their own sleep needs.”

A recent survey found that 20 million Britons thought that they needed to get more sleep than they did.


What health problems has sleep been linked to?
A lot. Results vary by study, but according to recent research, women who work night shifts have nearly a third higher risk of breast cancer, while men who work shifts have a quarter higher risk of heart disease. Compared with those getting 7 hours a night, for each hour less you sleep the chances of contracting type 2 diabetes rise by 10 per cent. Other conditions associated with poor sleep include dementia, and obesity.

Reduced sleep also affects concentration, memory, cognitive skills and productivity. It can lead to depression, anxiety, loss of empathy and risk-taking.

Are we getting enough sleep?
No. A recent survey found that 20 million Britons, almost half the adult population, think that they need more.

How strong is evidence for a link between sleep and health?
We don’t experiment on humans. This makes it impossible to prove that a single lifestyle factor is the cause of any illness. Just because people who sleep less are less healthy does not mean that is the reason — it could be that being unhealthy makes you sleep less.

However, as with smoking, alcohol and unhealthy food, the evidence accumulates to an extent that is impossible to ignore.

If I lose out in the week can I catch up with a weekend lie-in?
Yes and no. A study of 40,000 people found that sleeping longer at the weekend did compensate for getting less sleep in the week. However, scientists believe it is far healthier to sleep the correct amount each night.

What about Margaret Thatcher?
Legendarily, she got by on four hours a night. Scientists believe there are indeed individual differences in how much sleep people need but if you think you are getting by fine on five hours, your sleep-deprived brain is probably fooling you.



Times Letter

16 July 2019

Your article (“Public will be advised how much sleep to get”, Jul 13) links lack of sleep to health risks. In the UK over half the population lives within World Health Organisation recommended daytime noise levels but three quarters live where night-time noise levels are exceeded. This is particularly relevant in the context of proposals to expand airports.
Last year the WHO published environmental noise guidelines for Europe. The key conclusions are that government policies and targets are inadequate and out of date, and new targets must be incorporated into national policies. The WHO also recommends tough new limits on aircraft noise during both day and night. Communities should be consulted about changes in noise exposure — for example, flight paths or construction of additional runways.
The adverse effects of noise on health, including cognition defects among primary schoolchildren living near airports, sleep deprivation causing lack of concentration and leading to accidents at work, are well established. However there is now emerging evidence for increased cardiovascular disease due to night- time noise among those living near airports, particularly under flight paths. Studies from Germany have shown that even while a person is asleep, aircraft noise may cause the release of stress hormones that can open a pathway to damaging the lining of small blood vessels, including the coronary arteries.
In the UK planning decisions on airport developments are mostly made by local authorities, but central government direction is vital. The cost and long-term consequences of inaction will be considerable. The department of health should take a stronger lead.
Professor Jangu Banatvala
Emeritus Professor of Virology,
King’s College London.

Sleep guidance will advise at least seven hours’ rest a night

The guidance is expected to advise that less than seven hours’ sleep every night could be damaging

13 JULY 2019

National guidance on how much sleep people should have each night is set to be published by the Government. As part of a plan to improve public health, it is expected to advise that less than seven hours’ sleep every night could be damaging.

The move resembles Government advice on safe alcohol consumption and on how much time children should spend in front of a screen.

The evidence on the relationship between sleep and health will be reviewed and recommendations made for people of different ages, according to The Times.

The newspaper quoted from a leaked draft of a public health green paper which it said is due to be published by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

It said much of the paper is focused on obesity and smoking, but that it also makes reference to sleep.

According to The Times, extracts say: “As a first step the Government will review the evidence on sleep and health.

“This is with a view to informing the case for clear national guidance on the daily recommended hours of sleep for individuals in different age brackets and to raise awareness of the key ‘sleep hygiene’ factors that can support healthy sleeping.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said they do not comment on leaks.

Earlier this year a German team of scientists said, in a study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, they had discovered that sleep improves the ability of immune cells to hit their targets and fight off infection.



See earlier:

Driving tired, with under 6 hours of sleep per night, increases vehicle accident risk

In the USA the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that “drowsy driving” is responsible for a lot of vehicle crashes, deaths and injuries.  Evidence from the CDC (Centre for Disease Control) in the USA shows that getting 6 hours of sleep a night or less more than doubles your chances of falling asleep at the wheel.  It seems likely that most accidents to sleepy drivers happen between midnight and 6 am, although late afternoon also has a spike in incidents. Many UK airports are allowed night flights, eg. Gatwick, Stansted, East Midlands etc. This is going to increasingly be a problem for people affected by the noise from Heathrow planes. Already planes taking off, heading away, may be heard routinely till 11pm (often later) on some routes. Each morning planes can be heard arriving from about 4.20am. That does not leave anyone who is sensitive to the noise enough time for healthy sleep. There are many known health risks, of noise disturbance during the times people are sleeping, or trying to. The risk of more vehicle accidents, to those who are woken up an hour or two before they want to wake, is another cost of aircraft noise. The loss of quality of life, and the health costs, need to be part of the calculation of the economics of a 3rd Heathrow runway. 



Studies show that at least 7 hours of sleep are needed, each night, by adults

Living under a flight path, along which aircraft fly at below – say 7,000 feet – is noisy. It is all the more noisy now that the aviation industry is introducing narrow, concentrated flight paths. These are replacing the older more dispersed routes, as aircraft have new “PBN” technology (like car satnav) and can fly far more accurately than in the past. And it suits the air traffic controllers to keep flight paths narrow. But if airports allow flights at night, or if the “night” period when flights are not allowed is short, this has consequences for people living near, or under, routes. Studies carried out scientifically show adults need at least 7 hours of sleep, each night to be at their healthiest. Children and teenagers need more.There are some people who need more than 7 hours per night, and some need less. It is not good enough to get less one night, and more the next – the brain does not process the day’s memories adequately. Studies show adverse effects of not getting enough sleep, which are not only related to concentration, speed of thinking or reacting etc, but also medical effects. The concentrated flight paths, and airports allowed to have flights all night, are causing very real problems. A study into noise and sleep by the CAA in 2009 looked at the issue, and said a large and comprehensive study is needed, but it is “likely to be expensive.” 


Sleep deprivation causes adverse effects on health due to disruption of gene activity

Sleep scientists at the University of Surrey have found that sleep deprivation affects hundreds of genes involved with inflammation, immunity and cells’ response to stress. This might help explain why some people who do not get enough sleep have an increased risk for obesity, heart disease and cognitive impairment. Researchers took whole-blood RNA samples from 26 participants after they had spent a week sleeping 8.5 hours a night, and the same participants after a week of sleeping for just 5.7 hours. That amount of sleep is not unusual for many people, and an estimate from the USA is that perhaps 30% of American adults sleep for under 6 hours. (The study did not look at sleep disturbance, as is the case for aircraft noise).  The study found genes related to circadian rhythms, metabolism, inflammation, immune response and stress were all affected by the experiment. Some were more active, and some less, during sleep deprivation. Other studies have found lack of sleep increases the risk of obesity and type II diabetes. It can affect blood sugar levels, and hormones that control appetite.  There are also effects on hypertension, elevated risk of stroke and of heart disease.






Read more »

CCC report shows up government failure to do anything to tackle UK aviation carbon emissions

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


The CCC’s progress report details are at

Reducing UK emissions 2019 Progress Report to Parliament

Committee on Climate Change

July 2019


Committee on Climate Change: UK has just 18 months to avoid ’embarrassment’ over climate inaction

10th July 2019

(By Carbon Brief)

See full article for all the graphics.

The UK government only has 12-18 months left to raise its game on climate policy, or risk “embarrassment” as the likely host of the COP26 UN summit late next year.

That’s the message from the latest annual Committee on Climate Change (CCC) progress report, submitted to parliament and government, which says the time to strengthen policy is “now”.

The UK remains off track against its legally binding carbon budgets and gets failing report cards on a series of indicators developed by the CCC. These cover government policy and progress on the ground in cutting emissions, as well as plans to protect the country from growing climate risks.

The report follows CCC advice published in May recommending that the UK adopt a target of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. This was recently accepted by government and became law in June.

But CCC chief executive Chris Stark told a press briefing launching today’s report: “We are not on track…having a net-zero target will not magically fix this problem.”

He added:

“The government must show it is serious about its legal obligations…[its] credibility really is at stake here…There is a window over the next 12-18 months to do something about this. If we don’t see that, I fear the government will be embarrassed at COP26.”

In a leaked letter sent ahead of the net-zero goal’s adoption, chancellor Philip Hammond also said the target alone would lack credibility without “an ambitious policy response in this parliament”.

Today’s CCC report reviews progress to date and suggests what that ambitious response should look like. It also includes a biannual review of adaptation plans for England.

‘Disappointing’ progress

Rapid cuts in emissions over the past five years have masked a lack of underlying progress towards the UK’s longer-term climate goals, the CCC report says.

From the average CO2 emissions of new cars to the number of lofts insulated or the hectares of forest planted, just seven of 24 on-the-ground indicators are on track, the committee says.

The government’s own projections reflect this situation, suggesting the UK will miss its existing carbon targets by a significant margin, as shown in the chart, below [See link for the graphic]. Indeed, the latest projections show the gap has widened over the past year.

Historical UK greenhouse gas emissions (dark blue line and shaded area, millions of tonnes of CO2 equivalent, MtCO2e) and government projections to 2032 (light blue).

These are set against the first five carbon budgets (red steps) and a net-zero target for 2050 (red line), as well as the previous 80% by 2050 target (dashed yellow). Note that emissions since 2008 and the projections to 2032 show the UK’s “net carbon account”.

The 80% by 2050 target shown here includes the CCC’s 40MtCO2 allowance for international aviation and shipping, which are not currently included in the carbon budgets. This effectively entails an 85% cut for the rest of the economy. 

As the committee has noted previously, recent progress has come almost exclusively from the electricity generation sector, where a combination of demand reduction, carbon pricing and renewable incentives has seen emissions plummet.

In contrast, the report says:

“Progress in deploying measures to reduce emissions is off-track across transport, buildings, agriculture and land use. In these areas, progress to date is behind virtually every indicator we track, often by a wide margin.”

The CCC says energy efficiency improvements are being installed five times slower than they should be overall. Just 18,000 solid walls were insulated in 2018, against the CCC’s indicator target of 90,000. Only 43,000 lofts were insulated, against a 545,000 benchmark.

There has been a similar lack of progress in the transport sector, where only one of five CCC indicators was met in 2018. The total distance driven on the UK’s road was just within its benchmark, whereas indicators were comprehensively breached for new car and van CO2 emissions, electric vehicle registrations and biofuel uptake.

[The CCC plans to update and broaden its indicators after it recommends the level of the sixth carbon budget, covering 2033-2037, in advice due next year. The new indicators are “likely” to “reflect the need for more rapid deployment” towards net-zero emissions and to also cover the “demand side”, for example consumer choices around food or travel.]

Government projections suggest recent lopsided progress is set to continue under the current suite of policies, as the chart below shows.

Despite the need for increased ambition, the government has delivered on only one of 25 policy actions identified by the CCC last year as being necessary to get the UK back on track, having made no moves at all in 10 of those areas. The progress report calls this record “disappointing”.

Speaking to Carbon Brief, Stark credits the government for the “big, bold step” of adopting the net-zero target. But when it comes to policy development over the past year, he says: “We’ve seen incremental progress at best.”

The CCC’s progress report notes:

“Only three new policies have been quantified and newly included within these [government] projections [shown in the charts, above]: Boiler Plus, Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting for Business, and Industrial Heat Recovery Support.

The savings newly included from these policies amount to less than 5MtCO2e [million tonnes of CO2 equivalent] across each of the five-year fourth and fifth carbon budget periods [equivalent to around a quarter of 1% of those budgets].

There remain many other areas in which significant ambitions were outlined by the government in the clean growth strategy in October 2017, but where policy has not yet been finalised.”

Most items on the to-do list given to government last year have seen zero progress – or are still pending completion. These include “stretching” new CO2 targets for cars and vans beyond 2020, a plan to limit aviation emissions in line with carbon budgets and “concrete policies” to deliver government ambition on home energy efficiency.

The only item to have been ticked off the list was delivering plans for a national carbon price in the event that the UK leaves the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS).

Speaking to Carbon Brief last year, Stark said the policy actions for government listed in the CCC’s report amounted to “holding their feet to the fire more actively that we’ve done before”.

Ultimately, however, the committee has limited powers to do more than reporting to parliament on government inaction and making recommendations for how to get back on track. If progress continues to fall short, then the Climate Change Act allows for legal action to be brought by third parties. CCC chair Lord Deben told a press briefing:

“The government can’t ignore this [legally-binding set of targets]…[and] there will come a point where this will become a justiciable issue…What I want to do is save the government from the enormous embarrassment of being directed by the courts to take action.”

Deben adds that “I feel I might be first witness for the prosecution” in any legal challenge to the government’s plans for cutting emissions.

Stepping up the pace

The UK will have to cut its emissions some 50% faster over the next three decades if it is to meet its new net-zero emissions target, today’s CCC progress says, compared to what would have been needed to meet the previous 2050 goal.

It will also have to make cuts 30% faster than the average pace since 1990, which has seen emissions fall by two-fifths. The report says:

“This is an indication of how substantial the step up in action must be to cut emissions in every sector. It is especially acute for those sectors such as transport, buildings and agriculture where emissions have not fallen significantly over recent years.”

Deben told journalists: “[Government] do understand the seriousness of the challenge but they don’t seem to be able to link that to action…This does mean stepping up the pace very seriously right across the board.”

The committee’s net-zero advice provides a roadmap for reaching net-zero emissions, whereas today’s report gives a more detailed set of directions for the next 12-18 months. As with last year’s report, this comes in the form of 30 policy priorities for the next year, shown in the table, below.

Policy priorities for the next year. Source: CCC progress report.

The need for action is particularly acute, the CCC suggests, because the UK is expecting to host the COP26 UN climate talks in late 2020.

Stark tells Carbon Brief: “You cannot be credible in the [COP] presidency if you only set a new target.” He says the UK also needs a coherent policy package in place to deliver that target and suggests the CCC will not shy away from calling out continued inaction in next year’s progress report – even if this is embarrassing for the government in the months before it hosts the summit.

Among the areas where further ambition is needed are the government’s loose pledge to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040, which is too vague, lacks ambition and “fails to grasp the opportunity of electric vehicles that are expected to be cheaper to buy, cheaper to run and less polluting from before 2030”, the report says.

The ban should be brought forward to 2030 or 2035 at the latest within the next year, the CCC says.

On aviation, the government “has not set out the implications of limiting emissions for aviation demand”. Nor has it formally included those emissions within the UK’s carbon budgets, despite stating its intention to do so.

This was a missed opportunity, Stark says, which should be remedied within the year. His committee will write to the new secretary of state for transport, once appointed, to set out the scale of the net-zero challenge for international aviation and shipping.

On buildings, the report says:

“Over 10 years after the Climate Change Act was passed, there is still no serious plan for decarbonising UK heating systems or improving the efficiency of the housing stock, while no large-scale trials have begun for either heat pumps or hydrogen.”

The committee calls for policies within the next year to address efficiency in “all buildings”, as well as a low-carbon heat strategy, a plan for developing low-carbon hydrogen and a rollout of large-scale trials of hydrogen use.

The need for renewed urgency in climate policy is not simply a matter of avoiding embarrassment at COP26, with the CCC adding:

“Without strong near-term action, it would quickly become infeasible to decarbonise sufficiently to reach net-zero GHG emissions by 2050 without resorting to major scrappage schemes and/or much greater disruption to lifestyles, which may not be deliverable.”

Nor is this only a question of meeting the net-zero target, given the UK is already set to miss its fourth and fifth carbon budgets and these may need tightening in line with the new 2050 goal.

The committee will deliver its advice on the sixth carbon budget by the end of next year and this will include a review of the targets for earlier years. The report says:

“[A] more ambitious long-term target is likely to require outperformance of the carbon budgets legislated to date. The committee will revise its assessment of the appropriate path for emissions over the period to 2050 as part of its advice next year on the sixth carbon budget.”

Alongside the net-zero imperative, the committee will also need to consider the potential fallout from Brexit, which may necessitate a change in UK carbon accounting due to leaving the EU ETS.

Two other potentially significant accounting changes are in the works, which will add around 5-10% to UK emissions during the fourth and fifth budget periods, thus making those targets harder to meet. These changes relate to the way that emissions from peatland are measured and the relative weighting given to non-CO2 greenhouse gases.

The CCC is set to advise government on how to handle these changes. Last month, ministers cited concern over the implications when using “flexibilities” under the Act to carry forward emissions from the second carbon budget into future years – a move that effectively weakens the UK’s goals.

Change of mindset
More broadly, there is a need for a “complete change of mindset” across Whitehall, Stark says, with the net-zero goal running through the whole of government “like the letters in a stick of rock”.

This may need a new governance structure that could be based around a cabinet committee on climate chaired by the prime minister, the CCC suggests – a setup recently adopted by the German government. Stark tells Carbon Brief:

“Embedding climate policy properly across government is a governance challenge for the new prime minister…it does need to be at that level and have oversight from key ministers.”

The report explains: “[T]he prime minister could chair regular meetings of a climate cabinet that includes the chancellor and relevant secretaries of state, with transparent public reporting of progress and plans.”

The CCC “will probably want to return” to the question of climate policy governance, Stark says, given its central importance to delivering the UK’s targets.

Referring to the current arrangement, where climate policy is run from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Stark tells Carbon Brief: “I think that something needs to change.”

He points out that the net-zero goal was only agreed once the prime minister and chancellor “paid attention” – whereas responsibility for climate policy at present is generally “very dispersed”.

Stark tells Carbon Brief:

“My biggest disappointment of the past year is that enthusiasm to do something on climate change has only manifested in a new target…Policy just hasn’t kept pace with new desire for climate action…My hope is that that catches up…and the coming year becomes a place where we talk optimistically about the opportunities from climate policy.”

Urgent climate risks

This year also sees the committee publishing its biannual progress report on preparing for climate risks in England, in a separate 244-page document.

This, perhaps, is even more critical of government progress to date. It sets out the reasons why adaptation should be preparing the country for up to 4C of warming, even though the global community is aiming to keep to a 1.5C limit. The report then says:

“[T]here is little evidence of adaptation planning for even 2C. Government cannot hide from these risks…[There is] only limited evidence of the present UK government taking [the challenge of adapting to climate change] sufficiently seriously.”

The government’s own climate change risk assessment identified 56 risks and opportunities from future warming, the CCC notes, yet the latest National Adaptation Programme only formally addresses 35 of these. This effectively ignores 21 risks, of which 13 were marked “more urgent”.

These 13 “urgent” risks include weather-related food production shocks, risks to the UK from international violent conflict and change in the suitability of land for forests and farming.

The fact that the government was responding to its own risk assessment makes it “even more shocking” that the adaptation programme fails to address many of those risks, Baronnes Brown, chair of the CCC’s adaptation sub-committee told a press briefing.

Across 33 sectors of the English economy, 12 have no plan for long-term climate change, the CCC says. The remaining sectors are failing even to prepare for 2C of warming, it adds, with none of the plans scoring highly in the committee’s latest assessment, shown in the grid, below.

Quality and progress of sectoral climate change risk management plans for the England economy. Source: CCC progress report.

Stark tells Carbon Brief: “There are some pockets of really good practice on adaptation planning, especially in the water sector and infrastructure more broadly…[But] progress in managing risk is not good enough in any area [with no sectors showing in the leftmost column of the grid, above].”

The CCC report notes: “[I]mprovements in planning for climate change are not necessarily costly or difficult, but until they are addressed we cannot be confident that England is preparing for the risks of a changing climate.”


See full article with graphics at https://www.carbonbrief.org/ccc-uk-has-just-18-months-to-avoid-embarrassment-over-climate-inaction



The relevant CCC document is at 



This says on aviation:

Aviation & Shipping (50 MtCO2e)

Priorities for the coming year

Formal inclusion in Climate Change Act targets

Longer-term milestones

Strategies for aviation and shipping that reflect the net-zero target.

• In June 2019, the UK Government accepted the Committee’s advice and amended the 2050 target under the Climate Change Act to require net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by that date. The Government stated that emissions should reach net-zero across the whole economy (i.e. including international aviation and shipping) and that the aim would be to reach net-zero emissions without recourse to international credits (or ‘offsets’), consistent with the Committee’s advice. 1  [Note 1.  House of Commons Hansard (12 June 2019) Net Zero Emissions Target, Volume 661, Columns 673 and 682. ]


IAS  (International Aviation and Shipping) emissions have increased by over 80% since 1990. —–

Emissions data for international transport and for sectors with large shares of non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions are produced with a one-year lag, so emissions in the following sectors are only available up to 2017:

• Aviation. Total aviation emissions increased by 3.5% to 36.5 MtCO₂e from 2016 to 2017, the latest year for which data is available. Within this, emissions from international flights increased by 3.6% to 35.0 Mt and emissions from domestic flights by 2.6% to 1.5 Mt. Overall, emissions from aviation in 2017 were more than double 1990 levels.

• Shipping. Total shipping emissions fell by 5.7% to 13.8 MtCO2e from 2016 to 2017, the latest year for which data is available. Emissions from international journeys fell by 8.6% to 7.8 Mt and emissions from domestic journeys by 1.7% to 5.9 Mt. Overall, emissions from shipping in 2017 were 17% lower than 1990 levels.

The Government launched a consultation in December 2018 on its long-term vision for aviation. Within this, it accepted the Committee’s long-standing planning assumption that for an economy-wide target of an 80% emissions reduction, aviation emissions in 2050 should be no higher than those in 2005 (i.e. 37.5 MtCO₂e). However, the final Aviation Strategy has not yet been published and the Government has not set out the implications of limiting emissions for aviation demand.

Table 3.2. Delivery of policy action required over the past year


Publish a plan to limit UK aviation emissions to the level assumed when the fifth carbon budget was set (i.e. around 2005 levels in 2050, implying around a 60% potential increase in demand), supported by strong international policies.


First half of 2019




3. The net-zero challenge – what is needed from policy now In May 2019, the Committee recommended that the UK set a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target for 2050. The Government and Parliament accepted this advice and on 27 June 2019 the target became law. Consistent with the Committee’s advice, the Government were clear that net-zero emissions must be reached across the whole economy (including emissions from international aviation and shipping) and that the aim is to achieve the target entirely through action in the UK without recourse to international credits (or ‘offsets’).56   [ Note 56: 56 House of Commons Hansard (12 June 2019) Net Zero Emissions Target, Volume 661, Columns 673 and 682. Available at: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2019-06-12/debates/A348AE4C-8957-42C8-8180- 0F59E597E3EA/NetZeroEmissionsTarget ]


Challenges that have not yet been confronted must now be addressed by Government. Industry and heat must be largely decarbonised, heavy goods vehicles must also switch to low-carbon fuels, emissions from international aviation and shipping cannot be ignored, and a fifth of our agricultural land must shift to alternative uses that support emissions reduction: afforestation, biomass production and peatland restoration. Where there are remaining emissions these must be fully offset by removing CO₂ from the atmosphere and permanently sequestering it, for example by using sustainable bioenergy in combination with CCS.



Full CCC document is at

Reducing UK emissions 2019 Progress Report to Parliament

Committee on Climate Change

July 2019







Read more »