The harms to health caused by aviation noise require urgent action

In October 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) published its long awaited new guidelines for environmental noise.  These make source-specific recommendations for noise from aviation, as well as road, rail, wind turbines, and leisure. They include tough new lower thresholds set for aviation noise, reflecting the growing body of evidence about the harmful effects of noise on health  – that fall disproportionately on the vulnerable, particularly children, and the infirm and older people. Writing in a blog in the British Medical Journal, the writers say health impact assessments of aircraft noise, if they were carried out, lacked transparency as they were often undertaken by airport operators. Seemingly there has been a reluctance to protect the health of the population in the face of commercial pressures pursuing economic benefits. Unless urgent action is taken using the new WHO recommendations for lower thresholds, the health of communities residing near airports will continue to show marked deterioration.  We need policies and actions to ensure there is an equitable balance between economic benefit and the health and wellbeing of communities. The cost and long-term consequences of inaction will be considerable.
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The harms to health caused by aviation noise require urgent action

Koch was before his time and could not have anticipated the rapid growth of aviation worldwide and the impact that aviation noise would have on health. In October 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) published its long awaited new guidelines for environmental noise. [1]

The guidelines make source-specific recommendations for noise from aviation, as well as road, rail, wind turbines, and leisure. They include tough new lower thresholds set for aviation noise, reflecting the growing body of evidence about the harmful effects of noise on health.

This issue is not new. In 1999, in an attempt to achieve a balance between health hazards for communities near airports with current and proposed developments, the WHO Charter on Transport and Environmental Health recommended that the health of the community should be put first when considering transport since adverse environmental effects fall disproportionately on the vulnerable, particularly children, and the infirm and older people [2].

It also recommended the “polluter pays” principle; the commonly accepted practice whereby those who produce pollution should bear the costs of managing it to prevent damage to human health or the environment. Britain was a co-signatory to this WHO Charter. Unfortunately, this charter seems to have had little effect, since in practice little notice has been taken of it when planning airport expansion and introducing airspace changes.

Health impact assessments, if they were carried out, lacked transparency as they were often undertaken by airport operators. Seemingly there has been a reluctance to protect the health of the population in the face of commercial pressures pursuing economic benefits.

The 2018 WHO guidelines, although designated for Europe, have global applications with input from Australia, America and Asia. The recommendations are much tougher than the WHO 1999 guidelines, so one would hope that they may have more effect.

Although well recognised as an environmental harm, there is now considerable recent literature on the adverse health effects of noise on children’s education – and cardiovascular disease.

The RANCH study conducted among primary school children near major airports in Europe, matched for socio-economic status, reported that chronic exposure to aircraft noise has a negative effect on children’s reading and learning outcomes [3].

A study from Germany has not only confirmed these findings, but also showed that children with language or retention disorders, or who are learning in a second language, experienced more impairment [4].

Studies near Heathrow schools indicate that even double glazing is insufficient for noise insulation [5].

There is insufficient appreciation of the fact that aircraft noise has substantial effects on cardiovascular disease including hypertension, ischaemic heart disease, heart failure and stroke. [6-11]

This may be because many studies have only been recently published.

The WHO 2018 report concludes that government policy and noise targets are inadequate and out of date, and it strongly recommends that new targets are established and incorporated into national policies. The WHO report also emphasises that communities potentially affected by any change in aviation noise exposure should be informed and involved in plans.

The report recommends threshold aircraft noise limits of 45dB Lden during the day and 40dB Lnight at night compared with the previous levels of 55dB and 45dB respectively. These recommendations present a significant challenge for the aviation industry.  Forecasts in 2017 showed that worldwide passenger numbers could double to 8.2 billion annually by 2037 [12].

The aviation industry states that “new generation aircraft will be 50% quieter” but this needs to be carefully scrutinised since this falls well short of halving the noise intensity or loudness of an aircraft’s noise emissions [13].

While current aircraft have reduced their noise emissions compared with earlier generations, this improvement is now becoming much less marked in terms of the actual reduction of noise intensity.  In the United Kingdom alone it has been estimated that over half the population is exposed to more than the WHO’s previous recommended daytime noise levels and just under three quarters reside in areas where previous recommended night time noise levels are exceeded [14].

Unless urgent action is taken using the new WHO recommendations for lower thresholds, the health of communities residing near airports will continue to show marked deterioration.

Government departments such as the Department for Transport and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have major roles to play and healthcare advisers can reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease among their patients. However, environmental factors such as noise and atmospheric pollution need input from the Department of Health.  In our view, so far, its voice has been somewhat muted; a stronger lead is required.

Mitigation strategies ought to be a joint approach from both central and local governments. But decisions relating to the planning of airport development are now mostly in the hands of local authorities. Many are unlikely to have the necessary resources, expertise, and experience to handle this decision-making process and are experiencing financial constraints.

The findings of the 2018 WHO guidelines contain scientific data that is loud and clear. This should be the catalyst for revised policies and actions to ensure there is an equitable balance between economic benefit and the health and wellbeing of communities. The cost and long-term consequences of inaction will be considerable.

Jangu Banatvala, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Virology, King’s College, London, UK

Martin Peachey, Aviation Environment Federation Member, Bishop’s Stortford, Herts, UK

Thomas Münzel, Department of Cardiology, University Medical Centre, Mainz, Germany

Declaration of interests: JB and MP are advising Stop Stansted Expansion on health and noise respectively.  No financial interests involved. 

https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2019/06/18/the-harms-to-health-caused-by-aviation-noise-require-urgent-action/

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References:

  1. Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region (2018) http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/environment-and-health/noise/publications/2018/environmental-noise-guidelines-for-the-european-region-2018.
  2. Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health (3rd: 1999: London, United Kingdom) & World Health Organization.  Regional Office for Europe. (1999). Charter on Transport, Environment and Health: this Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health, London, 16-18 June 1999.  Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe. http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/88575/E69044.pdf.
  3. Stansfeld, S.A., et al., Aircraft and road traffic noise and children’s cognition and health: a cross-national study. Lancet, 2005. 365(9475): p. 1942-9.
  4. Klatte M, Bergström K, and Lachmann T.  Does noise affect learning? A short review on noise effects on cognitive performance in children.  Front Psychol. 2013; 4: 578.
  5. Personal communication, Surinderpal Suri
  6. Hansell, A.L., et al., Aircraft noise and cardiovascular disease near Heathrow airport in London: small area study. BMJ, 2013. 347: p. f5432.
  7. Seidler, A., et al., Aircraft, road and railway traffic noise as risk factors for heart failure and hypertensive heart disease-A case-control study based on secondary data. Int J Hyg Environ Health, 2016. 219(8): p. 749-758.
  8. Correia, A.W., et al., Effect of air pollution control on life expectancy in the United States: an analysis of 545 U.S. counties for the period from 2000 to 2007. Epidemiology, 2013. 24(1): p. 23-31.
  9. Kempen, E.V., et al. WHO Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region: A Systematic Review on Environmental Noise and Cardiovascular and Metabolic Effects: A Summary. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 2018. 15(2).
  10. Munzel, T., et al., Cardiovascular effects of environmental noise exposure. Eur Heart J, 2014. 35(13): p. 829-36.
  11. Munzel, T., et al., Environmental Noise and the Cardiovascular System. J Am Coll Cardiol, 2018. 71(6): p. 688-697.
  12. International Air Transport Association (IATA) press release. 24 October 2017. https://www.iata.org/pressroom/pr/Pages/2018-10-24-02.aspx.
  13. Submission to Uttlesford District Council by Stop Stansted Expansion.  30 April 2018, Paras. 9.5.3 to 9.5.6 and Appendix C.  http://stopstanstedexpansion.com/documents/UTT-18-0460-FUL-SSE_submisson_incorprating_corrections_18_May_2018.pdf
  14. Stansfeld, S and Crombie, R, Cardiovascular effects of environmental noise: Research in the United Kingdom.  Noise and Health, 2011, 13(52): p.229-233

 

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Heathrow 3rd runway plans reveal the monster airport proposed – how uniquely expensive, harmful and damaging it would be

With the publication of the Heathrow consultation documents comes realisation of what a massive, uniquely damaging and harmful plan it is. A few comments from Alistair Osborne in the Times: “The project is the equivalent of dropping Gatwick airport on to one of the world’s busiest motorways: 12 zippy lanes, no less, of the M25″… and “It can all be done without any “significant” disruption, while maintaining the traffic flow of 220,000 vehicles a day. Who says so? Heathrow, of course — despite the small matter of “realigning the M25 carriageway”, sinking it by 4.5m in a tunnel and having planes land on top. Not only that. Heathrow will be adding at least 260,000 flights a year and 50 million more passengers” … ” But, apparently, they won’t lead to a single extra car on the roads. Or any more trucks, despite the doubling of cargo capacity to “at least three million tonnes” a year. No, it’s all coming by bicycle or some green equivalent. And don’t worry about the costs because “Heathrow expansion will be privately financed and costs will not fall on the taxpayer”…. “It’s pure fantasy. Indeed, ask Heathrow how much of the £14 billion is for diverting the M25 and the company has no answer…. Apparently, a cost breakdown will be delivered to the CAA by the end of the year.”
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Heathrow monster that won’t fly

19th June 2019

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Heathrow’s flying unicorn: a £14 billion third runway project even more fantastic than the mythological beast. None of it makes any sense. But who cares about that? It’s just the thing for batso Brexit Britain.

The Heathrow “masterplan” is out. And no faulting the airport on the document front — all timed for its 12-week “statutory consultation”. There’s thousands of pages of stuff: everything from diverting rivers to demolishing 761 houses. But here’s the key thing you need to know. The project is the equivalent of dropping Gatwick airport on to one of the world’s busiest motorways: 12 zippy lanes, no less, of the M25. What better location than that?

Still, guess what? It can all be done without any “significant” disruption, while maintaining the traffic flow of 220,000 vehicles a day. Who says so? Heathrow, of course — despite the small matter of “realigning the M25 carriageway”, sinking it by 4.5m in a tunnel and having planes land on top. Not only that. Heathrow will be adding at least 260,000 flights a year and 50 million more passengers — topping the 46.4 million Gatwick handled in its latest financial year.
But, apparently, they won’t lead to a single extra car on the roads. Or any more trucks, despite the doubling of cargo capacity to “at least three million tonnes” a year. No, it’s all coming by bicycle or some green equivalent. And don’t worry about the costs because “Heathrow expansion will be privately financed and costs will not fall on the taxpayer”. Even better, transport secretary Chris Grayling says passenger charges will be kept “close to current levels”.

It’s pure fantasy. Indeed, ask Heathrow how much of the £14 billion is for diverting the M25 and the company has no answer — at least, not yet. Apparently, a cost breakdown will be delivered to the Civil Aviation Authority by the end of the year. But the airport’s biggest customer, British Airways-owner IAG, isn’t waiting for that. It pointed out that Heathrow is now admitting that “the overall expansion costs will soar to £30 billion” — “This is why you cannot trust Heathrow. They are trying to con Parliament, con customers and con the public.”

Heathrow says the higher figure accounts for spending on the airport outside the runway project. But the promoter of the rival Heathrow Hub scheme puts the all-in costs of Heathrow’s plan, including surface access, at £43.5 billion. Who’s right?

What, too, of the environmental impact? Well, Heathrow says there’ll be no increase in air pollution, carbon emissions or noise. But two sites around the airport already breach nitrogen dioxide limits, even if Heathrow’s directly responsible for only up to 16% of those emissions. How will 260,000 more planes help carbon targets? And the consultation flunks the noise issue because it won’t be until 2022 that Heathrow reveals the key bit of info people need: the precise flightpaths.

Of course, Boris Johnson said he would “lie down in front of the bulldozers” to stop runway three — not that you can always tell what sort of lying he’s got in mind. But, given there’s a viable, competition-friendly alternative in building an extra runway each at Gatwick and Stansted, the least our wannabe PM can do is demand that Heathrow gets real. As things stand, its fantasy project does not deserve to fly.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/heathrow-monster-that-won-t-fly-n3qb9d6h3

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See also the Guardian Story at

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/jun/18/heathrow-third-runway-expansion-plans-revealed?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other


Heathrow Airport reveals £30bn expansion plans that will ’cause 30 years of misery’

HEATHROW Airport has unveiled its £30bn expansion plans with a contentious third runway set to open by 2026 – but campaigners have warned the project will cause 30 years of “misery”.

The ambitious plans include lowering the M25 for the third runway to cross, diverting rivers and moving roads – with furious opponents warning of the environment impact.

The new runway, the crucial part of the airport’s expansion, is expected to be operational by 2026.   The rest of the airport will be built in three stages between 2030 and 2050, with Heathrow claiming it can be built for £14 billion.

It hopes to increase its total capacity to 135 million passengers by 2050, up from almost 81 million. Flight numbers are expected to rise from 480,000 to 740,000 in the same time period.

Critics have questioned the price tag, claiming the ultimate cost could more than double to £30 billion.

‘YEARS OF DISRUPTION’

Plans for the first phase include the re-routing of a 12-lane section of the M25 into a tunnel under the new runway, diverting of river corridors and creation of new drainage and pollution control areas, and realignment of the Colnbrook Railhead freight line.

The project will be carried out while the M25, which carries 220,000 vehicles a day, remains operational.

The RAC warned drivers using the stretch “would face years of significant disruption”.

New locations have also been marked out for places such as Harmondsworth Primary School and Heathrow Special Needs Centre, which will be moved within the first phase.

In all, 761 homes are expected to be ripped down, including the entire village of Longford.

Plans to mitigate the effects of expansion include property compensation (with homeowners getting the open market value of their home plus 25 per cent), noise insulation funding, improved public transport links and a 6.5-hour ban on scheduled night flights.

The airport hope more passengers reach the airport by public transport but today’s plans show it is proposing to build three new car parks on the site, with space for 52,500 cars.

The proposals are now open to public consultation until September 13.

‘MISERY’

The third runway has faced fierce opposition for many years from campaigners who cited the negative impacts on noise and air pollution, habitat destruction, transport congestion and climate change.

Boris Johnson, the frontrunner to succeed Theresa May, said only four years ago he would “lie down in front of those bulldozers and stop the construction of [that] third runway”.

But when the plan was put up for vote in the House of Commons, Mr Johnson hopped on a plane to Afghanistan to meet the country’s president and deputy foreign minister. The visit lasted one day and cost the Government just under £20,000.

Now, with the PM job in sight, Boris has hinted he will drop his longstanding opposition to the third runway.

Paul Beckford from the No 3rd Runway Coalition, added: “Heathrow will claim this is the largest consultation ever and that may well be right.

“However, this simply reflects the sheer scale of the impact that their expansion plans will have on local communities.”

Mr Beckford said “incredibly” it appears Heathrow wants to “spread the misery of their expansion plans over a 30-year period, inflicting the blight of construction and the resultant increases in air and noise pollution on communities across London for decades”.

700 EXTRA PLANES A DAY

Robert Barnstone, campaign co-ordinator of Stop Heathrow Expansion, said he found the plans “laughable”.

He said: “It could be causing disruption for up to 30 years, that’s ridiculous.

“It just seems a slap in the face to be honest.

“Thirty years of disruption to build a runway that may not end up being compatible with various environmental targets, may breach air quality limits and is just going to make some parts of London a noise sewer.”

John Stewart, chair of Hacan, another campaigning group opposed to Heathrow’s expansion, said while the plan for the third runway was advancing it was not yet a done deal.

He said: “The impact on local people could be severe for many years to come. Disruption from construction; the demolition of homes; the reality of more than 700 extra planes a day.”

Campaigners have said around two million people could be impacted by new noise from an expanded Heathrow, including in areas such as Hammersmith, Heston, Osterley Park, Chiswick and Brentford, which are not on the flight path at the moment.

Last month the High Court dismissed five legal challenges to the approval of the runway, including one brought by a consortium of local authorities, Greenpeace and Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, on air quality, climate change and noise pollution grounds.

Friends Of The Earth, which brought one of the challenges, said it would appeal.

‘ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER’

Mr Khan tweeted today: “A third runway at #Heathrow would be an environmental disaster for London, with higher levels of toxic air & noise pollution and 40,000+ extra vehicles on our roads every day. I encourage all Londoners to participate in Heathrow’s expansion consultation.”

However the plans have been welcomed by some as a massive jobs boost.

Parmjit Dhanda, executive director of Back Heathrow, which claims to represent more than 100,00 local residents, said: “It will bring thousands of new jobs, apprenticeships for young people in local communities and boost the wider UK economy”.

London and Eastern regional secretary Peter Kavanagh added: “Heathrow’s expansion masterplan is an important step on the road to creating 77,000 new local jobs and 5,000 new apprenticeships, as well as other benefits such as increased investment and better infrastructure.”

“That is why we have been working with partners at the airport, in local communities and in Government to ensure our plans show how we can grow sustainably and responsibly – with environmental considerations at the heart of expansion.

“This consultation is an opportunity for people to have their say on our preferred masterplan, so it’s really important that as many people as possible take part. We look forward to hearing your views.”

 This shows the areas affected by the current flight paths and the extra areas affected by the expansion
This shows the areas affected by the current flight paths and the extra areas affected by the expansion
Noise levels could reach as far as St Albans following the expansion
In this scenario noise levels could reach as far as Dartford 
Noise levels could even reach Reading following Heathrow’s expansion

 

 These different maps show each runway in an arrivals' scenario - it's estimated around two million people could be impact by extra noise by a third runway

These different maps (see  https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9319310/heathrow-airport-expansion-revealed-third-runway-finished-2026/ for the maps) show each runway in an arrivals’ scenario – it’s estimated around two million people could be impact by extra noise by a third runway.https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9319310/heathrow-airport-expansion-revealed-third-runway-finished-2026/

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Heathrow consultation starts – trying to cover up the devastating impacts the 3rd runway would have, in so many ways…

The main Heathrow consultation – before the DCO consultation – on its proposed 3rd runway has opened. It closes on 13th September. It is a massive consultation, with dozens and dozens of long documents – making it impossible, in reality, for a layperson to read.  Below are links to the key documents. Heathrow says it is proposing “tough new measures to reduce emissions”. It proposes a slight increase in the amount of time when scheduled flights are not allowed at night – just 6.5 hours (that does NOT include planes that take off late….) so little change there. This is a statutory consultation (the earlier ones were not) and Heathrow says it “will inform the airport’s Development Consent Order (DCO) application, which is expected to be submitted next year.”  There will be 43 consultation events to be held during the 12-week consultation period. Heathrow says its “expansion will be privately financed and costs will not fall on the taxpayer.” It will be interesting to see how they pay for the work to bridge the M25, paying for it all themselves. There is no information on flight paths, as those will not be decided upon until perhaps 2023. They use only indicative flight paths. There expected to be more flights, even before the runway is built, by 2022.
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The consultation:

The consultation can be found at  https://aec.heathrowconsultation.com/

Links to the vast number of documents can be found at

https://aec.heathrowconsultation.com/documents/

Click on a collection below to view all relevant documents.

The consultation events can be found at

https://aec.heathrowconsultation.com/events/


Heathrow says:

In this consultation we are seeking feedback on:

Your feedback will help us to further refine our proposals before we submit our application for a DCO, planned for 2020.

This consultation is a statutory consultation being carried out in accordance with the requirements of the Planning Act 2008 and associated legislation and guidance. It is an important part of the planning process that applies to the Project. More information about the planning process can be found below and in the How do we obtain approval to expand Heathrow document.

For the flight paths for our three-runway airport, we are following the Civil Aviation Authority’s Airspace Change Process. This requires us to carry out ongoing airspace design work and stakeholder engagement to develop our flight path options.We are not consulting on airspace change as part of this consultation. For more information, please see our Airspace change page.

Before you start your response please visit How to respond“.

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Heathrow reveals masterplan for expansion with launch of its largest consultation

18th June 2019 (consultation ends 13th September)

http://mediacentre.heathrow.com/pressrelease/details/81/Expansion-News-23/11234

Heathrow’s press release below

Heathrow Expansion Masterplan in 2050 (2)
  • Heathrow today unveils its preferred masterplan for expansion
  • Details of tough new measures to reduce emissions revealed, as well as our preferred plans for noise respite and proposed ban on scheduled night flights
  • This statutory consultation is the next major milestone for the expansion proposals, and Heathrow’s most innovative and largest consultation to date
  • It follows Heathrow’s Airspace and Future Operations Consultation held earlier this year and will inform the airport’s Development Consent Order (DCO) application, which is expected to be submitted next year.

Today, Heathrow launches its 12-week statutory consultation on expansion, the latest milestone in delivering this critical national infrastructure project, as the preferred masterplan for the project is unveiled.The Airport Expansion Consultation runs from 18th June until 13th September 2019 and gives the public the opportunity to provide feedback on Heathrow’s proposals for the future layout of the airport, including the new runway and other airport infrastructure such as terminals and road access. The public will also be able to have their say on plans to manage the environmental impacts of expansion, including a proposed Heathrow Ultra Low Emissions Zone, Heathrow Vehicle Access Charge and a proposed 6.5-hour ban on scheduled night flights.The Airport Expansion Consultation also reveals plans for the airport’s growth in phases – from runway opening in approximately 2026, to the end masterplan in approximately 2050. This incremental growth will mirror the forecasted growth in passengers and help airport charges remain close to 2016 levels, delivering more affordable fares for passengers.In addition, the consultation is seeking feedback on:

  • Plans to operate the future airport: how the future three runway airport will be operated, including important elements such as night flights, as well as how potential additional flights before the new runway opens could be operated on our existing two runways;
  • Assessment of impacts of the airport’s growth: Heathrow’s preliminary assessment of the likely impacts of expansion on the environment and local communities;
  • Plans to manage the impacts of expansion: Heathrow will set out the airport’s plans for mitigating the effects of expansion, including property compensation, Noise Insulation Policy, a Community Fund, and plans to mitigate against environmental effects including new measures to reduce congestion and emissions and a ban on scheduled flights at night.

The plans revealed in this consultation incorporate the extensive feedback gathered from the airport’s first public consultation on expansion, which took place from January to March 2018, and the Airspace and Future Operations Consultation held from January to March 2019, as well as from continuous engagement with local communities, local authorities, airlines, environmental stakeholders and other interested parties.

Responses to this consultation will inform Heathrow’s application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) – the planning consent required for the project – which is expected to be submitted to the Secretary of State for Transport next year.

The consultation will be Heathrow’s largest and most innovative public consultation to date, with 43 consultation events to be held during the 12-week period. As part of this consultation, a website will also be available with all the information about Heathrow’s proposals, videos to help explain the plans, and an online feedback form to assist as many people as possible to participate and have their say.

Hard copy consultation documents will be available to view in 42 different locations across local communities.

Heathrow has also invested in new technology to bring the plans to life, including a physical model of the future airport which features augmented reality, sound booths to demonstrate the effect of noise insulation on properties overflown by aircraft, and a CGI fly through video.

Emma Gilthorpe, Heathrow’s Executive Director for Expansion, urges local people to participate in the consultation, saying:“Expansion must not come at any cost.

“That is why we have been working with partners at the airport, in local communities and in Government to ensure our plans show how we can grow sustainably and responsibly – with environmental considerations at the heart of expansion. This consultation is an opportunity for people to have their say on our preferred masterplan, so it’s really important that as many people as possible take part. We look forward to hearing your views.”

-ENDS-

Notes to editors:

1. The consultation opens on 18th June 2019 and feedback can be submitted from this date. The deadline for responding to the consultation is 11.55pm on 13th September 2019. Feedback can be submitted in a number of ways:

2. Throughout the Airport Expansion Consultation, Heathrow will be holding 43 open consultation events where people will be able to learn about our plans, ask questions, and provide us with their feedback. Details of the dates, times and locations of consultation events can be found on this website: www.heathrowconsultation.com

3. On 25th June 2018, MPs voted to approve the Airports National Policy Statement, which provides policy support for Heathrow expansion, by 415 in favour to 119 against – a majority of 296 votes which provided the airport with a clear mandate to proceed.

4. Heathrow expansion will be privately financed and costs will not fall on the taxpayer. The airport’s investors are supportive of this crucial project which will form part of the key trading infrastructure Britain will need to succeed post-Brexit.

5. Following the conclusion of this consultation and after feedback has been incorporated, Heathrow will submit a final proposal to the Secretary of State for Transport in 2020, kickstarting its approvals process.

The decision on whether to grant the DCO will be made by the Secretary of State following a public examination period.

For any queries, members of the public can contact info@heathrowconsultation.com

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Night flights:

On night flights, this document on noise states: 

“Heathrow is consulting on a night flight management regime including a 6.5 hour ban on scheduled night flights and exploring how this can be delivered to maximise respite for communities close to the runways between 2300 and 0700”

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Carbon

On carbon emissions, this document states: 

9.6.9 Current baseline GHG emissions have been estimated at 20.8 million tonnes of CO2e (MtCO2e). Air transport accounts for over 95% of Heathrow’s GHG emissions followed by surface access transport at 3%. Table 9.7 presents Heathrow’s baseline GHG emissions by sub-aspect and includes published results for 2015 and 2016 for context, noting that not all activities were reported in these earlier years: the additional activity included is the air transport CCD phase (which is 90% of the 2017 footprint).

and

“Heathrow’s carbon neutral growth aspiration means that growth in CO2 emissions27 from additional flights after expansion would be offset through carbon credits, resulting in no net growth in emissions. This aspiration also applies to GHG emissions from ground transportation for passengers and colleagues and the embodied carbon that would result from construction of the DCO Project.”

…. and there is much, much more…


Realigning the M25

https://aec.heathrowconsultation.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2019/06/PTIR_Vol-2_Project-Description_Final-Draft_060619-NEW.pdf

M25 Realignment   [there is no mention of cost – conveniently]…

2.8.3 In order to accommodate the new runway, which would run across the existing alignment, the M25 would need to be lowered and realigned between Junction 14 (J14) and Junction 15 (J15).

2.8.4 The new route would run up to a maximum of 150m to the west of its existing motorway over a length of 2km. The main carriageway would comprise four lanes in each direction and would be built off-line to minimise disruption to the existing M25 during construction.

2.8.5 There would also be new northbound and southbound ‘collector-distributor’ roads running parallel with the main carriageway, which would link J14 and J15 and also link to Junction 14A.

2.8.6 The vertical profile of the proposed new section of the M25 would be lowered below the existing carriageway to allow it to pass under the proposed new runway in tunnels.

2.8.7 The preferred layout for the proposed M25 realignment is shown in Graphic 2.4.

 

 


HEATHROW EXPANSION TO CAUSE DISRUPTION FOR DECADES

17 June 2019

By the No 3rd Runway Coalition

Heathrow Airport will tomorrow (18 June) launch their statutory consultation on their masterplan for expansion.

The consultation will set out the detail of the proposals to build a new runway and associated airport infrastructure including new terminals and roads. It will also include information about night flights and how a 3-runway airport will operate, including the proposed additional 25,000 flights before a 3rd runway even opens.

The consultation is expected to set out Heathrow’s assessment of the impacts of expansion on local communities and the environment – as well their plans to mitigate these impacts.

Ahead of the consultation, Paul Beckford from the No 3rd Runway Coalition, the leading campaign organisation opposing the expansion of Heathrow, said:

“Heathrow will claim this is the largest consultation ever and that may well be right. However, this simply reflects the sheer scale of the impact that their expansion plans will have on local communities.

“Our communities will be destroyed by these expansion proposals, with 783 homes demolished and another 3,000 homes rendered unliveable owing to the construction and pollution. 2 million more people will be exposed to aircraft noise at levels that have a detrimental impact on health and millions will be exposed to significant increases in air pollution from vehicles accessing the airport as well as the 700 additional planes in the skies every single day.

“Incredibly, it now appears that Heathrow want to be spread the misery of their expansion plans over a 30-year period, inflicting the blight of construction and the resultant increases in air and noise pollution on communities across London for decades.

“Every community across London and the Home Counties will experience the impacts of these proposals, and we urge anyone concerned about the expansion to state their objections loudly and clearly in their responses to the consultation.”

Ends.

For more information, contact:

Rob Barnstone, 07806947050, rob@no3rdrunwaycoalition.co.uk

Paul Beckford, 07775593928, paul@no3rdrunwaycoalition.co.uk

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Just under the Environment section, there are a vast number of documents, some several hundred pages long: 

 

Environment

PEIR means Preliminary Environmental Information Report 

Documents/Pages in this collection

 

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Maybe night trains will return, for middle distance trips around Europe…

Unfortunately, overnight train routes have long been in decline, due mainly to the growing popularity of cheap flights. German rail operator Deutsche Bahn ended all of its night routes, selling off the entirety of its sleeping carriages, while in France, the last Paris-to-Nice sleeping train service was discontinued in 2017. There has been a lot of campaigning to keep the night trains, which offer a far lower-carbon travel alternative to flying, for distances that take too long for a daytime trip. The Back on Track group has been lobbying rail operators and governments, and organizing protests. There seems to be a slight improvement, with Austria’s ÖBB buying Deutsche Bahn’s unwanted sleeping carriages, and even ordering more new ones for 2023. The Swedish government has announced plans to expand overnight trains to many European destinations. The Swiss rail operator SBB has said it is considering renewed night routes, citing market demand. In France, activists saved a popular sleeping-car route between Paris, Perpignan and the Spanish border town of Portbou. In the UK we have the recently upgraded Caledonian Sleeper, from London to Scotland. More people need to ask for night routes.
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With growing concern over the environmental impact of flying, sleeper train service, long considered old-fashioned and nostalgic, is picking up steam.

By Evan Rail  (New York Times)

11th June 2019

From the Orient Express to the Trans-Europe Express, few methods of travel have offered as much romance as a European night train. Unfortunately, these overnight train routes have long been in decline, particularly in Western Europe, due mainly to the growing popularity of budget airlines. In 2016, the German rail operator Deutsche Bahn ended all of its night routes, selling off the entirety of its sleeping wagons, while in France, the last Paris-to-Nice sleeping train service was discontinued in 2017.

As a result, fans of overnight rail travel have been fighting to save the service. The cross-border Back on Track group has been lobbying both operators and governments while also organizing protests inside train stations. Things have started to look up, with new routes, new carriages and renewed interest from travelers. Austria’s ÖBB purchased Deutsche Bahn’s unwanted sleeping wagons, and has since reported increasing numbers of overnight passengers, even ordering new sleeping cars set to enter service by 2023. In March, the Swedish government announced plans to expand overnight trains to many European destinations. In May, the Swiss rail operator SBB said that it was considering renewed night routes, citing market demands.

In France, activists saved a beloved sleeping-car route between Paris, Perpignan and the Spanish border town of Portbou, according to Nicolas Forien, a member of both Back on Track and the French group Oui au Train de Nuit (“Yes to the Night Train”).

“Public opinion is changing compared to a few years ago, when night trains were considered old-fashioned and nostalgic, something from the past,” Mr. Forien said. “Now it’s considered a serious alternative to flying which should be redeveloped.”

Sleeper train service has had better luck in other parts of the Continent — often in regions with less competition from budget airlines. The Czech train operator RegioJet introduced a new overnight line in 2017 with all-new cars traveling from Prague through Slovakia’s High Tatra Mountains and to the regional capital of Kosice.
The route was later extended further east to the city of Humenne. In late 2018, ÖBB launched a new version of the historic Vienna to Berlin overnight route, now traveling through Wroclaw and other cities in southwestern Poland. And the Serbian rail operator Srbija Voz has recently modernized the couchettes on its overnight trains.

But by far, the highest-profile night train is the new Caledonian Sleeper, which offers luxurious sleeping cars for journeys between London and various destinations in Scotland, with upgraded features like en-suite lavatories and double beds, as well as improved options for dining. (The Caledonian Sleeper appeared on Travel’s 52 Places to Go in 2019 list.

While more comfortable furnishings and better meals might heighten the romantic allure of night trains, concern for the environment is giving the movement a significant push. Earlier this year, the climate activist Greta Thunberg completed a cross-European speaking tour by train, which helped bring the Swedish concept of flygskam, or “flight shame,” to a wider audience. In one Twitter post, Ms. Thunberg posted a picture of herself smiling from an upper bunk of night train.

“The most important thing for me these days is the climate discussion, because they are really climate-friendly alternatives to middle-distance flying,” Bernhard Knierim, an activist with Back on Track, said of trains. For Mr. Knierim, the optimal distance for overnight rail travel is “anything up to 1,000 kilometers,” or about 620 miles.

In terms of environmental impact, the difference between rail travel and flights can be substantial. Robert Lechner, a spokesman for the ÖBB rail carrier, points out that Austria’s electrified overnight trains do not require fossil fuels.

“In Austria, for example, the electricity for the trains comes from 100-percent renewable sources,” said Mr. Lechner. “In terms of geography, we have a lot of advantages. We have the power plants on the Danube River, and we have the power plants in the mountains.”

Not only do night trains allow travelers to avoid the guilt of flygskam, but train travel can also be productive, thanks to the onboard Wi-Fi that many night trains offer for free. For most travelers, however, the main “productive” time will be spent sleeping. They are also cost effective: These trains eliminate the need for booking a night of accommodation.

Al Mik, 32, frequently travels around Europe in his job with a Brussels-based nongovernmental organization, taking night trains instead of flying a few times per year.

Train travel takes longer than flying, but sometimes it’s more convenient, Mr. Mik said.

“There’s something really great about waking up and being dumped off in the center of the place you’re traveling to, instead of 20 or 30 kilometers out, as you are with most flights,” he said. “And then there’s the environmental factor as well.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/11/travel/europe-overnight-trains.html 

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There is information on European night trains at

https://www.interrail.eu/en/plan-your-trip/trains-europe/night-trains

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See earlier:

How low cost flights killed night trains

There are very few night trains left in Europe. In Europe, the network of slow night trains has largely been dismantled.  Cheap air fares have just about killed them off – and it is hard to see how the trend will be reversed. Night trains are considered a niche market, expensive, nostalgic. Passengers prefer air to rail, which is considered too expensive and too slow. The trend is the same all across Europe, and elsewhere. Even low cost buses are helping to destroy the market for long distance, night, train travel. The trains depend on a railway line whose maintenance has to be paid; the plane, in the sky, is flying on its own – and electricity, which propels trains, is not a cheap fuel. Aviation generally pays no tax for its fuel.  In France, over the past ten years, TGV (high-speed train) traffic has remained sluggish, while the number of air passengers has risen 20%. In Italy, despite the success of TGVs and competition between two operators, the long-distance rail offer has barely developed in twenty years. More than 80% of flights departing from Switzerland serve a European destination and 40% of them travel a distance of less than 800 km, “feasible by train”. But with the continuing availability of ultra-cheap air travel, people are unlikely to choose rail. 

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2019/01/how-low-cost-flights-killed-night-trains/

 

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End of the line for European over-night sleep trains, with the relentless rise of low cost air travel

It used to be possible to make a number of longer journeys between cities in Europe by sleeper train. Though not always the most comfortable night’s sleep, and with the added interest of sometimes needing to share a couchette, they were a relatively low carbon way to travel a long way, without the need or expense of a hotel for the night. But now more and more of these night services are being terminated, and those that remain don’t have enough investment to keep them up to modern standards of comfort. As the price of air travel is so low, due to subsidy (air travel in Europe pays no fuel duty, and no VAT; the highest tax is APD from the UK at €13 per return trip), over-night rail journeys cannot compete on price.  In an article in Passenger Transport, Jonathan Bray bemoans the sad decline of these train routes, which made longer trips around Europe possible, by a low carbon route.  It is short sighted of governments to cut these routes, and to focus instead on every cheaper air travel, and the more sexy (and higher carbon) high speed rail schemes. The rail routes may be needed in future, as a less carbon intensive form of travel.  Governments and the rail companies need to be ambitious about the contribution over-night train services can make to decarbonising travel.   

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/07/27294/

 

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Heathrow plans its 3rd runway to bridge the M25 in 3 sections – one runway and two separate taxiways

The Times has published images from Heathrow, showing their plans for expansion (consultation due to start of 18th) including what they do to get the runway over the 12 lane M25 (the busiest section of motorway in the UK, and probably in Europe). Heathrow has only ever said it would be just over £1 billion for the work, though it would cost much more. The plan appears to be for the M25 to be lowered a bit, into a tunnel. There would be two separate taxiways over the motorway, with the planes probably visible to drivers travelling below. Also a wider section on which would be the runway itself. Distracting for drivers?  Heathrow claims having two openings in the tunnel between the taxiways and runway would “improve stability, ventilation and visibility on the road.”  Might it also be cheaper?  The Times says: “Plans to cross the M25 have been revised after talks with Highways England, which had raised concerns about the risk of damage to the tunnel by landing aircraft. It was also feared that drivers may be distracted by planes overhead.”  Nowhere else in the world is a road a busy as the M25 crossed by a runway or taxiways.  Heathrow will seek to soften the impact of expansion by spreading the work over as long as 30 years – easier to pay for.

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Heathrow plans runway over M25 in 30-year expansion

The third runway at Heathrow will be the first of several big upgrades, including new terminals and car parksHEATHROW AIRPORT

New plans to build Heathrow’s third runway over the M25 have been drawn up as the airport prepares to stagger its huge expansion over three decades to minimise disruption. [And cut the costs, so it is not quite so unaffordable. But remember the calculations of alleged economic benefit to the UK were made on the assumption of the airport being full quickly. AW comment]. 

The Times has learnt that Heathrow will propose a new runway and parallel taxiways over one of the country’s busiest roads.

Images released by the airport indicate that the M25, which widens to 12 lanes past Heathrow, would be rebuilt in a tunnel west of its present route.

Two openings in the tunnel between the taxiways and runway would improve stability, ventilation and visibility on the road.  [And probably be a cheaper alternative, to doing it properly, with a full tunnel. AW comment]

Plans to cross the M25 have been revised after talks with Highways England, which had raised concerns about the risk of damage to the tunnel by landing aircraft. It was also feared that drivers may be distracted by planes overhead.

Runways elsewhere in the world also cross busy roads, including those at Paris Charles de Gaulle and Fort Lauderdale in Florida, but the volume of traffic on the M25 west of London poses a massive logistical challenge.

The plans will be unveiled on Tuesday 18th June as part of a three-month public consultation into Heathrow’s £14 billion expansion. [Down from about £18 billion, as Heathrow just could not afford that much.  AW comment]

The third runway is fiercely opposed by several local councils, environmental groups and Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, who fear that it will worsen air quality and increase aircraft noise. Almost 800 homes will be demolished to make way for the runway.

It will also test Boris Johnson if he becomes prime minister. He has been a vocal opponent of a third runway and pledged to lie down in front of bulldozers to prevent it being built.

Heathrow will seek to soften the impact of expansion by spreading the work over as long as 30 years.

The two-mile runway northwest of Heathrow will allow the airport to increase annual flight numbers by 54 per cent, from a maximum of 480,000 to 740,000. It will ultimately be able to accommodate 135 million passengers, up from almost 81 million. [Just at a time when the planet does NOT need more carbon emissions, and the UK government has declared a “climate emergency”. The expansion of Heathrow is entirely incompatible with that. AW comment]

Only the runway would be built by the planned opening date of early 2026. Other facilities such as new terminals, car parks, hotels and transit systems would open from 2030, with an expansion of Terminal 5 the priority.

The consultation will also outline plans to introduce an extra 25,000 flights a year on the first two runways. Heathrow will propose to implement a six-and-a-half hour ban on flights overnight to provide respite to nearby residents.

The airport insisted that expanding in phases would keep costs down and minimise the impact on passengers. It would also ensure that airline landing fees, which add more than £20 to each ticket, are kept as low as possible. Airlines warn that fare increases would price some out of using Heathrow.  [Notice, there is never a mention of all the people on the ground, who are not taking the flights, who will be negatively affected. The focus is always only on the passengers. Always.  AW comment] 

Critics are sceptical that the expansion can be built within the £14 billion, privately financed budget.

The Times has learnt that Heathrow will propose huge expansions of Terminal 5 and Terminal 2. A satellite terminal known as T5X would be built north of Terminal 5 and next to the new runway.

Plans to be unveiled next week also include two huge car parks north and south of the airport, new hotels and an underground transit system that would provide links to the new facilities. [The new car parks are because Heathrow loves the income from cars, but it tries to claim there will be no more car/vehicle journeys, even with the new runway.  Contradiction?  AW comment]

The only issue that will not be open to consultation next week will be the position of new flight paths. This will be decided during a national reform of aviation in the next few years.  [So nobody responding to the consultation will have any idea of where the worst noise impacts will be.  For many, that would be THE most important aspect of the consultation. AW comment] 

The Aurora Group, a hotel owner-operator, is working on an alternative plan which it claims can expand Heathrow at a fraction of the cost. Surinder Arora, the group’s chairman, said: “We fail to see how they can stay within their £14 billion budget or deliver it on time. It’s too elaborate, almost like they want to build an entire city at the airport rather than focus on the passenger. We will do it for less money and quicker.”

Parmjit Dhanda, executive director of Back Heathrow, a pro-expansion group, [an “astroturf group, managed and paid for entirely by Heathrow, while trying to masquerade as a local group, of local people who are in favour of the runway.  AW comment] said: “China is looking to build over 130 new civil airports in the next few years and we have struggled to build a new runway in the southeast since the Second World War. It really is time we got on with this.”

The long wait for take-off
September 2012 The coalition government sets up a commission to assess options for a new runway in the southeast. The Airports Commission.

July 2015 The commission recommends a third runway at Heathrow.

October 2016 Heathrow is ratified by the government, prompting the resignation of the Tory MP Zac Goldsmith.

June 2018 MPs vote heavily in favour of Heathrow expansion, effectively awarding the airport outline planning permission. The Airports National Policy Statement – NPS.

May 2019 Campaigners lose a High Court challenge against the government’s approval. They are appealing, and the result of that appeal is not yet known.

June 18, 2019 Heathrow to launch a statutory public consultation on the location of the runway, new terminals, roads, hotels and the demolition of homes. This consultation is one Heathrow has to do, as part of the DCO (Development Consent Order) process for planning.

Early 2020 Heathrow will use findings from the consultation to apply for a development consent order DCO, or detailed planning permission.

Mid 2021 The planning inspectorate will make a recommendation to the transport secretary for the final decision on the development consent order. The final decision is taken by the Transport Secretary (currently Grayling).

Late 2021 Work to start on the new runway and realignment of the M25.

Early 2026 Third runway is due to open.

2030 Expansion of Terminal 5 to be partially complete, with reconfigured cargo area and some new hotels.

2035 Further work on existing terminal expansion and new T5 satellite terminal.

2050 All terminals fully built and Terminal 3 replaced. More taxiways added to improve airfield performance.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/heathrow-plans-runway-over-m25-in-30-year-expansion-f58v9f2ts

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See earlier:

 

Heathrow consultation: their suggestions of how to deal with M25, tunnel, bridge, altered junctions etc

As part of its consultation on its proposed 3rd runway, Heathrow has a section on what it hopes is done with the M25, so the runway can go over it.  This is a very expensive and complicate operation, and Heathrow is keen to cut the cost. The proposed runway will cross the M25 between Junctions 14 and 15 (J14 and J15) and will affect the operation of J14 and J14a, but not J15.  Other than moving the motorway a long way west, the options are tunnelling or bridging. Heathrow says: “Our current thinking is to re-position the M25 carriageway approximately 150 metres to the west, lower it by approximately 7 metres into a tunnel and raise the runway height by 3 to 5 metres so that it passes over the M25 between J14a and J15. The motorway will then re-join its current route. …We believe this approach is the most deliverable as it would allow construction to proceed while the existing M25 motorway remains in operation. This minimises impacts to road users and has the least overall impacts on communities during construction and long-term operation.”  And they say the 3rd runway will mean more traffic will want to pass through junctions 14 and 14A, so they will need to be expanded. Illustrations show some different options. 

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2018/01/heathrow-consultation-their-suggestions-of-how-to-deal-with-m25-tunnel-bridge-altered-junctions-etc/

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IAG warns the “costs and complexity” of bridging M25 could be major problem for Heathrow runway plans

British Airways’ owner International Airlines Group (IAG) estimates bridging the M25, close to the M4 junction, would cost £2 billion-£3 billion. The Airports Commission suggested the cost could be higher, with £5 billion for local road upgrades, including the tunnel. The Commission said Heathrow should pay for these, as part of the cost of building its runway. The cost and complexity of somehow putting the runway over the busiest, widest section of motorway in the UK are considerable.  IAG, as by far the largest airline at Heathrow, does not want to be charged for this work, which would mean putting up the price of its air tickets.  IAG says there is no detailed risk and cost analysis of the airport’s plans on what to do with the M25, though a bridge is cheaper than a tunnel.  Willie Walsh said: “Airlines were never consulted on the runway length and they can operate perfectly well from a slightly shorter runway that doesn’t cross the M25.” He wants Heathrow to build a shorter runway of 3,200m rather than 3,500m that does not require going over the M25. But that would mean the motorway directly at the end of the runway, in the worse danger zone. IAG says: “We will not pay for a runway that threatens both costs and delays spiralling out of control and where critical elements of the project could be undeliverable.”

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2017/05/iag-warns-the-costs-and-complexity-of-bridging-m25-could-be-major-problem-for-heathrow-runway-plans/

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Heathrow now considering (not tunnel or bridge) but cheaper series of “viaducts” over M25

Heathrow has a huge problem in how to get a runway over the busiest, widest stretch of the M25.  The original plan was a full 14-lane tunnel about 2,000 feet long. Then there were plans for a sort of bridge over the road. Even those would be prohibitively expensive (Heathrow says it would only pay £1.1 billion on roads etc). Now there are plans, by Phil Wilbraham, who oversaw the construction of Heathrow’s terminals 2 and 5,  to build a cheaper system. It would be 3 parallel bridges across the M25, with narrow ones for taxiways at the side, and a wider one for the runway in the centre. The plan is for a 2 mile long runway, to take even the largest planes. The main airline at Heathrow, British Airways, suggested a runway about 1,000 feet shorter, that would not need to cross the motorway, but that might not be able to take A380s, and would mess up the flight patterns.  The earlier “bridge” concept would have meant the runway would be on a slight slope, to get over the motorway. The cost of moving the thousands of tonnes of earth would be immense, and it is thought Heathrow has had to reconsider. The airlines do not want to have to pay for the building costs of roads etc associated with a 3rd runway. The government does not want to force Heathrow to pay, as this would mean increasing the cost of flying – and reduce demand at Heathrow.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2017/06/heathrow-now-considering-not-tunnel-or-bridge-but-cheaper-series-of-viaducts-over-m25/

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Heathrow boss rules out footing the £5 billion bill for road and rail works – wants taxpayer to pay

The Airports Commission left the matter of who would pay for the approximately £5 billion needed to tunnel a section of the M25, and other surface access improvements, vague. The assumption has been made that the taxpayer would have to fund this, though the Airports Commission suggested that Heathrow would be able to find the funding from its investors for this. Now the CEO of Heathrow has dismissed the suggestion that the airport foots the £5 billion bill for road and rail work if a 3rd runway is built.  Huge motorway engineering would be needed, to have the runway going over the motorway.  John Holland-Kaye has ruled out paying for the surface access work. Though the government funds road and rail improvements under normal circumstances, tunnelling the M25 and dealing with hugely increased road traffic using an airport 50% larger than at present are not normal circumstances. Especially in times of huge economic savings being necessary in public finances. The Commission’s final report said it considered the runway was commercially viable “without a requirement for direct government support. This remains the case even in a situation where the airport is required to fund 100% of the surface access costs.” This would be by Heathrow “raising both debt and equity finance. This finance is then serviced through subsequent revenues and refinancing by the airport operator.”    

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/07/heathrow-boss-rules-out-footing-the-5-billion-bill-for-road-and-rail-works-wants-taxpayer-to-pay/

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Prof Kevin Anderson: With the aviation growth anticipated by the UK government, “any claim made of the UK being zero carbon by 2050, is simply not true”

In response to the UK  government saying it will raise its ambition to cut CO2 emissions, by 2050, to 100%  (up from the current 80%) compared to 1990, Professor Kevin Anderson has a lot of caveats.  He says: “Whilst in many respects I welcome the headline framing of the Government’s ‘net-zero’ proposal, sift amongst the detail and all is far from rosy” …  On aviation he says:  “The Government and the CCC foresee emissions from the UK’s aviation sector continuing at today’s very high levels (currently around 12% of UK CO2) out to 2050 and on through subsequent decades. So any claim made of the UK being zero carbon by 2050, is simply not true. The scale of anticipated aviation emissions is such that this single sector will consume around one third of the UK’s Paris-compliant carbon budget, putting still further mitigation pressures on schools, hospitals and businesses to compensate for this privileged sector.”  Also data from the two universities for which he works makes it clear that: “to meet its Paris obligations the UK must achieve zero-carbon energy by around 2035; that’s ‘real-zero’ not ‘net-zero’. This requires an immediate programme of deep cuts in energy emissions rising rapidly to over 10% p.a.”
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Professor Kevin Anderson’s brief response to the UK Government’s “net-zero” proposal

Whilst in many respects I welcome the headline framing of the Government’s “net-zero” proposal, sift amongst the detail and all is far from rosy

By Kevin Anderson

Tyndall Centre – University of Manchester
CEMUS – Uppsala University

11th June 2019

1).  although on the one hand the Government’s “net -zero” proposal is for the UK to make its ‘fair’ contribution to delivering on the Paris Agreement, on the other it is recklessly pursuing UK shale gas (an energy source that is 75% carbon by mass!). Moreover, it recently celebrated both BP’s new Clair Ridge oil platform, with its accompanying quarter of a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, and the new Glengorm gas field, adding a further 100 millions tonnes of CO2. To top it all, they plan to expand Heathrow, facilitating more flights with more fossil fuel consumption and hence more carbon emissions (even with efficiency improvements across the sector).

2).  the mitigation proposals of Government and its Committee on Climate Change (the CCC) rely in large measure on future and highly speculative Negative Emission Technologies (NETs)[1]. These technologies exist, at best, as small pilot schemes, and often only in the imagination and computers of professors and entrepreneurs. So in reality we are passing the buck on to our children to invent and deploy technologies to suck the CO2 out of the air that we choose to continue to emit today. The unprecedented and planetary scale of NETs assumed by the Government and the CCC needs to be understood.[2] Already the tentative potential of NETs is being used to undermine the requirement for immediate and widespread decarbonisation, passing further unacceptable burdens and risks onto the next generation.

3).  against the advice of their own Committee on Climate Change the UK Government intend to rely on ‘international credits’ whereby they can buy so-called offsets from other countries rather than making the reductions themselves. This is typically paying poorer nations to plant trees, change industrial processes, install renewables, etc. Such developments internationally are necessary to meet the Paris Agreement’s climate commitments, but not as a means for permitting the UK’s ongoing emissions. With the UK’s world leading renewable energy potential we should be making the reductions ourselves not paying others to do it for us.

4).  the Government and the CCC foresee emissions from the UK’s aviation sector continuing at today’s very high levels (currently around 12% of UK CO2) out to 2050 and on through subsequent decades. So any claim made of the UK being zero carbon by 2050, is simply not true. The scale of anticipated aviation emissions is such that this single sector will consume around one third of the UK’s Paris-compliant carbon budget, putting still further mitigation pressures on schools, hospitals and businesses to compensate for this privileged sector.

5).  the share of the global ‘carbon budget’ that the UK Government and its Committee on Climate Change assume appropriate for the UK, is far higher than any defensible quota. So the UK not only has significant responsibility for historical emissions, but it is planning to take a disproportionately large slice of the remaining global carbon pie; colonialism thriving in 2019!

Finally, and based on work with University of Manchester & Uppsala colleagues, to meet its Paris obligations the UK must achieve zero-carbon energy by around 2035; that’s ‘real-zero’ not ‘net-zero’. This requires an immediate programme of deep cuts in energy emissions rising rapidly to over 10% p.a.; such an economy-wide agenda will need to embed equity at its core if it is to succeed mathematically and politically, as well as morally.
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[1] NETs is also variously referred to as Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR), Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR), and previously as one form of Geo-engineering. Two other acronyms are commonly used, but are related to particular technology routes. Biomass Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) and Direct Air Carbon Capture and Storage (DACCS).

[2] Whilst a fully decarbonised energy system is achievable, there will remain some non-CO2 greenhouse gases from agriculture and food. These can certainly be reduced by changes in diets and agricultural practices, but some emissions of methane and nitrous oxide will inevitably remain. In this regard, a well-funded programme of research, development and potential deployment of NETs is required alongside improvement of ‘natural’ processes of sequestration, including forestry management, reforestation and potentially afforestation.

[3] The carbon budget refers to the total quantity of carbon dioxide emissions that we can dump in the atmosphere from now and out across the century if we are not to renege on our Paris 1.5-2 degree Celsius commitments. 

https://kevinanderson.info/blog/brief-response-to-the-uk-governments-net-zero-proposal/#more-1748

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See earlier:

Theresa May commits to net zero UK carbon emissions by 2050 – but aviation not properly included in that

Theresa May has sought to cement some legacy in the weeks before she steps down as prime minister by enshrining in law a commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, making Britain the first major economy to do so. This is an increase from the current target of an 80% cut on the 1990 level, by 2050.  However, it is a far cry from a net zero target by 2025, that Extinction Rebellion has called for. The change is in an amendment to the Climate Change Act (2008) that was laid in parliament today.   The wording just makes the change from 80% to 100%.  This does make the UK the first member of the G7 nations to legislate for net zero emissions. It is a step in the right direction. However, it is a NET target, not a gross one, so it will depend on buying carbon offsets (often ineffective) from other countries (usually poorer countries), rather than the UK actually cutting CO2 emissions that much. It excludes the embodied carbon in imports. AND it does not properly include international aviation and shipping.  The government just says: “For now, therefore, we will continue to leave headroom for emissions from international aviation and shipping in carbon budgets…”

Click here to view full story…

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Flying may go from glamorous to scandalous, with the highest level of awareness about climate and carbon

“Flying has gone from glamorous to scandalous, and the industry is scrambling to prop up its fading popularity.”  Might aviation soon become something that people are slightly embarrassed about, and mildly ashamed? The level of public anxiety is increasing, about rising CO2 emissions, and the highly damaging impact on people’s lives (even in rich countries like the UK), within the next few decades. That is in the lifetimes of those alive now.  Not at some far off future date.  Across Europe, campaigns to reduce air travel emissions are gaining traction. Violeta Bulc, European commissioner for transport, said: “In the future, I expect the aviation industry’s license for growth to be linked directly to perceptions of sustainability”. There is little sign of awareness reducing the numbers flying, in the UK – but there is a perceptible change in attitude, by a lot of people. “Politico” says: “A succession of European governments — left and right alike — are mulling aviation taxes, an end to traditionally heavy subsidies, and are reconsidering airport expansion plans. Airlines are on the defensive. Even as they look forward to transporting ever more passengers  — carriers worry that the protests could prompt government intervention and jeopardize those projections.”
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The popular revolt against flying

Flying has gone from glamorous to scandalous, and the industry is scrambling to prop up its fading popularity.

By SAIM SAEED (Politico)

11th June 2019

This article is part of a special report called Aviation’s Climate Challenge.

Europe’s airlines have a new problem — their customers.

Decades ago flying was reserved for the glamorous few, then it became a mass market for cheap tourism. Now the aviation industry is in danger of joining the ranks of cigarette makers and plastics producers in the business hall of shame.

That’s due to something most passengers ignored until only a few years ago — the industry’s growing carbon footprint. But now it’s a problem in a world where worry over global warming is shooting to the top of political and social concerns.

Across Europe, campaigns to reduce air travel emissions are gaining traction. The sources of the criticism vary widely. In Sweden, where climate activist Greta Thunberg’s decision to abstain from flying has pushed the issue into the spotlight. In France, where Yellow Jacket protesters have called for taxing airline fuel instead of their cars’ gasoline.

“In the future, I expect the aviation industry’s license for growth to be linked directly to perceptions of sustainability” — Violeta Bulc, European commissioner for transport

“A kind of top-down-bottom-up fight is brewing,” said Annie Petsonk, international counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund. “And I’m not sure how it will play out.”

So far it’s more hot air than action. Aside from what may be a temporary blip in Swedish air travel, people may be talking a good game when it comes to aviation and climate change, but continued growth in most markets shows they haven’t yet given up on flying.

But politicians — traditionally airline industry boosters — have noticed the change in attitude.

“In the future, I expect the aviation industry’s license for growth to be linked directly to perceptions of sustainability,” European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc told airline CEOs at a summit in Korea earlier this month.

European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc | Stephanie LeCocq/EPA-EFE

A succession of European governments — left and right alike — are mulling aviation taxes, an end to traditionally heavy subsidies, and are reconsidering airport expansion plans.

Airlines are on the defensive. Even as they look forward to transporting ever more passengers — with airlines like Ryanair posting double-digit growth in traffic — carriers worry that the protests could prompt government intervention and jeopardize those projections.

The Swedes have a word for it
Swedes have a word — flygskam, or flight shame — for the guilty feeling of boarding a plane, knowing the flight damages the environment.

“Unchallenged, this sentiment will grow and spread,” Alexandre de Juniac, chief of global airline lobby International Air Transport Association (IATA), told the Korean summit. “Along with reducing emissions, we must collectively engage and tell our story more effectively.”

Ryanair, the Continent’s second-largest airline, is already feeling the hot breath of climate campaigners on its back. A ranking by NGO Transport & Environment puts the airline as one of the top 10 polluters in Europe, in the company of nine coal-fired power plants.

In reaction, Ryanair is now publishing monthly figures on its carbon dioxide emissions — the first European airline to do so. Ryanair’s pitch aims to combat flight shame, arguing that its passengers average less emissions per kilometer compared to the airline’s peers given the company’s efficient fleet.

According to the NGO Transport and Environment, Ryanair is one of the top 10 polluters in Europe | Toms Kalnins/EPA

“Ryanair is Europe’s greenest/cleanest airline,” Ryanair’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, said in a statement.

For now, the first country to feel the sting of flight shaming is Sweden, where the aviation industry contracted by 5 percent so far this year — a change blamed in part on shifting attitudes toward flying.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has made airplane pollution a focus of her widely-publicized, youth-led campaign, traveling only by rail during her barnstorm of Europe, a habit she encourages others to copy. Online, hashtag campaigns like #jagstannarpåmarken and #tagskryt, and their English versions #stayontheground and #trainbragging, are growing on Twitter and Instagram.

But it may be a blip. A forecast by Eurocontrol sees Sweden’s air traffic rising by 1.9 percent this year and by 2 percent in 2020.

Policymakers change tack
The industry’s PR effort may not be enough to dissuade politicians from taking a harder look at how aviation is taxed. In March, the Belgian government backed a Dutch proposal for an EU-wide tax on aviation.

“It’s not sustainable that we fly for a weekend with some friends all around Europe when we could do it with the train,” said Dutch Secretary of State for Finance Menno Snel.

Clamor for an aviation tax has spread to the European Parliament; all major candidates for the European Commission presidency pledged support for the idea.

“The privileging of the airline business must be stopped,” center-right European People’s Party candidate Manfred Weber said during a campaign debate in May.

“Why is there still no tax on kerosene?” Socialist lead candidate Frans Timmermans asked in another pre-election debate. “That’s crazy.”

“The #ClimateEmergency places a responsibility on us to cut emissions faster” — Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish first minister

And even if politicians balk at making airlines pay more, citizens could force their hand. In April, the Commission registered a European Citizens’ Initiative for an EU-wide aviation tax. It needs 1 million signatures by May 2020 to compel the Commission to act.

That pressure is already visible in France. The Yellow Jackets, who have vehemently protested the French government’s proposed hike on petrol claiming it unfairly targets the working class, have decried the lack of taxes on jet fuel and no VAT on air tickets. They, too, have called for an aviation tax.

Pais has noticed. French President Emmanuel Macron began his tenure promising to make its aviation industry more competitive. Last year, the government cut the air tax from €1.30 to 90 cents per ticket. But the protests have forced a change in tone.

“I want to warn you,” Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne told French aviation industry officials in March, “what is being expressed in this country [are calls] not to support the competitiveness of air transport.” France backs the EU-wide air tax, and Macron’s party campaigned for it during the European election.

A similar shift is taking place in Scotland, where First Minister Nicola Sturgeon reversed her government’s pledge to cut the Air Departure Tax — the U.K.’s ticket tax — as a response to what she called was a “climate emergency.”

Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland | Jack TaylorGetty Images

“The #ClimateEmergency places a responsibility on us to cut emissions faster,” Sturgeon said.

The Scottish government is also reconsidering its support for a new runway for Heathrow airport — part of a broader international rethink on the need to upgrade airport infrastructure.

Many airlines believe the tax proposal will hurt them. They “increase the cost of travel and reduce connectivity,” argues Airlines For Europe, the lobby representing Europe’s largest air carriers.

Some public officials agree. “Tax is punishment,” said Henrik Hololei, director general of the Commission’s Mobility and Transport department. An air tax “will not lower emissions in the long run.”

Smoggy skies
Aviation’s carbon footprint has grown by 20 percent in Europe since 2005, and continues to increase at an average of 4 percent annually. It currently accounts for about 2.5 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. If it were a country, aviation would be the sixth-largest carbon polluter in the world, eclipsing Germany.

Both the industry and policymakers are aware of the need to do something. IATA has pledged to cut emissions to 50 percent of their 2005 level by 2050.

Flights within the EU are already part of the bloc’s Emissions Trading System, a mechanism by which emissions are capped and carbon allowances are traded among companies. And while the program has slowed the rise in aviation emissions, it hasn’t stopped that growth, and efforts to make it apply to non-EU flights have failed.

The U.N.’s International Civil Aviation Organization is finalizing a worldwide scheme called Corsia to curb emissions, which would cap emissions at 2020 levels and require airlines to pay for programs to remove any additional emissions over that level from the atmosphere. But there are complaints it isn’t as stringent as the ETS, and participation until 2026 is voluntary.

“Growth for the sake of growth cannot be an objective in itself. Aviation has externalities that cannot be overlooked” — Violeta Bulc

In the face of surging demand, those regulatory efforts are unlikely to choke off emissions growth.

There is also no technological rescue on the horizon.

While today’s airplanes are significantly more efficient than in the past — using 24 percent less fuel than in 2005, according to a European Aviation Safety Agency report — overall emissions from European aviation have risen by 16 percent over the same period. The culprit? A 60 percent increase in passenger kilometers flown.

“Growth for the sake of growth cannot be an objective in itself,” Bulc wrote in the report. “Aviation has externalities that cannot be overlooked.”

Ideas like alternative fuels, electric engines and radical airplane redesigns are far in the future.

Fear of flying
That leaves one sure way of cutting aviation emissions — flying less. It’s an idea that keeps aviation industry executives up at night.

Airbus Chief Technology Officer Grazia Vittadini argued that people still need to travel. “We’re working hard on teleportation but it hasn’t happened yet,” she said at an event in Brussels in April. She pointed to the high demand for new airplanes, with Airbus’ projections showing at least 37,000 additional airplanes will take to the skies by 2040.

In an effort to undercut the appeal of flight shaming, Vittadini argued that less flying would impact world peace. “Connecting people is something which should not be underestimated. When it comes to awareness of each other’s differences, to have a world that is more inclusive and open,” she said. “I would not want to take that away.”

But Sweden excepted, the protests have so far not translated into emptier airports. Ryanair’s traffic numbers for May grew by 13 percent year-on-year. For April, Lufthansa’s grew by 3 percent and Air France-KLM by 9 percent. On average, Europe’s air traffic grew by 3 percent last year, and by 2 percent so far this year.

“Talk about mixed messages,” said aviation consultant Andrew Charlton.

This article is part of a special report called Aviation’s Climate Challenge.

https://www.politico.eu/article/the-popular-revolt-against-flying-climate-european-airlines-carbon-emissions/

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See earlier:

 

Airlines increasingly worried about polluter stigma as “flygskam” -“flight shame” – movement grows

A Swedish-born anti-flying movement is creating a new vocabulary, from “flygskam” which translates as “flight shame” to “tågskryt,” or “train brag.”  Many Swedes have stopped flying. There are similar movements in some other European countries.  An activist in this movement, Susanna Elfors in Stockholm says membership on her Facebook group Tagsemester, or “Train Holiday,” has reached some 90,000 members – up from around 3,000 around the end of 2017.  She said: “Before, it was rather taboo to discuss train travel due to climate concerns. Now it’s possible to talk about this on a lunch break … and everybody understands.” People who do not fly are no longer seen as so odd. It is not seen as such a peculiar sacrifice. But the “Flygskam” movement is worrying the aviation industry. At the ATA conference in Seoul, the head of IATA said:  “Unchallenged, this sentiment will grow and spread.”  That would seriously damage profits. It must be stopped (obviously). The sector wants to get the public to believe it is not a major polluter, and it doing everything possible to emit less carbon. Trouble is, there are no magic fuels on the horizon, and though efficiency gains of 1-2% per year can be made, the sector entirely cancels these out by expansion of 4-5% per year.

Click here to view full story…

Might rationing the amount people fly be the only fair way to restrict use of air travel?

Chief Leader writer at the Observer, Sonia Sodha writes about how she almost cares about climate change, but not enough to give up flying or eating meat etc.  A common attitude. She writes, on the measures needed:  “It’s naive to think that we can achieve these sorts of lifestyle shifts by imploring people to do more. I already know we’re fast approaching a catastrophic climate tipping point and yet I’m just not very good at forgoing a steak, particularly when I know plenty of others won’t be either.”   Green taxes, (or sin taxes) tend to “hit the least affluent hardest. It’s people on low incomes who are most sensitive to marginal increases in the cost of their food and flights.” … “I need someone to force me to take my carbon footprint more seriously.” …“Rationing to tackle the climate crisis could be given a modern-day makeover. People could be allocated polluting credits to cover activities such as meat eating and flying that they can sell and buy in an online marketplace. If you’re short of cash, or not that bothered about eating meat or flying abroad, you can …sell your credits to someone who is, which makes this far more equitable than green taxes.” it’s surely an idea whose time has come.

Click here to view full story…

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UN Environment article critical of carbon offsetting taken down, then republished – but criticism watered down

“UN Environment” published, then retracted, an article criticising the use of carbon credits to make up for carbon-emitting activities. It published an unusually stark critique of carbon offsetting on 10th June (been archived); on 11th the article was taken down, following queries by Climate Home News.  In the original article a climate specialist at the UN organisation warned against considering carbon offsets as “our get-out-jail-free card”. He said: “The era of carbon offsets is drawing to a close. Buying carbon credits in exchange for a clean conscience while you carry on flying, buying diesel cars and powering your home with fossil fuels is no longer acceptable or widely accepted.”  Asked about this he said it was a web story not an official position paper, and that UN Environment does see offsets as an intermediate solution.  The revised article on the 12th removed the comment above, saying instead that buying carbon credits is “being challenged by people concerned about climate change.” The paragraph in the earlier version saying: “Carbon credits are increasingly coming under fire for essentially allowing some to continue on their polluting ways while the rest of us are left scrambling to contain the climate crisis” was removed in the later version. Carbon offsets are the way the aviation sector intends to carry on increasing its carbon emissions. The earlier article showed how inadequate that would be.
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UN Environment official attacks agency’s own carbon offsetting policy

Confusion reigns as UN Environment publishes, then retracts, an article criticising the use of carbon credits to make up for polluting activities

By 

UN Environment published an unusually stark critique of carbon offsetting on Monday. On Tuesday, the article was taken down, following queries by Climate Home News.

In the original article, archived by the Wayback Machine, a climate specialist at the UN organisation warned against considering carbon offsets as “our get-out-jail-free card”.

“The era of carbon offsets is drawing to a close,” Niklas Hagelberg wrote. “Buying carbon credits in exchange for a clean conscience while you carry on flying, buying diesel cars and powering your home with fossil fuels is no longer acceptable or widely accepted.”

Since 2008, UN Environment has claimed to be climate neutral, based on buying carbon credits from a scheme administered by UN Climate Change. While not indicating any change to that policy, the commentary appeared to attack the underlying concept of polluters paying others to cut emissions on their behalf.

Contacted by Climate Home News, Hagelberg blamed the editing process for introducing some “conflicting messages” to his original text. “This is a web story not an official position paper. However [UN Environment] does see offsets as an intermediate solution.”

The following day, a revised article took a softer line: carbon offsetting went from “no longer acceptable” to “being challenged by people concerned about climate change”. Spokespersons at UN Environment and UN Climate Change did not respond to requests for comment.

Keep calm and carry on flying and eating steak: UN Climate Change ad criticised

At issue is a system set up under the Kyoto Protocol to allow rich countries to gain carbon credits by investing in emission reduction projects in the developing world. UN Climate Change has since repurposed it as a voluntary mechanism for businesses, organisations and individuals to offset some of their carbon footprint.

Last August, UN Climate Change came under fire for releasing a video promoting carbon offsets as an easy remedy to climate change. Entitled “keep calm and offset”, the advertisement appeared to suggest that viewers could lead a carbon-heavy lifestyle as long as they offset their emissions. It was taken down after a backlash.

Carbon offsets have long been a controversial proposition to tackle the climate crisis. At the last UN climate summit in December, negotiators were unable to reach consensus on whether and how to continue Kyoto-era offset schemes under the Paris Agreement. Talks resume in Bonn, Germany this month.

In parallel, the International Civil Aviation Organization is considering what types of carbon credits can be used by airlines to offset their emissions growth.

Transport & Environment, a Brussels-based campaign group for cleaner transport, urged UN Environment to restore the article “in the interest of effective climate policy”.

“With the aviation sector targeting offsetting as its get-out-of-jail-card for climate action, this piece threw some necessary cold water on what is an extremely problematic climate tool,” said campaigner Andrew Murphy.

This story was updated on 12 June, with reference to the revised article published by UN Environment   

https://www.climatechangenews.com/2019/06/11/un-environment-official-attacks-agencys-carbon-offsetting-policy/

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New version at

https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/carbon-offsets-are-not-our-get-out-jail-free-card

and original at

https://web.archive.org/web/20190610044930/https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/carbon-offsets-are-not-our-get-out-jail-free-card


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The old version contains this paragraph, that is NOT in the new version: 

“Carbon credits are increasingly coming under fire for essentially allowing some to continue on their polluting ways while the rest of us are left scrambling to contain the climate crisis.”

 

The new version includes this paragraph (not in the original version):

“The projects that offset schemes support are vital: trees must be planted, existing forests and peatlands that hold and absorb carbon must be protected. Renewable energy and energy efficiency projects are critical and offset schemes can have a part to play in delivering sufficient funding and mechanisms at pace and scale.”

 


The new version includes this paragraph (not in the original version)

“Annual emissions have to reduce by 29-32 gigatonnes of equivalent carbon dioxide (CO2e) by 2030 to maintain a fighting chance to stay below 1.5°C. This is a five-fold increase on current ambition.”

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The later, updated version of the UN Environment story is copied below

Carbon offsets are not our get-out-of-jail free card

10th June 2019
By UN Environment

Buying carbon credits in exchange for a clean conscience while you carry on flying, buying diesel cars and powering your homes with fossil fuels is being challenged by people concerned about climate change.

Scientists, activists and concerned citizens have started to voice their concerns over how carbon offsets have been used by polluters as a free pass for inaction. Annual emissions have to reduce by 29-32 gigatonnes of equivalent carbon dioxide (CO2e) by 2030 to maintain a fighting chance to stay below 1.5°C. This is a five-fold increase on current ambition.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations is the first to call everyone to action. “We are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough, to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption,” he says.

Carbon offset schemes were set up to allow the largest polluters who exceed permitted emissions’ levels to fund projects, such as reforestation, that reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air, essentially balancing out their emissions equation.

The types of carbon offset projects that are implemented are diverse. They range from forestry sequestration projects (which remove CO2 from the atmosphere when trees grow) to energy efficiency and renewable energy projects (which reduce future CO2 emissions in the atmosphere).

UN Environment’s operations have been carbon neutral since 2008 thanks, in part, to the purchase of carbon credits. Since then, the organization has also reduced its emissions by 35 per cent. Many organizations and individuals are buying carbon credits to offset the greenhouse gas emissions involved in travel, principally flying.

Carbon offsets are useful while infrastructure and industry make the transition to electric mobility, alternative energy and the new technology necessary for low- and zero-carbon lifestyles. Where there are no viable alternatives in the short term, an offset scheme promises to cancel out the emissions in one place with emission-reducing actions in another.

However, the reality is far from this neat.

image

Offsets are only part of the answer

The climate crisis is now considered our gravest existential threat. Fifty per cent of climate changing pollutants have been pumped into our atmosphere—from power stations, cars, agriculture—since just 1990, and this amount is growing every second.

If we are serious about averting catastrophic planetary changes, we need to reduce emissions by 45 per cent by 2030. Trees planted today can’t grow fast enough to achieve this goal. And carbon offset projects will never be able to curb the emissions growth, while reducing overall emissions, if coal power stations continue to be built and petrol cars continue to be bought, and our growing global population continues to consume as it does today.

This is not to say that carbon offset projects should stop, quite the opposite. We must continue to plant trees and protect forests and peatlands. Renewable energy and energy efficiency projects are critical and offset schemes play an important role in funding and upscaling them.

What we must look at, though, is how these actions sum up to reflect the true cost of emissions and the urgency of their reduction. It cannot simply be a one-for-one model. If one tonne of sequestered CO2 is the price of one carbon credit, we still need to deliver the missing 45 per cent emissions’ reduction, as well as the future projected increase.

Shoa Ehsani, a UN Environment official who closely tracks UN Environment’s carbon footprint, says carbon offsetting uptake has been slow. “One of the reasons offsets haven’t been selling is because the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement are non-enforceable. The main procurers of offsets are supposed to be nations trying to meet the targets they promised to meet. If the nations of the G20, responsible for 81 per cent of total emissions, are to meet targets, offsets remain an important mechanism for them unless they manage a 45 per cent emissions reduction on their own (which would be fantastic).”

The projects that offset schemes support are vital: trees must be planted, existing forests and peatlands that hold and absorb carbon must be protected. Renewable energy and energy efficiency projects are critical and offset schemes can have a part to play in delivering sufficient funding and mechanisms at pace and scale.

A tool for speeding up climate action

Offsets also risk giving the dangerous illusion of a “fix” that will allow our billowing emissions to just continue to grow.

“UN Environment supports carbon offsets as a temporary measure leading up to 2030, and a tool for speeding up climate action,” says UN Environment climate specialist Niklas Hagelberg. “However, it is not a silver bullet, and the danger is that it can lead to complacency. The October 2018 report by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change made it clear that if we are to have any hope of curbing global warming we need to transition away from carbon for good: by travelling electric, embracing renewable energy, eating less meat and wasting less food.”

“To secure popular support for decarbonization, the public needs to be informed about the positive effects of emission reductions, their benefits for cleaner air, health and new energy jobs,” he adds. “We should tax carbon, not people. We know fossil fuel subsidies are unfair when non-polluting alternatives are here right now. Making such a huge transition will require all the tools at our disposal, though, and offsets, if examined and applied with clear eyes, can aid the transition where sudden and drastic change might instead set us further back.”

The UN Climate Action Summit will take place in New York City on 23 September 2019 to increase ambition and accelerate action on the global climate emergency and support the rapid implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The 2019 UN Climate Action Summit is hosted by UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

This article, first published on 10 June 2019, was revised on 12 June 2019 in order to clarify the position of the experts quoted in this story. 

https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/carbon-offsets-are-not-our-get-out-jail-free-card

 

For further information, please contact Niklas Hagelberg

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Theresa May commits to net zero UK carbon emissions by 2050 – but aviation not properly included in that

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Theresa May commits to net zero UK carbon emissions by 2050

UK to put down legislation but Greenpeace warns of impact on developing nations

Theresa May has sought to cement some legacy in the weeks before she steps down as prime minister by enshrining in law a commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, making Britain the first major economy to do so.

The commitment, to be made in an amendment to the Climate Change Act laid in parliament on Wednesday, would make the UK the first member of the G7 group of industrialised nations to legislate for net zero emissions, Downing Street said.

Environmental groups welcomed the goal but expressed disappointment that the plan would allow the UK to achieve it in part through international carbon credits, something Greenpeace said would “shift the burden to developing nations”.

Last week No 10 dismissed claims from the chancellor, Philip Hammond, that such a target would cost £1tn and could thus require spending cuts to public services.

With May departing as prime minister next month, as soon as her successor is chosen, she has stepped up efforts on policy areas sidelined by Brexit, including new spending commitments, efforts to tackle modern slavery and the environment.

The 2050 target, in an amendment being put down as a statutory instrument, meaning it does not require a vote of MPs, will be one of the most ambitious such goals set by a major polluting nation.

France proposed net zero emissions legislation this year, while some smaller countries have gone for dates before 2050, such as Finland (2035) and Norway (2030), though the latter allows the buying of carbon offsets.

While the 2050 date was recommended by the UK’s official Committee on Climate Change (CCC), May has rejected its advice on international carbon credits, whereby a country can pay for cuts elsewhere in lieu of domestic emissions. John Gummer, the CCC chair, said last month it was “essential” that such credits were not used.

Doug Parr, the chief scientist for Greenpeace UK, said the target was “a big moment for everyone in the climate movement” and a legacy May could be proud of. However, he said the “loopholes” of allowing international carbon credits would need to be unpicked and the target date moved forward.

“As the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, it is right that the UK is the world’s first major economy to commit to completely end its contribution to climate change, but trying to shift the burden to developing nations through international carbon credits undermines that commitment,” he said. “This type of offsetting has a history of failure and is not, according to the government’s climate advisers, cost-efficient.”

May, who will mark the target on Wednesday by meeting science and engineering students, said it was “the time to go further and faster to safeguard the environment for our children”.

The plan was endorsed by the CBI’s head, Carolyn Fairbairn, who said such efforts “can drive UK competitiveness and secure long-term prosperity”.

She added: “Some sectors will need clear pathways to enable investment in low-carbon technologies, and it is vital that there is cross-government coordination on the policies and regulation needed to deliver a clean future.”

Downing Street poured scorn last week on Hammond’s warnings, disclosed in a leaked letter, saying the supposed £1tn figure ignored both the economic benefits of action and the costs of not doing anything.

A Treasury source said Hammond fully backed the 2050 net zero target but had pushed for a full costing of the plan to make sure it did not negatively impact on other areas of public spending.

May has rushed through the legislation with one eye on her legacy after being effectively forced out of office before doing everything she wanted to in terms of domestic policy.

Downing Street sources said implementing the target before she leaves No 10 in a few weeks’ time was extremely important to May. It is understood she also reminded her colleagues in cabinet on Tuesday morning that she wanted them to make sure they did not forget about dealing with the fallout from Grenfell Tower after she leaves office.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/11/theresa-may-commits-to-net-zero-uk-carbon-emissions-by-2050
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See comment from the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) at

https://www.aef.org.uk/2019/06/13/uk-net-zero-target-will-allow-for-aviation-emissions-but-not-legislate-for-them-now/

We’re pleased that the Government has made clear that a UK net zero target has to address all sectors, including aviation and shipping, and that it intends to include these sectors formally in future. We’re left, though, with two key concerns:

  1. If aviation emissions reductions are not legislated for, will the Government and the industry actually deliver any meaningful action to tackle them? Under the current approach there is no way formally to hold Government to account on this. The Government must now use the forthcoming Aviation Strategy to set out its vision for limiting aviation emissions in line with net zero; the draft strategy’s pro-growth approach is not, in our view, consistent with this.
  2. With no official limits on use of offsets, will the Government attempt to use the UN CORSIA scheme (which has no long-term emissions target, and addresses only emissions growth above 2020 levels), together with an aspiration for large-scale carbon removals in future, as an excuse for inaction on actual aviation emissions? Aviation is likely to make the heaviest reliance of all sectors on negative emissions. Where these will come from, how they will be paid for, and whether we can rely on them to be available at scale are now the important questions. Offsets, meanwhile, are no substitute for a meaningful climate change plan for UK aviation, which is long overdue.
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http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2019/9780111187654

The Climate Change Act 2008 (2050 Target Amendment) Order 2019

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Citation and commencement

1.  This Order may be cited as the Climate Change Act 2008 (2050 Target Amendment) Order 2019 and comes into force on the day after the day on which it is made.

Amendment of the target for 2050

2.—(1) Section 1 of the Climate Change Act 2008 is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1), for “80%” substitute “100%”.

The amendment in this Order has the effect that the minimum percentage by which the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 must be lower than the 1990 baseline is increased from 80% to 100%. .


But:

Page 3 of the

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM TO THE CLIMATE CHANGE ACT 2008 (2050 TARGET AMENDMENT) ORDER 2019 2019 No. [XXXX]

10.5
In line with the Committee’s advice, the Government has taken steps to legislate on a net zero target at the earliest opportunity. The Government recognises that international aviation and shipping have a crucial role to play in reaching net zero emissions globally. However, there is a need for further analysis and international engagement through the appropriate frameworks. For now, therefore, we will continue to leave headroom for emissions from international aviation and shipping in carbon budgets to ensure that emissions reduction strategies for international aviation and shipping can be developed within International Maritime Organisation and International Civil Aviation Organisation frameworks at the appropriate pace, and so that the UK can remain on the right trajectory for net zero greenhouse gas emissions across the whole economy.
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Extinction Rebellion commented:

Will Theresa May leave a legacy or pass down a death sentence?

Given that it is now agreed it is not just possible but necessary to reach carbon neutrality, why are we waiting until 2050? The targets – which were set out in the CCC report – pass the burden of holding the world to 1.5C on to the shoulders of the poorest countries who did the least to cause the problem. [1] Every year that goes by before emissions get to zero, increases the risk of triggering catastrophic tipping points in the climate system.

Greta Thunberg says the house is on fire. The PM says we will put it out in 30 years. If Theresa May wants to have a legacy we say think bigger. We need to take action now – not next year, next decade, not by 2050.

Politicians only seem able to contemplate action on climate change when thinking about their legacy. If the current system encourages politicians to suppress their true feelings about ambitious action, then that is going to require systemic solutions. Let’s reform democracy and listen to the people: we desperately need a citizens’ assembly on climate and ecological justice.

Get-out clause

The 2050 target is based on spending just 1-2% of GDP to decarbonise our economy over 30 years (with a nice get out clause to the legally binding target – thank you Treasury. Let’s see what the 2019 budget holds, we all know that where the money goes, is where the action happens).

That’s not an emergency response. Is that really all we are prepared to invest in protecting our futures from calamity? From the perspective of young people, it is an outrage that those who make the decisions won’t be around to experience the consequences.

Let’s not mince words, 2050 is a death sentence: people are already dying and this will only get worse with far off dates.

Were we to put our minds to it and do what is required to mobilise society to address the threat with the seriousness it deserves, the UK could embrace transformative change and decarbonise in years not decades.

We welcome that the Prime Minister is finally talking about the emergency. This is a testament to the public pressure – including the more than 1,000 people willingly arrested for this cause – that is forcing politicians to confront the existential reality of the climate and ecological emergency. But it is not nearly enough.

https://rebellion.earth/2019/06/12/will-theresa-may-leave-a-legacy-or-pass-down-a-death-sentence/

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Friends of the Earth commented:

It’s a step in the right direction but we know we must go further and faster than this. If we’re to stand a chance of keeping global heating below 1.5°C – beyond which would mean disaster for people and the planet – we need to achieve net zero emissions by 2045 at the latest.

Net zero means no more fracking, no more airport expansion, and no new digging or drilling for oil and coal. It means doubling tree cover in the UK and building cleaner energy and transport systems.

What it shouldn’t mean is exporting our carbon footprint to the global south. As a rich nation, we need to do more, so that those most vulnerable don’t pay the price for our actions.
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SSE tells Uttlesford Council to end the secrecy and intrigue about its handing of Stansted’s planning application

The Chairman of Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE), Peter Sanders, has written to the Chief Executive of Uttlesford District Council (UDC), urging her to bring an end to the veil of secrecy which has surrounded UDC’s handling of the 2018 Stansted Airport planning application (to increase the passenger maximum from 35 to 43 million) over the past two months. UDC granted conditional approval on 14th November 2018. But it is now clear that the conditions laid down by the Planning Committee have not been met.  The Committee also has a legal duty to consider any new material factors and changes (SSE has 6 examples) in circumstances that have arisen since November.  But UDC officers continue to refuse to discuss any of the above matters with SSE.  Instead, secret meetings have been held, with no minutes or other formal records. There is to be a council meeting on 28th June, including the legal advice the council has been given. SSE says it is hard to avoid drawing the conclusion that officers are trying to avoid any further public discussion of the outstanding issues in relation to the airport planning application, and issue final approval regardless of the outstanding concerns. 
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SSE TELLS COUNCIL CHIEF EXECUTIVE TO END THE SECRECY AND INTRIGUE

10th June 2019 (From Stop Stansted Expansion – SSE)

The Chairman of Stop Stansted Expansion (‘SSE’), Peter Sanders, has written to the Chief Executive of Uttlesford District Council (UDC), Ms Dawn French, urging her to bring an end to the veil of secrecy which has surrounded UDC’s handling of the 2018 Stansted Airport planning application over the past two months.

The application sought approval for an increase in the permitted throughput from 35 million to 43 million passengers per annum (mppa) Despite the fact that this is almost as much as today’s Gatwick, the application was granted conditional approval by the UDC Planning Committee on 14 November 2018. 

However, it has now been clearly demonstrated that the conditions laid down by the Planning Committee have not been met.

In addition, before granting final approval the Planning Committee has a legal duty to consider any new material factors and changes in circumstances that have arisen in the seven months that have passed since November last year when the application was conditionally approved.

SSE has now provided UDC with six clear examples of new material factors and changes in circumstances since November 2018.

UDC officers continue to refuse to discuss any of the above matters with SSE.  Instead, they have recently held three meetings with councillors, behind closed doors, for which no minutes or other formal records are publicly available.

In fact, it is not even recorded on the UDC website that such meetings ever took place.  It is understood that the purpose of these meetings was to consider the legal advice obtained by the Council in relation to the airport planning application.  Councillors have been warned by the senior legal officer at UDC, in the severest terms, about the need to maintain total secrecy as to any legal advice UDC has received regarding its handling of the airport planning application.

At least two of the recent Council meetings held behind closed doors were said to be in preparation for an Extraordinary Council Meeting (ECM) due to be held, in public, on Monday 3 June to consider an earlier instruction from councillors to Ms French and her officers [see Note 1], not to issue final approval for the airport planning application until councillors had received independent legal corroboration and were satisfied that final approval could be issued.  A number of members of the public had been given permission to speak at the ECM on Monday 3 June.

However, on Friday 31 May, UDC advised those members of the public who were due to speak at the ECM that the meeting had been postponed at short notice and would not now take place until Friday 28 June.

The reason given was that further legal advice was not expected to be available until 31 May and, according to Ms French, this allowed too little time for councillors “to reflect upon and the need for further clarification of the legal advice in order to form a clearer proposition of the way forward”.

It is understood that it was not until Friday 7 June that councillors received the further legal advice that was promised by 31 May and another ‘behind closed doors’ meeting has now been arranged for Wednesday 12 June to which only selected councillors have been invited.  SSE has been told that the intention of this meeting is to seek to annul the instruction to Ms French not to issue final approval for the airport planning application until councillors had received independent legal corroboration and were satisfied that final approval could be issued.  [ie. that she might approve it finally]

It is difficult to avoid drawing the conclusion that officers are intent on avoiding any further public discussion of the outstanding issues in relation to the airport planning application. 

Having postponed the ECM until 28 June, it would appear that officers now wish to avoid this altogether.  Moreover, officers continue to resist requests to refer the airport planning application back to the UDC Planning Committee for reconsideration despite the clear legal justification for doing so.  SSE has provided overwhelming evidence of the legal justification in the latest letter from Peter Sanders to the Council’s Chief Executive.

The impression given is that officers are intent on issuing final approval for the airport planning application regardless of the outstanding concerns.

Following the local elections on 2 May there was a dramatic change in the political make-up of the Council but this seems to have made no difference whatsoever to the longstanding determination of officers to provide Manchester Airports Group, as quickly as possible, with final approval for Stansted Airport to grow to 43mppa.

Peter Sanders, in writing to the Uttlesford Chief Executive [Note 2], said:  “Once again, instead of resisting proposals from elected UDC members and others for [the airport planning application] to be referred back to the Planning Committee for further consideration, I urge you to make a clear recommendation for that referral to be made forthwith.”

Mr Sanders ended his letter with a plea for greater openness and dialogue: “Finally, I would like to make a renewed plea to you to re-establish a sensible dialogue with SSE.  In the seventeen years since SSE was established we have never previously experienced a situation where UDC officers refused even to meet SSE.  The absence of an open dialogue is to the advantage of neither UDC nor SSE and I would reaffirm our willingness to discuss the above matters and other airport-related issues with you and/or your officers at any time.”

ENDS

NOTES

1)   The instruction arises from a requisition under the Council’s rules of procedure for an Extraordinary Council Meeting (ECM) dated 25th April 2019 and duly validated, which states as follows:

“To instruct the Chief Executive and fellow officers not to issue the Planning Decision Notice for planning application UTT/18/0460/FUL until members have had an opportunity to review and obtain independent legal corroboration that the legal advice provided to officers, including the QC opinion referred to by the Leader of the Council on 9th April 2019, confirms that the proposed Section 106 Agreement with Stansted Airport Limited fully complies with the Resolution approved by the Planning Committee on 14 November 2018 such that officers re lawfully empowered to conclude and seal the Agreement without further reference to the Planning Committee.”

2)  A copy of Mr Sanders’ letter of 10 June 2019 to UDC CEO is available on request from SSE office.

FURTHER INFORMATION AND COMMENT


See earlier:

 

Uttlesford decision on Stansted: New councillors mean an opportunity for a fresh approach

The previous council at  Uttlesford voted through expansion proposals for Stansted Airport, in November 2018, but the Chairman’s casting vote. It then came to light jhat at least some of the councillors had either not read, or had not understood, even the most basic information about the application. Now with the council elections in early May, there has been a huge re-shuffling. Local group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) says this left no doubt as to its dissatisfaction with the incumbent administration.  The Conservatives retained just 4 out of their 24 seats, making this proportionately the largest loss by any ruling party in any District Council in the entire country. The 5 members of the Council’s Planning Committee who voted in favour of the Stansted Airport planning application last November are no longer councillors, whereas the 5 who voted against were all re-elected. Voters were unhappy that an unpopular administration had attached greater priority to the commercial interests of Manchester Airports Group than to the wellbeing of local residents. SSE now looks forward to re-establishing a constructive dialogue with the Council.

Click here to view full story…

SSE takes Communities Secretary James Brokenshire to JR on Stansted expansion, including its CO2 emissions

Campaign group, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) say they will use latest EU figures showing Ryanair as one of Europe’s biggest polluters in their latest judicial challenge. Currently about 21 million of Ryanair’s 130 million passengers in 2018 travelled via Stansted. Ryanair has the highest CO2 emissions (for intra-EU flights) of any European airline. Its flights emitted 9.9 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, up 6.9% on 2017, and up 49% over the past 5 years. SSE say the added argument of  the vast carbon emissions, to only be hugely worsened by expansion to 43 mppa, is another reason why the planning consent by Uttlesford council, for the airport expansion, should be called in for determination by the government. The Communities Secretary James Brokenshire has said his reason for not intervening was that the application does not involve issues of “more than local importance.” Carbon emissions are indeed of much more than local significance – it is a global issue. Brian Ross, from SSE said:  “You can’t just allow local authorities to approve an increase in carbon emissions as they like. There needs to be national co-ordination.”

Click here to view full story…

Stop Stansted Expansion to start legal challenge to government decision not to call in expansion application

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has confirmed that it will commence legal proceedings to challenge last week’s decision [20 March] by the Communities Secretary James Brokenshire not to intervene in the decision by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) to approve the expansion of Stansted to 43 mppa.  Brokenshire said his reason for not intervening was that “the application does not involve issues of more than local importance”.  SSE considers this conclusion to be completely wrong. In the next month or two, Stansted is expected to overtake Manchester to become the UK’s 3rd busiest airport.  The noise, air pollution, community health and road traffic impacts of Stansted are felt far beyond the borders of Uttlesford, and the 3.7 million equivalent tonnes of carbon dioxide attributable to Stansted flights this year will have significant adverse global impacts. SSE will apply to the High Court for a JR of Brokenshire’s decision. SSE solicitors have written to UDC pointing out that it would be inappropriate for UDC to issue any decision in relation to the airport planning application whilst these legal challenges are pending.  SSE already has an outstanding JR application against the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, over his decision of 28 June 2018 to allow the airport planning application to be determined locally by UDC.

Click here to view full story…

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And more Stansted Airport news at

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/uk-airports/stansted-airport/some-stansted-airport-news-stories/

 

Stansted Airport News

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