What can we do in the face of the climate emergency? Many say we should drive less, fly less, eat less meat. But others argue that personal actions like this are a pointless drop in the ocean when set against the huge systemic changes that are required to prevent devastating global warming. Research from a PhD researcher into Environmental Leadership (Cardiff University) shows that doing something bold like giving up flying can have a wider knock-on effect – by influencing others and shifting what’s viewed as “normal”. These effects were increased if a high-profile person had given up flying, such as someone in the public eye. Far from the small actions by individuals having no impact, they are important. The role of people, in changing their lifestyles, cutting their carbon emissions and environmental footprint, is as big as that of governments or major corporations. But significant lifestyle changes by individuals need to be encouraged by effective government policy. It has to be both – policies, government action etc PLUS actions by individuals. Millions of them. Behavioural change has the potential for far greater emission reductions than the political pledges made under the Paris Accord.
PhD Researcher in Environmental Leadership, Cardiff University
What can we do in the face of the climate emergency? Many say we should drive less, fly less, eat less meat. But others argue that personal actions like this are a pointless drop in the ocean when set against the huge systemic changes that are required to prevent devastating global warming.
It’s a debate that has been raging for decades. Clearly, in terms of global greenhouse gas emissions, a single person’s contribution is basically irrelevant (much like a single vote in an election). But my research, first in my masters and now as part of my PhD, has found that doing something bold like giving up flying can have a wider knock-on effect by influencing others and shifting what’s viewed as “normal”.
In a survey I conducted, half of the respondents who knew someone who has given up flying because of climate change said they fly less because of this example. That alone seemed pretty impressive to me. Furthermore, around three quarters said it had changed their attitudes towards flying and climate change in some way. These effects were increased if a high-profile person had given up flying, such as an academic or someone in the public eye. In this case, around two thirds said they fly less because of this person, and only 7% said it has not affected their attitudes.
I wondered if these impressionable people were already behaving like squeaky-clean environmentalists, but the figures suggested not. The survey respondents fly considerably more than average, meaning they have plenty of potential to fly less because of someone else’s example.
To explore people’s reasoning, I interviewed some of those who had been influenced by a “non-flyer”. They explained that the bold and unusual position to give up flying had: conveyed the seriousness of climate change and flying’s contribution to it; crystallised the link between values and actions; and even reduced feelings of isolation that flying less was a valid and sensible response to climate change. They said that “commitment” and “expertise” were the most influential qualities of the person who had stopped flying.
It’s not all a bed of roses, of course. Flying represents freedom, fun and progress. It boosts the economy and can provide precious travel opportunities. So suggesting that everyone should fly less, which may seem the implicit message of someone who gives up flying because of climate change, can lead to arguments and confrontation. One person for example said that my gently worded survey was “fascist and misinformed”. You don’t get that when you ask about washing-up liquid.
My research also probed ideas of inconsistency and hypocrisy. In short, people hate it. If Barack Obama takes a private jet and has a 14-vehicle entourage to get to a climate change conference, or a celebrity weeps for the climate while rocking a huge carbon footprint, it doesn’t go down well. And if future laws are introduced to reduce flying because of climate change, it looks essential that politicians will have to visibly reduce their flying habits, too. Other research has shown that calls for emissions reductions from climate scientists are much more credible if they themselves walk the talk.
At a meeting of academics on a research project into sustainable energy. Opening chat – “just flew in from Vienna & taxi from the airport – taxi booked for 4, as got to be back tonight” – no doubt they’ll make a wonderful & insightful contribution. Sadly half academics flew in!
That people are influenced by others is hardly a shocking result. Psychology researchers have spent decades amassing evidence about the powerful effects of social influence, while cultural evolution theory suggests we may have evolved to follow the example of those in prestigious positions because it helped us survive. Pick up any book on leadership in an airport shopping mall and it will likely trumpet the importance of leading by example.
Which raises the question: if our political and business leaders are serious about climate change, shouldn’t they be very visibly reducing their own carbon footprints to set an example to the rest of us? This is now the focus of my research.
Weaving an invisible thread through all of the above is the thorny issue of fairness and inequality. The wealthiest 10% of the global population are responsible for 50% of emissions, and plenty of that will be due to flying. In the UK, around 15% of people take 70% of the flights, while half of the population don’t fly at all in any one year. As emissions from aviation become an ever increasing slice of the total (currently around 9% in the UK, 2% globally) this inequality will become harder for everyone to ignore.
In the mean time, the debate about personal vs. collective action will continue. My research supports the arguments that this is a false dichotomy: individual action is part of the collective. So, while you won’t save the world on your own, you might be part of the solution.
How energy use demands change through different milestones in life. Credit: HOPE Project
Individuals have as big a role to play in tackling climate change as major corporations but only if they can be encouraged to make significant lifestyle changes by effective government policy, a major new European study co-authored by a University of Sussex academic has found.
The study notes that voluntary lifestyle choices by well-meaning individuals would only achieve around half the required emission reductions needed to hit the 1.5 C Paris Agreement goal. But the authors suggest that Paris targets could be achieved if voluntary choices were combined with policies that target behavioural change, particularly around eating meat and using fewer cars and airplanes.
The study’s authors say the international climate policy debate has so far focused mainly on technology and economic incentives, relegating behaviour change to a voluntary add-on. This is despite the fact behavioural change has the potential for far greater emission reductionsthan the political pledges made under the Paris Accord.
The study, written by academics from 11 institutions including the University of Sussex, investigated the preferences for reducing household emissions, responsible for about 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions. It involved hundreds of families in four European cities using a specially-designed simulation tool to indicate carbon and money savings from 65 lifestyle choices combined with in-depth surveys with household members.
It found public support for policy initiatives that encouraged more sustainable practices around food production but resistance to initiatives that restricted personal mobility and transport options. The study also found that ironically the areas where greatest lifestyle changes were required and the largest carbon footprints produced, such as aviation and changes to diet, had received the lowest policy attention to date.
Lead author Ghislain Dubois, founder of the TEC Conseil in France, said: “Our research proves that if supported by adequate policies, households can have a decisive contribution to the Paris agreement objectives. This is largely ignored by current climate policies and negotiations, which rely only on macro-economics and technology. We should dare envisaging and doing research on taboos like consumption reduction or sobriety. When you consider the impacts on CO2 emissions, but also on households’ budgets and the potential co-benefits, it is worth it.”
Professor Benjamin Sovacool, second author of the study and Director of the Sussex Energy Group at the University of Sussex, added: “Our study underscores the contradictions we all have in balancing climate change with other priorities. We want to fight climate change, but stick to eating meat and driving our cars. There are certain changes we can make voluntarily but beyond that we need policy to step in.”
The study, published in the upcoming June edition of Energy Research and Social Science, found that the greater the potential actions have to reduce emissions, the less households were willing to implement them. In these areas “forced” solutions such as a considerably higher carbon tax on fuel and regulations encouraging food producers to reduce packaging or increase local and organic farming in addition to voluntary measures will be needed, the academics warn.
Carlo Aall, co-author of the study from the Western Norway Research Institute, said: “There is political room for taking a tougher stand on supporting economically and regulating household consumption to become more climate friendly. Meat consumption and long air trips in particular need to be addressed.”
Alina Herrmann, co-author from the Heidelberg Institute for Global Health said: “Strikingly, people were very open to climate friendly solutions in the food and recycling sector. We have found strong support for less packaged food, more sustainable food production and moderate reduction of meat consumption in our study population. Many participants even wished for external support to make such sustainable choices easier for them.”
However, in areas such as mobility, the authors recommend limiting the availability of greenhouse gas-intensive consumption through regulative instruments such bans, restrictions or increased taxes; balanced with making low-carbon alternatives more readily available.
Dr. Hermann added: “Changing mobility behaviour was seen as incredibly difficult. To gain acceptance for reduced mobility as part of societal transformation in the face of climate change, and entirely new public discourse would be needed.”
Responses from the study revealed household carbon footprints are not static but can fluctuate significantly with major life events such as having children, experiencing illness or retiring.
The authors recommend that targeted interventions at these milestones could be highly effective in bringing about long-lasting change and suggested that intermediaries at these milestones, such as estate agents, car sales staff and retirement planners, could all play a much more active role in identifying carbon-reducing options.
West Sussex County Council has agreed unanimously to back an amended motion pledging action on climate change. South East Climate Alliance (SECA) campaigners hailed this as a potential ‘tipping point’ for the area. Two of the commitments made were to try to make the C County Council itself carbon neutral, and encourage residents and businesses to do more to help tackle climate change. Council members were invited to make personal pledges on things like saving water and energy, and making low carbon journeys (air travel not mentioned specifically). Louise Goldsmith, Council Leader, said: ” … we really do need everyone young, old and not so old and all businesses to come together and do their bit to become more sustainable…” CAGNE attended the meeting, and Sally Pavey commented that aviation issues were included in the debate – Gatwick airport is in West Sussex, and is probably the largest carbon emitter in the area (about 4.5 million tonnes of CO2 per year). Cllr Liz Kitchen and Cllr Bill Acraman, raised the issue of Gatwick expansion, which would hugely increase the airport’s carbon, undoing any good done by local carbon cuts by individuals, businesses or the council.
West Sussex County Council commits to do more to tackle climate change
A pledge to work towards making West Sussex County Council carbon neutral and the prioritisation of a campaign to encourage residents and businesses to do more to help tackle climate change were just two of the environmental commitments made at a meeting in Chichester today (Friday 5 April).During a debate at Full Council, West Sussex County Council members heard about the progress already being made in the county to adapt to our changing climate as well as updates on a range of initiatives for the future.A ‘notice of motion’ was agreed which said that it was imperative that all countries reduce their carbon emissions as soon as possible and that it is important that the West Sussex County Council commits to carbon neutrality as quickly as possible.
Deborah Urquhart, Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “The County Council has already committed to halve its carbon footprint by 2022 compared to a decade earlier. Last year we achieved a 17 per cent reduction in our carbon emissions – a 45 per cent reduction in carbon emissions from the original baseline set in 2011/12.
“To achieve this saving we have improved our building management systems, improved insulation and upgraded lighting in our buildings and in street lights across the county. We have invested in renewable energy and now have solar installations on a high number of our buildings and schools.”
Members heard that counties like West Sussex have high potential to be leaders in the field of reducing carbon emissions. As well as reducing its reliance on energy generally, opportunities include the generation of clean, green energy locally and the promotion of the benefits to local organisations and residents.
Deborah continued: “I am really proud that we are leading by example in this area, by improving the efficiency of our buildings and investing in energy projects. Now we want to do as much as we can to highlight the ways in which residents, businesses, staff and members can contribute towards combating climate change. If everyone works together it can really make a big difference.”
Members were invited to make personal pledges to:
• Save water and energy
• Make low carbon journeys
• Shop local
• Fight against food waste
• Pass on plastic
A campaign aimed at residents and businesses will be planned for later this year.
Louise Goldsmith, Leader of West Sussex County Council, said: “Over the last 15 years West Sussex County Council has been reducing its carbon footprint, demonstrating a positive commitment to responding to the global climate change challenge. We have done this in many ways and some of our aspirations have been incorporated in our West Sussex Plan. It is universally acknowledged that we must reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and the County Council is playing an important part with a planned £46.2m investment in low carbon energy projects over the next four years.”
“As a Council we are fully committed to ensuring that we continue to play a role in dealing with climate change, but we really do need everyone young, old and not so old and all businesses to come together and do their bit to become more sustainable and make a real difference for everyone’s future.”
CLIMATE MOTION PASSED UNANIMOUSLY BY WEST SUSSEX COUNTY COUNCIL
Apr 5, 2019 (South East Climate Alliance website)
Congratulations and thanks to everyone who came along to Chichester today, and who lobbied their County Council members to back the climate emergency motion. It worked! Though many of us were disappointed that the original motion was amended, and the climate emergency was ‘noted’ rather than ‘declared’, the Council took a big step today. It looks like WSCC is serious about getting its act together on climate change. After the meeting SECA was invited to take part in a new working group being set up to take this agenda forward. So the omens are looking good that today could be a turning point.
Here’s the text of our press release:
PRESS RELEASE: Climate action motion passed unanimously by County Council
Campaigners hailed today as a potential ‘tipping point’ in West Sussex, as the County Council agreed unanimously to back an amended motion pledging action on climate change.
In a rare display of cross-party consensus, councillors from across the political spectrum took turns to underline the risks posed by climate change and need for decisive leadership by the County Council. Speaking in front of a packed public gallery, councillors called for action on cycle paths, electric charging points, food waste collection, public transport, air quality, and a range of other priorities.
The six point action plan set out in the motion includes a pledge for the Council to go carbon neutral by 2030, well ahead of UK-wide climate targets. It also sets out ambitions to ‘investigate ways of taking climate change impacts into account in all the Council’s policies and operations’.
The debate was preceded by a lively but good-natured march by over 140 climate campaigners and concerned citizens of all ages, from toddlers to grandparents. The march ended on the steps of County Hall, giving protesters the chance to buttonhole their council representatives as they came in to the meeting. Councillors had already been lobbied by many of their constituents to back the vote, thanks to a county-wide letter writing campaign organised by the South East Climate Alliance (SECA).
Protesters making their voice heard outside County Hall
“We are taking today’s vote as a definite win for the climate,” said Dr Sally Barnard, Coordinator of SECA. “We were greatly encouraged by the breadth of support across the council chamber for stronger climate action”.
However, campaigners were disappointed that the amended motion states that the Council ‘notes the call for a campaign to declare a climate emergency’, rather than actually declaring an emergency, as the original motion proposed.
“It all depends on what happens next,” according to Dr Barnard. “If the Council follows up on the pledges it has made today, this could be a tipping point for climate action in West Sussex”.
“We are ready to work with the Council in coming up with an ambitious action plan, and in helping hold them to account in delivering on it”.
Aviation growth – one of the biggest threats this planet faces today. The message sent to councillors during the WSCC debate on Friday 5thApril.
6th April 2019 (CAGNE press release)
CAGNE is the campaign group, Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Expansion
“We can only hope that this will mean that they will not be able to support new runways, growth at Gatwick Airport as this would be catastrophic for the planet, local air quality and climate change,” said CAGNE who were present throughout the debate held at County Hall, Chichester.
South East Climate Alliance campaigners hailed yesterday as a potential ‘tipping point’ in West Sussex, as the County Council agreed unanimously to back an amended motion pledging action on climate change.
In a display of cross-party consensus, councillors from across the political spectrum took turns to underline the risks posed by climate change and need for decisive leadership by the County Council. Speaking in front of a packed public gallery, councillors called for action on cycle paths, electric charging points, food waste collection, public transport, air quality, aviation and a range of other priorities.
“We believe it was only because CAGNE was present that aviation was included in the debate with two councillors, Cllr Liz Kitchen and Cllr Bill Acraman, raising the issue of Gatwick Airport expansion; aviation being one of the biggest threats the planet faces today.”
The six point action plan set out in the motion includes a pledge for the Council to go carbon neutral by 2030, well ahead of UK-wide climate targets. It also sets out ambitions to ‘investigate ways of taking climate change impacts into account in all the Council’s policies and operations’.
The debate was preceded by a march by climate campaigners and concerned citizens of all ages. The march ended on the steps of County Hall, giving campaigners the chance to discuss climate change with councillors prior to the meeting.
CAGNE lobbied councillors before the debate to the facts about aviation emissions and the breach in climate change targets with Heathrow alone, let alone Gatwick growth or expansion.
CAGNE is a member of the South East Climate Alliance (SECA) who organised the event.
The South East Climate Alliance (SECA) was set up in February 2019, following a ‘SOS Climate Emergency Day’ meeting in Horsham attended by over 120 people from 14 environmental groups across Sussex and Surrey. Between the groups present, we could cite many examples of thriving green initiatives – from repair cafés to solar schools. Yet there was a widespread feeling of frustration that the current overall response to climate change just does not match the scale and urgency of the climate threat.
The room was packed for our inaugural meeting – we had to change venue three times to find a big enough room to meet in!
We decided to join forces to address this. We agreed that our first focus should be a campaign to urge District and County Councils across the region to ‘Declare a Climate Emergency’. We plan to use the upcoming local government elections on May 2nd as an initial rallying point for mobilising local action. In this way, our aim is to demonstrate how widespread the concern about climate change really is, and encourage councillors and candidates to publicly get behind the idea of declaring a Climate Emergency.
Who We Are
The South East Climate Alliance (SECA) is a coalition of local environmental, community and faith groups from the South East of England uniting for urgent action on climate change. It acts as an informal umbrella group and has been set up to share ideas and coordinate action. Groups affiliated with SECA remain autonomous and will continue to take their own decisions. Some will adopt traditional community organising approaches; others may prefer a non-violent direct action approach, as is being championed by the Extinction Rebellion movement. SECA is not responsible for the actions of its individual member groups.
SECA is not affiliated to any political party. We have pledged to take a deliberately cross-party approach in our campaigning as we believe that the issue of climate change goes way beyond party politics.
In preparing this website, we have drawn considerably on the ideas and resources made available on the ClimateEmergency.uk website, which provides an excellent overview of the progress of the climate emergency movement across the UK.
Heathrow has this week (22nd March) belatedly published the results from its Fly Quiet & Green programme for Q4 2018. In this scheme Heathrow assesses 7 different aspects of environmental performance, but it only publishes a single, numeric “Fly Quiet points” score for each airline. That published score is the sum of the Fly Quiet points awarded to the airline for each of the 7 metrics. But that part that is far from transparent, with the 7 numbers per airline not made public. The results put out by Heathrow do not make any sense, and do not appear to properly reflect the actual noise. Rather, they appear to be manipulated to make noise levels look lower than they really are. This time around instead of giving the airlines an average score of around 750 out of (optimum) 1000, as with previous quarters’ results (already grossly inflated), Heathrow has hiked the average score by over 8% to 813 points. The expected average (mean and median) score should be around 500. But not content with inflating the scores even more than usual, Heathrow has also inexplicably excluded 5 (China Southern, El Al, Korean Air etc) of its 50 busiest airlines from the results – but added others instead.
Comment from AvGen on the recent Heathrow noise figures
The Fly Quiet & Green programme aims to measure, assess and compare the environmental characteristics and performance of the airlines that serve Heathrow and the aircraft that they use (we fully support that aim, though not the way it has been implemented).
Heathrow assesses seven different aspects of environmental performance, but it only publishes a single, numeric “Fly Quiet points” score for each airline.That published score is the sum of the Fly Quiet points awarded to the airline for each of the seven metrics.That’s the part that is far from transparent and is, AvGen believes, flawed.
Heathrow consistently declines to provide a breakdown of how many of the points that make up an airline’s published total Fly Quiet score have been gained from each of the seven metrics.
That refusal is ridiculous and disingenuous, particularly given that Heathrow identifies which airline is best, second-best, third-best, etc, for each of the metrics and states how those rankings are supposed to translate unambiguously into Fly Quiet points.
Our view is that Heathrow cannot publish the Fly Quiet points breakdown per metric because it would reveal that points are not being awarded in accordance with the stated rules of the scheme.
Specifically, we believe that airlines performing poorly on any of the seven metrics are being overmarked, sometimes significantly, which inflates the resulting Fly Quiet points scores.
Heathrow could, if it chose, address our criticisms by simply publishing the points breakdown for the world to see.
In July 2017, Heathrow published the first of a new series of quarterly Fly Quiet & Green statistics, ranking airlines on several different aspects of their environmental performance.
Shortly after publication, AvGen drew Heathrow’s attention to apparent anomalies in the calculation of the results. The published “league table” did not appear to be reproducible, despite using exactly the methodology and inputs published by Heathrow.
AvGen requested some worked examples of the methodology from Heathrow in an attempt to identify where the discrepancies lay. Heathrow did not respond to this request.
A subsequent request by AvGen elicited the response from Heathrow that it was satisfied with the accuracy of its results, but still without providing any examples to substantiate them.
AvGen then provided Heathrow with a paper highlighting (with specific examples) areas where it believed Heathrow’s analysis was flawed. No response was received to this.
See full details of the AvGen assessment of “Fly Quiet and Green” at
We will never know how China Southern, El Al, Korean Air, Kuwait Airways or Pakistan International Airlines are judged to have performed, because Egyptair short/longhaul, Icelandair (ditto) and MEA longhaul (all with fewer flights than any of the above) have been substituted instead. In fact El Al and China Southern had over three times as many flights as MEA longhaul during Q4.
We will, as usual, invite Heathrow’s comments on our findings, though past experience suggests there will be none. Heathrow could, of course, choose to publish a breakdown of how many points each metric contributed to airlines’ aggregate scores – but that would make its flawed results even more obvious.
Incidentally, although Heathrow never acknowledges it when I send Matt Gorman, Richard Norman and Nigel Milton a copy our our quarterly findings, they have taken note of one of the issues I raised in the email. Those have now been fixed on the website..
A more detailed look at the Q4 table shows:
a) Individual airline scores are inflated by between 17% and 240%, with the poorest performing carriers receiving the biggest unjustified increase in their score. The 544 points score awarded by Heathrow to MEA shorthaul is over 380 points more than the airline actually merits based on its performance and Heathrow’s rules..
b) 48 out of the 50 airlines in Heathrow’s table are awarded more than the correctly calculated average (based on Heathrow’s data and methodology) of 522.
c) Turkish Airlines longhaul and Jet Airways are given an unexplained hike up the table, each by 15 places, compared to the positions that their performance merits.
d) Among the airlines entitled to feel aggrieved with this quarter’s published results include Icelandair shorthaul, relegated 20 places from its rightful position.Turkish Airlines shorthaul, despite meriting 503 points by Heathrow’s own methodology, putting it just above Air Malta, bizarrely ends up ranked 21 places below the Maltese carrier.
e) “RAG” (red/amber/green) classifications are again applied inconsistently; for example Thai Airways and TAP, ranked 44th and 45th, respectively, by Heathrow for early/late movements, get an “Amber” for that category while Scandinavian, ranked 34th for that metric by Heathrow, gets a “Red”.
f) For the second successive quarter, 180 flights by Finnair’s A330 and A350 fleets (out of an airline total of 905) appear not to have been taken into account in calculating the results, with only its narrow-body A320 family flights having been counted.
Another way of looking at the Fly Quiet anomalies – by AvGen
Consider just one airline: Oman Air.
We’re asked to believe that its environmental performance across the seven Fly Quiet
metrics in Q3 2018 merited an aggregate score of 917 – that’s only 83 points short of the 1,000 “perfect” score !
So how did Heathrow decide to deduct only 83 points ? The airport refuses to explain, probably because it makes no sense.
Leaving aside the 2 metrics where Oman Air ranked Number One and so didn’t lose any points for those (Track-keeping and Early/Late Movements), we are left with the other 5 metrics (Noise Quota Count, Noise Chapter, NOx emissions, CAEP and CDAs) where those 83 points must therefore have been deducted (for 24th, 8th, 34th, 7th, and 20th place, respectively).
We can easily deduce how much those 5 metrics each contributed to the 83 points lost, because Heathrow tells us how many places Oman dropped for each metric and the relative weighting per metric (50%, 50%, 50%, 50% and 150%, respectively).
For Noise Quota, Oman dropped 23 places (47% of the way down), but only lost 15.2 points (17%) from the 89.3 available.
For Noise Chapter, Oman dropped 7 places (14% of the way down), but only lost 4.6 points (5%) from the 89.3 available.
For NOx, Oman dropped 33 places (67% of the way down), but only lost 21.7 points (24%) from the 89.3 available.
For CAEP, Oman dropped 6 places (12% of the way down the table), but only lost 4.0 points (4%) from the 89.3 available. [CAEP means Standard (engine emissions certification)]
For CDAs, Oman dropped 19 places (39% of the way down), but only lost 37.5 points (14%) from the 267.9 available.
BUT the Fly Quiet rules state that, for each metric, the proportion of points deducted from the maximum available score is determined solely by how far down the table the airline is for that metric. So the above scores make no sense at all.
If points deducted by Heathrow are compared with places dropped, then its flawed implementation of its own rules means that Oman, if it came bottom for every metric, would still be awarded 638 points instead of the 0 that the rules specify !
Consultancy AvGen finds, yet again, Heathrow’s “Fly Quiet & Green” programme comes up with weird, incorrect, results
May 25, 2018
Heathrow has published the results from its Fly Quiet & Green programme for 2018 Quarter 1. Unfortunately it seems determined to persist with the flaky arithmetic and absence of logic and common sense that characterised the results for previous quarters (which remain unaltered). For Q1, as with previous quarters, league table scores have again been inflated, this time by an average of around 44% compared to the results that are produced when Heathrow’s own published methodology and performance rankings are used. Once again that increase has not been applied uniformly across all 50 airlines (a number of them have been awarded more than double the number of points that they merit), with the result that the relative league table positions are significantly altered. Below are some examples, from consultancy, AvGen, showing the arbitrary results – which do not appear to be based on much logic – of airlines being put into higher and lower rankings, based on their noise and emissions. By contrast with the Heathrow figures, those from AvGen show the greenest airline is Aer Lingus – not Scandinavian. The second greenest is Finnair, not LOT Polish Airlines. Curious that Heathrow does such odd things with the data ….
Heathrow wants to expand its operations to fly over areas with little aviation activity at present, including over north west London. The local paper for Hampstead and Highgate says that Hampstead is 500 ft above sea level and, in Heathrow’s first phase of expansion, (it wants an extra 25,000 flights per year in a couple of years from now – if permitted) it may be exposed to flights at 2,500 to 3,500 ft. The noise levels would be over 60 to 65 decibels (dB) – more than the level of background noise in a busy office – from 6am every morning. Highgate may be in the same position. That might work out as a flight overhead every 2.5 minutes between 6am and 7am and one every 10 mins thereafter from 7am to 11.30pm. If there is then a 3rd runway, there could be a flight every minute, with the noise of most being above 65dB. The negative effects on health, (from noise and air pollution) and noise impacts on the education of children are well known. The paper says: “That Heathrow is pushing ahead with expansion despite these impacts beggars belief.” While more studies need to be done on the health risks of aviation noise, it is a serious concern for residents accustomed to zero noise who are then subjected to noise above 65dB at least 40 times a day.
View from the street: Heathrow need to put the brakes on
20 March 2019 (Ham and High – Hamstead and Highgate)
By Jessica Learmond-Criqui, local campaigner
Heathrow wants to expand its operations to fly over areas with little aviation activity at present, including over north west London.
Hampstead is 500 ft above sea level and, in Heathrow’s first phase of expansion, it may be exposed to flights at 2,500 to 3,500 ft with noise levels at more than 60 to 65 decibels (dB) above level of background noise in a busy office, from 6am every morning. Highgate may be in the same position.
Heathrow wants to send one flight every 2.5 minutes between 6am and 7am and one every 10 mins thereafter from 7am to 11.30pm. In the second phase of expansion with the third runway, there is potential for one flight every minute with most being above 65dB.
Aviation noise has environmental, health and educational impacts that are not well known outside of aviation circles and which are causes for concern for affected residents. That Heathrow is pushing ahead with expansion despite these impacts beggars belief.
Environmental concerns include that the air pollution (NOx/ PM10/PM2.5 particulates) around Heathrow is already at or above acceptable limits and London as a whole is close to being in breach of EU requirements for NOx pollution.
Sadiq Khan is introducing the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) to bring London’s air closer in compliance with EU emissions requirements. A 50 per cent increase in flights over inner/outer London at low altitudes, emitting these particulates, will reduce our air quality.
Health concerns include the findings of two major medical reports that conclude high levels of aircraft noise cause increased risks of stroke, coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease for both hospital admissions and mortality, disturbed sleep and sleep recuperation, hypertension, raised blood pressure during night sleeping periods, lower birth weight of babies, and raised blood pressure in children.
A 5dB increase in aircraft noise was associated with a greater increase in waist circumference of 1.5cm due to increased stress hormones which might contribute to central obesity. A 10dB increase in day-time or night-time aircraft noise was associated with a 28pc increase in anxiety medication use. With schools experiencing aircraft noise above 63dB, there are higher rates of hyperactivity symptoms for children.
While more studies need to be done on the health risks of aviation noise, the above is a cause for concern for residents accustomed to zero noise who are then subjected to noise above 65dB at least 40 times a day with the first expansion and then every minute with the third runway.
Education impacts include poorer reading, comprehension and memory skills for children at school and at home. A 5dB increase in aircraft noise can cause a two-month delay in reading age.
The World Health Organization (WHO) Community Noise Guidelines suggest the background sound pressure level in school classrooms should not exceed 35dB during teaching sessions to protect from speech intelligibility and information extraction. They also suggest playgrounds should not exceed 55dB during the recess period to protect from annoyance. With the planned noise levels of over 65dB for north west London, this will not be achievable for the 55 school sites in Hampstead with 12,500 children going to school here.
Heathrow hopes to mitigate with quieter planes, but they are not nearly quiet enough to reduce the terrifying impact on residents.
A report in 2009 required Heathrow expansion to be limited to 702,000 ATMs by 2050 (inc the third runway) but Heathrow wants to increase to 740,000 ATMs. The third runway should be denied and any plans for the expansion abandoned.
Perhaps the High Court in the current judicial review hearing will help to put the brakes on Heathrow’s ambitions.
At Heathrow legal hearings, Court told Grayling left thousands of people in the dark over the impact of Heathrow flight paths if expansion allowed
March 12, 2019
Chris Grayling left thousands of people in the dark over increased noise pollution from an expanded Heathrow by under-stating the impact of new flight paths. At the High Court hearings, lawyers for five London councils, the London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Greenpeace claim this amounts to a breach of the law under which the Transport Secretary should have identified all areas that might be affected. The Councils say that instead of an environmental report showing which communities were going to be hit by noise from flights, Mr Grayling only published “indicative flight paths.” They say “The flight paths were drawn in such a way that the numbers of people affected were minimised. This meant the health and environmental costs of the north west runway were under-stated.” Maps compiled by the councils suggest as many as 1 million more households will be affected by planes at 7,000 ft, or below, with decibel levels of at least 65, (equivalent to a vacuum cleaner in a room). A vast circular area stretching from Didcot in the west, Dartford and Romford in the east, Tring, Harpenden and Welwyn Garden City to the north, and Godalming, Leatherhead, Epsom and Copthorne – and many more places – to the south would be affected. The NPS failed to deal properly with the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion.
Epsom & Ewell Borough Council sends highly critical response to Heathrow’s expansion plans – inflicting hugely more aircraft noise on them
March 6, 2019
Epsom & Ewell Borough is an area that is currently overflown by Heathrow planes at about 6,000 and 7,000 feet. Its Council has submitted a robust response to Heathrow’s airspace change consultation, furious about the vastly worse noise burden with which the borough is threatened. The proposals would perhaps mean additional flights operating as low as 3,000 feet at a frequency of up to 47 flights per hour for arrivals, and 17 flights per hour for departures. Even the extra flights, in the short term, through IPA, could result in 25 flights per hour operating as low as 3,000 feet between 6am to 7am and 6 flights per hour at other times. Cllr Eber Kington, Chairman of the Council’s Strategy & Resources Committee, said the changes could mean a four to five-fold increase in noise levels in addition to the significant additional impact from the frequency of flights overhead and the impact on air quality. Cllr O’Donovan complained at how bad the consultation was. Residents are angry that their own MP, Chris Grayling, is pushing for these hugely damaging noise impacts on his own constituents and voters – with inevitable decrease in local quality of life.
Severe impact of 3rd Heathrow runway on residents laid out in High Court hearing
March 12, 2019
The Government’s approval of a third runway is being challenged at the High Court by a coalition of councils, residents, environmental charities and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. Representing five London boroughs, Greenpeace and Mr Khan, Nigel Pleming QC said the plans could see the number of passengers using Heathrow rise to around 132 million, a 60% increase. Mr Pleming said: “The new development, if it goes ahead, will add, in effect, a new airport with the capacity of Gatwick to the north of Heathrow” and that the adverse effects and consequences for local residents of such an expansion are “bound to be severe”. The legal challenges (other than the one by Heathrow Hub) say the Government’s National Policy Statement (NPS) setting out its support for the project fails to properly deal with the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion. The claimants argue the NPS is unlawful and should be quashed, which would mean the Government would have to start the process again and put it to another vote in Parliament. Scores of demonstrators gathered outside the court ahead of the hearing, addressed by MPs, Council leaders and campaigners. All are determined that this runways is NOT going to go ahead. The hearings will last for 2 weeks.
Carbon Market Watch has produced a report that assesses credit providers for the ICAO CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme – which aims to compensate the growth in CO2 emissions from international aviation above 2020 levels, starting in 2021. Offsets should ” offset programs will be screened against the eleven new Program Design Elements,” (one of which, for example, is: “Program Governance: Programs should publicly disclose who is responsible for administration of the program and how decisions are made.” Carbon Market Watch conclude that “no program can yet operate in a manner which complies with all the eligibility criteria. Some will need to update and improve certain parts of their protocols or methodologies, but all are hampered by the lack of clarity on international accounting rules to avoid double counting of emission reductions. The present assessment also highlights that the Program Design Elements are not sufficient to exclude credits with no environmental value, and that a rigorous application of the second set of criteria, the Carbon Offset Credit Integrity Assessment Criteria, is necessary and will require analysis of specific methodologies and projects.”
First class or economy? – An assessment of credit providers for the aviation offsetting scheme
15th March 2019
By Carbon Market Watch
The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), a new carbon market established under the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), aims to compensate the growth in CO2 emissions from international aviation above 2020 levels, starting in 2021.
ICAO must, therefore, identify which carbon offsets airlines can use to meet their obligations. This will be carried out by the Technical Advisory Body (TAB), which will assess existing GHG programs (i.e. offset providers) based on criteria which were formally adopted by the ICAO Council in March 2019.
This briefing analyzes eight offset programs against one of the two sets of criteria adopted by the ICAO Council: the Program Design Elements.
The programs analysed are
the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM),
Gold Standard (GS),
Japan’s Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM),
Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF),
Climate Action Reserve (CAR), and
Information is based on publicly available documentation and, although not exhaustive, this screening provides insight into the general adjustments needed for all offset programs to meet CORSIA requirements.
Our conclusion is that no program can yet operate in a manner which complies with all the eligibility criteria.
Some will need to update and improve certain parts of their protocols or methodologies, but all are hampered by the lack of clarity on international accounting rules to avoid double counting of emission reductions.
The present assessment also highlights that the Program Design Elements are not sufficient to exclude credits with no environmental value, and that a rigorous application of the second set of criteria, the Carbon Offset Credit Integrity Assessment Criteria, is necessary and will require analysis of specific methodologies and projects.
1. Clear Methodologies and Protocols, and their Development Process: Programs should have qualification and quantification methodologies and protocols in place and available for use as well as a process for developing further methodologies and protocols. The existing methodologies and protocols as well as the process for developing further methodologies and protocols should be publicly disclosed.
2. Scope Considerations: Programs should define and publicly disclose the level at which activities are allowed under the program (e.g., project-based, program of activities, etc.) as well as the eligibility criteria for each type of offset activity (e.g., which sectors, project types, or geographic locations are covered).
3. Offset Credit Issuance and Retirement Procedures: Programs should have in place procedures for how offset credits are: (a) issued; (b) retired or cancelled; (c) subject to any discounting; and, (d) the length of the crediting period and whether that period is renewable. These procedures should be publicly disclosed.
4. Identification and Tracking: Programs should have in place procedures that ensure that: (a) units are tracked; (b) units are individually identified through serial numbers: (c) the registry is secure (i.e., robust security provisions are in place); and (d) units have clearly identified owners or holders (e.g., identification requirements of a registry). The program should also stipulate (e) to which, if any, other registries it is linked; and, (f) whether and which international data exchange standards the registry conforms with. All of the above should be publicly disclosed information.
5. Legal Nature and Transfer of Units: The program should define and ensure the underlying attributes and property aspects of a unit, and publicly disclose the process by which it does so.
6. Validation and Verification Procedures: Programs should have in place validation and verification standards and procedures, as well as requirements and procedures for the accreditation of validators and verifiers. All of the above-mentioned standards, procedures, and requirements should be publicly disclosed.
7. Program Governance: Programs should publicly disclose who is responsible for administration of the program and how decisions are made.
8. Transparency and Public Participation Provisions: Programs should publicly disclose (a) what information is captured and made available to different stakeholders; and (b) its local stakeholder consultation requirements (if applicable) and (c) its public comments provisions and requirements, and how they are considered (if applicable). Conduct public comment periods and transparently disclose all approved quantification methodologies.
9. Safeguards System: Programs should have in place safeguards to address environmental and social risks. These safeguards should be publicly disclosed.
10. Sustainable Development Criteria: Programs should publicly disclose the sustainable development criteria used, for example, how this contributes to achieving a country’s stated sustainable development priorities, and any provisions for monitoring, reporting and verification.
11. Avoidance of Double Counting, Issuance and Claiming: Programs should provide information on how they address double counting, issuance and claiming in the context of evolving national and international regimes for carbon markets and emissions trading
● All reviewed programs will need to adapt their protocols to ensure compliance with the Program Design Elements of CORSIA.
● A more thorough qualitative review at a project or methodology level is needed to determine the effectiveness of CORSIA. Basic fulfillment of the program-level requirements should be complemented with a continuous quality assessment of transacted credits, e.g. through spot checks of randomly selected projects which issue CORSIA-eligible credits.
● In order to avoid double counting with other emissions reduction efforts, countries need to reach an agreement on international accounting rules, and programs should finalize the upgrading of their protocols to ensure that the credits they certify are not backed by double counted emission reductions.
● The Technical Advisory Body should apply the criteria fairly and consistently, be free from conflicts of interest, and require public meetings and public input during its deliberation of program and offset eligibility..
The section relevant to aviation, under the heading “Clean growth” states: “The Budget 2018 set out how the government is accelerating the shift to a clean economy, building on the Industrial Strategy, Clean Growth Strategy, and 25 Year Environment Plan. The Spring Statement builds on this commitment: (several bullet points, of which the one relating to transport is: “to give people the option to travel ‘zero carbon’, the government will launch a call for evidence on Offsetting Transport Emissions to explore consumer understanding of the emissions from their journeys and their options to offset them. This will also look into whether travel providers should be required to offer carbon offsets to their customers.” Note, this is not only mentioning aviation. And nothing is settled, till there is the consultation – no date given for that. [ All this seems to mean is nothing whatsoever to cut demand for air travel. Most offsets are useless, and do not achieve cuts in carbon. (Aviation CO2 emissions are added to the atmosphere, cancelling out whatever savings were achieved by the offset created elsewhere). AW note].
The Spring Statement is an opportunity for the Chancellor to update on the overall health of the economy and the Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) forecasts for the growth and the public finances. He also updates on progress made since Budget 2018, and launches consultations on possible future changes for the public and business to comment on. The Spring Statement doesn’t include major tax or spending changes – these are made once a year at the Budget.
The section relevant to aviation states:
The Budget 2018 set out how the government is accelerating the shift to a clean economy, building on the Industrial Strategy, Clean Growth Strategy, and 25 Year Environment Plan. The Spring Statement builds on this commitment:
to ensure that wildlife isn’t compromised in delivering necessary infrastructure and housing, the government will Mandate net gains for biodiversity on new developments in England to deliver an overall increase in biodiversity
to help meet climate targets, the government will advance the decarbonisation of gas supplies by increasing the proportion of green gas in the grid, helping to reduce dependence on burning natural gas in homes and businesses
to help ensure consumer energy bills are low and homes are better for the environment, the government will introduce a Future Homes Standard by 2025, so that new build homes are future-proofed with low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency
to explore ways to enhance the natural environment and deliver prosperity, the government will launch a global review into the Economics of Biodiversity
to give people the option to travel ‘zero carbon’, the government will launch a call for evidence on Offsetting Transport Emissions to explore consumer understanding of the emissions from their journeys and their options to offset them. This will also look into whether travel providers should be required to offer carbon offsets to their customers
to help protect critical habitats, the government will support the call from the Ascension Island Council to designate 443,000 square kilometres of its waters as a Marine Protected Area, with no fishing allowed
Spring Statement: Chancellor unveils policies to ‘build sustainability into the heart’ of UK economy
Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a raft of new green policies today
By Madeleine Cuff (Business Green)
13 March 2019
Philip Hammond argues UK must “apply the creativity of the marketplace” to solve climate change as he announces new energy efficiency, biodiversity, construction, and carbon offsetting policies
Environmental policies were at the centre of Philip Hammond’s attempts to woo younger voters in today’s Spring Statement, with the Chancellor unveiling a raft of new environmental initiatives covering housing, aviation, biodiversity, and energy efficiency.
“Our challenge is to demonstrate to the next generation that our market economy can fulfil their aspirations and speak to their values,” Hammond said, in a nod to waves of public protests in recent weeks, including strikes by UK schoolchildren, urging the government to take more radical action to battle climate change.
Threat of ‘no deal’ environment shock recedes as MPs vote against crashing out of EU
But Hammond insisted the solution to the climate crisis lies in driving innovation in the private sector. “As with the challenge of adapting to the digital age, so with the challenge of shaping the carbon neutral economy of the future, we must apply the creativity of the marketplace to deliver solutions to one of the most complex problems of our time, climate change, and build sustainability into the heart of our economic model,” he said.
Much of the new action was focused on cutting carbon emissions from the UK’s housing stock, after the government’s climate advisors, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), warned earlier this year that UK homes fall well short of standards needed to meet climate targets.
The Chancellor today said he would adopt the CCC’s advice to end the use of fossil fuel heating systems in new homes from 2025 under a ‘Future Homes Standard’, with green alternatives such as heat pumps instead being installed as standard in all new homes. The standard will also require “world-leading” levels energy efficiency, the Chancellor said, adding that it will “deliver lower carbon and lower fuel bills”.
Hammond also said the government will launch a consultation later this year on increasing the proportion of ‘green gas’ onto the grid, in a bid to reduce UK use of natural gas.
Meanwhile, the Chancellor confirmed plans to require developers to deliver a “biodiversity net gain” for new domestic and commercial buildings.
Under the programme potential development sites will be ranked according to their current environmental importance, with developers then required to demonstrate an improvement in biodiversity by planting more trees for example, or creating green corridors to protect wildlife habitats.
Where green improvements cannot be made, developers will be liable to fund habitat protection and restoration schemes elsewhere in the country.
“Following consultation the government will use the forthcoming Environment Bill to mandate biodiversity net gain for development in England, ensuring that the delivery of much-needed infrastructure and housing is not at the expense of vital biodiversity,” Hammond confirmed.
Hammond was keen to point out there is “an economic, as well as an environmental case for protecting the natural world”, adding that later this year the government will launch a global review into the link between biodiversity and economic growth, headed by Professor Sir Partha Dasgupt from the University of Cambridge.
During the statement the Chancellor repeatedly stressed the pressures Brexit uncertainty is wielding over the UK economy, describing last night’s vote on the Withdrawal Agreement as leaving a “cloud of uncertainty hanging over our economy”.
He raised pressure on MPs to vote for May’s deal by declaring a ‘deal dividend’ could boost the money available to departments under the upcoming Spending Review, namechecking environmental spending as a key area.
During his address Hammond also announced more support for small businesses to cut their energy bills – a move first mooted in the Autumn Budget last year.
The Call for Evidence, published today, reveals the government is considering three options for a new energy efficiency scheme for small business: an energy efficiency auction where suppliers could bid to deliver energy efficiency measures in smaller businesses; a business energy efficiency obligation (EEO) to require energy suppliers or network operators to deliver energy savings for small businesses; expanding access to green loans to help firms pay for retrofitting measures.
Hammond also said he would launch a call for evidence on Offsetting Transport Emissions, which will consider whether travel providers such as airlines should be forced to offer carbon offsets. Hammond promised any scheme would have to offer “genuinely additional offsets” to avoid double counting issues.
In response to the green announcements, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell slammed the government’s past record on environmental policies.
“This from a government that removed the Climate Change Levy Exemption for renewables, that scrapped the Feed-in Tariffs for new small scale renewable generation, and cancelled the zero carbon homes policy,” he told the House of Commons. “Gordon Brown pledged a zero carbon homes policy. We endorsed it, we celebrated it, and the Tories scrapped it in 2015, one year before it was to come into force.”
He also questioned whether measures such as voluntary offset schemes would be robust enough to deliver real emissions savings: “A review of carbon offsets might reveal that they do not reduce emissions, and offsetting schemes like the Clean Development Mechanisms have been beset by gaming fraud,” he said.
McDonnell’s concern was echoed by environmental groups targeting the airline industry. “The government’s feeling the heat on aviation emissions,” said the Aviation Environment Federation’s deputy chief executive Cait Hewitt. “The courts are, as we speak, considering accusations that the decision to expand Heathrow failed to take proper account of its impact on climate change. The Chancellor’s announcement on encouraging voluntary carbon offsets seems a desperate attempt to suggest the government’s on top of the issue.”
“Offsetting involves estimating how much CO2 a passenger is responsible for, and then paying for an equivalent amount of CO2 to be removed (for example through tree planting) or avoided (for example through investment in renewable energy), usually elsewhere in the world,” she added. “But many offset programmes have been found not to have delivered the promised carbon reductions.”
Others said the Chancellor didn’t go nearly far enough in his promise to “build sustainability into the heart of our economic model”.
Friends of the Earth’s head of political affairs, Dave Timms, accused the Chancellor of “fiddling in the margins while the planet burns”. “The nation’s children are calling out for tough action to cut emissions, Mr Hammond must listen harder to the lesson they’re teaching him,” he said. “With the government enthusiastically backing more runways, more roads and fracking, it’s little wonder the UK is likely to miss future climate targets.”
However, others welcomed the Chancellor’s fresh focus on environmental issues.
“Our political weather may well be blowing a gale just now, but it is welcome to see the chancellor maintaining an eye on the long term investment climate we need to drive the economic transition to a low carbon world at the same time as finding innovative ways to ensure such development does not cost the environment,” said Bruce Davis, co-founder of Abundance Investment. “In particular we would welcome the research into the link between biodiversity and economic growth which is a good first step to moving away from the idea that costs in terms of our natural resources are ‘external’ to our economic balance sheet.”
Chris Stark of the CCC also welcomed the pledge to strengthen building standards. “Today’s commitment to phase out fossil-fuelled heating in new homes by 2025 is in line with the Committee’s recent recommendation,” he said. “It represents a genuine step forward in reducing UK emissions. Plans to consult on cleaning up the UK’s gas supply also get a thumbs up from the Committee – we have been calling for the government to consider the use of alternative, ‘greener’ gases for some time. Taken together, these are positive steps from Chancellor.”
Meanwhile, Nick Molho of the Aldersgate Group said the Chancellor’s comments on the importance of climate action sent a signal to businesses. “The Chancellor’s clear commitment to reaping the opportunities of our shift to a carbon neutral economy and improving our natural environment is very welcome,” he said. “For too long, Chancellor’s speeches have been at odds with government commitments in these areas and businesses will welcome the signal that this is a genuine cross-government mission.”
Heathrow Airport has placed a €650m (£558.9m) bond with only weeks to go before the UK is due to leave the European Union. The 15-year bond was backed by current and new investors, which were mostly European, and reached an order book in excess of €2.8bn (ie. there was demand of that amount). Heathrow said the high demand for the bond “shows investor confidence in Heathrow’s expansion plans and resilience ahead of Brexit.” The bond means Heathrow hopes to extend the duration of its debt portfolio – ie. taking more time to pay it all back – for its 3rd runway expansion plans. It said the funds will be used on day-to-day corporate spending. The airport’s director of treasury and corporate finance, said: “The transaction delivers on our strategy of further diversification, longer duration and stronger liquidity.” Heathrow hopes, at the earliest, that the runway might open in 2026 – but it has a large number of hurdles to overcome before them, including the long DCO (Development Consent Order) process, that is the equivalent of a planning application, but for a vast project – with the decision taken out of the hands of the local authority, and made by government instead (a process devised to avoid the sort of long delays they had on Terminal Five).
Heathrow issues €650m bond weeks before Brexit deadline
By Jessica Clark (City A.M. news reporter covering private equity and investment)
Wednesday 6 March 2019
Heathrow Airport has placed a €650m (£558.9m) bond with only weeks to go before the UK is due to leave the European Union.
The 15-year bond was backed by current and new investors, which were mostly European, and reached an order book in excess of €2.8bn.
The airport said the high demand for the bond shows investor confidence in Heathrow’s expansion plans and resilience ahead of Brexit.
The move drives forward Heathrow’s strategy to build strong positions in core markets and extend the duration of its debt portfolio ahead of the airport’s third runway expansion, and the funds will be used on day-to-day corporate spending.
Sally Ding, Heathrow director of treasury and corporate finance, said: “The overwhelming support received from investors 23 days before the Brexit deadline clearly signals Heathrow’s robustness and strong global investor support as we gear up for growth.
“We are extremely pleased to re-access the long-dated Euro market two years after our last issuance.
“The transaction delivers on our strategy of further diversification, longer duration and stronger liquidity.
“It also delivers on our commitment to repeat issuance in each active market and the ongoing support by global bond markets for Heathrow.”
The London airport was given the go-ahead to proceed with its long-awaited third runway last year, however, it is facing a legal challenge from nearby local authorities.
Heathrow will conduct a public consultation in June ahead of submitting a planning application next yet, with the runway anticipated to open in 2026.
Heathrow airport is battling debt pile of £13bn – enough to build the third runway
August 28, 2018
Heathrow has blown more than £6bn in interest on its debts over the past 12 years, a Mail investigation has found. It spends more than £500m a year on interest payments alone, accounts for Heathrow Airport Holdings show. Meanwhile its debt pile has risen to £13.4 billion – about the cost of aa possible 3rd runway. Heathrow is planning to spend around £14 billion on the project, but its mammoth debts reveal just how stretched the airport has become. Airline bosses fear Heathrow may not be able deliver the runway on budget, and want Heathrow to guarantee not to increase these to pay for the runway. While it has paid more than £6 billion in debt interest over 12 years, shareholders have extracted £3.6 billion in dividends. Heathrow makes money by charging landing fees to airlines, which are passed on to passengers – around £22 for each fare. The airport is planning to spend £33 billion on infrastructure in coming decades – including the runway and terminals to serve an extra 52m passengers a year. Most of the work is due to be completed by 2035, and there is growing concern that the airport will have to raise charges significantly to pay the bills.
Heathrow increases its debt by almost £1 billion (total net debt £13.7 bn) to protect it from a worst-case scenario Brexit
July 25, 2018
Heathrow’s CEO John Holland-Kaye has raised nearly £1bn in debt to keep it going through a “worst-case scenario” following a hard Brexit. He said this was equivalent to 2 full years’ funding, to give the airport the level of financial resilience for a worst-case scenario. He said he expected “something close to continuity” through a Brexit agreement, but “our funding levels . . . mean we are protected. Even if we have no income for two months, we would be financially safe.” The debt deals, primarily refinancing, total £981m and take Heathrow’s total net debt to £13.7bn. A financial commented that this was an attitude of “let’s raise it while we can”, and a hard Brexit might raise fears over access to financial markets. Heathrow’s first half financial results showed a 2.3% increase in total revenue to £1.4bn compared with the 2017, but a 7% fall in pre-tax profit to £289m. Heathrow had spent money on more operational investment, such as in facilities for disabled passengers and in keeping the airport going during snows this winter. Passenger numbers rose 2.5% to 38.1m, its busiest ever first half, by use of higher load factors. Heathrow expects to spend £160m this year on the expansion project.
A High Court challenge to the government’s approval of a Heathrow 3rd runway could be opened up to a mass audience through live-streaming for the first time, if Lord Justice Hickinbottom and Mr Justice Holgate accept a legal argument. Although the Supreme Court has transmitted its hearings since 2009, photography and recording of court proceedings elsewhere are strictly controlled by the Crime and Courts Act 2013, which only permits cases in the court of appeal to be broadcast. Tim Crosland, a barrister who is the director of the anti-climate change charity Plan B, will tell a preliminary hearing on 5 February that live-streaming from the High Court would not involve recording or creating a permanent record and was therefore permissible under the legislation. The legal challenges by environmental groups, local authorities against the DfT is due to be heard in the Royal Courts of Justice in central London over 10 days from 11th March. Only those who attend court would normally be able to hear the arguments. Hearings in the High Court have never previously been broadcast. Crosland said he believed that the more people who listened to the detail of the arguments, the more engaged they would become in environmental concerns. The climate implications of the runway decision are of considerable public interest.
A high court challenge to the government’s controversial plan for a third runway at Heathrow could be opened up to a mass audience through livestreaming for the first time if judges accept a legal argument.
Although the supreme court has transmitted its hearings since 2009, photography and recording of court proceedings elsewhere are strictly controlled by the Crime and Courts Act 2013, which only permits cases in the court of appeal to be broadcast.
Tim Crosland, a barrister who is the director of the anti-climate change charity Plan B, will tell a preliminary hearing on 5 February that livestreaming from the high court would not involve recording or creating a permanent record and was therefore permissible under the legislation.
The expansion of Heathrow by adding a third runway has been in dispute for almost two decades, with the government giving the plan the go ahead in June 2018, arguing that it is needed to enable the economy to prosper.
The judicial review due to begin on 11 March rolls up a series of legal challenges. Plan B and Friends of the Earth will argue that the increased carbon emissions from the planes are incompatible with the UK’s responsibilities to tackle climate change.
Local councils are concerned about the increased noise and air pollution for residents.
If built, the runway is expected to cost its developers £14bn and could be completed by 2026. However, taxpayers may have to fund major upgrades to the roads around the airport.
Two judges, Lord Justice Hickinbottom and Mr Justice Holgate, have agreed to hear the preliminary Plan B application on Tuesday. None of the parties in the case have objected to livestreaming and the Department of Transport is said to be neutral on the issue. The hearing is unlikely to raise privacy issues.
Crosland said he believed that the more people who listened to the detail of the arguments, the more engaged they would become in environmental concerns. He cited the example of the Urgenda trial in the Netherlandswhich, he believes, made a significant difference to media and public understanding of climate change.
“There’s nothing in law about livestreaming,” Crosland said. “The act only bans photography and recording. Friends of the Earth are supporting us in this application.
“No one wants to be in a position to say the public can’t watch because this is an important case. The [high court judge] has said that this case could have major implications.”
Fewer than 50 people are likely to be able to fit into the courtroom. Crosland pointed out that for popular hearings in the past, a video screen had been set up in a neighbouring courtroom to livestream proceedings to people who could not fit into the main one.
If the high court has the legal powers to do that, he will argue, livestreaming proceedings online is only a difference in scale rather than in principle. If the high court bans web livestreaming, then it should also stop courtroom to courtroom livestreaming.
A Divisional Court will hear the application, (for live-streaming of the Heathrow JR hearings), at the High Court on Tues 5th February, from 9.15am. All are welcome
The hearing will last 60-90minutes.
We have heard from Plan B Earth that their application to get the Heathrow legal hearings in March live-streamed – so they can be seen by everyone.
Plan B Earth are one of 5 Judicial Reviews against the government’s decision to allow a 3rd Heathrow runway. They start on 11th March and are due to take 10 days.
Plan B say there has been an important development in their application for live-streaming.
A Divisional Court (ie. Mr Justice Holgate and a Court of Appeal judge, Lord Justice Hickinbottom) will hear the application at the High Court on Tuesday 5 February, from 9.15am. The hearing will last 60-90minutes.
It is understood that Mr Justice Holgate sees the application as sufficiently significant that he will not make the decision alone.
People are asked to come to the court on Tues 5th February, before the hearing – and many to come inside too.
Please join us there – and spread the word.
A good turn out can help us make history.
Over 1,600 people requested that the hearings should not only be heard by those able to cram into two court rooms, but should be live-streamed sot hey can be seen by everyone. The case is of national importance, not least for the increased carbon emissions from an expanded Heathrow – and their impact on the UK’s carbon targets.
Pre-trial hearing on 15th January of the 5 legal challenges against ‘unlawful’ Government decision to approve 3rd runway
January 14, 2019
Campaigners are taking the government to court in a bid to overturn the “unlawful” decision to approve a 3rd Heathrow runway. The pre-trial hearing for Friends of the Earth’s case will take place on Tuesday at the High Court, when the activists will lay out their opposition based on several grounds. There are 5 separate legal challenges being brought by a range of organisations, on grounds of climate, air quality and harm to the wellbeing of local residents. It would be virtually impossible for Britain to meet its obligations to cut emissions under the Paris climate agreement if a new Heathrow runway is built [or for that matter, one at Gatwick either]. The Government’s advisory body on climate change, the Committee on Climate Change, has warned the expansion also threatens the government’s own legally binding pledge to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. Transport secretary Chris Grayling said, without any justification for his belief, that he was “confident” that technical innovations would cut aviation CO2 emissions enough, so expansion could happen without breaking the targets. Hopes that either biofuels or electric planes would enable aviation to become a low carbon means of transport are unrealistic.
Local MP Ruth Cadbury has joined Chiswick campaigners against Heathrow expansion who say they are angry at the airport’s failure to hold a local consultation on changes which will significantly affect W4, particularly north Chiswick. The airport’s current round of consultation events (Airspace And Future Operations ) features events in Hammersmith, Ealing and Hounslow Civic Centre, but none in Chiswick. This is despite the fact that the area faces significant potential disruption by proposed changes to flight paths or changes to respite periods even without a third runway. With a 3rd runway, the area will be intensely overflown by planes arriving to the new north runway, from the east. Campaigners say the level of low flights directly over the North Chiswick area area could reach 47 per hour (almost 1 per minute). It is likely that, with a 3rd runway, an estimated 35,000 residents could be affected. They consider that Heathrow is avoiding holding events in areas where opposition is likely to be strong and forceful, to try and ensure a more positive overall response to the consultation. The Bedford Park Society (BPS) and local group CHATR are planning a public meeting in Chiswick instead.
Heathrow Slammed For ‘By-Passing Chiswick’
MP and groups angry at lack of local consultation on new flightpaths
26.1.2019 (Chiswick W4)
Local MP Ruth Cadbury has joined Chiswick campaigners against Heathrow expansion who say they are angry at the airport’s failure to hold a local consultation on changes which will significantly affect W4, particularly north Chiswick.
This is despite the fact that the area faces significant potential disruption by proposed changes to flight paths or changes to respite periods even without a third runway. Campaigners say the level of low flights directly over the North Chiswick area area could reach 47 per hour (almost 1 per minute).
Even without a third runway, Heathrow are asking for another extra 25,000 extra flights, which campaigners say would breach respite periods for those under the existing approach paths. Campaigners against expansion say in Chiswick an estimated 35,000 residents could be affected and claim that Heathrow is avoiding holding events in areas where opposition is likely to be strong to try and ensure a more positive overall response to the consultation.
One Chiswick based opponent of the airport’s plans said, “They know that the areas where their expansion is going to bring about the biggest increase in noise are the same places that residents will make the most noise, therefore they are by-passing Chiswick during the consultation. It’s not the first time they have played this game.”
Heathrow Airport has defended its choice of consultation locations and said people also had the opportunity to respond online. The consultation covers a number of topics: Runway Alternation; Airspace changes; Westerly Preference; Night Flights; Extra flights in advance of a third runway. All the proposals assume a third runway will be built. The consultation runs from 8 January to 4 March.
Ruth Cadbury MP said she was disappointed with Heathrow Airport and she would work with local groups to see if a Chiswick event could be added.
A spokesperson for the Bedford Park Society (BPS) – which covers the area of North Chiswick likely to face considerable noise disruption from early morning flights, said that the BPS and CHATR (Chiswick against the Third Runway) were planning a public meeting in Chiswick.
The statement said, “The Bedford Park Society has alerted all its members to the latest Heathrow public consultation and warned them of the major disturbance to all Chiswick residents that the proposed additional flights will cause even if the Third Runway does not go ahead.
“We are currently working through the complicated, detailed information in the consultation and drafting a response from the Society. In the next week we also plan to provide some suggested points for residents to make in their response since it’s vitally important as many residents as possible submit their views.
“We were concerned to see that the nearest consultation events were in Hammersmith and Ealing but none was planned for Chiswick, which will be so significantly affected by the proposals. It is now clear that the number of low flights directly over Chiswick will be 47 per hour – almost 1 per minute – if the Third Runway is built.
“We attended the Hammersmith consultation event on 24 January and together with CHATR emphasised the strength of feeling against the proposals amongst Chiswick residents and strongly recommended that a consultation event should be arranged as soon as possible. Ruth Cadbury, MP, stressed that Heathrow owed it to the community to provide and distribute leaflets for each affected area detailing the impact of the proposed flight paths for each so that people could understand clearly the effect of the proposals.
“We hope that a consultation event may now be arranged. The Coalition Against a Third Runway and CHATR are also intending to organise a public meeting in Chiswick.”
A Heathrow spokesperson said, “We’ve spread our Consultation events over the designated consultation zone and have selected venues based on their good transport links, accessibility, availability along with a host of other factors. Our website has all the consultation documents and materials, allowing the public to submit their feedback online or via post as well.”
Ruth Cadbury said, “We already live in the noisiest environment in the UK, and both proposals are in breach of international noise standards. It’s therefore vital that you take part in the consultation, and encourage everyone you know to as well.’’
The MP is also organising public meetings with local campaign groups, such as CHATR, BASHR3, NoR3 Coalition and HACAN, in order to speak to local residents about Heathrow’s expansion.
Wandsworth Council Leader criticises Heathrow Public Consultation event – just one for the borough, in a difficult location
January 29, 2019
Wandsworth Council Leader, Ravi Govindia, has urged residents concerned about the impact of a 3rd runway at Heathrow, to attend a Heathrow consultation event that the airport is hosting in the borough this week. They need to make their voice heard. He has criticised Heathrow for having just one such event in Wandsworth, at a location that will be difficult for many residents to access. That is even though the increased aircraft noise would affect hundreds of thousands of Wandsworth residents. The event is being held on 30 January and is open to residents from 2pm to 8pm at the University of Roehampton, SW15 5PH. Councillor Govindia said residents know that a 3rd runway would have a serious impact on the borough. It would produce an unacceptable rise in noise and air pollution, damaging the environment and posing a risk to people’s health and well-being. The Council believes that the impact from additional flights would be felt most keenly in West Hill, Southfields, Earlsfield and Tooting. Currently most aircraft noise from is concentrated over the north of the borough including Putney, Wandsworth and Battersea. Many people will get intense plane noise for the first time.
London Assembly report says Heathrow 3rd runway should be scrapped, due to ‘severe effects’ of aircraft noise
January 26, 2019
A report, by the London Assembly environment committee, calls for Heathrow expansion to be stopped, due to the effects of aircraft noise. The report has renewed calls for the 3rd runway to be stopped. The noise from aircraft negatively affects work, relaxation and sleep, with “severe effects” on health and wellbeing.Caroline Russell, chairman of the committee, said: “The experiences of residents living with the daily nightmare of overhead noise are deeply worrying. This drive towards filling airspace capacity must be checked. For too many people, including children, aircraft noise is a major dominant intrusion into their everyday lives.” If Heathrow builds the new runway, the number of flights will increase from around 475,000 to 740,000 a year. It is likely that around 200,000 more people will be badly affected by aircraft noise. Heathrow also plans to increase its flights by 25,000, to around 500,000 per year and change flight paths, including overflying new areas, even before any 3rd runway. Ms Russell added: “…aviation authorities and operators must prioritise the health and well-being of Londoners and give us a break.”
Heathrow has a consultation, closing on 4th March, on its future airspace, both for the existing 2 runways and with a possible 3rd runway. Heathrow claim they will take the responses and view of residents etc into account. However, Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, has condemned the latest consultation – claiming 25,000 extra flights would be disastrous for the borough. He, said: “We have always said that Heathrow needs to be better and not bigger. But clearly size is everything to the airport. Heathrow are proposing the biggest changes to its flight path since it opened. People living in Richmond and other areas of West London will find their respite from overhead noise cut under these proposals. Not to mention the additional 25,000 more flights a year – which will no doubt be crammed into the early morning schedules, delivering more misery for our residents. Let’s not forget, these extra flights will still require Planning consent.” He said it was a bad case of the government “putting the cart before the horse” in having got a parliamentary vote in favour of the runway (many votes by MPs who very little indeed about it) before details of flight paths and other impacts were known.
Richmond Council condemns latest Heathrow consultation
9th January 2019
By Amar Mehta @amarmehta94
Reporter – Richmond & Wandsworth Guardian
The airport is asking for local communities to help shape the airport’s plans for its future airspace, both for the existing runways and as part of the proposed expansion.
The consultation will run until March 4 and focus on three key areas: Airspace change for an expanded Heathrow, airspace change to make better use of the current runways and future operations for an expanded Heathrow.
There will be over 30 consultation events across local boroughs throughout the consultation period, where members of the public will be able to ask questions and provide their feedback.
A full list of dates, times and locations can be found at : http://afo.heathrowconsultation.com The nearest local event is in Twickenham on the 13 February 2019 from 2-8pm in York House.
Emma Gilthorpe, Heathrow’s Executive Director for Expansion, invites local people to participate in the consultation, she said: “Expansion at Heathrow is a unique opportunity to build a long term, sustainable legacy for those closest to the airport as well as for Britain.
“We want to work in partnership with our local communities to ensure we make the most of the opportunity that expansion brings, including the creation of thousands of new jobs and apprenticeships.
“We are committed to delivering expansion responsibly and putting the needs of local communities at the heart of our growth plans. This stage of open and transparent consultation is critical to developing the best outcomes from Heathrow’s future airspace and operations, and we encourage you to take part and help shape our plan for a fairer, future Heathrow.”
However, Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, has condemned the latest consultation – claiming 25,000 extra flights would be disastrous for the borough.
Cllr Roberts, said: “We have always said that Heathrow needs to be better and not bigger. But clearly size is everything to the airport.
“Heathrow are proposing the biggest changes to its flight path since it opened. People living in Richmond and other areas of West London will find their respite from overhead noise cut under these proposals.
“Not to mention the additional 25,000 more flights a year – which will no doubt be crammed into the early morning schedules, delivering more misery for our residents. Let’s not forget, these extra flights will still require Planning consent.
“This kind of expansion would see an unacceptable rise in noise and air pollution, damaging the environment and posing a risk to people’s health – and all at a potential cost to tax payers of billions of pounds.
“It is extremely disappointing that only now we are seeing the proposed areas affected by additional planes, seven months after the Government made its decision to expand the airport.
“Making a decision before understanding the full impact of expansion is putting cart before horse… . again!”
Richmond Council is part of a coalition of councils and others – including the London Boroughs of Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Windsor and Maidenhead, and Hammersmith and Fulham, as well as the Mayor of London and Greenpeace – that are seeking a judicial review of the Government’s decision to give policy support in the Airports National Policy Statement (“NPS”) for a third Heathrow runway.