Local community opposition group is
Bristol Airport expansion plans decision delayed
Stansted Airport has denied that it is planning to expand the airport to a throughput of 50 million passengers a year (mppa), well beyond the 43mppa limit applied for in its 2018 planning application, which continues to be under consideration. Local campaign, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE), says this denial came from Thomas Hill QC, representing Stansted, on 13th November in the High Court in connection with SSE’s legal challenge over the handling of the current 43 mppa application. However, earlier SSE’s barrister, Paul Stinchcombe QC, had provided the Judge with multiple sources of evidence demonstrating that the airport was planning to expand to 50 mppa and intended to do so in two stages: first, by seeking an 8 mppa uplift in the cap, to 43 mppa; and then later seeking a 7 mppa increase to 50 mppa. The DfT was aware of all this and knew also that the existing runway was capable of handling 50 mppa. Any airport expansion project, or combination of projects, for an increase of over 10 mppa must, by law, be dealt with at national level by the Secretary of State rather than by the Local Planning Authority – i.e. Uttlesford District Council. The verdict of the court is awaited.
14th November 2019
Stansted Airport Limited (STAL) has denied that it is planning to expand the airport to a throughput of 50 million passengers a year (mppa), well beyond the 43mppa limit applied for in its 2018 planning application, which continues to be under consideration.
STAL’s denial came from Thomas Hill QC, representing STAL, on Wednesday 13th November in the High Court in connection with SSE’s legal challenge over the handling of the current 43mppa Stansted Airport Planning Application. Mr Hill gave the Judge a categorical assurance on behalf of STAL that 43mppa was the “ultimate capacity” of the Stansted runway and that STAL had no expansion plans beyond that.
However, the previous day (Tuesday 12th November) SSE’s barrister, Paul Stinchcombe QC, had provided the Judge with multiple sources of evidence demonstrating that STAL was planning to expand Stansted to 50mppa and intended to do so in two stages: first, by seeking an 8mppa uplift in the cap, to 43mppa; and then later seeking a 7mppa increase to 50mppa. Moreover, the Department for Transport (DfT) was aware of all this and knew also that the existing runway was capable of handling 50mppa.
The significance of this is that any airport expansion project (or combination of projects) which could result in an additional 10mppa must, by law, be dealt with at national level by the Secretary of State rather than by the Local Planning Authority – i.e. Uttlesford District Council (UDC). [Note 1] Expansion to 50mppa would be 15mppa above the present 35mppa cap, and would therefore require detailed national scrutiny. STAL’s current 43mppa planning application is below the 10mppa threshold and STAL wants it to be approved locally. SSE believes that this is because STAL wants to avoid the more detailed national scrutiny process. [Note 2]
SSE had amassed its evidence over the past two years primarily through the disclosure of the notes of confidential meetings that took place between STAL and DfT officials in 2017 and 2018. The DfT was subject to a ‘Duty of Candour’ to provide SSE with the confidential information as soon as SSE filed its Judicial Review application with the High Court. This evidence – running to several hundred pages – was augmented by notes of meetings between STAL and Uttlesford District Council (UDC) in 2017 and 2018, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. It was further augmented by additional disclosures provided by the DfT to SSE, following a High Court order issued by the Judge in June of this year.
Since September 2018, however, SSE has been bound by a Non-Disclosure Agreement (‘NDA’) – a so-called ‘gagging order’, imposed by the DfT on behalf of the Secretary of State – which prohibited SSE from disclosing certain documentary evidence. The NDA no longer applies because the information, having been presented and discussed in the High Court, is now deemed to be in the public domain.
Another key element in SSE’s case was the critical importance of tackling climate change and the need for the Secretary of State to have a clear national strategy for limiting aviation emissions. SSE argued that it was irrational for the Secretary of State to allow local authorities to make decisions on airport planning applications which could give rise to millions of additional tonnes of CO2 emissions whilst, at the same time, instructing local authorities that they were not to take account of these CO2 emissions! The Judge acknowledged that SSE’s point on carbon emissions “appeared to have some traction”.
Court protocol requires that we do not refer to the evidence in any detail prior to the case being finally determined. Suffice to say at this stage that we believe the evidence is unambiguous. Whether it is sufficient for SSE’s High Court challenge to succeed, remains to be seen. The Judge has given no indication as to when he might issue his ruling.
SSE Chairman Peter Sanders commented: “We have undoubtedly given the Judge a great deal to think about and we must now wait and see whether that will be enough. In challenging the combined forces of the Secretary of State, the Manchester Airports Group and Uttlesford District Council, it is obviously essential to present the strongest possible case supported by the clearest possible evidence. We have certainly given it our best shot. We’ve learned, however, never to make predictions in this type of case.”
Note 1: Stansted Airport handled 28mppa last year and so expansion to 50mppa would represent an increase of 22mppa (79%) compared to 2018.
Note 2: The Secretary of State for Transport was represented by Charles Banner QC. UDC did not present any evidence. However, the fact that they had shown themselves to be content to determine the 43mppa planning application provided a clear indication that they opposed SSE’s argument which was that the application should be determined by the Secretary of State rather than by UDC.
FURTHER INFORMATION AND COMMENT
Despite promises to tackle green issues, the UK is failing to make progress on crucial targets such as cutting CO2 emissions. An investigation by Greenpeace and the FT shows that the UK government is set to miss legally binding environment targets in 2020 and had failed on “pretty much every aspect” of protecting wildlife and the environment. Despite promises to prioritise green issues, the UK has made little progress on tackling CO2 emissions, air and water pollution, waste and overfishing, and had now increased tree planting or protected biodiversity. One reason for the failure to meet many targets was budget cuts in DEFRA. A Greenpeace spokesman said: “As rivers and air become more toxic, emissions and waste piles continue to rise, our oceans emptied of fish and countryside becomes devoid of wildlife, the government must be held to account for its failure to protect people’s health and nature.” On energy, only 11% of the UK’s energy was produced through renewables in 2018. This figure has grown by around 1% every year since 2014 (meant to be 15%). UK is on track to miss its carbon budget for 2023-27, and 2028-32. UK aviation emissions continue to rise.
‘As rivers become toxic and countryside becomes devoid of wildlife, the government must be held to account,’ say campaigners
By Phoebe Weston, Science Correspondent @phoeb0 (The Independent)
12th November 2019
Despite promises to tackle green issues, the UK is failing to make progress on crucial targets such as cutting carbon emissions
The UK government is set to miss legally binding environment targets in 2020, according to an investigation that found it had failed on “pretty much every aspect” of protecting wildlife and the environment.
Despite promises to prioritise green issues, the UK has made little progress on tackling carbon emissions, air and water pollution, waste and overfishing, as well as increasing tree planting and biodiversity.
Boris Johnson promised to “do extraordinary things on the environment”, yet the country’s green credentials are in disrepute, according to the investigation by Greenpeace’s journalism unit Unearthed and the Financial Times.
Next year will be a key moment for the UK to show leadership in tackling climate and nature emergencies when it hosts the United Nations climate change summit COP26.
However, campaigners say progress has been crippled by budget cuts in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
“The government is failing to take sufficient action on pretty much every aspect of nature and the environment, despite endless promises to leave it in a better state than it found it. It’s set to miss more targets than an archer shooting blindfolded,” said Sam Chetan-Welsh, political campaigner at Greenpeace UK.
“As rivers and air become more toxic, emissions and waste piles continue to rise, our oceans emptied of fish and countryside becomes devoid of wildlife, the government must be held to account for its failure to protect people’s health and nature.”
The government has already had legal battles over its failure to tackle nitrogen dioxide pollution and is now on track to miss 2020 goals to reduce ammonia and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) – despite targets being in place since 2012.
It is also on track to miss all of its internationally agreed 2020 biodiversity targets, with reports showing the UK is making “insufficient progress” on 14 of 19 targets. The UK has abandoned plans to conserve half of England’s best wildlife sites by 2020.
If tree planting continues at the same rate as the past two years, the government will fall 2 million trees short of its 2022 target to plant 11 million trees, the investigation found.
The pledge was initially set for 2020 but pushed back two years following a large shortfall.
The government’s own analysis shows it will meet its carbon budgets for 2019 to 2022, but will miss the following two targets which could make reaching net zero by 2050 impossible.
Currently 35 per cent of UK rivers are in good or better condition, which is well below the EU target requiring all water bodies to achieve “good” status by 2015.
Experts say it will be almost impossible to meet European Union requirements to recycle or reuse 50 per cent of household waste by 2020.
The government does not record annual figures for the carbon emissions from international aviation, only from domestic aviation. Figures are only produced from time to time, as in the DfT’s passenger and carbon forecasts. The more recent was in 2017. (36.2 million tonnes CO2 in 2015)
Report by Unearthed, from Greenpeace, is at https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2019/11/12/environmental-targets-2020-uk/
As a decade comes to an end, the clock ticks down on the time available for the UK to meet an array of long standing environmental targets, from recycling to air pollution
By Emma Howard (Greenpeace, Unearthed)
and Joe Sandler Clarke
and Luke Barratt
and Georgie Johnson
@EmmaEHoward @JSandlerClarke @lukewbarratt @georgiefjohnson
The UK is on track to miss a whole range of environmental targets in the early 2020s, including many that are legally binding and come from the EU, according to an analysis by Unearthed and the Financial Times.
In a decade that saw David Cameron promise to lead “the greenest government ever” and Theresa May pledge to “leave the environment in a better state than we found it”, and Boris Johnson promise to “do extraordinary things on the environment”, the data tells a different story.
The analysis of performance against existing targets comes amidst uncertainty over the future of the UK’s environmental regulation.
Boris Johnson recently scrapped a commitment to meet EU environmental standards post-Brexit. The change to Theresa May’s deal mean that though EU standards have already been transposed into UK legislation many could be undone in future.
Tom West, UK environment lead at Clientearth, told Unearthed that: “without a separate binding obligation not to row back from existing environmental standards, there is a risk that the government could relax commitments relatively easily, in the future. That’s why we need a legal commitment to non-regression on environmental standards in primary legislation.”
Moreover, the oversight role of the EU Commission and courts will cease to exist at the end of the transition period.
The government has set out plans for a new environmental watchdog – the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) – but it won’t have the power that the EU has had to impose hefty fines on the government. It could, however, bring legal proceedings against a public authority regarding an alleged breach of environmental law, through a mechanism in the Upper Tribunal called “environmental review”.
The UK’s most prominent failure to meet EU derived targets is probably air pollution.
The government has been breaching EU standards on nitrogen dioxide concentrations for years, and has been held to account for it in the courts, but less well covered is its record on total emissions (as opposed to the concentration in the air). This is tracked through the EU’s National Emissions Ceiling Directive, which set targets for 2020 for five pollutants: nitrogen oxides (NOx), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs), sulphur dioxide (SO2), ammonia (NH3) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5).
Official projections anticipate that the UK will meet its commitments on the first three of those pollutants, but miss those for ammonia and PM2.5 – the most damaging pollutant of all to human health.
As a result, in April the UK was obliged to come up with a plan to hasten progress (pdf), which includes proposals to cut emissions from agriculture and domestic heating. But the government’s own data shows that even if all of these proposals were in place and having an effect before the end of next year (which is unlikely), they would only just meet the PM target and would likely still miss the ammonia target.
“It all seems to be too little too late,” Katie Nield, ClientEarth’s UK clean air lawyer told Unearthed. “The UK has been aware of its 2020 targets for over seven years now, so why are ministers still to face up to what is needed to comply with the law and protect people’s health from air pollution?”
Ammonia emissions have been on the rise again over the last decade, due to a lack of action in the agricultural sector. Meanwhile particulate pollution has been decreasing, but not at a fast enough rate to meet the target. Households are now by far the largest source of PM2.5, as the popularity for burning wood at home is on the rise.
The emissions commitments are set by the UN’s Gothenberg Protocol, which the UK is signed up to independently, so when it comes to Brexit we’ll still have them, but the EU will not be there to enforce them.
The UK’s success in reducing emissions from coal power is well documented but in other areas of the economy the UK is actually behind the curve.e.
For example, it has a target from the EU to produce 15% of its energy – electricity, heat and transport – through renewables by 2020.
According to Dave Reay, professor of carbon management at the University of Edinburgh, the UK is exceeding its specific electricity target, which is to generate 30% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020, thanks to its progress on offshore wind.
But when it comes to the overall target, however, the latest figures show that only 11% of the UK’s energy was produced through renewables in 2018. This figure has grown by around one percentage point every year since 2014, so the government will need to double its rate of progress if it is to hit its target.
Possibly more crucially, the UK is set to miss two upcoming carbon budgets. These budgets, part of a system established in 2008, are legally binding limits on the net amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted in the UK over a series of four-year periods.
According to the government’s own analysis from earlier this year, the UK will meet its budget for 2018-22, but will miss targets for the following two periods.
Prof Reay told Unearthed: “To put us back on track, we would need some really far-reaching changes, right across government. And at the moment, we’ve got little bits around the edges as far as I can see. So we’re not on track to meet those.”
If it does fail to meet a budget, the government is legally obliged to explain to Parliament why this has happened and to set out how it intends to be more ambitious in the following budget.
Prof Reay said he’s worried the government will decide to borrow against its over-performance on past budgets, which, he said, wouldn’t be in line with its net zero target or the Paris agreement.
He added: “This is the number one priority and they need to get that.”
and there is a lot more at
A decision on Bristol Airport’s major expansion bid will not be made this year. They submitted proposals to boost passenger numbers from 10 million to 12 million a year by the mid-2020s, and to expand the airport’s on-site infrastructure. A decision had been due over the summer but people are continuing to comment – there are currently about 3,780 objections and 1,800 letters of support. Reasons for opposing the expansion include climate change, traffic levels, air pollution and noise. When they declared a “climate emergency”, Bath and North East Somerset Council members also voted to oppose the airport’s expansion, amid concerns about increased congestion on rural roads in their area. There is also doubt about alleged economic benefit. The airport and its supporters always talk up the possibility of more jobs, and improved “access international export markets.” In reality, the majority of air passengers are on leisure journeys. The application will be considered by North Somerset Council’s planning and regulatory committee meeting in 2020, with possible dates the 22 January, 19 February and 18 March.
Local community opposition group is
Bristol Airport expansion plans decision delayed
Image copyrightBRISTOL AIRPORTAn artist’s impression of the proposed new forecourt at Bristol Airport
A decision on Bristol Airport’s major expansion bid will not be made this year.
The firm submitted proposals to boost passenger numbers to 12 million a year by the mid-2020s, and to expand its on-site infrastructure.
A decision had been due over the summer but people are continuing to comment – there are currently 3,787 objections and 1,807 letters of support.
Concerns have spanned from climate change to traffic and noise.
When they declared a “climate emergency”, Bath and North East Somerset Council members also voted to oppose the airport’s expansion, amid concerns about increased congestion on rural roads in their area.
It also said there was a lack of evidence about the economic benefit, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.
The airport responded by saying there was unlikely to be a significant impact on the B3130, which runs from Pensford to Clevedon, and there would be a wide range of transport improvements.
It said it was “not made aware of any residual concerns” after meeting with council leaders.
There have been numerous supporters, including neighbouring authorities.
South Gloucestershire Council said the expansion would bring significant economic benefits to the region, but added it needed to be supported by a “step change” in public transport improvements.
The comments were echoed by Bristol City Council, which said: “Expansion of Bristol Airport will provide a significant boost to the local economy, including creating many new jobs accessible from south Bristol and access international export markets.”
The application will be considered by North Somerset Council’s planning and regulatory committee meeting in the new year.
An exact date has not been set but scheduled are meetings on 22 January, 19 February and 18 March.
Bristol Airport declined to comment.
5 November 2019
During the meeting, in Barrow Gurney, concerns of air traffic noise were raised along with observations of excessive traffic through the village.
There is a planning application, yet to be decided by North Somerset Council, to increase the passenger throughput of the airport from 10 million passengers a year to 12 million, which the parish council fears would lead to further noise intrusion.
The application includes a new canopy at the front of the building, an additional multi-storey car park and changes to the on-site road layout.
Barrow Gurney Parish Council and the Parish Councils Airport Association (PCAA) have both submitted strong objections to North Somerset Council regarding the current application.
Cllr Nick Tyrell said: “In Barrow Gurney, as in many other villages in the vicinity of the airport, there is widespread concern about the inevitable impact of airport expansion on their quality of life.
“We want to ensure that we do not have to suffer an unacceptable volume of traffic coming through the village and we do not want to experience more noise pollution.
“In our view, the current planning application is seriously flawed.
“It relies upon a significant further increase in the volume of car parking at the airport – which involves development in the greenbelt.
“This will place huge pressures on the network of rural roads in the surrounding area which already struggle to cope with the volume of through traffic generated.
“There are also major environmental issues associated with expansion, most notably the inevitable rise in CO2 levels generated by more aircraft and cars.
“This conflicts with North Somerset Council’s declaration of a climate emergency and its adoption of a low carbon reduction target to reduce emissions by 50 per cent by 2035.
“It is time to recognise that the communities around the airport need to be protected from the numerous environmental effects of airport expansion.”
The planning application, submitted in December 2018, has received more than 3,700 objections and 1,800 letters of support.
“Fuel tankering” sees planes filled with extra fuel, usually to avoid paying higher prices for refuelling at their destination airports.
It could mean extra annual emissions equivalent to that of a large town.
BA said it was common to carry extra fuel for “operational, safety and price reasons”.
BBC Panorama has discovered the airline’s planes generated an extra 18,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide last year through fuel tankering.
Cost savings made on a single flight can be as small as just over £10 – though savings can run to hundreds of pounds.
Researchers have estimated that one in five of all European flights involve some element of fuel tankering.
The practice on European routes could result in additional annual greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to that produced by a town of 100,000 people.
Critics say the widespread use of the practice undermines the aviation industry’s claims that it is committed to reducing its carbon emissions.
John Sauven, Greenpeace UK’s executive director, told the BBC this was a “classic example of a company putting profit before planet”.
He added: “This is why we can’t afford another decade of believing corporate greenwash and waiting for the voluntary carbon reductions to appear.
“We need tough regulations to limit aviation’s emissions, because so long as there’s money in polluting, they’ll pollute as much as they can.”
International Airlines Group (IAG), the company that owns BA, says it wants to be the world’s leading airline group on sustainability.
BA boasts it even prints its in-flight magazine on lighter paper to save weight.
Yet BBC Panorama has seen dozens of internal BA documents that show up to six tonnes of extra fuel have been loaded onto planes in this way. It has also seen evidence that Easyjet carries extra fuel in this way.
Airlines can save money from the fact that the price of aviation fuel differs between European destinations.
BA insiders say the company – like many airlines running short haul routes in Europe – has computer software that calculates whether costs can be saved by fuel tankering.
The software will calculate whether there is a cost saving to be made. If there is, crews load up the extra fuel.
An example of documents seen by Panorama show that a recent BA flight to Italy carried nearly three tonnes of extra fuel.
The extra weight meant the plane emitted more than 600kg of additional carbon dioxide – the same emissions one person is responsible for on a return flight to New York.
The cost saving on that trip was less than £40, but the documents Panorama has seen show that it can be even lower than that.
IAG made an annual profit of €2.9bn (£2.6bn) in 2018, around 80 per cent of which came from BA.
A BA insider described the practice as “hypocritical”.
“For such a big company to be trying to save such small amounts while emitting so much extra CO2 seems unjustifiable in the current climate,” he said.
BA said it was common practice for the airline industry to carry additional fuel on some flights.
The airline said for BA this applies mainly to short-haul destinations “where there are considerable price differences between European airports”.
It said the additional emissions from the airline represented approximately two per cent of the total extra emissions generated by all airlines tankering fuel in Europe, based on research by Eurocontrol.
BA pointed out that since 2012 all flights within Europe are covered by the EU Emissions Trading System.
It added that from 2020 the company will offset all CO2 emissions from its UK domestic flights.
Easyjet said it has reduced the level of tankering in recent years and that it only takes place on a tiny proportion of flights for operational and commercial reasons.
Eurocontrol, the body which coordinates air traffic control for Europe, has calculated that tankering in Europe resulted in 286,000 tonnes of extra fuel being burnt every year, and the emission of an additional 901,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
It calculates that the practice saved airlines a total of €265m (£228m) a year.
Eurocontrol described the practice as “questionable” at a time when aviation is being challenged for its contribution to climate change.
But the BA whistleblower said: “I’ve been a BA employee for a long time.
“I’m very proud to be part of BA but in all honesty it makes me sad and disappointed.”
Panorama: Can Flying Go Green? is on BBC1 at 20:30 GMT on 11 November.
Professor Stefan Gössling, from Lund University, has written about the immense carbon emissions of a range of high profile celebrities – and the damaging effect this has on the perceptions of society on the desirability of this hyper-mobility, by jet. He says: “The jet-setting habits of Bill Gates and Paris Hilton mean that they produce an astonishing 10,000 times more carbon emissions from flying than the average person.” … “This highlights the insane disparity in carbon emissions between the rich and the poor.” … “Recently published figures reveal that 1% of English residents are responsible for nearly 20% of all flights abroad”. … “major clash about the social and moral norms surrounding air travel. For decades, frequent fliers have been seen as living desirable lifestyles. To be a global traveller automatically infers a high social standing.” … “But more and more people are beginning to question what is desirable, justifiable and indeed “normal” to consume. In the case of flying, this has come to be known as “flight shame”.” … We need to “stem the growing class of very affluent people who contribute very significantly to emissions and encourage everyone else to aspire to such damaging lifestyles.”
October 22, 2019 (The Conversation)
Stefan Gössling, Professor in Service Management and Service Studies, Lund University
Stefan Gössling does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Lund University. Lund University provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.
The Conversation UK receives funding from these organisations
The jet-setting habits of Bill Gates and Paris Hilton mean that they produce an astonishing 10,000 times more carbon emissions from flying than the average person. This was the conclusion of my research mining their social media accounts (tweets, Instagram and Facebook posts) as well as those of a number of other celebrities for clues as to where they were in the world over the course of 2017 and how they got there. As such, this estimate is conservative – they may well have taken more flights and not volunteered the information to their millions of followers.
This highlights the insane disparity in carbon emissions between the rich and the poor. In 2018, an average human emitted less than five tonnes of CO₂ overall. But this hides vast differences in individual contributions. In the case of air travel – the most energy-intensive human activity, no other human activity consumes as much energy in such a short time – the global average is 115kg CO₂ per person per year. Yet the vast majority of humanity never fly. This average is created by the staggering emissions of the richest proportion of humanity. I calculated that Bill Gates, for example, causes at least 1,600 tonnes of CO₂ to be emitted into the atmosphere – and this is from flying alone.
Of course, it’s not only celebrities who are the problem. Recently published figures reveal that 1% of English residents are responsible for nearly one-fifth of all flights abroad. Nearly half (48%) of the population, meanwhile, did not take a single overseas flight in 2018.
Calling out the extent of this disparity is key given that humanity has agreed to stabilise global warming at 2°C. To achieve this goal, emissions of greenhouse gases have to be reduced drastically. The Paris Agreement accepts that the burden should be better shared around: countries that emit a lot per citizen should make greater contributions to decarbonisation.
Of course, there will also be disparity within each country: some high emitters as well as some who hardly contribute to global warming at all. I wanted to find out just how central the highest emitters might be to this question – just how much of the burden we should expect them to take on. Celebrities, by definition, are influential and often wealthy. While anecdotal evidence suggests that they are also frequent fliers, it has been difficult to determine their contributions to global warming. Very wealthy people are rarely represented in household surveys. To find out, I tracked the jet-set lifestyles of ten celebrities by analysing their ample social media presence.
I analysed Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts for travel information volunteered. To narrow down the research, only air travel was recorded, though of course celebrities also cover (additional) distances by car. Social media posts were evaluated for journey start and end points, the type of aircraft used and the distances travelled. This information was used to calculate likely fuel use and associated emissions.
The vast emissions caused by these individuals suggest that a very small share of humanity has a very significant role in global warming. This likely equally true for a much wider range of economic, cultural and political elites.
We have known for a while that the world’s richest 10% produce half of global carbon emissions. But climate policies have so far tended to omit this issue of carbon inequality.
Worldwide, nations have focused on the decarbonisation of production within states, ignoring wild differences in consumption habits. And it’s increasingly looking like the climate crisis can’t be addressed while a small but growing group of super-emitters continue to increase their energy consumption and portray such lifestyles as desirable through their social media channels. Due to their wealth, these elites also exist outside the market-based frameworks implemented to reduce emissions, such as carbon taxes, air passenger duties or carbon allowances for companies.
This is also the main issue highlighted by the growing youth movement demanding personal carbon accountability. As Greta Thunberg affirmed early on, “the bigger your carbon footprint, the bigger your moral duty”. And flying, as a very energy-intensive activity, has been identified as particularly harmful and socially undesirable.
This has resulted in a major clash about the social and moral norms surrounding air travel. For decades, frequent fliers have been seen as living desirable lifestyles. To be a global traveller automatically infers a high social standing. Celebrities in particular have fostered this perspective through their communication of glamorous, globetrotting lifestyles. The ten celebrities studied in this research, for example, collectively reach out to 170m followers on Instagram alone.
But more and more people are beginning to question what is desirable, justifiable and indeed “normal” to consume. In the case of flying, this has come to be known as “flight shame”. In some circles, air travel is beginning to be framed as a destructive human activity. This is a major shift from the dominating production-oriented approach to climate change mitigation. The new focus on consumption challenges every individual to live within a sustainable personal carbon budget – and argues that this can be the most powerful way of forcing policy and industry change.
The implications of the flying habits of global super-emitters are therefore far reaching. It is clear that governments need to follow the public and pay more attention to consumption in order to stem the growing class of very affluent people who contribute very significantly to emissions and encourage everyone else to aspire to such damaging lifestyles.
Fears about climate change have led many to rethink the way they travel and, in Sweden, there is a new word – flygskam (flying shame) – for the shame associated with flying, knowing the carbon emissions it causes. The subject has come higher up the agenda with the vast protests in Central London by Extinction Rebellion, since Monday 15th April. And there are protests in many other cities and countries. The Swedes are now travelling a bit less by air, and a bit more by rail. But it’s not just the Swedes racked with guilt about their carbon footprints. The Finnish have invented the word “lentohapea”, the Dutch say “vliegschaamte” and the Germans “flugscham”, all referring to a feeling of shame around flying. Brits are lagging behind … The Swedish rail company reported 32 million passengers in 2018, a good increase. Many understand that flying has a huge negative climate impact, and there are other words associated with this: “tagskryt” (train bragging) and “smygflyga” (flying in secret). The 16 year old Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg, started the world wide movement of school strikes, to draw attention to climate change, only travels by train to meetings in other countries.
Local authorities opposed to Heathrow expansion say that changes in Government policy on climate change mean the case for a 3rd runway should be reviewed urgently. The national policy statement (ANPS) which included support for Heathrow expansion was designated in June 2018 – at a time when the UK was committed to an 80% cut in CO2 emissions, from the 1990 level, by 2050. But in June 2019 following the advice of the Climate Change Committee (CCC) the Government amended the commitment to a 100% cut – with the strengthening based on ‘significant developments in climate change knowledge’. This same logic needs to be applied to the ANPS. Under planning legislation a national policy statement must be reviewed if there has been a ‘significant change in any circumstances on the basis of which any of the policy set out in the statement was decided.’ And there has been. In September 2019 the CCC told the Government that the planning assumption for aviation should be to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 – and measures should be put in place that ‘limit growth in demand to at most 25% above current levels by 2050.’ The Heathrow case needs urgent review in relation to climate policy, and also noise. The councils say that Heathrow expansion is never going to happen – the obstacles are insurmountable.
4th November 2019
Local authorities opposed to Heathrow expansion say that changes in Government policy on climate change mean the case for a third runway should be reviewed urgently.
The national policy statement (ANPS) which included support for expansion at the airport was designated in June 2018 – at a time when the UK was committed to an 80 per cent reduction in emissions (by 2050).
In June this year following the advice of the Climate Change Committee (CCC) the Government amended the commitment to 100 per cent – the strengthening was based on ‘significant developments in climate change knowledge’.
Now campaigners say the same logic should be applied to the ANPS. Under planning legislation a national policy statement must be reviewed if there has been a ‘significant change in any circumstances on the basis of which any of the policy set out in the statement was decided.’
In September this year the CCC told the Government that the planning assumption for aviation should be to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. It added that measures should be put in place that ‘limit growth in demand to at most 25 per cent above current levels by 2050.’
The CCC concluded that ‘current planned additional airport capacity in London, including the third runway at Heathrow, is likely to leave at most very limited room for growth at non-London airports.’
The councils which comprise of Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond upon Thames, Hammersmith & Fulham and Windsor and Maidenhead have now formally written to the Secretary of State under section 6 of the Planning Act 2008 calling for the 2018 ANPS to be reviewed in the light of the significant changes since then.
They say the ANPS should be reviewed to see whether expansion can be delivered consistently with new policy on climate change – and whether it can be delivered fairly across the UK.
Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, said:
“The key planning assumptions on which the Government based its support for Heathrow expansion in June 2018 are now outdated. Under planning legislation the Secretary of State now has a clear duty to review the ANPS. It has become abundantly clear that he should do this on climate change grounds alone.”
Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, said:
“It’s not just that the scientific advice to the Government on climate change has been strengthened. Since 2018 the scale of expansion across London has increased far beyond what was envisaged at the time.
“Gatwick and Luton have since then announced their own plans for adding capacity – up to 175,000 extra flights a year. The Government – despite encouraging airports to make best use of existing runway capacity in the NPS – has not assessed the combined impacts on the environment of this unplanned additional growth.”
Cllr Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said:
“Expanding three airports in the London area will have a major impact on which areas are overflown. This is yet another example of how the people who were most likely to be affected by noise from expansion were not informed.
“Already it is clear that expansion at Luton could mean new flightpaths over Hillingdon. These are significant changes which must mean a review of the whole basis on which policy support was given to Heathrow expansion in 2018.”
Cllr Andrew Johnson, Leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, said:
“The effect on transport throughout the London area of three major airports adding tens of thousands of extra flights has not been taken into account. This is a significant area of change from 2018 and one which the Secretary of State must review.
“Expansion at three airports in the London area which all rely on the M25 will have far-reaching consequences. The increased pressure on rail and road networks in the capital will have major impacts on people’s ability to get to work and lead to worsening air quality. None of these cumulative effects have been assessed.”
Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, said:
“The government has chosen to deliberately ignore the huge environmental damage Heathrow’s proposed third runway will cause. Meanwhile, its own figures demonstrate the UK will gain a negligible return on the £18billion cost of the scheme – most of which could end up being funded by the taxpayer. There’s plenty of greener, better initiatives that such huge sums could be spent on which would produce the kind of sustainable economic growth our country desperately needs.”
The councils say that Heathrow expansion is never going to happen. The obstacles in its way including noise, air quality and now climate change, are insurmountable.
A cross-party group of politicians will join claimants, campaigners and residents outside the High Court on the morning of Thursday 17th October as the legal challenge against the proposed expansion of Heathrow continues, with the Government’s new target of net zero emission by 2050 a key element of the judicial review. The Court of Appeal will be hearing the challenges from Local Authorities, the Mayor of London and Greenpeace as well as Friends of the Earth, Plan B Earth and Heathrow Hub. The challenges are being made against the decision to designate the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS). One ground is the incompatibility of the expansion plans with the UK’s climate change commitments. The previous challenge was dismissed by the High Court on a technicality as the Government had not incorporated the Paris Agreement into law. The Climate Change Act (2008) has now been amended to incorporate a target of Net Zero by 2050, which places an even more pressing demand upon Government to limit the expansion of carbon intensive infrastructure. The No 3rd Runway Coalition said: “It’s now vital for Government to pause plans for Heathrow expansion, to reassess airport capacity strategy for the whole country.”
John McDonnell has suggested that Labour would cancel the expansion of Heathrow if it wins power, and it might even also block other airport projects. John said climate change would dominate the party’s agenda in government. Labour have said for some time that the current 3rd runway plans “very clearly” do not meet Labour’s key criteria – its 4 tests – on protecting the environment. On climate grounds alone, plans to increase capacity at Manchester, Leeds Bradford, Bristol, Gatwick, Stansted and East Midlands airports would need to be assessed by the same criteria. He said that ensuring the “survival of our planet” would be Labour’s “number one priority” in government, with climate change becoming a “key” factor in all policy and investment decisions. Labour have the problem that some unions hope airport expansion will provide more jobs, and therefore back it, while knowing there is a carbon problem. John McDonnell’s constituency, Hayes & Harlington, would be the worst affected by a Heathrow runway, in terms of homes destroyed and area covered in airport infrastructure. The 3rd runway fails not only on environmental grounds (carbon, noise, air pollution) but also on economic and social impacts.
By Harry Yorke, political correspondent (Telegraph)
3 NOVEMBER 2019
Labour would cancel the expansion of Heathrow if it wins power, John McDonnell has suggested, amid fears that the party could block other airport projects across the country.
The shadow chancellor said climate change would dominate the party’s agenda in government, adding that the current proposals for a third runway “very clearly” did not meet Labour’s red lines on protecting the environment.
He also raised doubts over plans to increase capacity at Manchester, Leeds Bradford and East Midlands airports, stating that the “same criteria will be applied to all the expansions.”
Mr McDonnell said that ensuring the “survival of our planet” would be Labour’s “number one priority” in government, with climate change becoming a “key” factor in all policy and investment decisions.
It comes 16 months after Labour formally opposed Heathrow expansion in Parliament, arguing that the current proposals failed to meet four tests, including on carbon dioxide emissions and noise pollution.
The decision was met with fierce resistance at the time from Unite’s Len McCluskey, who wrote to every Labour MP to warn that blocking a third runway would torpedo “hundreds of thousands of new jobs.”
But when asked about Heathrow, Mr McDonnell said: “We set ourselves criteria, one of which is environmental impact, the other was also the economic impact and social impact.
“On the current criteria we’ve said very clearly Heathrow expansion doesn’t qualify.”
However, he acknowledged that in some cases increased capacity at regional airports could help combat climate change by reducing the number of people “travelling for example to one central hub.”
His ambiguity was criticised by Green MP Caroline Lucas, who told The Daily Telegraph:” If we are serious about reaching net zero then there can be no aviation expansion in the UK – anywhere.
“If Labour does want climate policies that have credibility it has got to bite the bullet on some of these more difficult issues.”
Ms Lucas’s concerns are shared by a growing number of Labour activists, who have been pushing for a ban on airport expansion as part of the party’s commitment to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.
Asked to clarify Mr McDonnell’s comments on Sunday afternoon, Mr Corbyn refused to rule out scrapping the third runway, adding that it would need to “meet all the requests and requirements on noise, on pollution, on CO2 emissions.”
“Those are the tests that we apply to all airport developments,” he continued. “That is the reason why I opposed it when it last came to Parliament because, in my view, it did not meet those tests.”
Separately, Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, admitted that Labour’s plans to make every home in the UK energy efficient would require £60bn of additional borrowing.
The policy, announced on Sunday, would see the biggest overhaul of housing since the second world war, with loft insulation, double glazing and renewable technologies installed in almost all of the UK’s 27 million homes.
When asked how the project would be funded, Ms Long-Bailey told Sophy Ridge programme on Sky News “We’ve done financial modelling that shows that that £60 billion will be the government’s outlay in the initial stages.”
The remaining £190bn required to upgrade the housing stock would come from energy savings, she claimed, adding that Government expenditure would be recouped through increased tax revenues from the creation of new 400,000 jobs.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell believes a 3rd runway at Heathrow will never get built because of the serious environmental issues the expansion would cause. McDonnell, MP for Hayes & Harlington, and a close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been a longstanding campaigner against the runway, due to the devastating impact it would have on his constituency. He does not believe Heathrow can get round the problem of air pollution from the runway and associated road traffic. At a local meeting about Heathrow’s expansion plans, John said: “As soon as any decision is made, Hillingdon and the other boroughs will be straight back in court again”. …“I just don’t think Heathrow is the runner that it might have been with the governments in the past.” There is due to be a vote in Parliament in the summer on the runway; as things stand, the government would win backing for the runway. However, though many Labour MPs are keen supporters, there is a real possibility that Labour may be able to block it – especially if it won a general election. Labour set out 4 tests the runway would have to meet, and currently it cannot pass them.
Labour’s 4 tests require:
(1). noise issues to be addressed,
(2). air quality to be protected,
(3). the UK’s climate change obligations met and
(4). growth across the country supported.
By Chris Smyth, Whitehall Editor | The Times
November 3 2019,
Heathrow’s expansion plans do not pass environmental tests set by Labour
Heathrow expansion could be ditched by Labour because climate change is the party’s “number one priority”, the shadow chancellor has suggested.
John McDonnell said Heathrow “clearly doesn’t qualify” for a third runway under tests that the party has set, including meeting carbon reduction targets and minimising noise.
Labour has pledged that Britain will be carbon neutral by 2030, two decades years earlier than the government, as the parties compete to offer green policies to an electorate increasingly concerned about the environment.
Over the weekend the Conservatives said they would ban fracking because of “unacceptable” earthquake risks, bringing them into line with Labour.
Speaking on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show, Mr McDonnell said: “I know Brexit’s important and we’ll deal with that, but actually our number one priority must be the survival of our planet.”
He said he would rewrite Treasury investment rules so that the “number one priority is climate change, the second is inequality, individual and regional, and the third is the fourth industrial revolution”.
Asked whether this would mean cancellation of Heathrow expansion, approved by the government last year, he said: “We set ourselves criteria, one of which is environmental impact, the other was also the economic impact and social impact. On the current criteria we’ve said very clearly Heathrow expansion doesn’t qualify.”
Mr McDonnell, whose Hayes and Harlington constituency contains Heathrow, has long been personally opposed to expanding the airport but Labour gave its MPs a free vote on the issue last year, allowing it to pass the Commons easily.
The issue has proved an embarrassment for Boris Johnson, who promised to lie down in front of the bulldozers with Mr McDonnell to stop Heathrow expanding when he was elected MP for Uxbridge in 2015. He was criticised while foreign secretary for flying to Afghanistan and missing the vote, rather than resigning over Theresa May’s backing for expansion. During his Conservative Party leadership campaign over the summer he said he would not reopen the issue now it had been approved.
Mr McDonnell was also criticised by Jewish leaders for claiming that Labour had done everything it had promised to tackle antisemitism in the party.
The shadow chancellor said he was “so saddened” to see rabbis and Jewish newspapers warning that Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister would threaten the community’s way of life.
“I just want to reassure them, we’re doing everything we can,” he said. “All the things that they’ve asked us to do we’re doing and that will enable us then to reassure the Jewish community.”
Jonathan Goldstein, chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, who met Mr Corbyn last year to discuss the community’s concerns, said Labour had not done what was asked at that meeting.
“They have failed on every count,” he said. “If John McDonnell is right, why only two weeks ago did Louise Ellman say she could not stay within the party?”
Dame Louise, MP for Liverpool Riverside, quit the party after 55 years of Labour membership, saying that Mr Corbyn was a “danger to the Jewish community”.
Mr Goldstein said Labour’s disciplinary process was still not transparent and was subject to political interference. Chris Williamson, an MP suspended over his comments about antisemitism, will learn tomorrow whether he can stand for the party at the next election, in a process which Mr Goldstein said was “determined on a whim”.
James Cleverly, the Conservative Party chairman, claimed yesterday that some British Jews were so uneasy about the prospect of Mr Corbyn as prime minister that they would leave the country if he entered Downing Street.
Mr Goldstein said this was “not hyperbole”, adding: “Is it a regular conversation around supper tables around the Jewish community? 100 per cent.”
Private jets are a total anachronism, in an age of climate emergency and climate crisis. First Class or business class seats cause far more CO2 to be emitted than economy seats. But private jet CO2 emissions per passenger – usually less than 5 passengers per plane – are an order of magnitude higher than of an average economy class seat. Now research by the Common Wealth thinktank indicates that private jet flights to and from UK airports in a year may contribute as much to the climate crisis as 450,000 cars. It suggests they should be banned as soon as 2025, with possible research into partly electric planes (small private jets are the only ones for which electric flight is feasible). There were some 128,000 private jet flights between UK and EU airports in 2018 and 14,000 trips were also made to destinations outside Europe. Industry estimates suggest that about 40% of private jet movements are empty leg journeys, in which aircraft are repositioned for the convenience of the super-rich and corporate customers who use them. Almost half of all private jet traffic in Britain passes through five airports around London, given its status as the home to the most billionaires in Europe.
Private jet flights to and from UK airports contribute as much to the climate crisis as 450,000 cars per year and should be banned as soon as 2025 to encourage development of electric planes, according to a thinktank with close ties to the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
In a report exposing the scale of fossil fuel private jet emissions, the Common Wealth thinktank found there were 128,000 flights between UK and EU airports in 2018 using private jets, representing 6% of total UK air traffic. A further 14,000 trips were also made to destinations outside Europe.
The thinktank said the global heating impact of private flights to and from UK airports is roughly 1m tonnes of CO2 equivalent each year – the same as the annual emissions of around 450,000 typical cars on Britain’s roads.
It said that one private flight from London to New York was equivalent to driving a typical UK car non-stop for four and a half years. It added that a ban in five years’ time would help spur the development of electric alternatives.
Shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald, said the party would examine the report and “consult with industry on the introduction of a phase-out date for the use of fossil fuel private jets”.
He added: “Climate targets cannot be met without curbing pollution from air travel, and a passenger on a private jet produces 10 times the emissions of someone on a regular flight. This simply cannot be ignored.”
According to the Common Wealth assessment, a typical private jet passenger journey within Europe emits seven times as much greenhouse gas as a flight in business class on a typical airliner – 10 times as much as flying economy class and around 150 times as much as an equivalent journey using high-speed rail.
Industry estimates also suggest that about 40% of private jet movements are empty leg journeys, in which aircraft are repositioned for the convenience of the super-rich and corporate customers who use them. Even when full, private jets on average will carry as few as five passengers.
Some of Britain’s richest people use private jets. Prince Harry has faced criticism for taking private jets for short-hop breaks while campaigning against global heating. Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the chief executive of petrochemicals company Ineos, who is Britain’s third richest man with an £18bn fortune, has four private jets and a helicopter, while Sir James Dyson, the electrical products entrepreneur and fifth richest man in Britain, owns a £55m private jet.
The new analysis of private jets in the Common Wealth report, compiled by Leo Murray of Free Ride, a campaign group calling for a frequent flyer levy, and Jamie Beevor of Green Gumption, an environmental consultancy, suggested most carbon-emitting private flights to and from UK airports could be handled by new electric aircraft in future.
Growing numbers of aircraft manufacturers are investing in the development of new electrical alternatives to fossil-fuel jets. However, progress has been slow, with the report suggesting just 15% of total UK aviation emissions are set to be replaced by 2050 on the current trajectory.
The study found that as many as four out of five private jet journeys within Europe today cover distances that could be completed by small electric aircraft currently in commercial development that would enter the market in the mid 2020s.
The report said: “We believe that an imminent ban on landing at UK airports in a fossil-powered private jet would help to focus the minds of some of the wealthiest people on Earth on the urgent need to develop fully electric planes.”
Back in 2010 campaigners at Farnborough established that on average there were only 2.5 passenger in private jets using the airport:
“We have established that the average plane-load for a typical Farnborough business jet aircraft is just 2.5 passengers a time, so each one is probably responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than by any other means of transport, apart from space-travel.”.
Representatives of groups at some of the largest UK airports have written to both the Secretaries of State for Transport, and Housing, Communities and Local Government, to request a halt to airport expansion. The letter asks them to suspend the determination by all planning authorities of applications to increase the physical capacity of UK airports, or their approved operating caps, until there is a settled UK policy position against which such applications can be judged. Many UK airports are seeking – or have announced their intention to seek – planning approval to increase their capacity and/or their operating caps. In aggregate it has been estimated that proposals announced by UK airports would increase the country’s airport capacity by over 70% compared to 2017. There is no settled UK policy on aircraft noise, or policy on aviation carbon and how the sector will, as the CCC advises, “limit growth in demand to at most 25% above current levels by 2050”. The letter says: “Until a settled policy with set limits is established for greenhouse gas emissions and noise there should be a moratorium on all airport expansion planning applications.”
Press release from Stop Stansted Expansion.
A coalition of airport communities has called on the Government to suspend any increase in UK airport capacity until it has developed a plan for tackling the aircraft emissions which contribute to climate change.
The call for an immediate moratorium is set out in a letter [see Note to Editors] to the Secretaries of State for Transport and for Housing, Communities and Local Government. The letter is signed by a number of environmental and community campaign groups including Stop Stansted Expansion (‘SSE’).
Many UK airports including Belfast, Bristol, East Midlands, Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow, London City, Luton, Manston, Newcastle and Stansted currently have expansion plans. However, there is still no policy setting out how greenhouse gases from the aviation industry can be reconciled with legislation committing the UK to delivering net zero emissions by 2050. The Government recently delayed until next year the publication of its new long term strategy for UK aviation, which will address the sector’s noise and climate impacts.
Expansion proposals announced by UK airports would increase the country’s airport capacity by an estimated 200 million passengers per annum, an increase of over 70% compared to the 285 million passengers that passed through UK airports in 2017.
The current plans to expand Stansted Airport to an annual throughput of 43 million passengers would, if approved, put more than a million extra tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.
Mike Young, SSE’s adviser on climate change issues said: “Whilst other sectors are reducing their carbon footprint, aviation CO2 emissions continue to grow apace. On present trends aviation will, by 2050, be the UK’s biggest contributor to climate change. Recently issued figures for global aviation passenger transport for 2018 have the UK in third place for the greatest CO2 emissions behind the USA and China. That is not a proud record for a country with less than one per cent of the world’s population.”
Mr Young added: “The need to tackle climate change is an urgent challenge if we are to prevent a climate emergency becoming a climate disaster. Until a settled Government policy is established for tackling aviation greenhouse gas emissions there should be a moratorium on all airport expansion planning applications.”
FURTHER INFORMATION AND COMMENT
Aviation Communities Forum
Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign
Heathrow Association for the Control of Air Noise
Luton And District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise
Stop Stansted Expansion
The Rt Hon Grant Shapps
MP Secretary of State for Transport
Department for Transport
33 Horseferry Road
London, SW1P 4DR
The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP
Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government
2 Marsham Street London, SW1P 4DF
22 October 2019
Dear Secretaries of State
We are writing to ask you to suspend the determination by all planning authorities of applications to increase the physical capacity of UK airports, or their approved operating caps, until there is a settled policy position against which such applications can be judged.
Many UK airports including Belfast, Bristol, East Midlands, Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow, London City, Luton, Manston, Newcastle and Stansted are seeking or have announced their intention to seek planning approval to increase their capacity and/or their operating caps. In aggregate it has been estimated that proposals announced by UK airports would increase the country’s airport capacity by nearly 200 million passengers per annum. That would be an increase of over 70% compared to 2017.
There is currently, in our view, no settled policy position against which planning authorities can reasonably assess and determine such applications or that adversely impacted communities can reference in seeking to contest applications or seek conditions to them. The most significant gaps in the policy framework concern greenhouse gas emissions and noise.
In relation to greenhouse gas emissions, UK law now requires all UK greenhouse gas emissions to reduce to net zero by 2050. The government has confirmed to Parliament that this obligation covers the whole economy including aviation. However, it has not set out the policies and mechanisms that will apply to aviation in respect of this legal obligation.
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has recently advised that “Measures should be put in place to limit growth in demand to at most 25% above current levels by 2050”. It also advised that “The Government should assess its airport capacity strategy in the context of net zero. Specifically, investments will need to be demonstrated to make economic sense in a net-zero world and the transition towards it”.
The CCC also notes that “Current planned additional airport capacity in London, including the third runway at Heathrow, is likely to leave at most very limited room for growth at non-London airports”.
There is a clear inconsistency between the UK’s net zero legal obligation and the CCC’s advice on the one hand and the scale of the expansion being proposed by the industry on the other. The government has indicated in its response to the CCC’s 2019 Progress Report, that it will be consulting further on aviation and climate change, with a view to publishing a new policy in 2020. Until it has done so we believe there is a state of fundamental uncertainty such that it is not possible for planning authorities to determine airport expansion applications.
In relation to noise, the government’s Green Paper, Aviation 2050, proposed a new objective “to limit, and where possible, reduce total adverse effects on health and quality of life from aviation noise”. The government has also stated in the Green Paper that the aim of noise caps will be to balance noise and growth and that there should be appropriate compliance mechanisms. Finally it has stated that its new policy framework will reduce the harmful effects of aviation on the environment, such as carbon emissions, air quality and noise.
However, the government has not yet explained or provided any guidance on the factors that should be taken into account in setting noise limits, or on the circumstances in which it considers noise reductions should be possible or the relationship it expects to see between growth and noise reduction. In the absence of additional policy guidance in these areas we do not believe it is possible for planning authorities to assess whether airport’s proposals are consistent with the government’s aviation noise policies or to set appropriate noise conditions when considering applications for growth.
In summary, until a settled policy with set limits is established for greenhouse gas emissions and noise there should be a moratorium on all airport expansion planning applications.
Tim Johnson, Director, Aviation Environment Federation
Peter Barclay, Chair, Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign
Andrew Lambourne, Luton And District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise
Charles Lloyd, Chair, Aviation Communities Forum
Peter Sanders, Chair, Stop Stansted Expansion
John Stewart, Chair, Heathrow Association for the Control of Air Noise
Cc: Paul Maynard MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Transport Robert Light, Lead Commissioner, Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise
Many universities and academics are trying to find ways in which they can reduce the amount they fly. This is difficult, as universities have been developed to be dependant on international students, international academics and numerous international conferences – to which everyone flies. And then there are also the field trips, for many student degrees. Now, writing in a blog for “FlightFree 2020” a courageous student, studying for an MSc in Environmental Protection and Management at Edinburgh University, has refused to go on a field trip – even though it was a compulsory part of her course – because she did not feel she could justify the huge carbon emissions the flight would create. Field trips are promoted as a chance to gain real-life, real-world experience, undertake research outside of the academic bubble, and interact with local communities. But as flying is so cheap, the destinations have moved further afield, continents away. Institutions entice potential students by offering study in ever more exotic locations. These trips play a large part in normalising flying as a form of transport. Fortunately the student’s department were understanding, and arranged separate individual study for her in the UK. So that was quite possible. Food for thought for unis….?
MSc student Abi Whitefield refused to go on her University field trip, despite it being a compulsory part of her course
The University field trip has long been established as a model of learning: a chance to gain real-life, real-world experience, undertake research outside of the academic bubble, and interact with local communities. In recent years, the locations offered have moved further afield: New York, Mexico, China. It seems that the field trip is a central component in selling a course, as institutions entice potential students by offering study in ever more exotic locations.
Of course, these trips come with a huge carbon footprint, especially if the trip involves a flight – and more often than not, it does. But more than the direct carbon emissions, such trips play a large part in normalising flying as a form of transport. The student years are among the most formative of a person’s life. If air travel is an integral part of that, a compulsory part no less, it seems normal, even expected, to take part without question.
It takes a lot of conviction and guts to start bucking that trend. But that’s what Abi Whitefield did, a student on the MSc in Environmental Protection and Management at the University of Edinburgh, who decided that she wouldn’t attend her class field trip, despite it being a compulsory part of the course.
“The field trip was to Morocco, and according to the WWF, the return flight would produce 2.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide – equivalent to the annual emissions of the average person in India. I try to do a lot of things to be more environmentally friendly, but that flight alone would have bumped up my carbon footprint for the year by a quarter.
“I told my course director before I had even applied that I would not be attending the field trip because it would involve flying. I was anxious about telling them as it was marketed as a compulsory degree component, and I was scared they would say that I had to go. To be honest, if that had been the case, I wouldn’t have applied for the course, even though I really wanted to! But they were completely supportive and began planning alternative activities for me. They even looked into overland travel to Morocco but in the end it was decided I would undertake an individual study here in the UK.”
The study, which focussed on environmental behaviours, included a public survey on behaviour change. Many of the people questioned said that they tried to reduce the amount they fly in order to limit their impact upon the environment.
But if universities continue to entice students with trips to far-off locations, flying will continue to be the social norm. Abi only told three close friends that she would not be flying to Morocco, as she feared judgment from the rest of the class, or worried that she might create difficulties for the course director if others also decided they didn’t want to go.
“It’s somewhat ironic that a university school that focuses on climate change and the impacts of excessive carbon release causes a large carbon footprint through compulsory field trips,” says Abi. “I think my refusal has made both the course director and School of GeoSciences more aware that they need to offer less carbon-intensive options for students.”
Did Abi feel that she had missed out by not going to Morocco? Not really. “The results of my survey were fascinating and were worth course credits, so it was great. And it turned out that in Morocco, the drone work that my class were supposed to be doing was not permitted! So they missed out on that experience and learning.”
There’s no denying that the Atlas Mountains are a fascinating destination. During the field trip, students studied water quality, biodiversity, local agriculture, sustainable tourism, soils and land use, and air quality monitoring. But all of this could be done in the UK.
“Universities need to stop relying on exotic trips and highlight whatever else they believe they do well to gain students. For example, the Geography courses at St Andrews, where I was an undergraduate, do not rely on multiple trips abroad to attract students, yet they are marked the best for student experience for Geography in the UK and are always getting enough applicants.
“For many field trips, UK alternatives may provide better opportunities. It’s important to be aware of the merits of your own country and what you can explore and learn here.”
The first part of a long article copied below.
for the full article
Sought after by students, highly regarded by academics and promoted by universities, field trips and field work are lauded as good practice in higher education. But there is a flip side – unequal opportunity, unsustainable environment costs and colonial legacies. Branwen Spector takes a closer look
Fieldwork and field trips are often thought of as integral and exciting parts of academic training – a luxury afforded to us in exchange for the hours of reading, writing, exams or admin. However, while academics have begun to interrogate the necessity of travel for conferences and meetings, the issue of field trips and fieldwork must too be placed under the same scrutiny. I spoke to a range of scholars and students about the idea that fieldwork and field trips may be a superfluous practice in relation to their environmental and social cost. These trips are increasingly incorporated into both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes of study, and fieldwork continues to be expected of numerous scholars, yet the environmental cost and the potential of being seen, at best, as a superficial means of interpreting a foreign culture or place; and at worst, as a form of poverty tourism render them controversial in the face of the current global struggles to decolonise universities and fight climate change – movements very much taking place within the academic sphere.
While fieldwork tends to be longer-term research projects carried out by students or researchers, field trips are short excursions and study trips for students. In recent years, universities have begun integrating field trips into their undergraduate and Master’s programmes and courses at a curricular level with it becoming compulsory on a number of programmes. Several development, anthropology, geography, sociology, international relations and management departments t require students to undertake overseas field trips and expeditions as a compulsory part of their programmes and courses.
These trips are also used as a recruitment tool to attract students to universities. In geography programmes in the UK, where field trips are a requirement, Thomas Smith, a geographer at the LSE, notes that there is an “arms race in geography departments to provide the most ‘exotic destinations’ for field trips,” with students shopping around for the best option. The LSE Masters in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies programme has an optional trip to Geneva for all its participants to meet with staff from UNHCR; Queen Mary’s Geography Department offers a 10-day trip to Las Vegas and Los Angeles for second- and third-year undergraduates; the Urban and Regional Planning programme of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Brisbane offers trips to Malaysia, Korea, and Turkey; and the Nanyang Technical University of Singapore’s Asian School of the Environment offers trips to Bali, Sri Lanka and California. A student on the Masters in Management programme at the LSE explained how he and his cohort expected an international field trip in exchange for the high and increasing cost of a Master’s programme in the UK, and the destinations offered informed their choice of programme.
Fieldwork, however, is a sensitive issue: it is something on which academics come to market themselves, especially within disciplines based on long-term fieldwork such as anthropology or development. In these fields, researchers face immense pressure to go to increasingly ‘distant’ and ‘exotic’ locales, and conversations around the environmental impact and necessity of these trips are rare. But at a higher level, when fieldwork trips occur for shorter time periods due to personal constraints, how can we justify these trips?
Like many other professions, academics are beginning to wake up to the cost of their work-related travel and to think about alternatives. While some students are attracted to the promise and opportunity of subsidised international travel, there is also a new generation of climate-conscious students who question the necessity of these trips. Exeter University’s Geography Department, for example, offers its students a choice between local or international field trips, with intentions to eventually phase out all long-haul trips.
However, the alternatives to long-haul travel are more complex than they seem. Some staff pointed out that the prohibitive costs of accommodation for students in the UK make international trips cheaper. Others argue that for those students studying development-related fields, they need to be in developing countries to fully understand the issues they study. David Elliot, a geographer at Leeds devised an equation that measured carbon emissions versus the learning outcomes of a trip to determine their worth and how to offset their emissions, but this equation assumes that the learning outcomes for each student are the same, as Thomas Smith pointed out.
Smith argued that students with the lowest carbon footprint are likely to gain the greatest benefit from university-subsidised travel, as they are likely to come from lower-income backgrounds and have travelled less in their lives. University-subsidised travel, he says, provides them with new experiences of travel that they would otherwise be unable to afford, and thus makes field trips an important issue of inclusion in higher education.
Doing away with field trips and fieldwork is not the solution; but we can adopt a more socially responsible and environmentally sustainable approach: