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.
With ever rising global temperatures, (not assisted by the amount of carbon emitted by aircraft, and the non-CO2 impacts of their emissions at hight altitude), planes will probably have more difficulty taking off and climbing – due to the thinner air. Already planes need a greater length of runway to get airborne at airports at higher altitudes, and in hot climates. Some research estimates how this may become a problem in future. Maybe runways will need to be longer, and planes will not climb as fast (making more noise for those on the ground below, perhaps)
Decreased takeoff performance of aircraft due to climate change
Climate change will likely affect aviation; however, it is not well understood.
In particular, the effects of climate change on aircraft’s takeoff performance have seldom been studied. Here, we explore the effects of climate change on the takeoff performance of aircraft, including takeoff distance and climb rate.
Takeoff performance normally decreases as temperature and pressure altitude increase. Our study confirms an increasing trend of temperature at 30 major international airports.
However, the trend of pressure altitude is shown to be either positive or negative at these airports. Such changes of temperature and pressure altitude lead to longer takeoff distance and lower climb rate in the following century.
The average takeoff distance in summer will increase by 0.95–6.5% and 1.6–11% from the historical period (1976–2005) to the mid-century (2021–2050) and from the mid- to late-century (2071–2100).
The climb rate in summer will decrease by 0.68–3.4% and 1.3–5.2% from the history to the mid-century and from the mid- to late-century, respectively.
Taking Boeing 737-800 aircraft as an example, our results show that it will require additional 3.5–168.7 m takeoff distance in future summers, with variations among different airports.
Climate change will lead to more turbulence, more fuel use and more insurance cost
January 20, 2017
Climate change will lead to bumpier flights caused by increased mid-air turbulence, according to an analysis by scientists, at the University of Reading. This could hit insurers by making plane journeys bumpier, It could also make flights longer, as planes need to fly round areas of turbulence – itself causing higher fuel use and carbon emissions (helping to increase climate change). Research has shown that planes travelling from Europe to North America could face an increased chance of hitting turbulence by as much as 170% later this century. This is because climate change will strengthen instabilities within the jet stream – a high-altitude wind blowing from west to east across the Atlantic Ocean. The turbulence could also be up to 40% stronger. The work is part of a wider body of research by University of Reading into the interaction of aviation and atmospheric physics. This includes the extra non-CO2 impacts of aviation due to contrails, formed behind aircraft flying at high altitude, which also adds to global warming by adding to cloud cover, preventing heat from escaping Earth’s atmosphere. The extra problems from turbulence might lead to more passenger injuries, and more damage to planes, affecting the insurance industry. Longer journeys could increase flight times and delays, an increase ticket prices.
A new report, “Electric Dreams – the carbon mitigation potential of electric aviation in the UK air travel market” (by Jamie Beevor for Fellow Travellers) looks at how much, realistically, electric planes could cut UK aviation CO2 emissions in the foreseeable future. They conclude that though small electric planes might be able to serve domestic and short haul routes, the cut in CO2 would not be large. The report says: “Delivering this level of emissions reduction before 2050 would require regulation and major market intervention to accelerate product development and fleet turnover industry cycles …Engineering constraints mean larger gains are unlikely in this timeframe, and it is probably not possible for transatlantic-range battery powered craft to be economically viable …There are no electric aircraft currently in development which could compete with the majority of the current global civil aviation fleet on range or capacity”. It concludes: “There is no realistic prospect – and there are no industry plans – for improvements in aircraft technology to bring about large overall reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from passenger flights within a timeframe that is meaningful to averting catastrophic temperature rises.” This is useful in countering aviation industry techno-greenwash.
Electric planes will not cut pollution sufficiently to justify airport expansion, analysis reveals
‘With the best will in the world, electric flight is only going to be able to shave a few per cent off emissions from air travel between now and 2050’
By Josh Gabbatiss Science Correspondent (Independent)
22 December 2018
Electric planes will not be able to compensate for the surge in climate-warming emissions generated by the proposed expansion of Britain’s airports, new analysis has revealed.
The government has justified plans to grow the country’s aviation sector by promising a future of carbon-neutral air travel ushered in by rapid technological advances.
But a new reportsuggests these claims have been overhyped, with even the best-case electrification scenario resulting in emissions cuts of just 13 per cent over the next few decades.
By 2050, aviation is likely to make up a quarter of Britain’s greenhouse gases as demand increases and other sectors move away from fossil fuels.
Companies both in the UK and abroad have made the first tantalising steps towards electric air travel, but technical challenges and the sluggish rate of industry change mean progress is slow.
Ministers have come under fire for exaggerating the power of innovation to make up for airport expansion, especially to validate the third runway at Heathrow.
Government advisers at the Committee on Climate Change have warned the controversial development will destroy any hope of the UK hitting its climate targets.
Responding to this criticism ahead of the deciding vote on Heathrow expansion, transport secretary Chris Grayling said he was confident technological advances would soon make low-carbon air travel a reality.
“I think technology, over the next 20 or 30 years, is going to make a big difference in aviation,” he said, pointing to predicted reductions in fuel consumption, emissions and noise.
This was echoed in an aviation strategy green paper published on Monday that welcomed electrification as a “significant opportunity for aviation to decarbonise”, while also noting the slow progress in developing plane batteries.
However, despite this optimism the new report by campaign group Fellow Travellers concluded there is no realistic prospect of these planes making a significant dent in emissions within a meaningful timescale to avert “catastrophic temperature rises”.
“Everybody loves the idea of an electric plane, especially as concern grows about the impacts of climate change. But this research should really sober techno-optimists up,” said report co-author Leo Murray.
“With the best will in the world, electric flight is only going to be able to shave a few per cent off emissions from air travel between now and 2050, when we need to be living in a zero-carbon global economy.”
To maximise emissions cuts using electric planes, the authors recommended regulation and major market intervention to accelerate their development, but said even this would only yield limited benefits for short-haul flights.
Doug Parr, chief scientist for Greenpeace UK, agreed that while “innovation is always welcome to help tackle climate change … The reality is that these aviation technologies aren’t commercially here yet”.
“In the meantime our government is expanding our polluting aviation industry, which flies in the face of our commitment under the Paris agreement to cut carbon emissions and limit global warming to 1.5C.”
Campaigners expressed dismay upon the release of the government’s latest strategy, fearing the new Heathrow runway would soon be followed by another additional UK runway to accommodate the doubling in passenger numbers over the next 20 years.
Fellow Travellers said other measures would be needed to slash the nation’s growing aviation carbon footprint, including a tax paid by the most frequent flyers in an effort to reduce demand.
Polling conducted by YouGov for climate change organisation 10:10 found the majority of British people – 56 per cent – would support such a levy to replace the air passenger duty currently paid by everyone
The same survey also found that only 28 per cent of people thought the government was taking sufficient action to prevent air travel damage.
Responding to the report, a spokesperson from the Department for Transport said: “Expansion of the UK’s airport capacity will boost the economy, increase international links and create tens of thousands of new jobs”.
“However, we have been clear that all growth in the aviation sector must be sustainable and in line with our emissions targets.”
See earlier, bit of Heathrow greenwash about electric planes:
Heathrow electric plane greenwash – tiny subsidy for one plane …years ahead ….
October 16, 2018
Greenwash warning ….!
Heathrow has made its latest greenwashing attempt. This time it is saying it is to let the first electric hybrid plane have a year’s free landing slots, when in regular service. This is – quote -“designed to encourage airlines to pursue clean growth and deploy their cleanest, quietest aircraft at Heathrow.” This is part of the oxymoron, “clean growth” which business is aiming for. (Clean – totally abused word with aviation sector – is probably meant to mean lower carbon, in this context.) So far there is – wait for it – a plane that can carry 2 passengers …. Heathrow is telling the government etc that it is helping to “drive sustainable change across the industry.” The aviation industry hopes there might be electric aircraft carrying passengers by 2030 (so the Heathrow offer is not exactly imminent …) Here is a Heathrow quote, showing just how much carbon greenwash this is: “With global air passengers expected to double by 2035, these changes will play a critical role in driving a sustainable future for the aviation sector and will support goals outlined in Heathrow’s own sustainability strategy – Heathrow 2.0.” Aviation Minister, Liz Sugg, said: “Our Aviation Strategy [consultation soon] will also consider further ways to support the development of cleaner, greener technology in the sector.”
New owner says Brexit threat helped Vinci get 50.01% stake in UK’s second-busiest airport for ‘reasonable’ £2.9bn. A consortium led by the US investment fund Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) is selling a majority stake of 50.01% in the airport to Vinci Airports, one of the world’s top airport operators and part of the infrastructure group Vinci. Vinci and GIP will manage Gatwick together. Gatwick will be the largest in Vinci’s portfolio of 46 airports spread across 12 countries. The French group’s network includes Lyon-Saint-Exupéry airport, Nantes Atlantique and Grenoble Alpes Isère in France; Lisbon and Porto in Portugal, Funchal in Madeira, and Osaka Itami and Kansai International in Japan. The GIP-led consortium bought Gatwick from the airport operator BAA for £1.5bn in 2009 and spent £1.9bn modernising the airport in subsequent years. The shareholders are selling down their stakes, leaving GIP with 21%, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority with 7.9%, Australia’s sovereign wealth fund with 8.6% and two public pension funds in California and South Korea with 6.4% and 6% respectively.
France’s Vinci Airports is taking a controlling stake in Gatwick for £2.9bn, a week after the UK’s second-biggest airport was brought to a standstill by a series of drone sightings.
A consortium led by the US investment fund Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) is selling a majority stake of 50.01% in the airport to Vinci Airports, one of the world’s top airport operators and part of the infrastructure group Vinci. Vinci and GIP will manage Gatwick together.
Gatwick will be the largest in Vinci’s portfolio of 46 airports spread across 12 countries. The French group’s network includes Lyon-Saint-Exupéry airport, Nantes Atlantique and Grenoble Alpes Isère in France; Lisbon and Porto in Portugal, Funchal in Madeira, and Osaka Itami and Kansai International in Japan.
Gatwick’s chair, Sir David Higgins, said the deal was a “vote of confidence in Gatwick and its future potential”. He will stay on, along with the chief executive, Stewart Wingate, who said there would be no changes to the immediate running of the airport. Gatwick employs about 3,000 people and the deal is not expected to have any impact on jobs.
Wingate said: “This is good news for the airport as it will mean both continuity but also further investment for passengers over the coming years to improve our services further.”
The GIP-led consortium bought Gatwick from the airport operator BAA for £1.5bn in 2009 and spent £1.9bn modernising the airport in subsequent years. The shareholders are selling down their stakes, leaving GIP with 21%, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority with 7.9%, Australia’s sovereign wealth fund with 8.6% and two public pension funds in California and South Korea with 6.4% and 6% respectively.
Notebaert brushed aside concerns over the impact of Brexit, stressing that London was the world’s biggest city for airport travel, ahead of New York.
Gatwick operates the busiest single runway in the world and serves 228 destinations in 74 countries. The airport’s new owner vowed to push ahead with a planned 15-year investment programme, including widening its emergency runway and bringing it into daily use as a second runway.
If, following a public consultation that runs until 10 January, Gatwick pushes ahead and obtains planning permission, the runway could potentially be open by 2025 – before Heathrow’s third runway. With two runways Gatwick could serve up to 70 million passengers a year – almost as many as Heathrow today (78 million).
Even without this, Gatwick expects to grow to 60 million passengers a year, by flying more and larger planes on its existing runway.
Last year, the airport handled nearly 46 million passengers, up from 32 million at the time of its previous sale a decade ago, when BAA, owned by the Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial, was ordered by the CompetitionCommission to sell Gatwick amid concerns over its dominance of the airport market. The deal ended BAA’s four-decade long monopoly over the capital’s major airports.
Gatwick reported revenues of £764.2m for the year to 31 March, and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of £411.2m.
Global Infrastructure Partners doubles its money on Gatwick sale
Infrastructure fund manager makes a packet on UK’s second-busiest airport
Global Infrastructure Partners, a $51bn fund manager behind Edinburgh Airport and the Port of Melbourne, has sold part of its stake in Gatwick Airport at a price that suggests it has more or less doubled its money since 2009.
GIP and its consortium partners, which include Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund and California’s state pension fund, have sold a 50.01% interest in Gatwick to the French operator Vinci Airports for £2.9bn, it announced on December 27.
The sellers will retain 49.99%, and GIP will continue to manage the UK’s second-largest airport in partnership with Vinci.
GIP, which controls $51bn in infrastructure funds, acquired Gatwick in 2009 for £1.46bn, and subsequently sold a series of minority stakes to a quartet of sovereign wealth funds and state pension funds, which left it with a 42% stake.
Prior to today’s deal, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority held 15.9% of the airport; the California Public Employees’ Retirement System owned 12.8%; Korea’s National Pension Service had a 12.1% stake and Australia’s Future Fund held 17.2%.
Each of the sellers has reduced their stake by half, meaning GIP has sold about 21% of the company — a stake valued at around £1.2bn. That is roughly double the £611m that 42% of the company would have been worth in 2009.
GIP declined to comment on its financial returns from the deal, which is expected to close by the end of June 2019. The firm and its partners have agreed to reinvest £30m in Gatwick.
GIP, founded in 2006 by a group of former Credit Suisse bankers and GE infrastructure executives, last year raised one of the largest infrastructure funds ever at $15.8bn, and holds stakes in Edinburgh Airport and the Hornsea 1 wind farm, the UK’s largest offshore wind-power facility.
Announcing the deal, Stewart Wingate, the chief executive of Gatwick’s operating company said he and his senior management team will stay on under its terms.
He said: “There will be no changes to the immediate running of Gatwick and we expect the transaction to complete by the middle of next year.”
Wingate also said the airport had taken “a number of important steps in recent days” to help prevent any recurrence of the significant disruption the airport suffered last week, when numerous reports suggested drones were being flown close to the airport.
Wingate added: “I know this unprecedented criminal activity caused huge inconvenience to thousands of people — many of whom missed important family events in the run up to Christmas. We have appreciated the understanding and tolerance shown.”
In a parallel statement on the deal, Nicolas Notebaert, president of Vinci Airports, pledged that the firm would “support and encourage growth of traffic”, help improve Gatwick’s “operational efficiency” and use its “international expertise in the development of commercial activities” to drive improvements in the airport’s bottom line.
At the Climate Change march in London on 1st December, to mark the start of the COP24 climate talks in Katovice, Poland, the No 3rd Runway Coalition was out in force. Many hundred people marched – 700 or more? – with a large input from anti-fracking activists, and many from Extinction Rebelling. After rallying outside the Polish Embassy for speeches, including Neil Keveren from Stop Heathrow Expansion, the march set off down Regents Street and Piccadilly to Whitehall. The key concern was that in the UK, from fracking to a Heathrow third runway, our government is failing to face up to the climate crisis. The recent IPCC report is a landmark for our planet, setting out just what is at stake if we breach 1.5C warming. We need action now to move to a Zero Carbon Britain, with climate jobs to build the future we need. Instead of rapidly committing to effective action to cut CO2, the UK government is actively backing measures to make CO2 emissions higher or cut funding for initiatives that would cut burning of fossil fuels. The No 3rd Runway Coalition banner took up pride of place at the start of the march. There were many Coalition members present, many placards on show, the huge Chatr black plane clearly stating “No 3rd Runway”, and a good turnout by Stop Heathrow Expansion.
No 3rd Runway Coalition presence at the London Climate March
Heatwaves, hurricanes and wildfires make it clear: it’s time to act on climate change. As crucial UN climate talks kick off in kick off in Katowice, Poland, join us to show solidarity with environmental activists there; with those in the Global South in particular in the frontline of climate change; and with all those standing up for the future of our planet over short-term profit, against the rise of the far right and climate denial.
Here in the UK, from fracking to a Heathrow third runway, our government is failing to face up to the climate crisis. The recent IPCC report is a landmark for our planet, setting out just what is at stake if we breach 1.5C warming. We need action now to move to a Zero Carbon Britain, with climate jobs to build the future we need.
The march sent a message to activists in Katowice, marching on 8 December
The march assembled from 12 noon outsider the Polish Embassy on Portland Place. There was a rally with speeches from 12.30 to 1.30pm. There were speeches by:
Clive Lewis MP, Labour Party
Sian Berry, co-leader, Green Party
Richard Roberts, fracking direct action campaigner whose recent prison sentence was overturned
Paul Allen, Zero Carbon Britain
Beatriz Ratton, Brazilian Women Against Fascism
Nita Sanghera, Vice President, UCU
Asad Rehman, War on Want
Anna Gretton, Extinction Rebellion
Neil Keveren, No 3rd Runway Coalition
The rally chanted in Polish, “Razem dla Klimatu” – outside the Polish Embassy. It means “Together for Climate”.
The No 3rd Runway Coalition banner took up pride of place at the start of the march. There were many Coalition members present, many placards on show, the huge Chatr black plane clearly stating “No 3rd Runway”, and a good turnout by Stop Heathrow Expansion. Sadly the huge model plane, made by the irrepressible Neil Keveren, had a bit of a mishap during the pouring rain all morning …. but will be fixed and will makes its debut appearance at another event soon …
The march then set off, down Regents Street, Piccadilly and Trafalgar Square to Whitehall. Police held up the traffic for the marchers to pass, and shoppers watched with interest (taking thousands of photos and videos) as the marchers streamed past. There were chants, while going past the BBC in Portland Place, of “BBC, BBC, tell the truth about climate change”. Also chants of “What do we want? Climate Action. When do we want it? Now. What do we want? Climate Justice. When do we want it? Now”.
And also many times: “No ifs, no buts – No 3rd Runway”.
Some shoppers abandoned their shopping to join the march for a while. Some car drivers honked their horns in support as the march passed.
The Extinction Rebellion activists were there in force, but there was no direct action and absolutely no breaking of any laws or civil disobedience.
At the rally in Whitehall, opposite Downing Street, there were speeches by
Barry Gardiner MP, Labour Party
Liz Hutchins, Friends of the Earth
Peter Allen, Frack Free United
Claire James, Campaign against Climate Change
After the protest, the Frack Free United Declaration against fracking was handed in, to 10 Downing Street.
Two Swedish mums have persuaded 10,000 people to commit to not taking any flights in 2019. Their social media initiative, No-fly 2019 (Flygfritt 2019), is aiming for 100,000 pledges, and has been asking participants to post their reasons for signing up. Maja Rosen and her neighbour Lotta Hammar say they started the campaign to show politicians what needs to be done to halt climate change. Direct emissions from aviation account for about 3% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions, according to the European Commission. And, it says, if global aviation was a country, it would rank in the top 10 emitters. See the video from Maja and Lotta. Sweden has had, since April, a tax of about $7 for short haul flights and about $48 on long haul flights, with the intention of cutting carbon emissions.
The two Swedish mums who want people to give up flying for a year
Two Swedish mums have persuaded 10,000 people to commit to not taking any flights in 2019.
Their social media initiative, No-fly 2019 (Flygfritt 2019), is aiming for 100,000 pledges, and has been asking participants to post their reasons for signing up.
Maja Rosen and her neighbour Lotta Hammar say they started the campaign to show politicians what needs to be done to halt climate change.
Direct emissions from aviation account for about 3% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions, according to the European Commission. And, it says, if global aviation was a country, it would rank in the top 10 emitters.
The concept of “flying shame” is growing in Sweden – shame if you fly too much – due to the CO2 emissions
November 25, 2018
Many Northern Europeans have “flying shame” because of the climate: they stay on the ground while traveling. Rail travel is becoming increasingly popular. Some people in Sweden are cutting down on flying, and believe the carbon emissions are a matter of shame. The word for it is “flugsham” or “flygskam” and this is becoming a common concept, akin to ‘flying less” in English. A celebrity athlete is well know for only travelling to sporting events if he can get there by train. The Swedes are among the frequent flyers. They fly 7 times more than average global citizens. While Sweden’s total CO2 emissions have fallen by 24% since 1990, air traffic grew by 61% in that time. A prominent writer in a popular newspaper denounced the “idiotic lifestyle” of frequent flying as the “most expensive suicide in world history”. Researchers and artists responded: “Flying is no longer an alternative for them”. People realise that we cannot go on with expanding aviation. A Facebook page on travelling by long-distance rail, rather than flying, had 30,000 followers in a few months. As well as the hashtag #flyingless there is the Swedish counterpart in #jagstannarpåmarken: “I’ll stay on the ground”.
Sweden should face down industry myths about the impact of an air travel tax, and impose it
April 22, 2017
There is a great interest in Sweden on which decisions will be taken regarding aviation tax. For European airlines, resistance to air taxes is a top priority. Andrew Murphy, Manager at Aviation at Transport & Environment (T&E) believes Sweden must resist industry pressure and intimidation, and not cut the taxes. In every country, in Europe the airline industry lobbies in the same way: say the tax threaten job losses, say it’ll destroy the economy, and threaten to shut down routes if governments don’t drop attempts to tax. The UK’s air passenger duty (APD), first introduced in 1994, has withstood all onslaughts while its airline sector has thrived. Now it’s Sweden’s turn to be subject to this economic scaremongering. For airlines, low taxes mean slightly cheaper tickets, so more passengers and more money for the industry. And more CO2 of course. industry arguments have very little basis in reality, and are rarely backed up with any credible evidence. In the UK a tax of £13 per return flight for an adult really is not enough to stop anyone travelling to Europe. Nor will a tax of £7 – 37 in Sweden. The industry likes to make out that the tax is wicked and damaging, and everyone deserves a tax break at the expense of all the others who don’t fly. The industry already pays no VAT, no fuel duty and only the most minimal charges for carbon under the EU ETS.
Sweden is making flying more expensive as of today –
3rd April 2018
As of today, the Swedish government’s proposed aviation tax is coming into effect. It will impose added emissions fees on airlines flying to or from Sweden, amounting to 60 SEK ($7) per domestic and EU flights and up to 400 SEK ($48) on longer routes.
The tax is seen by the Social Democrat and Green Party-run coalition government as a a means to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The government is counting on 450 000–600 000 fewer airline passengers per year in Sweden as a result of the tax, which it says should lead to about 2 percent less emissions.
The tax proposal has raised fierce resistance from the aviation industry and local airlines in particular.
Aircraft noise from large airports has been frequently linked to harm to mental health, as well as physical health, but it is not known whether the same is true for smaller airports. In this blog, Dr David Wright, lead author of a recently published article in Environmental Health, looked at how much aircraft noise around a smaller airport – Belfast City – affected mental health. It has about 40,000 annual flights, compared to Heathrow 475,000. There is growing evidence that noise generated by large airports also affects the mental health of local residents (see NORAH and HYENA, the two largest studies). As more airlines are flying direct between smaller airports, no longer using hubs, this is an important issue. The study looked at individual and household characteristics, overlaid with noise contours. It found there was a correlation of worse mental health in areas near the airport, under the flight path. But these areas were often poorer, and poverty increases the risk of mental ill-health – so wealth rather than aircraft noise best explains the findings. However, Belfast City airport does not have night flights (21:30 to 06:30), and it is noise that disturbs sleep that has the main impacts on mental health. “Setting sensible curfew hours would strike a balance between the economic benefits and health risks of living close to an airport.”
Aircraft noise at small airports and mental health
Aircraft noise from large airports has been frequently linked to affecting mental health, but it is not known whether the same is true for smaller airports. In this blog post, Dr David Wright, lead author of a recently published article in Environmental Health, discusses how the noise environment around a smaller airport showed little influence on population mental health.
David Wright (Biomed Central)
12 Nov 2018
Air travel is expanding world-wide and airports are often at the heart of local economies (I grew up three miles from London Gatwick and my first summer job was in the left luggage office). On the downside, aircraft noise exposure has been linked with physical health problems (e.g. hypertension and cardiovascular disease) and there is growing evidence that noise generated at large airports also affects the mental health of local residents (see NORAH and HYENA, the two largest studies).
Aircraft noise exposure has been linked with physical health problems
We wanted to know whether mental health is similarly affected at smaller, regional airports. This is important as many airlines are switching to fleets of smaller planes flying directly between regional airports, avoiding the major international hubs.
Environmental factors like noise typically produce subtle differences in health outcomes, so we needed a very large dataset to have the best chance of detecting an effect. We linked two administrative datasets (data that are collected for purposes other than research); the 2011 Census records for all residents in our study city of Belfast, Northern Ireland, which provided detailed information on individual and household characteristics, overlaid with noise contours generated as part of the noise monitoring programme at George Best Belfast City Airport.
We found that individuals in high noise areas under the flight path were more likely to have reported poor mental health than those in low noise areas. However, households in high noise areas also tended to be less wealthy and once we accounted for this, we found no evidence that noise was associated with poor mental health. Simply put, wealth rather than aircraft noise best explains these gradients in mental health.
Returning to our main question, the detrimental effects of aircraft noise on mental health found at large airports did not extend to this smaller airport, even at similar average noise levels. Why should this be? We suspect the main answer lies in the timing of noise events. Belfast City Airport does not routinely operate night flights whereas most previously studied airports do, so sleep disturbance (closely linked with mental health) may be the driving factor.
[• Belfast City Airport Operating Hours: flights may only be scheduled to operate between 06:30 hours and 21:30 hours. Extensions may be granted in exceptional circumstances to facilitate delayed aircraft up to 23:59 hours.
The detrimental effects of aircraft noise on mental health found at large airports did not extend to this smaller airport
The real test of any research finding is whether it can be replicated elsewhere. One way to test the sleep disturbance hypothesis would be to repeat our study across several airports with different numbers and timing of night flights. Accessing information on individual mental health would be the main challenge. In our experience, good datasets – like the administrative datasets we used – already exist, and the key task is to persuade everyone involved that data can safely be used for research to bring public benefit. This study demonstrates the potential of using these large, existing administrative data sets to explore questions we couldn’t answer with smaller available data sets, and it was done without compromising privacy or confidentiality.
Living in a noisy area close to an airport with approximately 40,000 mainly daytime flights annually was not in itself bad for mental health. Therefore, planning decisions for airports up to this size can concentrate more on atmospheric pollution and the effects of noise on aspects of physical health. If further work confirms our suspicion that sleep disturbance drives the noise-mental health association at larger airports, setting sensible curfew hours would strike a balance between the economic benefits and health risks of living close to an airport.
PhD study indicates flight ban until 6am could save £ millions on NHS prescriptions for health impacts
November 16, 2018
A PhD thesis by an economics researcher at Kings College London, Silvia Beghelli, looked at “The Health Effects of Noise and Air Pollution”. She looked at the medications prescribed to patients in areas affected by Heathrow planes, and the medical costs of the health impacts. She looked at a trial performed over 5 months at Heathrow in 2012, when planes did not fly over designated areas in the early mornings, between 4:30am and 6am. She found that fewer drugs were prescribed for respiratory and nervous system conditions in areas with the reduced air traffic. Mrs Beghelli cross-referenced NHS data with the trial’s findings and found a link between air traffic and health, notably a 5.8% decrease in spending on pills including anxiolytics for conditions such as insomnia, anxiety and depression in the no-fly zones. As well as meaning the quality of health of people in these areas must have been better, the lower prescribing saved the NHS money. She calculated that modifying flight schedules could save £5 million in NHS prescription costs. It could also cut demand for hospital appointments. The study suggests that early morning planes are causing people to need more prescriptions.
Tourists, going on holidays – including high-CO2 long-haul trips – are being encouraged to cut down on the amount of plastic they use etc. Great to be reducing the number of plastic straws, water bottles and other single-use plastics etc, but this really is barely touching the surface of the environmental problems caused by tourism. In a blog, Chris Haslam, of he Sunday Times, says that while the travel companies like Thomas Cook are “jumping on the sustainability bandwagon” – is this corporate responsibility or virtue-signalling? People can see bits of plastic. They, conveniently, cannot see the CO2 emissions they cause. Travel companies used to try to sell customers carbon offsets for their trips, but no longer seem to. Air travel is a uniquely fast way to cause the emission of a huge proportion of an individual’s annual carbon footprint. “No other human activity pushes individual emission levels as fast and as high as air travel,” says Dr Roger Tyers, an environmental sociologist at Southampton University. “… [the aviation industry] tell us that engineers and inventors will come to the rescue, that politicians and passengers need do nothing. … [but] Climate change will be a real problem unless we do something about our addiction to cheap and plentiful flying.”
Green travel: time to focus on the real cost of global tourism
Chris Haslam, Chief Travel Writer
The Sunday Times)
Thomas Cook declared all-out war on plastic last week. An estimated 8m items of single-use plastic enter the ocean every day and, as public concern mounts, the holiday giant has promised to find sustainable alternatives.
“Our commitment is to remove 70m single-use plastics — equivalent to 3,500 suitcases full — within the next 12 months,” its director of group corporate affairs said.
Thomas Cook is just the latest company to jump on the sustainability bandwagon. Seemingly every other day, a cruise line, tour operator or hotel group announces a ban on straws and plastic bottles: Hyatt, Disney, Cunard, Mandarin Oriental and Marriott are among them.
They’re all latecomers to the eco-party. The operators Exodus, G Adventures, KE Adventure and Wild Frontiers have all pledged to ban plastic bottles. Audley Travel’s brochures are sent in envelopes made from biodegradable potato starch, and in January Ryanair announced that it will remove single-use plastics from its flights by 2023. Passengers will be encouraged to bring their own cups on board — presumably at no extra cost.
Is this corporate responsibility or virtue-signalling? Plastic bags are illegal in many bucket-list destinations, including Kenya, Rwanda and the Galapagos Islands. India has outlawed plastic straws in most states and Delhi has banned single-use plastics. The EU aims to ban most single-use plastics by 2021 and the Balearic Islands will outlaw plastic cups, straws, disposable lighters and coffee-machine capsules by 2020. While any undertaking to reduce marine pollution is a good thing, companies could be said to be selling us a legal obligation repackaged as a green initiative.
“Customers expect holiday companies to demonstrate responsibility towards their destinations,” says Jane Ashton, head of sustainable development at Tui.
But by focusing on cocktail straws in the beach bar, aren’t we ignoring the huge environmental cost of getting to the beach in the first place?
“We understand the plastic problem because we can see it,” says Professor Harold Goodwin, of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism. “Dealing with it is a small step towards addressing the big issue of carbon emissions.”
A decade ago, you couldn’t go near a travel website without being invited to pay for some trees to be planted to offset your carbon footprint. The travel trade’s eagerness for this has noticeably waned, but the problem hasn’t gone away.
The annual carbon footprint of the average Briton is 6.5 tonnes. A return flight from Luton to Malaga produces 37 tonnes of CO2. The International Air Transport Association says the number of air journeys we take will double to 8.2bn a year by 2037. And while airlines are committed to reducing emissions, they’re not doing so fast enough to offset this increase in passenger numbers. “No other human activity pushes individual emission levels as fast and as high as air travel,” says Dr Roger Tyers, an environmental sociologist at Southampton University.
Airlines are at pains to prove their sustainability. Last month, a Virgin Atlantic 747 flew from Orlando to Gatwick, powered by a waste-based biofuel with emissions 65% lower than for conventional jet fuel. EasyJet announced it would have all-electric planes serving European routes by 2030, and a company in Singapore revealed plans for a zero-emission, long-range aircraft powered by hydrogen-electric propulsion.
Could these green machines clear our consciences? “Technological breakthroughs that are always ‘just around the corner’ serve to reassure the public that we can continue down the path of aviation expansion,” Tyers warns. “They tell us that engineers and inventors will come to the rescue, that politicians and passengers need do nothing. Climate change will be a real problem unless we do something about our addiction to cheap and plentiful flying.”
Yes, says Jarrod Kyte, of Steppes Travel, but stopping flying is not the answer. “Travel is hugely important, but we need to start acknowledging that it also incurs an environmental debt. I think all tour operators should be offering to offset the environmental cost of travel.”
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The best of this week’s travel news
French roads protest planned
Protests against fuel prices will cause traffic chaos in France and Belgium on Saturday, with hundreds of roadblocks planned. Operation Gilets Jaunes — “yellow jackets” — is the result of a social-media campaign against price increases of 14% for petrol and 22% for diesel in the past year. Drivers heading to France should be prepared for lengthy delays.
Dubai tops tourist spending league
Visitors to Dubai spend more money than those at any other tourist destination, research by Mastercard has revealed. The average daily spend, excluding accommodation, is £410 — a long way ahead of Paris, in second place at £230. London came in eighth, at £117 a day.
China will overtake France as the world’s number-one tourist destination by 2030, according to the market research firm Euromonitor International. Chinese visitors will also dominate in outbound tourism, outstripping the current leaders, the US and Germany. As the country’s middle class expands, foreign trips are forecast to rise from less than 100m in 2018 to 260m in 2030.