‘Unclear whether government, Mayor or local authorities would pay EU air quality fines for London

Air quality experts and politicians have reacted to the EU’s decision to pursue legal action against the UK government for breaching limits for NO2 in 16 of 43 zones in the country and failing to reduce concentrations by the 2010 deadline.  There are questions whether the UK government or local authorities would pay the £300 million fines that could be levied. If the government passes the fines on to local authorities, this will be harsh and counter-productive to good local air quality management, which is already struggling for resources at local level. With improvements to car engines, some reduction in NO2 is expected in coming years:  “by around 2030 the Euro 6 [vehicle emissions standards] and subsequent standards will have brought compliance just about everywhere with NO2.” An expert commentted: “…you are not going to improve NOx and NO2 unless you really target road transport in cities and towns. Nothing else is really going to deliver.” London was singled out as having the highest levels of NO2 emissions of any city in Europe.  Murad Qureshi thought at least a sizeable part of a possible EU fine would have to be paid by the Mayor of London. Air quality is poor around Heathrow.
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‘Unclear’ who would pay UK air quality fines, say experts

February 21, 2014 (Air Quality News)

Air quality experts and politicians react to the EU’s legal action over the UK’s failure to meet air quality standards, which could result in £300m fines each year

Air quality experts and politicians have reacted to the EU’s decision to take the UK to court over its failure to meet standards for nitrogen dioxide, but have questioned whether it would be the UK government or local authorities paying the £300 million fines that could be levied as a result.

Yesterday (February 20), the European Commission announced that it was pursuing legal action against the UK government for breaching limits for nitrogen dioxide in 16 of 43 zones in the country and failing to reduce concentrations by the 2010 deadline (see airqualitynews.com story).

Emissions from road and traffic pollution is largely to blame for the UK’s failure to comply with EU standards for nitrogen dioxide

As a result, the UK could face EU fines of up to £300 million for every year that it fails to comply with the air quality standards.

Roger Barrowcliffe, chair of the Institute of Air Quality Management (IAQM) – a membership organisation for air quality professionals – said it was currently unclear who would have to pay such a fine – but that as a result of Local Air Quality Management legislation giving more responsibility to councils, it could be local authorities footing some of the bill.

However, he told airqualitynews.com: “Should the government pass them on to local authorities, this will be very harsh and counterproductive to good local air quality management, which is struggling for resources at local level in any event.”

Mr Barrowcliffe also said he was “surprised” it had taken so long for the Commission to take the decision, but that the government really needed to target road transport emissions if the UK is going to reach compliance for nitrogen dioxide.

And, he was also unimpressed with the Commission’s new package of air quality policies launched in December (see airqualitynews.com story), which he described as “anaemic”.

Euro 6

Mr Barrowcliffe said: “Will the EU’s legal action against the UK make a difference? This gets to the heart of the matter in my view. There is a reasonable basis for thinking that by around 2030 the Euro 6 [vehicle emissions standards] and subsequent standards will have brought compliance just about everywhere with nitrogen dioxide. It is clearly a problem that will be solved in time. It depends whether it is worth the EU spending more money to get there faster.”

He added that the next five years were “really crucial” for nitrogen dioxide emissions as “we will have a much clearer idea of whether the Euro 6 emission standards have delivered.”

However, he did have some sympathy for politicians in charge of air quality. He said: “Is government doing enough? Clearly not because if you define success as lowering concentrations fast enough to meet the limits then no one is doing enough. However, if you put yourself in their position what levers have you got to improve the situation?

“It takes political muscle to put in place LEZs. I think obviously it is clear to most people that you are not going to improve NOx and NO2 unless you really target road transport in cities and towns. Nothing else is really going to deliver. You don’t need to be in air quality management to understand that.”

Mr Barrowcliffe commented: “It will be interesting as we come towards the general election next year how this plays out, if at all, in the political arena.”

Green Party

Green Party MEP for South East England and air quality campaigner, Keith Taylor, had little sympathy for the UK government meanwhile.

Speaking to airqualitynews.com, he said: “I think what we have to remember is that the UK played their part in actually setting the standards back in the late 1990s. Since then they have not really improved things in any meaningful way, and that is a matter of very deep regret for the near 30,000 people a year who are dying because of poor air quality. We should not have set up the standards if we were not prepared to meet them.”

Asked whether he thought the legal action would help improve air quality in the UK, Mr Taylor said: “If the government won’t comply because it is the right thing to do, then perhaps they will if they face a £300 million fine each year.”

But, he added: “I do not want the EU to have to fine the UK, especially because the public have already paid the price in terms of health – it would add insult to injury.

“Quite how they want to discharge the fine I don’t know. There was talk of the fines being paid by the local council which would be totally irresponsible.”

London Assembly

London in particular was singled out as having the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide emissions of any city in Europe, and is not expected to comply with EU standards until 2025 – 15 years later than the EU target of 2010.

Labour London Assembly member Murad Qureshi – who also chairs the Assembly’s health and environment committee – told airqualitynews.com that he thought at least a sizeable part of a possible EU fine would have to be paid by the Mayor of London, “whoever that will be at the time”.

He said: “I would much rather we responded to the public health issue than the fear of facing a £300 million fine. Air pollution is a silent killer of thousands of people and I would like to think that was the reason for dealing with this problem.”

Mr Qureshi said it could potentially be a big political issue at the upcoming EU elections in May 2014.

He said: “The right may say that this is unwarranted from the EU, while those on the left may welcome this environmental intervention. It could be seen as an issue of sovereignty, but the EU really has been leading the way on environmental issues for many years now.”

http://www.airqualitynews.com/2014/02/21/unclear-who-would-pay-uk-air-quality-fines-say-experts/

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Earlier:

European Commission launches legal action against UK over failure to reduce air pollution

Date added: February 20, 2014

The European Commission has launched legal proceedings over levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in many British cities. There has been a long-running legal battle between London and Brussels over the 16 urban centres in the UK that will not be able to meet binding air quality standards by 2015, despite being granted a 5-year extension following the original 2010 deadline for compliance with the rules. 15 of the affected zones will not meet the standards until 2020 and parts of London are unlikely to meet NO2 standards until 2025, a full 15 years later than the original deadline. The EC has now started the legal case, which is likely to result in hefty fines of many millions of ££s which should have the effect of accelerating efforts to tackle air pollution. The zones included Greater London and the South East. The legal case has been precipitated by the environmental campaign group ClientEarth. The UK has some of the highest levels of NO2 in Europe. The UK government now has 2 months to respond to the EC’s legal action. The Heathrow area has bad air quality levels, due partly to the planes but with an even higher proportion from the intense road traffic, especially diesel vehicles, that the airport attracts.

Click here to view full story…

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The Nantes protest and rioting against proposed airport – blog by John Stewart

In a blog about the huge demonstration, part of which turned in to rioting, at Nantes against the proposed  new airport, John Stewart looks at how this protest came about – and its relevance to other large infrastructure projects in Europe. The Nantes protest organisers say as many as 50,000 people attended, from supportive protest committees from areas across France. The politics of this airport project have taken on national interest and significance, and also linked into opposition to “Les Grands Projets Inutiles Imposes” (useless, imposed mega-projects).  The people passionately fighting plans for a new airport in unspoiled French farming countryside are linked to those opposing HS2 and other schemes like a high-speed rail in Northern Italy and cyanide-mined gold extraction project in Romania. All these projects have managed to get support from very disparate sections of society. They all have real doubts about the economics or the necessity of the project; also they have land, homes, countryside or communities to defend; there is significant local opposition; and they also attract in outside opposition, from people with a variety of  perspective as well as environmental. 
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Nantes ablaze

Blog by  John Stewart

On Saturday Nantes was ablaze. The anger at the proposed new airport outside this city in Western France boiled overhttp://youtu.be/eIgNvAHIVmw. Up to 60,000 people took part in what was largely a peaceful demonstration.  YouTube link  The local campaign group ACIPA say that the tension rose when the police refused to allow the march to take the normal route through the city. When part of the march tried to do so it “faced violent police repression shot with rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades”: http://communiques-acipa.blogspot.co.uk/

I have been to Nantes several times over last few years (although wasn’t there on Saturday). The campaign has become a cause célèbre in France. It has “support committees” in over 200 towns and cities across France and Belgium. On a regular basis each committee lobbies and demonstrates in its own area. Over 60 coaches arrived in Nantes on Saturday with supporters from across the nation.

During the last Presidential elections four “peasant” farmers, whose land was threatened by the new airport, went on hunger strike for a month. They were visited by most of the presidential candidates. All, except for Hollande and Sarkozy, came out against the airport.

The profile of the campaign wasn’t always so high. I first met the campaigners in 2008 when five desperate farmers drove through the night to promote their case at a major Heathrow rally. They subsequently modelled much of their campaign on the successful fight against the 3rd runway. In particular, they built up the widest possible alliance of support.

The proposed new airport would be built around 15 miles from the city of Nantes in a landscape dotted with small farms and attractive villages. It is the classic French countryside, but without the British and their second homes!

The rationale for the new airport has never been entirely clear. Nantes already has a single runway airport which is under-used. The regional government argues that the new airport would regenerate the area. This is hotly contested by the campaigners who commissioned their own report which challenged the government’s economic case:  They argue that the new airport has more to do with boosting the egos of the local politicians – including the former Mayor of Nantes Jean-Marc Aryault who was made Prime Minister under Hollande – than beefing up the economy.

It remains unclear how much support there may be from people in Nantes living under flight path to the current airport for the new airport. Certainly, it is not visible. In contrast, the opposition has mushroomed over the last six years. Local people have been joined by a range of political and environmental organizations as well as the direct action campaigners, many of whom live in tents and tree houses in a local wooded area known as the ZAD.

There have been tensions from time to time between the local community and the direct action activists in the ZAD but last winter the ZAD won huge respect from other parts of the coalition when, in freezing cold conditions, they defied attempts by authorities to remove them.

It is probably impossible at this stage to know what will happen next in Nantes. But I think it is part of an emerging pattern: it is becoming increasingly difficult to build major new projects anywhere in Western Europe. The Nantes campaigners have links with those opposing the HS2 high-speed link in Britain (http://stophs2.org/news/5792-les-grands-projets-inutiles-imposes) through what is known as the Campaign against Useless Imposed Mega-Projects. It is what is says on the tin! It includes the NO-TAV movement against high-speed rail in Northern Italy and Save Rosia Montana, the Romanian campaign against a vast cyanide-mined gold extraction project in Western Transylvanian. Last year the Nantes campaigners hosted the Useless Imposed Mega-Projects’ annual meeting.

Iain Martin wrote in the Daily Telegraph (14/1/09) about the Heathrow anti-third campaign: “the coalition assembled outside Parliament is extraordinarily wide. It runs from radical eco-warriors to middle-class mothers in west London, hedge fund managers in Richmond, to pensioners and parents in Brentford”. The links now being made by opponents of mega-projects are in some ways an extension of this. The anarchist on the streets of Nantes has little in common with the millionaire executive in the Chilterns…….except they are both passionately against a mega-project.

Certain conditions seem to need to be present for a mega-project to attract opposition from very disparate people.

• There is a real doubt whether the mega-project is essential for the economy. The economic case for the new Nantes Airport, HS2, the Rumanian gold-mine and the third runway at Heathrow are all hotly contested.

• The mega-project is site-based, i.e. there is land, homes, countryside or communities to defend.

• The mega-project is attracting significant local opposition. If the local opposition is non-existent or small, the essential first building block is missing.

• The mega-project must attract outside opposition. Nantes has become a magnet that has drawn a diverse range of protesters each there for a differ reason: environmentalist; anti-capitalist etc.

The new Nantes airport proposed for this unfashionable part of France has become the classic ‘useless’ mega-project. I suspect Heathrow Airport – and probably also the promoters of HS2 – will be looking closely at what happens next at Nantes.

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1nantes12

In the parade in Nantes, Saturday, Feb. 22.

France Airport Protest.JPEG-02143

Washington Post

 

About 20,000 people demonstrated in the city center of Nantes to protest against the construction of the new airport of Our Lady of Landes.Des violent clashes took place at the end of the event between violent groups and CRS | Franck Dubray

Link to photo 


 

YouTube video (1 min)  of peaceful section of the march, at Nantes on 22nd Feb.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Huvv7G2AlAU#t=55

This YouTube video (2 min) taken from a  high window looking down on part of the crowd shows much of it peaceful, and what appears to be tear gas cannisters shot at them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7C15ZRsLAbg#t=74

 


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See also

 

Huge protest in centre of Nantes against new airport – forceful police resistance; some rioting, violence and injuries

Date added: February 23, 2014

A huge protest took place in Nantes on 22nd February, against the planned new replacement airport to be built at Notre Dame des Landes, some miles to the north. The organisers estimated some 50 – 60,000 protesters, who came in from supportive groups from regions all across France. There are reported to have been 65 coach loads of protesters who travelled to Nantes to take part, and 520 tractors, brought by supportive farmers from surrounding areas. The protests were put down with considerable force by the police, using water canon, rubber bullets and tear gas. The issue has become very political in France. With elections coming up this year, the Prime Minister (and former Mayor of Nantes and ardent backer of the new airport) is thought unlikely to back down from pressing for the airport. However, it is not thought likely that there will be forceful evictions of the farmers and activists who are occupying the land allocated for the airport, called the ZAD – Zone à Défendre as it would be unpopular. An opinion poll found 56% of those surveyed were against the new airport. The courts have ruled it can go ahead, but there are appeals on ground of the law on water and on biodiversity.

Click here to view full story…

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Huge protest in centre of Nantes against new airport – forceful police resistance; some rioting, violence and injuries

A huge protest took place in Nantes on 22nd February, against the planned new replacement airport to be built at Notre Dame des Landes, some miles to the north. The organisers estimated some 50 – 60,000 protesters, who came in from supportive groups from regions all across France. There are reported to have been 65 coach loads of protesters who travelled to Nantes to take part, and 520 tractors, brought by supportive farmers from surrounding areas. The protests were put down with considerable force by the police, using water canon, rubber bullets and tear gas. The issue has become very political in France. With elections coming up this  year, the Prime Minister (and former Mayor of Nantes and ardent backer of the new airport) is thought unlikely to back down from pressing for the airport. However, it is not thought likely that there will be forceful evictions of the farmers and activists who are occupying the land allocated for the airport, called the ZAD – Zone à Défendre as it would be unpopular. An opinion poll found 56% of those surveyed were against the new airport. The courts have ruled it can go ahead, but there are appeals on ground of the law on water and on biodiversity.   And blog.  Comment from a Nantes resident.
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Construction of the new airport at Notre Dame des Landes is due to start this year but has not yet begun, and the airport opening target date has been pushed back from 2017 to at least 2019.

Protest against airport Notre-Dame-des-Landes degenerates

22.2.2014  (Le Monde)

Imperfect translation into English : 

Original French at http://www.lemonde.fr/planete/article/2014/02/22/notre-dame-des-landes-les-opposants-retournent-dans-la-rue-a-nantes_4371530_3244.html

La manifestation des opposants à l'aéroport de Notre-Dame-des-Landes a dégénéré samedi 22 février à Nantes.

It is 17.00 hours and in Nantes, and Olivier Niol , 45, tries to maneuver his big green tractor to leave the Franklin Roosevelt during in the center of the city. The cloud of tear has almost reached him and he struggled to open his eyes.

A few dozen yards behind him, groups of protesters and riot police respond with stones , bottles and flares on one side and to the police , decided to clear the city center, tear gas concussion and a water cannon. Before the farmer’s tractor, which has come from Morbihan where he raises poultry , stands at the same time , the closing meeting of the manifestation of opponents airport Notre-Dame -des- Landes ( NDDL ) which brought together tens of thousands of people.

“The party is ruined , the organizers are overwhelmed by the radical fringe on which they rely since the beginning of this movement ,” the prefecture of Loire-Atlantique denounces.  She reported eight people wounded on the side of law enforcement , all hospitalized and dozens of men bruised and ten arrests. Journalists have also been violently attacked by opponents . No report on the number of people injured on the protesters side was available on Saturday night.

A dozen businesses were severely damaged. Crackers are also attacked a police station, an agency of the Vinci group , dealer airport project , but also street furniture or catenary SNCF to block the movement of trains. At least two construction equipment but also a barricade and a car were also burned.

The clashes left four wounded among the police .

 

The clashes left four wounded among the police.

 

GOVERNMENT WANTS TO ” GO TO FORCE “

The opposition to this project , dear to Prime Minister Jean- Marc Ayrault, former mayor of Nantes, and supported by the government, it is all at the same time : the will to fight with the police and CRS of a government that wants “force through ” this project according to critics ; and the political and legal battle to block any runway opening .

On Saturday in the streets of Nantes on Saturday, there were associatives , farmers, leftist militants ( Left Front, ZIP, etc.). , Environmentalists, trade unionists and anti-capitalist , often more extreme , as among a section of those who occupy the ZAD , the activity area deferred that has become the area to defend.

Read: Notre-Dame-des-Landes: opponents of the airport still mobilized

 

Police and gendarmes have used tear gas and water cannons against the activists.

 

20 000 and 60 000 TS MANIFESTAN

At the dispersion, it is difficult to assess the exact number of participants since the event was quickly cut into several pieces. The side of the prefecture, it was announced “around 20,000 protesters with nearly 1,000 demonstrators radicals ready for the battle that could not be controlled by the organizers “ .

The organizers themselves, claiming between 50,000 and 60,000 protesters and 520 tractors. Is more than 17 November 2012,  when 30,000 people marched to reoccupy the grove north of Nantes and against police violence.  “This is the biggest mobilization of the movement” , say the representatives of the ” coordination “of all associations opposed to the project, (ACIPA) and” Buddy “, farmers near the Confédération Paysanne and anti-capitalist living in the ZAD.  “This day is a success and the various components of the fight remain united on the area”  they said on Saturday night, in a joint statement. 

 

According to the prefecture, the event attracted around 20,000 protesters.

 

“With 65 coaches coming from 200 regional opposition groups that exist throughout France , we see that the front of solidarity has widened rejoices Julien Durand of ACIPA (inter Citizen Association of the populations concerned by the draft Airport Notre-Dame-des-Landes). And according to am IFOP opinion poll released today, a majority of French (56%) did not support the transfer of the current airport of Nantes Atlantique, to the new site that must be built in the grove at Notre Dame des Landes.. We do not really see how politically, the government can can persist . 

It is also what Olivier Niol believes, driving his tractor. “More and more farmers are opposed.  The farmer who lent me his tractor to come to Nantes – mine gave up the ghost before arriving – is not committed to the Confédération Paysanne, but he is tired that of the decline in farmland,  says this robust poultry farmer.  I do not see why the government would not back down on this issue, as they have given way several times to the right.  The government is losing the vote of the  left wing small peasant farmers.

FILE EMINENTLY POLICY

In the parade in Nantes, Saturday, Feb. 22.

 

THE CASE IS EMINENTLY POLITICAL

In the parade in Nantes, Saturday, Feb. 22 .

The case – beyond legal hazards  of the Court, were filed by opponents early in February against the orders of the prefecture on the law concerning water  and the law on protected species taken in late December – is eminently political . In the protest, many people wanted  the two heads of the executive.. “No to Ayraultport of Notre Dame des Landes ,” reads the slogans everywhere.

If the proximity of municipal elections suggests a break and no probability of intervention against the zadistes and occupants of some six farms which are still operating in the area of future construction, as well as twenty houses still occupied by individuals, whose vigilance is unabated .

“I do not believe the works will start there in the coming months ,”  says José Bové MEP Europe -Ecologie -Les Verts .  They cannot move the protected species, there are elections : any attempt by Jean- Marc Ayrault to send in the forces on the ground would meet stronger opposition even than in November 2012 . The political risk is too great. ”  The government will not back down because this is absurd , also ensures the co-chair of the Left Party , Jean -Luc Mélenchon . All surveys showed the damage this airport would cause would be for nothing. Why do you want to do it in these conditions? ”

 

Peasant mobilization was strong in Nantes, where the procession was attended by 530 tractors.


“YES VEGETABLES, NOT IN ASPHALT”

In the event, some brocardent, kindly Greens suspects remain in the government majority. “Europe-Ecologie Yellow” , denounced on a sign, Jean-Marie, a teacher came from Rennes . Driving as a big green tractor, Thomas Rabu, 35, came from the region Ancenis with fifty colleagues. “They need to realize they will not feedbitumen “ says the young sheep farmer. Throughout the procession, largely good-natured and enlivened by many clowns benefits, it is a leitmotif. “Yes vegetables, not bitumen. 

Peasant mobilization, in the opening day of the Salon de l’Agriculture in Paris , is strong. Jean-François Guitton, a leader of Pal 44 (Collective of professional agricultural organizations outraged by the airport project) came from Saint-Gildas-des-Bois, to manifest . Dairy farmer with 80 cows, also member of the Confédération Paysanne, very present in the procession, he explains that “the FNSEA is against the airport project, but can not s’ display with Conf ‘and environmentalists “ . For him, “it was necessary to mark a strong political move before the municipal because beyond NDDL, too many candidates have projects artificial soil for larger areas of activity or construct housing “ .

“OPPONENTS SEVERE MINORITY”

Participants, in turn, fired bullets at the police and attacked a police station as well as an agency of the Vinci group.

 

Beyond the fighting, would have preferred to avoid the organizers, the balance is positive according to them. “Government can not s’ stubborn and want to move in strength , says Françoise Verchère, collective CEDPA (Collective elected doubting the relevance of the airport). mobilization is not weakening and it must take into account. 

A prefecture in Nantes, the green light is expected for the transfer of protected species. “All appeals opponents were lost by them , says Mickaël Doré, sub-prefect in charge of the case. crystallizes many different oppositions . This is the first time we will build a new airport for twenty years. We will consider all environmental aspects of this issue. But there is no question that a minority of violent opposition opposes a project democratically decided. 

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Comment from a resident of Nantes:

Some of the media coverage of the protests have given a distorted account, with mentions of “pillaging anarchists” and “individuals who are very violent”. This fits in with the whole right wing media discourse of “Nantes saccagé” (~”sacked” as in Troy).

I was there on Saturday, and I fear some of the media coverage is misleading. It is true that Vinci, Nantes Métropole and Police Nationale Offices were damaged and spraypainted, and fires started at bus shelters, at a municipal building site, and one, very theatrical, barricade, but all of the shopping streets behind the police line were entirely unmolested.

This created a rather surreal atmosphere, with street battles going on at only a few tens of metres from
a) peacefully chatting demonstrators (the vast majority 30,000 against maybe 100 hotheads/agent provocateurs/’black bloc’) and
b) Nantes’ usual Saturday shopping crowd, who were entirely unmolested unless they got a gust of tear gas, which the police here let off with unnecessary abandon.

…. and two film clips of peaceful protesters below.


 YouTube film clips:

  1. Peaceful protesters

    1 min video clip shows a peaceful part of the Nantes demo – just people walking, drumming, costumes. Not violent. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Huvv7G2AlAU#t=55 …

    2 min video taken from a high window of part of Nantes demo showing peaceful protest & police tear gas throw at them http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7C15ZRsLAbg#t=61 …

  2.  

    Contrasting with (1 min 10) short film clip of the protester violence and the police response with water canons etc;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIgNvAHIVmw

 


 

 

Jean-Marc Ayrault and Manuel Valls condemns the violence

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault “condemns in the strongest terms the violent acts committed by a thousand radical demonstrators,” according to a statement released by Matignon. “In a democracy, the right to challenge and protest against a project is legitimate. But such violence is unacceptable, and nothing could justify ” added Mr. Ayrault, former mayor of Nantes, favorable. “He commends the work of the prefect and the police” at the violence.

For its part, the Interior Minister Manuel Valls has challenged the ultra-left and “Black Blocs” , ” very violent ” , who “engaged in abuses and intolerable violence: Molotov cocktails, bolts, paving thrown on the police, destroying shop windows, vandalizing a number of shops, street furniture and the entrance of a police station ” . Manuel Valls expressed his fear that “isolated groups continue this urban guerrilla” . (AFP)

http://www.lemonde.fr/planete/article/2014/02/22/notre-dame-des-landes-les-opposants-retournent-dans-la-rue-a-nantes_4371530_3244.html


 

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Press release from the organisers of the anti- airport demonstration on Feb. 22nd

The event today has witnessed unparalleled mobilization.

520 tractors coming from all neighboring districts have been counted,  twice as many as on March 24, 2012 in Nantes. This marks a massive involvement of the small farmer world . Vigilant tractors are ready to intervene on the zad (ZAD is Zone a Defendre).

There were 63 coaches from all regions of France , twice as many as came for the human chain . This is evidence of a national mobilization and the connection between the struggle at Notre Dame des Landes and other struggles against large and imposed unnecessary projects (les grands projets inutiles et imposes)

There were between 50,000 and 60 000 people , more even than in the event that marked the reoccupation of 17 November 2012. This has been the largest movement of mobilization .

The parade was festive , creative and determined, with batukadas (? translation?) , salamanders, giant crested newts , animal masks to mark people’s refusal to allow the destruction of protected species and the so-called compensation measures.

Speeches and events were held until 18.00 hours in the Daviais square .

The prefecture had chosen to put Nantes under siege and prevent us from being visible in the city center. This is the first time that a demonstration has been banned from the Cours des 50 Otages.  A part of the procession passed through the Beaulieu island. Another tried to go through the route originally planned and faced violent police repression shot with rubber bullets , tear gas and stun grenades . This did not prevent the demonstrators  remaining en mass in the streets of Nantes until the end .

There are different ways for people to express themselves in this movement. The government is deaf to the anti- airport protest , so  it is not surprising that some anger is expressed . What could happen if there was  a new intervention in the zad ?

This day has been a success and the various components of the fight remain united on the ground. The opposition has only grown over  30 years. The government has no choice but to abandon the airport project !

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In the original French:

—– Communiqué des organisateurs de la manifestation anti-aéroport du 22 février.

La manifestation d’aujourd’hui a connu une mobilisation inégalée.

520 tracteurs, venus de tous les départements limitrophes ont été comptés, deux fois plus que le 24 mars 2012 à Nantes. Cela marque une implication massive du monde paysan. Les tracteurs vigilants sont prêts à intervenir sur la zad.

Il y avait 63 bus venus de toutes les régions de France, deux fois plus encore que lors de la chaîne humaine. C’est le signe d’une mobilisation nationale et de la connection entre Notre Dame des Landes et d’autres luttes contre les grands projets inutiles et imposés.

Il y avait entre 50 et 60 000 personnes, plus encore que lors de la manifestation de réoccupation du 17 novembre 2012. Il s’agit de la plus grosse mobilisation du mouvement.

Le défilé a été festif, créatif et déterminé, avec des batukadas, salamandres, tritons géants, masques d’animaux marquant le refus de la destruction des espèces protégées et des mesures dites de compensation.
Des prises de paroles et animations ont eu lieu jusqu’à 18h square Daviais.

La préfecture avait choisit de mettre Nantes en état de siège et de nous empêcher d’être visible dans le centre ville. C’est la première fois qu’on interdit à une manifestation d’emprunter le Cours des 50 Otages. Une partie du cortège est passée par l’île Beaulieu. Une autre a essayé de passer par le trajet initialement prévu et a fait face à une répression policière violente avec tir de flashball, gaz lacrymogènes et grenades assourdissantes. Cela n’a pas empêché les manifestants de rester en masse dans les rues de Nantes jusqu’à la fin.

Il existe différentes manières de s’exprimer dans ce mouvement. Le gouvernement est sourd à la contestation anti-aéroport, il n’est pas étonnant qu’une certaine colère s’exprime. Que pourrait-il se passer en cas de nouvelle intervention sur la zad ?

Cette journée est un succès et les différentes composantes de la lutte restent unies sur le terrain. L’opposition ne fait que croître depuis 30 ans. Le gouvernement n’a pas d’autre choix que d’abandonner le projet d’aéroport !

http://communiques-acipa.blogspot.fr/2014/02/communique-des-organisateurs-de-la.html

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French anti-airport protest turns violent

22.2.2014  (France 24)

Protesters opposed to plans to build a new airport in the French city of Nantes smashed shop windows Saturday and hurled paving stones at police, who answered with tear gas and water cannons.

The protesters are opposed to the airport as it is set to be built on protected swampland.

Thousands swarmed the picturesque western city’s central Petite Hollande square, the latest in a string of demonstrations against the pet project of Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

Local government estimates there were 20,000 protestors present while protest organisers estimate that there were closer to 50,000 people.

A short distance away from the main protest, about 1,000 radical environmentalists staged a more violent protest, smashing shop windows and trashing a post office and the local offices of Vinci, the contractor on the airport project in nearby Notre-Dame-des-Landes.

The demonstrators pulled up paving stones from the Nantes tramway and threw them at charging police, along with bottles, emergency flares and other projectiles.
Six police were wounded in the clashes and four protesters were arrested, officials said.

Police said the more mainstream protest organisers were “overwhelmed by the radical fringe they’ve relied on from the start”.

Ayrault, who was mayor of Nantes from 1989 to 2012, condemned the violence.

Violence ‘unacceptable’

“In a democracy, the right to oppose and protest against a project is legitimate, but such violence is unacceptable, and nothing can justify it,” he said.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls echoed his criticism and said the “ultra-left” and foreigners had turned the protest into “urban guerrilla warfare”.

The protest comes two months after local officials gave the final go-ahead for preliminary work on the 580-million-euro ($795-million) project, which was approved in 2008.

Construction is due to start this year but has not yet begun, and the airport opening target date has been pushed back from 2017 to at least 2019.

The airport is set to have an initial annual capacity of four million passengers. Supporters say it will provide a major boost to tourism in western France and on the Atlantic coast.

A poll published Saturday by French polling agency Ifop reported that the majority of French citizens (56%) are opposed to the airport’s construction.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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Police clash with pillaging anarchists in western France as airport protest degenerates

22.2.2014 (Star Tribune)

PARIS — Riot police moved into the western French city of Nantes on Saturday, clashing with hundreds of anarchists who broke shop windows, destroyed bus stops and pillaged the city center.

At least eight police officers were hospitalized after violent confrontations with up to 1,000 “radicals,” the prefecture of the Loire-Atlantique region said. Fourteen people were detained.

The rioters had joined an estimated 20,000 people protesting plans to build a regional airport. Officials did not say whether protesters were injured.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls said the delinquents were from the “radicalized ultra-left” and were waging an “urban guerrilla” campaign.

“These are individuals who are very violent.” Valls said on iTele TV station.

Police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the attackers, some wearing hoods and helmets. However, after night fall, approximately 200 were reportedly still roaming the Nantes city center.

There have been numerous, sometimes violent, demonstrations against the building of an airport in Notre Dame des Landes, a pet project of Socialist Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, a Nantes native. The anti-airport protests, mounted since 2009, have brought together an unlikely alliance of farmers, ecologists and anarchists — who call themselves ZADists, based on the French acronym for “development zone.” The farmers trying to save their land have depended on the ZADists to keep their protest alive.

It was unclear whether the ZADists were joined by even more radical elements. The interior minister referred to ultra-leftist groups also active in Germany, Italy and elsewhere.

The prime minister issued a firm condemnation of the violence, saying “nothing can justify it.”

http://www.startribune.com/world/246695681.html

 

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The Nantes protest and rioting against proposed airport –                blog by John Stewart

Date added: February 24, 2014

In a blog about the huge demonstration, part of which turned in to rioting, at Nantes against the proposed new airport, John Stewart looks at how this protest came about – and its relevance to other large infrastructure projects in Europe. The Nantes protest organisers say as many as 50,000 people attended, from supportive protest committees from areas across France. The politics of this airport project have taken on national interest and significance, and also linked into opposition to “Les Grands Projets Inutiles Imposes” (useless, imposed mega-projects). The people passionately fighting plans for a new airport in unspoiled French farming countryside are linked to those opposing HS2 and other schemes like a high-speed rail in Northern Italy and cyanide-mined gold extraction project in Romania. All these projects have managed to get support from very disparate sections of society. They all have real doubts about the economics or the necessity of the project; also they have land, homes, countryside or communities to defend; there is significant local opposition; and they also attract in outside opposition, from people with a variety of perspective as well as environmental.

Click here to view full story…

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Partners Group including Strathclyde Pension Fund also bidding to buy Glasgow airport

Ferrovial has recently made a bid to buy Glasgow airport as well as Southampton and Aberdeen airports. Now Glasgow city council’s pension fund – the Strathclyde Pension Fund (the wealthiest council pension fund in the UK) – is part of a bid consortium that is also bidding for Glasgow airport. The consortium includes Partners Group and Zurich Airport. Partners Group is a global private markets investment management firm. A decision by the Strathclyde Pension Fund group to try and buy Glasgow could spark a bidding war. The bid is supported by the Glasgow city council leader and the Renfrewshire council leader. If their bid was successful, public involvement in a takeover for Glasgow would place it in direct competition with Prestwick, which was bought by the Scottish Government last year. That could mean a political conflict between Labour-run Glasgow and the SNP administration at Holyrood.  The Strathclyde Pension Fund has spread its investments across a wide range of areas and has a stake in Samsung and Apple, as well as property portfolio which includes a Wolverhampton shopping centre and an office block in Hong Kong.
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Partners Group enters race for Glasgow airport

By Jane Wild (FT)
February 20, 2014

A second bidder has entered the race for Glasgow airport, after Ferrovial’s offer was confirmed this week.
A consortium led by Partners Group, a Swiss-based private equity company, is bidding for the airport, in partnership with Strathclyde Pension Fund and Zurich airport, a person with knowledge of the talks said.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a5b847f8-9a4b-11e3-a407-00144feab7de.html#axzz2u0IGAls4

 

 

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Air wars: Glasgow set to back new bid for city airport

By Vivienne Nicoll
Local government correspondent

Glasgow is set to launch an audacious bid to buy the city’s airport. The city council’s pension fund – the Strathclyde Pension Fund – is part of a bid consortium which includes Partners Group and Zurich Airport.

Partners Group is a global private markets investment management firm with more than 30 billion Euros in investment programmes under management in private equity, private debt, private real estate and private infrastructure.

Spanish firm Ferrovial is also keen on snapping up Glasgow. It owns London Heathrow Airport as well as 25% of Heathrow Airport Holdings, which owns Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton Airports.

A decision by the Strathclyde Pension Fund group to try and buy Glasgow could spark a bidding war.

Insiders say the consortium regard the West of Scotland airport as a good investment.

The move to buy Glasgow is supported by city council leader Gordon Matheson and Renfrewshire council leader Mark Macmillan.

They regard the airport as a vitally important asset to the West of Scotland in general but to Glasgow and Renfrewshire in particular.

If their bid was successful, public involvement in a takeover for Glasgow would place it in direct competition with Prestwick, which was acquired by the Scottish Government last year. That could mean a political conflict between Labour-run Glasgow and the SNP administration at Holyrood.

Room for Prestwick as well as Glasgow as airport competition intensifies

Strathclyde Pension Fund has assets of £13.5bn, making it the wealthiest council pension fund in the UK. Its members include the 12 local authorities which made up the former Strathclyde Regional Council.

However, the fund has around 200,000 members including present and former council staff and a number of private companies like bus giant First.

The pension fund has spread its investments across a wide range of areas and has a stake in some of the biggest companies in the world including Samsung and Apple.

It also has a property portfolio which includes a Wolverhampton shopping centre and an office block in Hong Kong.

Glasgow Airport was owned by the former Glasgow Corporation but in 1975 an agreement was reached to transfer its ownership to the British Airports Authority.

Manchester Airport is one of only a few airports in the UK still in the ownership of local councils. It is owned and managed by Manchester Airports Group, a holding company owned by the 10 metropolitan councils of Greater Manchester.

Last year, the consortium decided to buy Stansted Airport and 35.5% of the group went to Australian investment fund Industry Funds Management.

In the battle to win the bid, pension fund managers face a major battle in their attempts to wrestle control of the west coast hub.

They could be caught up in a bidding war after Madrid-based Ferrovial reportedly tabled an opening offer of £800million earlier this week for Glasgow and the airports at Aberdeen and Southampton.

Ferrovial is the world’s largest transportation infrastructure company and is cash rich. Technically, it already owns Glasgow which is part of Heathrow Airport Holdings (HAH) which also owns the other two airports.

The Spanish firm have a 25% stake in HAH and is its biggest single shareholder. But it’s looking to expand business interests in the UK and reports suggest it wants outright control of Glasgow Airport and the others.

Ferrovial took control of what was BAA in June, 2006, at a time when officials in Glasgow were celebrating the hub’s 40th anniversary.

The Spanish conglomerate has so far refused to comment on reports of a bid although sources insist the speculation is true. That would suggest Glasgow Airport could shortly be the centre of a bidding war and if the price is right analysts say the Spaniards will withdraw and approve a deal.

The sale price for Glasgow is likely to generate a lot of haggling. Edinburgh Airport, which snatched Glasgow’s crown as Scotland’s busiest airport years ago was sold off recently. The agreed price was £800m.

It’s thought likely that Ferrovial executives could be looking for something similar if they opt to drop their interest in having outright control to a new position of a sell-off.

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/air-wars-glasgow-set-to-mount-public-bid-for-city-airport.1392929399

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Council supports multimillion-pound bid for Glasgow Airport

Gordon Thomson  (Herald Scotland)

COUNCIL and business leaders have backed plans for a multi-million takeover bid for Glasgow Airport by a group including the city’s £13.5billion pension fund.

Gordon Matheson, the leader of Glasgow City Council, ­yesterday welcomed news that a consortium including Strathclyde Pension Fund was making overtures to the Spanish owners Ferrovial.

Representatives of a possible bid have expressed interest to Heathrow Airport Holdings in buying the airport and would like guidance on how to initiate a bid of around £500 million.

Councillor Gordon Matheson said: “Glasgow Airport has huge strategic importance for our city and also the wider regional and national economies.

“It is Scotland’s principal long-haul gateway and has an extensive schedule of European and domestic flights including vital routes to the Scottish islands.”

Councillor Matheson said the bid brought together strong “regional interest” and strategic management skills. It also offered the “best possible opportunity to meet the needs of local business and leisure travellers.”

Renfrewshire Council leader Mark Macmillan said it was encouraging to see such interest in the airport as a key point for jobs, investment and economic growth in the area.

He said: “I believe the ­combination of locally-based involvement backed by international investment and financial expertise would be ideally placed to meet and benefit from our region’s economic interests and maximise the growth potential for investors.”

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief Stuart Patrick insisted he would welcome investment that grows the business.

He said: “Glasgow Airport is the most important transport asset the city has for business to access markets abroad.

“The management team has been doing an excellent job in growing it over the last three years and we support any owners who can provide investment funding that will maintain that growth.

“Clearly the two councils understand the importance of the airport but naturally the consortium will be making its decision on investment returns.”

Only when due diligence is completed will a bid be tabled.

The move to purchase the airport is to be made by major investors including the Strathclyde Pension Fund. The pension fund has £13.5billion of assets and the consortium will be led by Swiss-based Partners Group, a global private markets investment management firm that masterminds more than €30bn of investments.

A spokesman for the Partners Group said: “We can confirm we are in the process but can’t give you any information regarding the timing.”

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/transport/council-supports-multimillion-pound-bid-for-glasgow-airport.23503235

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Comment from an AirportWatch member:

I’m wary of taking too much comfort from this rumour: even if the AENA privatisation fails (and Lord knows, the Spanish government needs the cash), AENA is the junior partner in a two-organisation partnership: the other being AXA, which has very deep pockets indeed.


 

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Earlier

Ferrovial makes bid to buy Aberdeen, Glasgow & Southampton airports – hoping to make more profit than at Heathrow

February 18, 2014

Ferrovial had made an offer – for an undisclosed amount – to buy Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports from its partners in Heathrow Airport Holdings. The price might be as much as £800 million. Ferrovial is the largest shareholder in Heathrow, with 25%. Heathrow Holdings has made it clear for sometime that it is eager to sell its other remaining airports. It is understood that Ferrovial is not making the offer in partnership with any other company, though some reports suggest that Australian infrastructure companies Macquarie and Industry Funds Management are also involved. It is not known if Ferrovial’s bid will be accepted. A Portuguese bank has valued the 3 airports at £952m using an equity value/earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of 12.3 times for Aberdeen and Glasgow and 10.7 times for Southampton. Ferrovial bought BAA in 2006 for £10.3bn. It has since offloaded Gatwick, Stansted and Edinburgh in order to lower its debt. Now it is keen to buy again. Ferrovial hopes UK regional airports will grow strongly for the next few years, if the UK economy starts to grow, as they have a large amount of unused capacity. By contrast, the CAA has limited the amount Heathrow can charge airlines for landing charges, so decreasing the return available from Heathrow.      Click here to view full story…

 

 

Speculation that GIP, Ferrovial and MAG interested in buying Aberdeen Glasgow and/or Southampton airports

November 13, 2013      Sky News has learned “from banking sources” that various infrastructure investors are interested in buying Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports – amid expectations that their owner, Heathrow Holdings, will opt to sell them – to focus on its ownership of Heathrow. It is understood that Heathrow is considering a plan to offload, following a string of unsolicited approaches from prospective buyers. Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) which owns Gatwick and City airports, has expressed an interest in buying Aberdeen airport, although it has not yet made a formal bid. A number of Heathrow’s shareholders and board members are said to be keen to dispose of the 3 regional airports but its board has not yet made a formal decision. Ferrovial now only owns 25% of Heathrow,and is reported as now likely to be interested in buying one or more of the airports, through a separate vehicle. MAG is also understood to want to buy one or more of them.    Click here to view full story…

 

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FT reports that uncertain privatisation of AENA casts doubt over its stalled Luton expansion plans

Spanish airport operator, AENA, bought Luton airport in summer 2013 from Abertis. AENA is one of the world’s biggest airport operators in terms of passenger numbers, and manages Spain’s major airports. It also owns minority stakes in 15 more airports around the world. The FT says that now their plans are in doubt and Luton has a question mark over its future. Luton is the UK’s 5th largest airport in terms of passengers, and is the base for easyJet. AENA had plans to expand Luton, taking its annual number of passengers from around 9 million to 18 million – plans that have been fiercely opposed locally. AENA had plans to compete with French airport operator ADP, Germany’s Fraport and Singapore’s Changi. The FT says now AENA’s future is unclear and whether it will allow it to be largely privatised. This is having an impact on its Luton plans. The Luton expansion is being held up, or is on a back burner. The privatisation is a political matter within the Spanish government, and whether it has to sell assets to rescue the nation’s economy. The government hope to avoid selling much of AENA, and if it stays under state control, its Luton expansion plans may be scrapped.  
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Stalled Aena plan casts doubt over Luton revival

21.2.2014 (FT)

By Jane Wild and Miles Johnson

When Spain’s airport authority bought Luton airport last year it was supposed to be an emblem of the start of international expansion. Six months later, the plan is in doubt and Luton has a question mark over its future.

But analysts in Spain say that if Aena’s privatisation is derailed, Luton would no longer make sense as an asset in its portfolio, and that raises the prospect of a sale.

Full FT article at

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/3c1b8784-9b0d-11e3-946b-00144feab7de.html#axzz2u0IGAls4

 

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Abertis pulls out of Luton Airport concession in favor of Aena, Ardian

Dec. 3, 2013

Spanish infrastructure company Abertis has completed the sale of its interest in the management of London Luton Airport to a consortium consisting of Spain’s airport management and air navigation services provider Aena and independent investment company Ardian (formerly AXA Private Equity). The proposed sale was announced at the beginning of August, subject to necessary authorizations. These have now been secured and the sale concluded for £433 million ($704).

http://atwonline.com/airports-amp-routes/abertis-pulls-out-luton-airport-concession-favor-aena-ardian

 

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London Luton Airport acquired by Ardian and AENA

NOVEMBER 28, 2013    (Reuters PE Hub)

Ardian and AENA have completed the acquisition of the London Luton Airport concession from TBI, itself a joint venture 90% owned by Abertis Infrastructuras S.A, and 10% by AENA. The LLA concession, granted by Luton Borough Council, continues until 2031.

PRESS RELEASE

The joint venture consortium of Ardian and AENA today confirms that it has completed the acquisition of the London Luton Airport (“LLA”) concession for £394.4 million in equity value from TBI, itself a joint venture 90% owned by Abertis Infraestructuras S.A, and 10% by AENA. The LLA concession, granted by Luton Borough Council, continues until 2031.

The joint venture partners will now look to work with the airport management and all stakeholders to deliver a planned programme of changes to London Luton Airport which will transform the airport and deliver an enhanced customer experience.

London Luton Airport is the fifth largest airport in the UK in terms of passenger numbers. Last year the airport served 9.6 million passengers with departures to over 100 destinations worldwide.

AENA is the world’s largest airport operator with some 200 million passengers a year, and Ardian is an independent private investment company.

AENA operates 46 airports in Spain, including Madrid (45 million annual passengers) and Barcelona (35 million passengers) and participates directly and indirectly in the management of another 15 airports worldwide. Ardian, through its Infrastructure funds, is a major European long term investor in assets that provide people with essential services in transport, energy, water and telecommunications.

Jose Manuel Vargas, AENA’s executive chairman, said: “We are looking forward to working closely with Ardian and the London Luton Airport management team, the local council, the carriers and all stakeholders to help deliver an airport that delivers a quality experience for more customers and supports strongly the local economy.”

Mathias Burghardt, Head of Infrastructure of Ardian, said “As shareholders who hold to a long term perspective, we look forward to providing the certainty and stability necessary for the management of London Luton Airport to succeed. London Luton Airport must fulfil its role within the London airport system and add to the life and economy of Luton and the surrounding area in a sustainable way.”

Ends

Notes to Editors:

AENA
AENA is the world’s leading airport operator in terms of passenger numbers and serves some 200 million passengers a year. It manages all Spain’s major airports and owns minority stakes in 15 more airports around the world. Madrid-Barajas, a key European hub for South Atlantic flights, handled 45 million passengers in 2012 and is Europe’s fifth largest airport and Barcelona-El Prat, with 35 million, passengers is Europe’s ninth. Other large airports operated by AENA include Palma de Mallorca (22.6 million passengers), Malaga (12.5 million) and Alicante (8.8 million). AENA’s modern and functional airports are designed to improve passengers’ experience in the airport and offer a wide range of top quality retail and catering services.

Ardian
Founded in 1996 and led by Dominique Senequier, Ardian is a premium independent private investment company with assets of US$36bn managed or advised in Europe, North America and Asia. The company, which is managed and majority-owned by its employees, keeps entrepreneurship at its heart and delivers investment performance to its global investors while fuelling growth in economies across the world. Ardian’s investment process blends discipline and conviction with a long-term philosophy.

Ardian maintains a truly global network, with more than 300 employees working through ten offices in Beijing, Frankfurt, Jersey, London, Luxembourg, Milan, New York, Paris, Singapore, and Zurich. The company offers its 255 investors a diversified choice of funds covering the full range of asset classes, including Funds of Funds (primary, early secondary and secondary), Direct Funds including Infrastructure, Small and Mid-Market Enterprise Capital, Innovation & Growth, Co-Investment and Private Debt.

www.ardian-investment.com

London Luton Airport is one of the UK’s largest airports and carried 9.6 million passengers in 2012. The Airport directly and indirectly employs over 500 and 8,000 staff respectively, is a key economic driver for the region and a major base for ‘low cost’ or ‘no frills’ air travel.

easyJet, Wizz Air, Ryanair, Monarch, Thomson, EL AL, Blue Air and Flybe operate from the airport, departing to 100 destinations including services to Europe, Africa, and Asia, with onward connections to Mumbai, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Beijing and Bangkok via Tel Aviv.

http://www.pehub.com/2013/11/london-luton-airport-acquired-by-ardian-and-aena/

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AENA adds Luton Airport to its portfolio

1 August 2013 Spain’s AENA and the infrastructure fund of AXA Private Equity are to acquire the management concession for Luton Airport from TBI for £394.4m. Luton Airport is publicly owned by Luton Borough Council but is operated, managed and developed by a private consortium, London Luton Airport Operations Ltd (LLAOL). TBI, which is jointly owned by AENA (10%) and Spanish infrastructure group abertis (90%), became the majority shareholder in LLAOL in March 2001. AENA said the acquisition of Luton marked its first step in a strategy to replace those minority stakes with a portfolio of airports in which it has management control. The purchase will be financed by existing credit lines and by the sale of the minority stakes. Luton handled 9.6m passengers last year, making it both the UK’s and AENA’s fifth biggest airport.The Spanish government plans to partially privatise AENA in the coming months. For more details of the Luton deal from AENA click here and for a statement from abertis here. http://www.e-tid.com/aena-adds-luton-airport-to-its-portfolio/83658/

 

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Sandbag blog: Aviation in the ETS – still no deal

If EU governments have kept their word, letters should now be landing on the doormats of the airlines across the world who haven’t complied with the ETS.  This last minute notice of penalties for non-compliant airlines is a desperate last minute attempt to show that EU laws will be applied when airlines operate in Europe.  Sandbag say that though the EU data is sketchy, a number of airlines, including China Eastern and Air India, were missing from EU records, despite the law saying they should pay for their CO2 when they flew from one EU airport to another (the UK won’t currently confirm who isn’t compliant). Now the proposals for a change to the scheme are in trialogue discussion between the three pillars of the EU government, the Commission, the Parliament and the Council.  MEP Peter Liese, who is leading the ETS proposals, has said he is willing to compromise further, and allow the current limited scheme to continue for 2 more years. This unsatisfactory and weak position suits EU member states afraid of confrontation or trade wars with China, India etc.  Peter Liese wants EU member states to agree that the ETS should revert to full coverage (not only within Europe as at present) in 2016. 
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Aviation in the ETS: Still no deal

Posted by Phil on 20th Feb 2014 (Sandbag blog)

Thanks to Flickr user Pommegranny for the photo

If EU governments have kept to their word, letters should now be landing on the doormats of the airlines across the world who haven’t complied with the Emissions Trading Scheme.

This coordinated notice of penalties for non-compliant airlines is a desperate last minute attempt to show that EU laws will be applied when airlines operate in Europe. The EU data is sketchy, but we showed that a number of airlines, including China Eastern and Air India, were missing from EU records, despite the law saying they should pay for their pollution when they flew from one EU airport to another (the UK won’t currently confirm who isn’t compliant).

Now the proposals for a change to the scheme are in trilogue discussion between the three pillars of the EU government.

MEP Peter Liese, who is leading the proposals, has said he is willing to compromise further, and allow the current limited scheme to continue for two more years. Mr Liese has been forced into this position, despite securing the backing of the Parliament’s Environment committee to cover total airspace emissions (a charge for all aviation emissions when a plane is in EU airspace).

Member states, scared of recrimination from China, India, and other nations, are not budging, insisting that the present weak state of affairs remains, and in the hope of a global scheme for aviation in 2020.

So Peter Liese appears to be demanding just two compromises from member states; that the scheme switch back to full coverage in 2016, and that the revenue from aviation in the emissions trading scheme go toward international climate finance.

The climate finance amendment could make the scheme more popular with other countries. But some member states, particularly the UK, make a show of fighting hypothecated revenues; they do not like being told what they can spend their money on.

Whatever is decided in trilogue must be palatable enough to pass through Parliament. If MEPs believe that the legislation is environmentally too weak, or that international airlines might be allowed to ignore it anyway, then the proposal will fail. If that happens, legislation automatically kicks in to charge for emissions across the entirety of flights to or from the EU.

Key dates for the aviation proposal


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Aviation emissions: MEPs put forward proposals for a deal with EU ministers

ENVI Press release – Environment Parliament news

19-02-2014

All airlines operating in the EU should be treated equally, and their contribution to the EU carbon market should not end up in ministers’ pockets but help climate efforts, said MEPs during talks with the Council and Commission on Tuesday.

During the talks with the Greek Presidency of the Council and the Commission, MEPs presented proposals for a possible deal on the inclusion of the aviation sector in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). The current regime, which exempts all intercontinental flights from the ETS, is due to expire in April.

“The Council insists very strongly to extend the full « stop the clock » derogation to 2016. So we made a proposal: this could be OK for us, but only as part of a package which includes that future ETS revenues are earmarked for climate action. We think that earmarking could solve the current crisis of confidence with third countries regarding the ETS”, said rapporteur Peter Liese (EPP, DE).

“This is a highly political point. At the moment, ETS revenues disappear into the pockets of EU ministers, whereas they are supposed to help tackle climate change. This money could instead be allocated, for instance, to the green climate fund and for research and development in the area. This would show our partners, ahead of the Paris negotiations to take place in 2015, that the EU takes the issue seriously” said Environment Committee chair Matthias Groote (S&D, DE).
Full scope after 2016

Messrs Liese and Groote also say the ETS legislation should apply in full, without exemptions, after 2016. “The Parliament’s delegation has made a big move in giving up our position on airspace until 2016. The ball is now in the field of the Council. If the Council rejects our offer, it risks a complete collapse of the negotiation and will have to face the consequences,” they concluded.
Background
The ICAO agreed at its 38th assembly to adopt a global market-based measure (MBM) in 2016, to be implemented by 2020. In response, and in order to further promote the global MBM momentum, the European Commission proposed to reduce the proportion of emissions (from flights to and from countries outside the EU) to which the EU ETS applies for the period up to 2020, when the global MBM begins.
Follow ENVI on Twitter: @EP_Environment

 http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/content/20140219IPR36436/html/Aviation-emissions-MEPs-put-forward-proposals-for-a-deal-with-EU-ministers

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Aircraft face fines as deadline looms for EU pollution penalties

Thu Feb 20, 2014 (cnbc.com – Reuters)

* EU negotiators haggle over aviation law enforcement, text

* EU must finalise new law by end of April

* U.S. airlines urge EU to waive penalties

By Barbara Lewis and Valerie Volcovici

BRUSSELS/WASHINGTON, Feb 20 (Reuters) – U.S. airlines have stepped up the pressure on EU countries not to impose fines for alleged breaches of emissions rules in the latest twist to an international row over aircraft pollution.

The warning coincided with a deadline on Thursday for European Union nations to start enforcing rules covering 2012 emissions that could lead to fines of millions of euros against aircraft operators.

U.S. airline association A4A said it was calling on the European Commission, the EU executive, and its member states for clarity that there would be no penalties.

“We and various aviation stakeholders continue to push for a clear statement of relief from the application of the pending deadlines,” it said. The next deadline for operators is the end of March, when they should report data for 2013 emissions.

Such a statement, A4A added, would avoid any need to invoke blocking law agreed by the United States, which it can use to shelter U.S. operators from compliance with the EU rules.

Details of airlines that have not complied for 2012 emissions are sketchy and many of the companies are small private jets on lists of Commission data seen by Reuters.

The European Commission says most airlines, covering 98 percent of emissions, have complied and it relies on member states to punish those that have not. It can take EU nations to court if they fail to enforce EU law.

Thomson Reuters Point Carbon analyst Emil Dimantchev calculated total fines owing could be as much as 39 million euros ($54 million) on the basis of an allowance price of 7.5 euros per tonne on the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS).

By far the biggest fine would fall to Italian airline Blue Panorama, which filed forbankruptcy protection in 2012, adding to the problems for EU nations in trying to enforce their law.

A spokesman for Blue Panorama said the company disputed the “unfair and unreasonable” penalty because the bankruptcy procedure had prevented it from fully complying.

Under EU rules, the penalty is 100 euros per tonne of emissions for which an operator failed to submit carbon allowances, plus they have to buy permits to make up for the shortfall.

Britain says it has agreed to go ahead with enforcement of the law from Feb. 20, but it wants consistency across the European Union.

A spokeswoman for Britain’s Department of Energy and Climate Change said it was continuing to follow “as harmonised an approach as possible to enforcement for 2012 emissions”.

Following a closed-door meeting of member states on the issue, an EU diplomat said on condition of anonymity that there was “a broad consensus among member states and the Commission that EU law needs to be implemented”.

INTERNATIONAL OPPOSITION

Europe’s major trading partners, including the United States and China, said the EU law that took effect at the start of 2012 was a breach of sovereignty and they threatened retaliation. China blocked orders for Airbus jets in protest at the EU law.

In response to the opposition, the European Union suspended its law for intercontinental flights landing or taking off at EU airports, but the legislation has remained in force for flights within the European Union.

Some European carriers say they are at a disadvantage if long-haul flights do not pay and they support enforcement.

How long the suspension for intercontinental flights will continue is the subject of haggling among member states and EU institutions, which need to agree a new law by the end of April or the original legislation will reapply.

A first round of talks on Tuesday focused on how generous a deadline to set for U.N. negotiations to deliver a global deal on aviation emissions and whether revenues in the EU should be earmarked for environment purposes. Talks resume in March.

The European Union said it suspended its law to give negotiators at the U.N. body the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) the chance to come up with an alternative that the world would accept.

ICAO will review progress in 2016 and some in Europe say they should suspend the European Union’s law only until then.

Britain, for instance, has said the deadline should be 2020, which is when ICAO says a global plan to curb aviation emissions should be in place.

Point Carbon’s Dimantchev said there were political sensitivities, but enforcement was “an important test” for the role of aviation in the EU ETS.

Environmental campaigners say EU states will set a dangerous precedent unless they enforce the law as it stands.

“Power plants owned by foreigners have been complying with the EU ETS for years now. Foreign carriers flying in Europe’s airspace must also comply,” Aoife O’Leary, sustainable aviation officer at non-governmental organisation Transport & Environment, said.

($1 = 0.7272 euros)

(Additional reporting by Ben Garside in London, Tim Hepher in Paris and Daniel Fineren in Dubai; Editing by Dale Hudson)

 http://www.cnbc.com/id/101431000

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Aviation in the Emissions Trading Scheme: What really happened during “Stop the Clock”?

Posted by Phil (Sandbag)
18th Dec 2013

The EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) was originally intended to cover CO2 emissions from all flights arriving and departing from EU airports. Amid fierce opposition and threats of a trade war, Europe temporarily amended the scheme for 2012 to only include flights within the EU, known as “Stop the Clock”. Sandbag’s latest report on the first year of aviation emissions trading reveals how the rhetoric is out of sync with reality, how the scheme cost much less than many initially claimed, and how the scheme can work in future to tackle aviation pollution.

The Background

To understand where we are, a brief overview is helpful. Global aviation is responsible for 2.5% of global carbon emissions, which increases to 4.9% of total anthropogenic climate effects if all radiative forcing is included. If the sector were a country, it would already be the 7th most polluting on the planet. Emissions from global aviation are growing at a rapid pace; the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) forecasts that by 2036 emissions will increase between 155% and 300% compared to 2006 levels.

After more than a decade of international discussions struggling to find a global solution to cover aviation emissions, the European Union set out to create a system. From the 1st January 2012, the EU took the modest step of including the aviation sector into its carbon market.

Aviation in the Emissions Trading Scheme: What happened in 2012 under Stop the Clock‘What happened during 2012?’

Under the scheme in 2012, over one thousand airlines and operators were involved, and 84 million t/CO2 were emitted (covering about a third of all European aviation emissions). The majority of emissions, 89% (75 million t/CO2), came from EU airlines, with 11% (9 million t/CO2) of emissions from Non-EU airlines operating flights from one European airport to another. 71 million free allowances (‘EUAAs’) were issued, 81% (58 million EUAAs) to EU airlines, and the remaining 19% (13 million EUAAs) going to Non-EU airlines.

Despite a well-reported backlash from aviation officials in a range of countries, major airlines from countries considered part of the “coalition of the unwilling” complied with “Stop the Clock” in 2012, including: Cathay Pacific, Japan Airways, Asiana Airlines, Siberia Airlines (S7) and Delta. Furthermore some airlines from these countries even went beyond what was legally required, and included their international flights within the scheme, covering emissions outside the EU. Among those airlines are: Korean Air, Nippon Cargo, FedEx and Airbridge Cargo. EU airlines such as Lufthansa Cargo also chose not to return their free allowances, instead including their emissions outside the EU. The generous allocation of free allowances to Lufthansa Cargo meant they were left with a valuable surplus; the likely driving factor in their decision not to “Stop the Clock.”

The cost of compliance was also estimated to be lower than expected for those with a shortfall of free allowances. For example, Ryanair originally estimated including its flights in the ETS would cost €15-20 million in 2012. Consequently, the low-cost carrier imposed a €0.25 charge on all tickets to cover their costs. Yet average 2012 carbon prices would suggest compliance costs were lower, implying a cost to passengers of only €0.13 per flight, with Ryanair pocketing the difference, an estimated €8 million.

‘The New Proposal’

The EU Commission has now come forward with a new proposal for the scheme that would cover the percentage of flights within European Union airspace up until a review in 2016, dependent upon the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s progress towards a global scheme in 2020. Whilst this is extremely modest compared to what Sandbag believes is environmentally necessary, an airspace approach seems like a balanced compromise for now, keeping the pressure on ICAO, whilst not impinging on any other country’s airspace or discriminating between airlines and business models. Put frankly an EU airspace approach is the bare minimum needed, and further expansion in 2016 needs to be automatic if ICAO does not reach an agreement.

Sandbag Policy Analyst Rob Elsworth commented:

Despite non-EU airlines’ vociferous opposition to the EU ETS, the reality is that most of them are complying with the scheme, with some even going beyond what is legally required in order to make windfall profits. This utterly contradicts the position of those nay-saying airline officials and their governments. The EU must, as a bare minimum, control pollution in its own, sovereign airspace.

Sandbag Research Assistant Phil MacDonald commented:

Until the international community can agree on a global measure for tackling aviation pollution, the scheme remains an important trailblazer. The EU must not back down any further if it wishes to retain international credibility. An airspace-only approach is a fair and workable compromise, for now, and is the best route towards global action on aviation and climate change.

Click HERE for the full report.

http://www.sandbag.org.uk/blog/2013/dec/18/aviation-emissions-trading-scheme-what-really-happ/

 

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Earlier

 

EU’s aviation emissions ETS law ‘puts Europe’s global power to the test’, MEPs say

January 27, 2014

Euractiv reports that members of the European Parliament and industry representatives say the ETS for aviation is rapidly turning into a “political question of the EU’s influence on the world stage”. There will be a key vote by the European Parliament’s environment committee on 30th January. The Parliament’s rapporteur on aviation ETS, Peter Liese MEP, has threatened to block the EU’s efforts to amend the existing legislation if the EC does not mention which countries have undermined the ETS so far. There remain foreign carriers operating intra-EU flights without paying their ETS share, including Air China (Athens – Munich) and China Eastern (Frankfurt – Hamburg) and even intra-German ones. Airbus stakeholder states – the UK, France and Germany – have surrendered to “economic blackmail” from China, which threatened to no longer buy Airbus planes if the EU carried on with its legislation. Peter Liese is pushing the EC to shorten its current 2020 deadline and revert to a full-scope ETS from 2016, if no agreement on global measures is found in ICAO. T&E commented that “Pursuing anything less than coverage of emissions in EU airspace is environmentally unacceptable. At the same time, not enforcing the existing ETS sends a clear signal to third countries that EU sovereignty doesn’t matter and it won’t advance efforts to secure agreement on global measures either.”    Click here to view full story…

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More problems for aviation in the EU ETS as France and Germany will not enforce sanctions for non- compliance

January 24, 2014

German centre-right MEP Peter Liese, the European Parliament’s environment committee rapporteur, wants the European Parliament to refuse to ratify proposed changes to the law on the ETS unless member states start enforcing the existing law. He is supported in this by both the environmental groups, who want better control of aviation carbon emissions, and from a very different perspective, the European Low Fare Airlines Association, which fears that if non-EU airlines are not forced to pay for carbon permits, while EU airlines are, they will be at a competitive disadvantage. Since the freeze (“stop the clock”) ended in October, the Commission proposed to change the legislation so that only the portions of flights taking place within EU airspace would be charged. But France, Germany and the UK are pushing to exempt until 2016 all emissions from any flight that enters or leaves EU airspace. At present the EU is not charging foreign airlines for the flights they operate within EU airspace. These flights are mostly American and Chinese. Liese wants the Parliament to withhold its backing until the regulators start punishing the foreign airlines for not paying their ETS charges. And to do it before May – Germany and France don’t want to do this.     Click here to view full story…

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and more news stories about the ETS at  

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Read more »

European Commission launches legal action against UK over failure to reduce air pollution

The European Commission has launched legal proceedings over levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in many British cities. There has been a long-running legal battle between London and Brussels over the 16 urban centres in the UK that will not be able to meet binding air quality standards by 2015, despite being granted a 5-year extension following the original 2010 deadline for compliance with the rules. 15 of the affected zones will not meet the standards until 2020 and parts of London are unlikely to meet NO2 standards until 2025, a full 15 years later than the original deadline. The EC has now started the legal case, which is likely to result in hefty fines of many millions of ££s which should have the effect of accelerating efforts to tackle air pollution. The zones included Greater London and the South East. The legal case has been precipitated by the environmental campaign group ClientEarth. The UK has some of the highest levels of NO2 in Europe.  The UK government now has 2 months to respond to the EC’s legal action. The Heathrow area has bad air quality levels, due partly to the planes but with an even higher proportion from the intense road traffic, especially diesel vehicles, that the airport attracts.
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EU Commission launches legal action over UK air quality

By Matt McGrath, Environment correspondent,

BBC News

20.2.2014

The European Commission has launched legal proceedings against the UK for failing to deal with air pollution.

The EU says that levels of nitrogen dioxide, mainly from diesel engines, are “excessive” in many British cities.

The Commission says that this gas can lead to major respiratory illnesses and premature deaths.

Britain was supposed to meet EU limits by 2010, but the government admits that London won’t achieve this standard until 2025.

The UK’s problem with dirty air stems from the EU’s air pollution directive, which came into force in 2008.

It set limits on the the levels of air-borne contaminants, including particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, gases that are produced from the burning of fossil fuels.

They are an important element of ground-level ozone, which can damage human health as well as plants and animals.

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which in the main is produced by diesel cars and trucks, can inflame the lining of the lungs and lead to respiratory disease.

It is of particular concern to people living near roadways in big cities and those suffering with asthma.

Excess gas

Controlling the amount of this gas in air has proved particularly difficult for the UK.

For the purposes of air pollution, the UK is divided into 43 zones.

In 2010, when the EU restrictions were meant to come into effect, the levels of nitrogen dioxide were exceeding the limits in 40 of these 43 areas.

Member states were able get an extra five years’ grace if they put in place plans to cut levels of NO2. The UK admitted that the limits relating to 16 zones including London, could not be met by the revised deadline of 2015.

For many of these areas, including Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, Merseyside and Glasgow, the government believes the levels can be reached by 2020.

In London though, they admit it is likely to be 2025.

For the EU, this is far too long. They’ve decided to launch the first case against a member state for breaching the limits on NO2.

Several other EU members, including France, Sweden, Denmark and Greece have also exceeded the levels, but the EU denied that the UK was being picked on.

Sat image
Europe’s nitrogen dioxide emissions in 2008 as seen from an ozone measuring instrument on a satellite

“Our priority is to protect public health and the environment,” said European Commission spokesman Joe Hennon.

“We think that’s what the people of the UK would want as well.”

What might have tipped the EU’s hand was a ruling by the UK Supreme Court last year.

In a case brought by environmental campaigners ClientEarth, the judges agreed that the government was in breach of an obligation to reduce air pollution.

In the judgement, Justice Lord Carnworth wrote that “the way is now open to immediate enforcement at national or European level.”

The campaign group believes that, in addition to the Supreme Court verdict, the scale and the duration of the UK’s breaches made the EU action inevitable.

“The UK has some of the worst NO2 levels in Europe, they’re a national disgrace,” said Alan Andrews, a lawyer with ClientEarth.

“London has a particular problem, in some streets it is three or four times above the legal limits.”

The legal process could ultimately end in the European Court of Justice where the UK would face huge fines if found in breach of the directive.

If the government is to cut levels it will need to take drastic actions, say campaigners. Around half of new car sales are diesel powered, they say. There will need to be strict low emissions zones in cities.

“Germany implemented low emissions zones very early,” said Alan Andrews.

“They have 60, we just have the one in London and ours doesn’t include cars – it’s a low standard.”

Another option is cutting speed limits.

“The evidence from Germany suggests they can reduce NO2 by 10-15% on heavily polluted roads, but the scale here in the UK is so big they need to be looking at everything possible to tackle the problem,” said Mr Andrews.

The UK has two months to respond to the European Commission.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said that Britain wasn’t alone in breaching the NO2 limits, pointing out that in 2012, 21 member states reported their emissions did not comply with the annual mean target.

“Air quality has improved significantly in recent decades. Just like for other Member States, meeting the NO2 limit values alongside busy roads has been a challenge,” said a spokesman.

“That is why we are investing heavily in transport measures to improve air quality around busy roads and we are working with the Commission to ensure this happens as soon as possible.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26257703

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The main pollutants

  • Particulate matter – fine dust emitted by road vehicles, shipping and power generation. Experts are particularly concerned about particles smaller than 2.5 micrometres
  • Sulphur dioxide – emitted by power generation, industry and shipping. Damages health and acidifies land and water
  • Nitrogen oxides – released by road vehicles, shipping and power generation. Harms health and contributes to acid rain
  • Ammonia - emitted by livestock and through the use of fertilisers. Damages health and causes acidification
  • Volatile organic compounds – emitted from solvents, vehicles and power generation. They are a key component of ground-level ozone
  • .
  • .
  • The invisible killer

    • Campaigners say that research shows air pollution causes around 29,000 early deaths in the UK every year
    • Across the EU, more than 400,000 people died prematurely in 2010 from air pollution, according to the Commission. As well as deaths, 100 million work days are lost every year through illnesses like asthma.
    • The direct costs to society, including damage to crops and buildings, amounts to 23bn euros every year
    • .
    • .

      Related BBC Stories


The levels of air pollution at and around Heathrow are monitored by Heathrow Airwatch at http://www.heathrowairwatch.org.uk/dashboard/

 


 

The European Commission’s press release:

Commission takes action against UK for persistent air pollution problems

Nitrogen oxides like NO2 are emitted by road vehicles, shipping, power generation, industry and households. They are a key component in increased levels of ground-level ozone, which is very harmful to human health. They cause acid rain, damaging plant and animal life in forests, lakes and rivers, and harming buildings and historical sites. They can also cause eutrophication, when an excess of nutrients such as nitrogen oxides and ammonia threatens biodiversity through the excessive growth of plants like algae.

For details of European air quality legislation:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/air/quality/index.htm

The time extension website:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/air/quality/legislation/time_extensions.htm

 

 


 

EU launches legal action against UK over air pollution

Commission kicks off long-awaited legal proceedings over UK’s failure to comply with air quality rules

By BusinessGreen staff

20 Feb 2014

Congestion charge C road sign in London

The UK’s continuing failure to meet legally binding EU air quality standards looks set to land the government in court, after the European Commission today launched legal proceedings over levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in many British cities.

The latest development in the long-running legal battle between London and Brussels was sparked after the UK government acknowledged that 16 urban centres across the country would not be able to meet binding air quality standards by 2015, despite being granted a five-year extension following the original 2010 deadline for compliance with the rules.

Moreover, the government has said that 15 of the affected zones will not meet the standards until 2020 and parts of London are unlikely to meet NO2 standards until 2025, a full 15 years later than the original deadline.

Consequently, the European Commission has today kicked off legal proceedings against the UK, raising the prospect of multi-million euro fines and increasing pressure on the government to accelerate efforts to tackle air pollution.

“EU legislation contains flexibility as regards the deadlines for returning air pollution to safe levels,” the Commission said in a statement. “Although the original deadline for meeting the limit values was 1 January 2010, extensions have been agreed with Member States which had a credible and workable plan for meeting air quality standards within five years of the original deadline, i.e. by January 2015. The UK has not presented any such plan for the zones in question.

“The Commission is therefore of the opinion that the UK is in breach of its obligations under the Directive, and a letter of formal notice has been sent.”

The statement also confirms that the zones deemed to be in breach of the rules are Greater London, the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, Teesside, the Potteries, Hull, Southampton, Glasgow, the East, the South East, the East Midlands, Merseyside, Yorkshire & Humberside, the West Midlands and the North East.

The Commission was under pressure to act after a legal case brought by environmental campaign group ClientEarth led to a Supreme Court ruling that the UK is in breach of the EU Air Quality Directive and as such “the way is open to immediate enforcement action at national or European level”.

James Thornton, chief executive of ClientEarth, said that urgent action was now needed from the government to tackle air pollution and head off the EU’s legal action.

“We have the right to breathe clean air and the government has a legal duty to protect us from air pollution,” he said in a statement. “The Commission has singled out the UK following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision last year. The UK has some of the highest levels of NO2 in Europe. If [Environment Secretary] Owen Paterson wants to avoid another disaster for his department he will need an ambitious plan to protect people from deadly diesel fumes.”

He added that the government should focus on delivering a “national network of low emission zones to save lives and making the UK a world leader in clean transport”.

The UK government now has two months to respond to the European Commission’s legal action.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pointed out that the UK was not the only EU state to fail to meet the conditions of the Air Quality Directive and insisted that it was investing in tackling air pollution.

“Air quality has improved significantly in recent decades,” said a spokesman for the department. “Just like for other Member States, meeting the NO2 limit values alongside busy roads has been a challenge. That is why we are investing heavily in transport measures to improve air quality around busy roads and we are working with the Commission to ensure this happens as soon as possible.”

http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2330023/eu-launches-legal-action-against-uk-over-air-pollution

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Earlier:

Heathrow third runway would treble air pollution deaths, study warns

Research is the first to analyse the health consequences of aircraft fumes at Britain’s major airports
  • Roland Pease (BBC)
  • 12 October 2012

Premature deaths from Heathrow pollution would treble by 2030 if a third runway is built, according to an academic study to be published next week.

Even if the airport does not expand, increased numbers of flights will lead to a more than doubling in the number of deaths from pollution, the authors conclude.

The research, which is sure to be seized on campaigners and politicians opposed to Heathrow expansion, is the first to analyse the health consequences of aircraft fumes at the major airports of Britain. It reveals there would be major health benefits if Heathrow operations were replaced with a new hub in the Thames estuary.

“The main issue with Heathrow is it’s essentially in the middle of a major population centre,” says Prof Steven Barrett, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology laboratory for aviation and the environment and senior author of the study. “Also, because of the prevailing winds in the UK, emissions tend to get blown over the whole of London. An airport in the Thames estuary is well away from any major conurbation, and the prevailing winds would carry pollution out over the English Channel and North Sea.”

The study, which has been accepted by the peer-reviewed journal Atmospheric Environment, focuses on the public health effects of operations at the 20 largest airports in the UK, in particular those around London. It is not only exhausts during landing and take-off that degrade local air quality. Taxi-ing, airport support equipment and the jet-fuelled auxiliary power units that generate onboard electricity also add to the pollution burden.

The researchers conclude that, based on 2005 data, UK airports contribute to 110 early deaths each year, mostly due to lung cancer and cardiopulmonary complaints. Of those, 50 can be attributed to Heathrow alone, they calculate.

With government figures projecting a more than 50% rise in air travel over the next two decades, the public health effects are also expected to increase. If Heathrow is expanded with a third runway to allow for unconstrained growth, the airport would be responsible for 150 early deaths; UK-wide deaths would be 260. Even without the third runway, mortality figures will rise substantially. The researchers expect 250 deaths UK-wide, though those directly attributable for Heathrow would be 110, as other airports would carry more traffic.

The researchers also modelled the radically different scenario of closing down Heathrow altogether and moving its operations to a new hub in the Thames Estuary – sometimes referred to as “Boris island” after the proposals by the London mayor, Boris Johnson.

That would save 60 lives UK-wide, and the new expanded hub itself would be responsible for 50 early deaths, the same as Heathrow now, the study found. Relocating the airport would not make a big difference to the airport’s impact on climate change via CO2 emissions from planes.

The projections are likely to feed into the government’s consultation on aviation and are due to be discussed next week by the London assembly’s health and environment committee, according to its chair Murad Qureshi.

Epidemiologist Fintan Hurley, who led a major inquiry into pollution risks for the government’s advisory committee on the medical effects of air pollutants (COMEAP), welcomed the report, but noted that the additional effects of car and lorry journeys to Heathrow had not been included in the analysis. Future changes, by the addition of rail links for example, should be included in any full comparison of airport plans, he said.

The committee study headed by Hurley concluded in 2008 that 29,000 premature deaths are caused annually in the UK by air pollution. He said: “While 110 deaths is small compared with air pollution deaths in the UK as a whole, there would be major investigations if we had 110 deaths annually in the UK from aeroplane crashes.”

“Every death,” said Barrett, “represents an average of 10 years of lost life.”

Many of the deaths could be avoided by relatively simple measures, Barrett argued. Airplanes get their electricity from onboard auxilliary power units – small jet engines that are often left running while the planes are at the stands. Plugging into the airport electricity supply would reduce those emissions. As would the use of electric vehicles for airport support operations. And using desulphurised fuel would add only 2% to fuel costs, while reducing the health effects by 20%. Altogether, mitigation efforts could halve the pollution from airport operations.

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Aviation is a far smaller contributor to air pollution than road traffic, however we are already taking significant steps to tackle the problem. For example, we subsidise local public transport so people can travel for free without the need for a car. We also charge airlines based on how green they are – so the cleanest aircraft are charged less to land at Heathrow.”

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/oct/12/heathrow-third-runway-air-pollution

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Also

Heathrow air pollution in relation to 2013 being the “Year of Air”

23.1.2013

The European Commission has announced that 2013 is the ‘Year of Air’ with key European air pollution legislation up for review.  The review represents a tremendous opportunity to improve public health by tightening air quality standards. Clean Air in London (CAL) believes that key outcomes from the ‘Year of Air’ must include continuity and the further tightening of health and legal protections. Increasing ‘flexibility’ in air pollution laws would weaken existing health and legal protections and is therefore unacceptable.  There is a consultation by the EC,  on options for the revision of the EU Thematic Strategy on air pollution and related policies, with the closing date on 4 March 2013. Heathrow is a major contributor to air pollution in West London, both from the airport itself and associated road traffic. Information from Hillingdon Council showed a clear correlation between the number of air transport movements and the levels of NOx.http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=690..and

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EC stance on air pollution in London could affect ability of Heathrow to expand

4.11.2012

Government plans to delay air pollution improvements in 12 areas of the UK areas were refused by the European Commission in June. The UK may now face fines if it fails to improve air quality quickly.   The worst offender is London, where it is estimated that there over 4,000 ‘excess deaths’ per year from air pollution. This could have implications for Heathrow expansion. Air pollution is recognised by the government as the 2nd-biggest public health threat, after smoking. A judgement will be made at a later date on government plans to delay meeting NO2 standards in major cities until 2020 – or in the case of London, 2025. The EC decision addresses the shorter term, whereas a 3rd runway at Heathrow could not be operation for about 10 years. However, the tough stance by the EC suggests that any plan for Heathrow expansion, which increased air pollution and prevented limits being met, would face legal action. http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=1367 

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‘Unclear’ who would pay UK air quality fines, say experts

February 21, 2014 (Air Quality News)

Air quality experts and politicians react to the EU’s legal action over the UK’s failure to meet air quality standards, which could result in £300m fines each year

Air quality experts and politicians have reacted to the EU’s decision to take the UK to court over its failure to meet standards for nitrogen dioxide, but have questioned whether it would be the UK government or local authorities paying the £300 million fines that could be levied as a result.

Yesterday (February 20), the European Commission announced that it was pursuing legal action against the UK government for breaching limits for nitrogen dioxide in 16 of 43 zones in the country and failing to reduce concentrations by the 2010 deadline (see airqualitynews.com story).

Emissions from road and traffic pollution is largely to blame for the UK’s failure to comply with EU standards for nitrogen dioxide

As a result, the UK could face EU fines of up to £300 million for every year that it fails to comply with the air quality standards.

Roger Barrowcliffe, chair of the Institute of Air Quality Management (IAQM) – a membership organisation for air quality professionals – said it was currently unclear who would have to pay such a fine – but that as a result of Local Air Quality Management legislation giving more responsibility to councils, it could be local authorities footing some of the bill.

However, he told airqualitynews.com: “Should the government pass them on to local authorities, this will be very harsh and counterproductive to good local air quality management, which is struggling for resources at local level in any event.”

Mr Barrowcliffe also said he was “surprised” it had taken so long for the Commission to take the decision, but that the government really needed to target road transport emissions if the UK is going to reach compliance for nitrogen dioxide.

And, he was also unimpressed with the Commission’s new package of air quality policies launched in December (see airqualitynews.com story), which he described as “anaemic”.

Euro 6

Mr Barrowcliffe said: “Will the EU’s legal action against the UK make a difference? This gets to the heart of the matter in my view. There is a reasonable basis for thinking that by around 2030 the Euro 6 [vehicle emissions standards] and subsequent standards will have brought compliance just about everywhere with nitrogen dioxide. It is clearly a problem that will be solved in time. It depends whether it is worth the EU spending more money to get there faster.”

He added that the next five years were “really crucial” for nitrogen dioxide emissions as “we will have a much clearer idea of whether the Euro 6 emission standards have delivered.”

However, he did have some sympathy for politicians in charge of air quality. He said: “Is government doing enough? Clearly not because if you define success as lowering concentrations fast enough to meet the limits then no one is doing enough. However, if you put yourself in their position what levers have you got to improve the situation?

“It takes political muscle to put in place LEZs. I think obviously it is clear to most people that you are not going to improve NOx and NO2 unless you really target road transport in cities and towns. Nothing else is really going to deliver. You don’t need to be in air quality management to understand that.”

Mr Barrowcliffe commented: “It will be interesting as we come towards the general election next year how this plays out, if at all, in the political arena.”

Green Party

Green Party MEP for South East England and air quality campaigner, Keith Taylor, had little sympathy for the UK government meanwhile.

Speaking to airqualitynews.com, he said: “I think what we have to remember is that the UK played their part in actually setting the standards back in the late 1990s. Since then they have not really improved things in any meaningful way, and that is a matter of very deep regret for the near 30,000 people a year who are dying because of poor air quality. We should not have set up the standards if we were not prepared to meet them.”

Asked whether he thought the legal action would help improve air quality in the UK, Mr Taylor said: “If the government won’t comply because it is the right thing to do, then perhaps they will if they face a £300 million fine each year.”

But, he added: “I do not want the EU to have to fine the UK, especially because the public have already paid the price in terms of health – it would add insult to injury.

“Quite how they want to discharge the fine I don’t know. There was talk of the fines being paid by the local council which would be totally irresponsible.”

London Assembly

London in particular was singled out as having the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide emissions of any city in Europe, and is not expected to comply with EU standards until 2025 – 15 years later than the EU target of 2010.

Labour London Assembly member Murad Qureshi – who also chairs the Assembly’s health and environment committee – told airqualitynews.com that he thought at least a sizeable part of a possible EU fine would have to be paid by the Mayor of London, “whoever that will be at the time”.

He said: “I would much rather we responded to the public health issue than the fear of facing a £300 million fine. Air pollution is a silent killer of thousands of people and I would like to think that was the reason for dealing with this problem.”

Mr Qureshi said it could potentially be a big political issue at the upcoming EU elections in May 2014.

He said: “The right may say that this is unwarranted from the EU, while those on the left may welcome this environmental intervention. It could be seen as an issue of sovereignty, but the EU really has been leading the way on environmental issues for many years now.”

http://www.airqualitynews.com/2014/02/21/unclear-who-would-pay-uk-air-quality-fines-say-experts/

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European Commission opens the floodgates to public aid for airports and low-cost airlines

Responding to the announcement of the new EC guidelines on state aid allowed to airports and  airlines in the EU, the European transport NGO “Transport & Environment” said it was outraged at the increase in subsidies to be allowed.  The guidelines will allow regional airports and the airlines serving them to keep receiving subsidies worth an estimated €2-3 billion a year. This means an increased flow of taxpayers’ money towards regional airports for at least the next decade, and allow infrastructure aid for expanding airport facilities to continue permanently – regrettably including no meaningful checks on duplication of airports within a few hundred kilometres of each other. The guidelines also declare that past operating aid, which up till now has been illegal, will retroactively be made legal. T&E says this “gives a new blank cheque to airports and airlines that fail to boost local economies. Why must everybody pay so that the better off can fly more often and for cheaper?” Operating aid is designed to cover the cost of running small airports, such as personnel and maintenance. Instead, operating aid has been used to lower airport fees to attract low-cost carriers, distorting competition and fuelling artificial demand for flying.
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Commission opens the floodgates to public aid for airports and low-cost airlines  

Brussels, 20 February 2014  (Transport & Environment)

The European Commission today published its final guidelines on state aid for aviation, which will allow regional airports and the airlines serving them to keep receiving subsidies worth an estimated €2-3 billion a year.

The guidelines sanction an increased flow of taxpayers’ money towards regional airports for at least the next decade, and allow infrastructure aid for expanding airport facilities to continue permanently – regrettably including no meaningful checks on duplication of airports within a few hundred kilometres of each other. The guidelines also declare that past operating aid, which up till now has been illegal, will retroactively be made legal.

Transport & Environment (T&E) expresses outrage that the guidelines open the floodgates to increased operating aid for airports.

Bill Hemmings, aviation manager at Transport & Environment, said: “The Commission openly acknowledges that operating aid is the most distortive form of aid. Yet with its new state aid guidelines, it not only legalises past subsidies, but also gives a new blank cheque to airports and airlines that fail to boost local economies. Why must everybody pay so that the better off can fly more often and for cheaper?

Operating aid is designed to cover the cost of running small airports, such as personnel and maintenance. Instead, operating aid has been used to lower airport fees to attract low-cost carriers, distorting competition and fuelling artificial demand for flying. Giving taxpayer money to airports in the form of operating aid has been illegal in the past, as it is a basic principle of competition law that EU states propping up one industry over another distorts trade.

In its rules published today, the Commission legalised this aid and granted an ‘amnesty’ to previous aid, declaring it legal retroactively. The final guidelines are not subject to parliamentary oversight and will be used for the Commission’s legally binding future decisions.

State aid is the primary reason that smaller airports have grown so much faster than larger airports. In the period between 2004 and 2012, airports under 1m passengers grew by 135%, airports under 5m passengers by 79% and airports over 5m passengers by ‘only’ 29%.

Making operating aid legal is a quick fix by the Commission to make its life easier. Countless regional airports have been abusing subsidies for a decade knowing full well it was illegal. Instead of turning a blind eye to the dirtiest subsidy in the EU, the Commission should have established sound environmental and economic sustainability criteria for recipients of this aid,” Hemmings concluded.

Aviation is the most carbon intensive transport mode, responsible for about 5% of global warming. If aviation were a country it would be ranked 7th in the world for CO2 emissions – between Germany and Korea. Yet Europe already exempts airlines from fuel taxes, and airline tickets from VAT; subsidies worth EUR 40 billion. Now they have been given the green light to expand state aid subsidies, which will promote more highly polluting low-cost flights.

http://www.transportenvironment.org/

http://www.transportenvironment.org/press/commission-opens-floodgates-public-aid-airports-and-low-cost-airlines

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The formal adoption and publication of the new guidelines in the Official Journal in all EU official languages is foreseen for March 2014. For information purposes, the text of the new guidelines is available in English at:

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/modernisation/index_en.html

  Guidelines adopted on 20 February 2014 – Policy brief: New State aid rules for a competitive aviation industry )


 

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Earlier:

European Commission Commission adopts new guidelines for state aid to airports and airlines

February 20, 2014

The European Commission has now adopted new guidelines on how Member States can financially support airports and airlines in line with EU state aid rules. The EC says the guidelines are “aimed at ensuring good connections between regions and the mobility of European citizens, while minimising distortions of competition in the Single Market.” The aim is to ensure fair competition for flag carriers down to low-cost airlines, from regional airports to major hub airports and avoid overcapacity and the duplication of unprofitable airports. Aid is allowed if there is seen to be a genuine need for accessibility by air to a region. Operating aid to regional airports (with less than 3 million passengers a year) will be allowed for a transitional period of 10 years under certain conditions, in order to give airports time to adjust their business model. Airports will less than 700 000 passengers a year get more favourable treatment. Start-up aid to airlines to launch a new air route is permitted provided it remains limited in time. The formal adoption of the new guidelines in is expected by March 2014.

Click here to view full story…


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The truth behind (not so) cheap flights – the immense annual state subsidies to small airports & cheap airlines

February 18, 2014

In a recent blog, Jacek Krawczyk, who is the president of the Employers’ Group of the European Economic & Social Committee, describes how the current system of state subsidies to European airports and airlines works – and how damaging its effects are. He says aviation needs to be treated like any other business, a “level playing field” without financial help given to some airlines, and the sector should have less subsidy. In response to the question how Ryanair flights can be so cheap, the answer is that they get subsidies for flying into small regional airports. This artificially boosts demand for flights. As much as 20% of Ryanair’s revenues are from subsidies, from reduced taxes, preferential ground handling rates and marketing funds. These subsidies could be as much as €10 per passenger to the airline. Krawczyk says almost half of European airports (of which there are too many) generate losses, and more than half if state aid is subtracted from their revenues. The low cost carriers say they get cheap deals with airports by standard business negotiations, while regular airlines get huge amounts of subside direct from governments, from being out-competed by the low cost carriers. “There is a great opportunity here to prepare the first in-depth, complete and PUBLIC report showing how much public aid is pumped into the aviation sector and how those resources are spent.”

Click here to view full story…


 

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European Commission to clarify state aid to airports – making ineligible those with over 3 million passengers per year

February 17, 2014

Across Europe, State aid to small regional airports has until now been ambiguously regulated by measures that date from 1994 and 2005. Much of the aid has probably been illegal, because it has been operational aid that is used to subsidise airport fees for airlines. These savings are then passed on to customers – subsidising their flights. Budget airlines such as Ryanair have taken advantage of this situation and made a lot of profit on it, as well as encouraging artificially cheap air travel. The European Commission is now to produce new guidelines on state aid to airports and airlines, to be publicised on 19th February. The Commission has 50 pending cases of suspected violations of state aid rules, but none has been acted upon for fear of forcing small airports to close. Large airports and airlines have complained that they are being put at a disadvantage by subsidies to their smaller competitors. It is likely that the new guidelines will only allow state aid for 10 years from now, and introduce a threshold so airports with over 3 million passengers per year are not eligible. Environmental campaigners are angry that the guidelines will legitimise a previously illegal practice. It will cause a growth in air travel, contrary to the aim stated by the EU’s white paper on transport of moving passengers from air to rail.

Click here to view full story…

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Read more »

European Commission Commission adopts new guidelines for state aid to airports and airlines

The European Commission has now adopted new guidelines on how Member States can financially support airports and airlines in line with EU state aid rules. The EC says the guidelines are “aimed at ensuring good connections between regions and the mobility of European citizens, while minimising distortions of competition in the Single Market.” The aim is to ensure fair competition for flag carriers down to low-cost airlines, from regional airports to major hub airports and avoid overcapacity and the duplication of unprofitable airports. Aid is allowed if there is  seen to be a genuine need for accessibility by air to a region.  Operating aid to regional airports (with less than 3 million passengers a year) will be allowed for a transitional period of 10 years under certain conditions, in order to give airports time to adjust their business model. Airports will less than 700 000 passengers a year get more favourable treatment. Start-up aid to airlines to launch a new air route is permitted provided it remains limited in time. The formal adoption of the new guidelines in is expected by March 2014.

 

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Brussels, 20 February 2014  (Europa)

State aid: Commission adopts new guidelines for state aid to airports and airlines

The European Commission adopted today new guidelines on how Member States can support airports and airlines in line with EU state aid rules. The guidelines are aimed at ensuring good connections between regions and the mobility of European citizens, while minimising distortions of competition in the Single Market. They are part of the Commission’s State Aid Modernisation (SAM) strategy, which aims at fostering growth in the Single Market by encouraging more effective aid measures and focusing the Commission’s scrutiny on cases with the biggest impact on competition (see IP/12/458).

Joaquín Almunia, Commission Vice-President in charge of competition policy, said: “The new state aid guidelines are a key ingredient for a successful and competitive European aviation industry. They will ensure fair competition regardless of the business model – from flag carriers to low-cost airlines and from regional airports to major hubs. Our aim is to ensure the mobility of citizens, while preserving a level playing field between airports and airlines.”

The new guidelines for State aid to airports and airlines promote sound use of public resources for growth-oriented initiatives. At the same time, they limit distortions of competition that would undermine a level playing field in the Single Market, in particular by avoiding overcapacity and the duplication of unprofitable airports.

Key features are:

  • State aid for investment in airport infrastructure is allowed if there is a genuine transport need and the public support is necessary to ensure the accessibility of a region. The new guidelines define maximum permissible aid intensities depending on the size of an airport, in order to ensure the right mix between public and private investment. The possibilities to grant aid are therefore higher for smaller airports than for larger ones.
  • Operating aid to regional airports (with less than 3 million passengers a year) will be allowed for a transitional period of 10 years under certain conditions, in order to give airports time to adjust their business model. To receive operating aid, airports need to work out a business plan paving the way towards full coverage of operating costs at the end of the transitional period. As under the current market conditions, airports with an annual passenger traffic of below 700 000 may face increased difficulties in achieving full cost coverage during the transitional period, the guidelines include a special regime for those airports, with higher aid intensities and a reassessment of the situation after 5 years.
  • Start-up aid to airlines to launch a new air route is permitted provided it remains limited in time. The compatibility conditions for start-up aid to airlines have been streamlined and adapted to recent market developments.

The formal adoption and publication of the new guidelines in the Official Journal in all EU official languages is foreseen for March 2014. For information purposes, the text of the new guidelines is available in English at:

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/modernisation/index_en.html

  Guidelines adopted on 20 February 2014 – Policy brief: New State aid rules for a competitive aviation industry )

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Background

Member States’ public funding of airports and airlines is currently assessed under the 1994 and 2005 Aviation Guidelines. The 1994 Aviation Guidelines were adopted in the context of the liberalisation of the market for air transport services and contain provisions for assessing social and restructuring aid to airlines in order to provide a level playing field for air carriers. They were complemented in 2005 by guidelines on the public financing of airports and on the start-up of airline services from regional airports. Today’s guidelines replace both the 1994 and the 2005 aviation guidelines.

Today, air transport contributes significantly to the European economy and plays a vital role in the integration and competitiveness of Europe. During the last decade, the market environment of the aviation industry has changed considerably. The EU’s liberalisation of air transport in 1997 paved the way for the emergence of low-cost carriers growing at a fast pace since 2005. In 2012 for the first time, low-cost airlines (44.8%) exceeded the market share of incumbent air carriers (42.4%), a trend which continued in 2013. The business model of low-cost carriers is intrinsically linked to small and uncongested regional airports allowing for quick turnaround times. This category of airports is predominantly publicly owned and subsidised by public authorities on a regular basis. Whilst certain regions are still hampered by poor accessibility and major hubs are facing increasing levels of congestion, the density of regional airports in certain areas has led to substantial overcapacity of airport infrastructure relative to passenger demand and airline needs.

In view of the significant market changes that have taken place in the last decade, the Commission has initiated a review of its aviation aid guidelines, with a first public consultation in 2011 aiming in particular to determine whether a revision would be necessary (see IP/11/445). The new guidelines take into account also the comments gathered in the second public consultation (July 2013, see IP/13/644) and the intensive dialogues with Member States, public authorities, airports and airlines, associations and citizens. The guidelines take stock of the new legal and economic situation concerning the public financing of airports and airlines and specify the conditions under which such public financing constitutes state aid within the meaning of Article 107(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). When financing involves state aid, the guidelines set out the conditions under which it is compatible with the Single Market. The Commission’s assessment is based on its experience and decision-making practice, as well as on its analysis of current market conditions in the airport and air transport sectors; it is therefore without prejudice to its approach towards other infrastructures or sectors.

New publications of state aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News.

See also MEMO/14/121

 

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-172_en.htm

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Earlier:

The truth behind (not so) cheap flights – the immense annual state subsidies to small airports & cheap airlines

Date added: February 18, 2014

In a recent blog, Jacek Krawczyk, who is the president of the Employers’ Group of the European Economic & Social Committee, describes how the current system of state subsidies to European airports and airlines works – and how damaging its effects are. He says aviation needs to be treated like any other business, a “level playing field” without financial help given to some airlines, and the sector should have less subsidy. In response to the question how Ryanair flights can be so cheap, the answer is that they get subsidies for flying into small regional airports. This artificially boosts demand for flights. As much as 20% of Ryanair’s revenues are from subsidies, from reduced taxes, preferential ground handling rates and marketing funds. These subsidies could be as much as €10 per passenger to the airline. Krawczyk says almost half of European airports (of which there are too many) generate losses, and more than half if state aid is subtracted from their revenues. The low cost carriers say they get cheap deals with airports by standard business negotiations, while regular airlines get huge amounts of subside direct from governments, from being out-competed by the low cost carriers. “There is a great opportunity here to prepare the first in-depth, complete and PUBLIC report showing how much public aid is pumped into the aviation sector and how those resources are spent.”

Click here to view full story…


 

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European Commission to clarify state aid to airports – making ineligible those with over 3 million passengers per year

Date added: February 17, 2014

Across Europe, State aid to small regional airports has until now been ambiguously regulated by measures that date from 1994 and 2005. Much of the aid has probably been illegal, because it has been operational aid that is used to subsidise airport fees for airlines. These savings are then passed on to customers – subsidising their flights. Budget airlines such as Ryanair have taken advantage of this situation and made a lot of profit on it, as well as encouraging artificially cheap air travel. The European Commission is now to produce new guidelines on state aid to airports and airlines, to be publicised on 19th February. The Commission has 50 pending cases of suspected violations of state aid rules, but none has been acted upon for fear of forcing small airports to close. Large airports and airlines have complained that they are being put at a disadvantage by subsidies to their smaller competitors. It is likely that the new guidelines will only allow state aid for 10 years from now, and introduce a threshold so airports with over 3 million passengers per year are not eligible. Environmental campaigners are angry that the guidelines will legitimise a previously illegal practice. It will cause a growth in air travel, contrary to the aim stated by the EU’s white paper on transport of moving passengers from air to rail.

Click here to view full story…

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Bavarian Administrative Court rules that building a 3rd runway at Munich airport is lawful

The Bavarian government in southern Germany have been trying for some time to get consent for a 3rd runway at Munich airport, to the north of the existing airport. The 300 or so runway opponents in the  court greeted the news with boos and by singing the Bavaria national anthem. On 19th February the Bavarian Administrative Court (VGH) ruled that the runway can go ahead, when they rejected the 17 lawsuits against the project. The project was halted by a referendum in June 2012, when by a majority vote the people of Munich expressed their opposition to the runway, which would demolish the village of Attaching. However the legal judgement is not the end to the story, and the fight is expected to continue. Those opposed to the runway point out that a runway is not needed as the number of flights has fallen over recent years and the current runways have plenty of spare capacity, with the advent of larger aircraft. Though the result of the 2012 referendum was only valid for one year, the political parties in Munich are very aware if local opposition to the runway, and they need their votes. It is the state government and economic lobbies that want the runway.  Opponents.will fight on.
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gegner-der-dritten-startbahn-nach-der-urteilsverkuendung
Opponents of the 3rd runway after the verdict
In this simulation is to see how the third start and runway could look at Munich Airport.  Photo: ho

In this simulation is to see how the third start and runway could look at Munich Airport.  Photo: ho

http://www.abendzeitung-muenchen.de/inhalt.urteil-zu-flughafen-muenchen-gericht-dritte-startbahn-darf-gebaut-werden.843df5e6-0843-4363-b738-34151b10c1e0.html


Bg0zY8RIIAEhYcu Munich verdictAfter the court verdict 

 


 

Court supports third runway at Munich

Airport expansion at MUC back on the table

Court supports third runway at Munich

 19.2.2014 (ttg nordic)

A court in Munich has put its weight behind plans for a third runway at Germany’s second-biggest airport. Expansion would help airlines eager to expand capacity in Europe’s biggest economy.

A public vote on a third runway in Munich in 2012 went against expansion, a blow to airlines like Lufthansa and Air Berlin struggling under a ban on night flights in Frankfurt and endless delays in the opening of a new airport in Berlin. But this vote was legally binding only for one year.

Public opposition to expansion at MUC remains high, but there is hope that public opinion can be won round given the importance of growing demand for travel. The airport handled 38.36 million passengers in 2013.

“The ruling [...] gives Munich Airport a chance to cope with the growth in traffic that is forecast for the coming years,” the airport’s chief executive, Michael Kerkloh, said.

Reuters

http://www.ttgnordic.com/news/item/7120-court-supports-third-runway-at-munich

 


 

Tumult in the court  – third runway should be built

19.2.2014 (B5 actuel – German news)

Thumbs up for the expansion of Munich Airport: The Bavarian Administrative Court ruled that the building permit for a third runway was lawful. The plaintiffs sang a verdict protest the Bayern anthem.

n purely legal terms, the third runway in the Erdinger Moos may thus be built.Judge Erwin Allesch rejected all 17 claims against the planning decision. An appeal was denied. That makes it the opponents almost impossible yet to take legal action against it. What now remains to them is a denial of leave to appeal on Bundesverwaltungsgerichtin Leipzig. In addition, the plaintiff should bear the costs of the proceedings.

Loud protest in court

At the sentencing hearing, the opponents were busload be indented. The hall in the Bavarian Administrative Court was hopelessly overcrowded. After the verdict was announced, they voted in the hall at the Bavaria anthem.Then it was turbulent: Some vented their displeasure, agreed to a chorus of whistles or shouting “mess”, “poor Germany”, in chants chanted several opponents: “We are the people”. Until it was too much Allesch judge and he let the room cleared. The Court secured a large contingent of police. Above all, the citizens Attac Hing do not want to give up the fight against the runway. In a statement they announced not to accept the decision today. The municipal area is directly adjacent to the Munich airport.

“Public interest outweighs”

In his short justification told Judge Allesch it speak nothing against the planning decision. Neither adverse environmental impacts, or to nature protection, yet issues of demand.Looking at the forecasts of future take-offs and landings he could see no serious defects. The load of the people were within the legal limits. Even against the conservation law will not violate.Although Allesch curtailed, the runway would mean a substantial intervention into a bird sanctuary, but there is sufficient compensatory measures. Overall outweighs the public interest.

Reactions to the runway judgement

The opponents of the project are horrified. “With the decision to start and third runway at Munich Airport is the 1224 years old Bavarian village Attaching and thus destroyed by almost 1000 Bavarian citizens home,” writes the local citizens’ initiative. The village community will continue to fight for their future, they say. One of their main arguments is: “If there were a third runway already, should Attaching, due to the severe stress from noise, wake vortices and pollutants in the applicable legislation, will no longer be built at this point.” The spokesman of all Bürgeriniativen, Hartmut Binner, called the state government to “take leave of money and waste of resources and of contempt of citizens Entscheides on behalf of the people”.

For the Greens in the parliament, the ruling is not a surprise, but state chair Sigi Hagl described the decision not to allow revision as a “strong piece.” Hagl renewed its criticism of the project: “” The road is bad for the residents and the environment and it is simply superfluous, because the growth forecasts smash regularly on reality. “She appealed to the policy in Munich, even after the local elections, the citizens vote to respect against the web.

http://www.br.de/nachrichten/flughafen-muenchen-startbahn-100.html

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infografik-umstrittene-neue-startbahn-in-muenchen

Graphic illustrating the location of the proposed 3rd Munich runway


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Startbahn-Urteil: Das sagen unsere User

Runway judgement – what our  users say

– from a German news report    19.2.2014

There are various comments from the opponents of the runway. They are, of course, all in German. Google translate makes a hash of the translation, but below are some extracts with the gist of the comments along these lines:

What counts here is the opinion of citizens only if they tick when choosing the option the CSU [the Christian Social Union in Bavaria] wants.

Interesting to see already how little binding the plebiscite (referendum) has been. The people of all of Munich voted on the issue of the 3rd runway, and they voted against it, but which had not been thought possible. And now there is a decision to allow the runway.

It is a shame that it is not the people who are allowed to decide, but corporations and business enterprises in our country. This is why you should choose at the next municipal election the parties that will be against the runway in future. The CSU is only for electoral reasons for the runway. You never know what the SPD will do. . . that leaves only the Greens …

Whether this works out for good or bad, the fact is that has once again the business lobby has won, by promising more jobs. That is and has always been a sham. .

http://www.merkur-online.de/lokales/freising/freising/startbahn-urteil-sagen-unsere-user-3374324.html

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Third runway at Munich may be built

The Bavarian Administrative Court clears the way for the third runway at Munich Airport.         It rejected all 17 claims against the billion € project. Built still is not now. 

19.2.2014 (Die Welt)

A plane takes off from the airport in Munich.  A third runway has been controversial for years

Photo: APA plane takes off from the airport in Munich. A third runway has long been controversial

The controversial third runway at Munich Airport can be built from a legal perspective. The Bavarian Administrative Court (VGH) rejected all 17 claims against the billion project, which in 2012 is currently still on ice after a referendum held in Munich, however.

The years since competitive project conflicted with neither environmental nor noise reasons, said the presiding judge Erwin Allesch. “The planning authority has its powers and its discretion not exceeded.” The planning, to no defects.

However Allesch came almost 20 minutes is not to end his remarks. At the 300 runway opponents in the courtroom acknowledged their defeat with loud boos and the singing of the anthem Bavaria. There were tumultuous scenes.

Judge did admit hall

Long time no rest returned a, finally let the judge vacate the hall and was then still interrupted by “We are the people” calls. Gradually, the enemy finally left the room, only process participants and media representatives were allowed to stay.

The revision of the judgment did not permit the court, the costs must be borne by the applicants. But the tough years of struggle for the runway expected to continue in spite of the judgment for a while.

Previously, citizens’ groups were announced to take a so-called leave to appeal against it before the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig.

Airports Council welcomes judgment

Their spokesman, Hartmut Binner, announced to strengthen the resistance yet. He appealed to the state government, “to say goodbye to money and waste of resources and of contempt of citizens Entscheides on behalf of the people”.

The Airport Association ADV, however, welcomed the ruling. It was an important decision for the future development of Germany’s second largest airport. “At the same time it is a good sign for all airports in our country,” said ADV-chief executive Ralph Beisel.

Several municipalities, the Federal Nature Conservation in Bavaria (BN) and private citizens have appealed the authorization granted by the Free State in 2011 planning permission for the four-kilometer-long runway near Freising. On the slopes every hour can take off or land 30 aircraft. The process had attracted 46 days of negotiations for almost a year.

Referendum has one year validity

The runway opponents keep the project superfluous, because the number of take-offs and landings had declined continuously on Germany’s second largest airport in recent years. Indeed, there is less air movement, because the machines are becoming larger and are often full to the last seat.

Regardless of the process, the project is located since 2012 against a refusal citizens’ decision of the people of Munich on ice. The Bavarian capital as co-owner of the airport may thus disagree with the construction of a shareholders’ meeting.

There, however, unanimous decisions are necessary. The referendum has only valid for one year, but all of Munich city hall parties see themselves in the longer term tied to the vote. The state government and the economy, however, favor the construction of the runway.

 

http://www.welt.de/wirtschaft/article124993047/Dritte-Startbahn-in-Muenchen-darf-gebaut-werden.html

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Original German:

Die umstrittene dritte Startbahn am Münchner Flughafen darf aus rechtlicher Sicht gebaut werden. Der Bayerische Verwaltungsgerichtshof (VGH) wies alle 17 Klagen gegen das Milliardenprojekt ab, das nach einem Bürgerentscheid in München 2012 derzeit allerdings noch immer auf Eis liegt.

Dem seit Jahren umkämpften Projekt stünden weder Umweltschutz- noch Lärmgründe entgegen, sagte der Vorsitzende Richter Erwin Allesch. “Die Planungsbehörde hat ihre Befugnisse und ihren Ermessensspielraum nicht überschritten.” Die Planung weise keine Mängel auf.

Allerdings kam Allesch über fast 20 Minuten nicht dazu, seine Ausführungen zu beenden. An die 300 Startbahngegner im Gerichtssaal quittierten ihre Niederlage mit lauten Buhrufen und dem Absingen der Bayernhymne. Es kam zu tumultartigen Szenen.

Richter ließ Saal räumen

Lange Zeit kehrte keine Ruhe ein, schließlich ließ der Richter den Saal räumen und wurde auch danach noch von “Wir sind das Volk”-Rufen unterbrochen. Nach und nach verließen die Gegner schließlich den Saal, lediglich Prozessbeteiligte und Medienvertreter durften bleiben.

Die Revision des Urteils ließ das Gericht nicht zu, die Kosten des Verfahrens müssen die Kläger tragen. Doch das zähe jahrelange Ringen um die Startbahn dürfte auch trotz des Urteils noch eine Weile weitergehen.

Bereits zuvor hatten die Bürgerinitiativen angekündigt, vor dem Bundesverwaltungsgerichtshof in Leipzig eine sogenannte Nichtzulassungsbeschwerde dagegen einzulegen.

Flughafenverband begrüßt Urteil

Ihr Sprecher, Hartmut Binner, kündigte an, den Widerstand noch zu verstärken. Er appellierte an die Staatsregierung, “sich von Geld und Ressourcenverschwendung und von der Missachtung des Bürgerentscheides im Namen des Volkes zu verabschieden”.

Der Flughafenverband ADV begrüßte hingegen das Urteil. Es sei eine wichtige Weichenstellung für die künftige Entwicklung des zweitgrößten deutschen Airports. “Gleichzeitig ist es ein gutes Zeichen für alle Flughäfen in unserem Land”, sagte ADV-Hauptgeschäftsführer Ralph Beisel.

Mehrere Kommunen, der Bund Naturschutz in Bayern (BN) und Privatleute hatten gegen die vom Freistaat 2011 erteilte Baugenehmigung für die vier Kilometer lange Startbahn nahe Freising geklagt. Auf der Piste können stündlich 30 Flugzeuge starten oder landen. Der Prozess hatte sich mit 46 Verhandlungstagen fast ein Jahr lang hingezogen.

Bürgerentscheid hat ein Jahr Gültigkeit

Die Startbahngegner halten das Projekt für überflüssig, weil die Zahl der Starts und Landungen auf Deutschlands zweitgrößtem Airport in den vergangenen Jahren kontinuierlich zurückgegangen sei. Tatsächlich gibt es weniger Flugbewegungen, weil die Maschinen immer größer werden und oft bis auf den letzten Platz ausgelastet sind.

Unabhängig vom Prozess liegt das Projekt seit 2012 wegen eines ablehnenden Bürgerentscheids der Münchner Bevölkerung auf Eis. Die bayerische Landeshauptstadt als Miteigentümerin des Flughafens darf somit dem Bau in der Gesellschafterversammlung nicht zustimmen.

Dort sind aber einstimmige Beschlüsse notwendig. Der Bürgerentscheid hat zwar nur ein Jahr Gültigkeit, doch sehen sich alle Münchner Rathausparteien auch längerfristig an das Votum gebunden. Die Staatsregierung und die Wirtschaft befürworten hingegen den Bau der Startbahn.

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Green light for Munich airport expansion

Green light for Munich airport expansionCapacity at Munich airport will increase by 30 flights a day. Photo: DPA
20 Feb 2014 (The Lccal – Germany’s news in English)

Bavarian authorities gave the green light on Wednesday for a much-disputed third runway to be built at Munich airport, rejecting the results of a city referendum.

The Bavarian Administrative Court turned down 17 cases filed against the building of the new runway, which will increase airport capacity by 30 flights an hour, in front of a courtroom filled with 300 angry protesters.

Shouting broke out when it was announced that despite a 2012 referendum voting against the runway, legally there was nothing to stop construction beginning.

Judge Erwin Allesch said that a third runway – plans for which have been in the pipeline for years – would not be detrimental enough to the environment nor disruptive enough for those living nearby, for it not to be built.

As soon as plans were announced in 2011, protesters joined forces in an attempt to stop them. It was, they said, a pointless venture as the number of flights taking off and landing at the airport had been dropping every year.

The new runway will be four kilometres long and stretch out to near the suburb of Freising.

Dr Michael Kerkloh, chairman and CEO of Munich Airport’s operating company, said: “This is an extremely important signal for the future development of Munich Airport.

“The ruling underscores the fact that our planning, including the extensive measures taken to protect people and nature, have stood up to an exacting review by an independent court.”

He added in a statement: “Munich Airport still has the opportunity to handle the projected traffic growth in the coming years and maintain its position among Europe’s major air transportation hubs.”

Airport union ADV welcomed the court’s decision to give construction the go-ahead. “It is a good sign for airports everywhere in the country,” said union head Ralph Beisel.

http://www.thelocal.de/20140220/green-light-for-munich-airports-third-runway

 

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On 17th February:

Judgment on Wednesday

Munich Airport: Green light for 3 Runway?

Paul Winterer,  (Alendzeitung, Munchen)
On Wednesday, the verdict is the planned third runway. Photo: Sven Hoppe / dpa

On Wednesday, the ruling on billion project of the third runway in the Erdinger Moos falls – and it seems that proponents currently have the better cards.

Munich – For nearly a year the judges have rolled files to speech battles of the process involved and consulted on record. It’s about one of the largest German construction projects: the Bavarian Administrative Court (VGH) has to decide on the approval of the billion-dollar third runway at Munich Airport.

Display

On Wednesday announced the 8th Senate the highly anticipated verdict.

Numerous municipalities, the federal government conservation (BN) and private people complain against the planned four kilometers of runway, could take off or land up to 30 aircraft on the hourly. Defendant is the Free State of Bavaria, who issued the building permit. The Airport Company (FMG) is joined as a party as a builder.

The course of the process according to it likely to be a defeat for the plaintiff. Even BN-county chairman and Greens Member of Parliament Christian Magerl expects a “not positive judgment.”

An indication for the dismissal of the claims could be the end of the process, the rejection of over 200 evidence submitted by the VGH. The 20 March 2013 evidence was begun after 46 days of the hearing on 15 January came to an end.

Applied for the Free State Land Attorney Anton Meyer, “the complaints all dismissed.” For the runway opponents, however, the third runway is superfluous, because the number of takeoffs and landings has declined steadily in recent years. Indeed, there is less air movement, because the machines are becoming larger and are often too busy to the last seat.

In addition to the judgment process participants expect with voltage if the VGH permits an appeal to the Federal Administrative Court. Then the losers could call the next instance directly.

Otherwise there is the possibility of leave to appeal. The Supreme Administrative Court in Leipzig would then have to decide whether to deal with the case or not.

But there is a third way. BN attorney Ulrich Egger cold does not rule out that the Munich judges ask their colleagues Luxembourg by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), before they make their decision. He wants to still consider several legal issues for conservation by the ECJ.

The referral to the ECJ would the judgment of 8 Senate delayed by about a year. But even without ECJ still take a long time before the judgment is final. A decision on the next instance falls before the autumn.

If the political level of the billion dollar project. In a referendum, the Munich rejected the runway construction in June 2012. The city could not approve the project in the shareholders’ meeting – so that the track was shelved.

The referendum has only valid for one year, but all Rathaus parties see themselves in the longer term tied to the vote.

It is also conceivable kind nationwide white and blue referendum. But for this is currently lacking even the foundation. Because referendums are only possible to draft legislation – so far at least.

http://www.abendzeitung-muenchen.de/inhalt.urteil-faellt-am-mittwoch-flughafen-muenchen-gruenes-licht-fuer-die-3-startbahn.69702aea-2618-4a5b-b5b0-bc8de5e93229.html

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Earlier:

Munich campaign hands in 80,000 signature petition against 3rd runway to state parliament

July 24, 2013

On 17th July, the BUND Naturschutz (the largest environmental organisation in Germany) and the “AufgeMUCkt” Action Alliance handed in a petition to the state parliament against the construction of a third runway at Munich Airport. Nearly 80,000 people have signed the petition from all over Bavaria. The petition was handed to the Chairman of the Economic Committee (CSU) and someone from the Environment Committee at the parliament. The campaigners asked the politicians to please take note of the will of the people and decide against allowing a new runway. One campaign leader, Helga Stiegl Meier explained that, among other things, the number of aircraft movements at Munich Airport has been stagnate for years, which she said proves that there is no need for a 3rd runway. Another spokesman said the region has no need of furher aviation expansion, and sustainable transport in Bavaria is facing very different challenges, such as future supplies of cheap oil. The new parliament will have to decide after the state elections in the autumn on a third runway.     Click here to view full story…

 

Munich conference – airport residents’ campaigns across Europe connect their fight against the aviation lobby

25.6.2013Over 250 people from across Europe attended the European Aviation Campaigners Conference in Munich at the weekend, where they heard accounts of campaigners against expansion in many different countries. The conference produced a manifesto which included a call for an end to night flights and an end to tax-breaks for the aviation industry.  They also called for no more runways to be  built in Europe, and a shift from short-haul flights to rail,  the abolition of subsidies for the aviation sector  and active control of noise. The conference also had sessions on effective campaigning, including direct action.   Those who attended the conference came away inspired. They were in no doubt that the conference will stimulate collective across Europe to campaign for change. The united call is to ‘tame the aviation industry’.  They say health, independent living, and an intact environment must have higher priority than economic interests. There is an English version of the Manifesto at this link.   http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=3813 

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Munich residents vote against new 3rd runway at Munich airport – 54% said NO

June 17, 2012    Munich residents voted against development of a 3rd runway, in a poll by the City of Munich, which owns 23% of the runway (state and federal government own the rest). Just over 54% of polled voters were against the new runway and 45.7% in favour, according to preliminary results of the vote on Sunday.  Though the city only owns part of the airport, this is thought to be a veto. Munich Mayor Christian Ude said he would accept the result “without ifs or buts.” Bavaria’s state government, however, said it still hopes the runway could eventually be built. Munich is Germany’s second-biggest airport. The vote has dealt another blow to airlines clamouring for growth in Germany. A German district government ruled in favour of the €1.2 billion euro Munich runway project almost a year ago. This vote shows, quote: “how difficult it has become to make clear the significance of important infrastructure projects in our country,’ according to the Munich airport chief. Click here to view full story…

 


 

 

Munich votes against third runway

Munich votes against third runway

18 June 2012 (The Local – German news in English)

The people of Munich voted against the construction of a third runway in a referendum held on Sunday. The result is a sharp slap in the face for the leading parties in the Bavarian capital.

The latest results showed 54.3% of the people of Munich voting against the expansion of Germany’s second biggest airport, and 45.7% in favour. The result did not suit the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), and the Free Democratic Party (FDP), who all campaigned for a decision in favour.

As many as 32% of the 1.04 million eligible voters showed up at the polling booths – way over the 10% hurdle needed to make the referendum valid.

The result means that the city council is now obliged to vote against the new runway in its capacity as part of the airport’s operating company. The airport is co-run by the federal government, the Bavarian state government, and the city of Munich – the council’s vote will effectively block construction.

According to CSU head Horst Seehofer and Munich mayor Christian Ude of the SPD, the third runway would have increased the airport’s capacity from 90 to 120 departures and arrivals per hour.

The ‘Yes’ campaigners said this was necessary, since the airport will soon reach the limit of its current capacity. While some 40 million passengers are expected to pass through Munich airport this year, some 58 million are projected to be using the airport annually by 2025.

http://www.thelocal.de/20120618/43211

 


 

New AirportWatch BLOG.  The German Spring Takes Off

15th June 2012    On the weekend that campaigners occupy the centre of Munich, John Stewart outlines the story of the nationwide protests against airport expansion taking place in Germany, at Frankfurt, Berlin and Munich.  And the implications this has for aviation policy in the UK.  At a time when the industry is pressing once again for a third runway at Heathrow, it likes to give the impression there is little real opposition to expansion in the rest of Europe.  The German experience tells a very different story. “It is impossible at this stage to predict what will happen in Germany.  Or in France.  But the protests have almost certainly changed the landscape forever.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to expand airports anywhere in Western Europe.  That is the new reality that governments and the aviation industry have got to face up to.”  Read the blog

 

Opponents of the third runway climb Siegestor (Victory Tower) in Munich

8.6.2012 (de Bild)

Action against third runway at Munich

Environmentalists have with a spectacular action on Friday in Munich protested against the planned third runway at the airport.  They fixed banners reading “Stop the third runway madness!” on the Victory Tower. And “No on 17.6.». The organization Robin Wood appealed to the electorate, to vote against the construction of the runway in Erdinger Moos in the referendum on 17 June.  The activists were supported by Germany Plane Stupid, a community of action against the airport expansion. Their common demand: Their common demand: A statement by Mayor Christian UDE (SPD), on how he is able to justify supporting the expansion of the airport, as well as the Festival for the environment and sustainable mobility ,as patron of Streetlife. Link to article 

 

 

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