Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports sold to Ferrovial and Macquaire, by HAH, in £1bn deal

Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports have been sold by Heathrow Airport Holdings (HAH) in a £1 billion deal. All three will now be owned by a consortium formed by Spanish firm Ferrovial and Australia-based Macquarie, and managed locally.   The sale is expected to be completed in January 2015.  Ferrovial already part-owns Heathrow, and holds a 25% stake in HAH, which was previously known as BAA.  So from January 2015, HAH will only operate Heathrow, while some years back it owned and ran seven airports.  Heathrow itself is 25% owned by Ferrovial with other stakes controlled by investment vehicles from Qatar, Quebec, Singapore, the US, and China. (Nothing English).  By passenger number in the UK, Glasgow ranks 8th, Aberdeen 14th and Southampton 18th. The airports are not anticipating any particular changes due to the sale. The uncertainty over ownership has not been helpful for the airports, but the investors will be wanting a return on their billion pounds.

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Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports sold in £1bn deal

16.10.2014 (BBC)

Glasgow Airport

Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports have been sold by owners Heathrow Airport Holdings (HAH) in a £1bn deal.

The three airports will now be owned by a consortium formed by two companies – Spanish firm Ferrovial and Australia-based Macquarie.

The sale is expected to be completed in January of next year.

The three airports will be managed locally but supported by Ferrovial’s and Macquarie’s shared ownership.

Ferrovial already part-owns Heathrow, the UK’s busiest airport, and holds a 25% stake in HAH, which was previously known as BAA.

The deal means HAH will now operate only its flagship London hub.

The company had previously operated seven airports but an inquiry by the Competition Commission ordered it to be broken up.

By the time of the ruling it had already sold Gatwick, before later disposing of Edinburgh and announcing the sale of Stansted last year.

Heathrow itself is 25% owned by Ferrovial with other stakes controlled by investment vehicles from Qatar, Quebec, Singapore, the US, and China.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “This sale enables us to focus on improving Heathrow for passengers and winning support for Heathrow expansion.

“Heathrow is the UK’s only hub airport, connecting the whole of the UK to the world and bringing economic benefits locally and nationally.”

Edward Beckley, Macquarie’s European head, said the firm had a “long and successful track record of investing in and developing airports around the world”.

He added: “We look forward to working with these airports over the long term to support route growth and enhance the passenger experience for the communities they serve.”

Ferrovial chief executive Inigo Meiras said: “We are committed to improve these facilities and their services looking to a better passenger experience and in order to grant access to further domestic and international destinations.”

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  • Glasgow is the eighth busiest of the UK’s airports, with 7.4m passengers and 104,000 aircraft movements in 2013.
  • Aberdeen is 14th busiest, with 3.4m passengers and 73,000 aircraft movements.
  • Southampton is 18th busiest with 1.7m passengers and 36,000 movements.
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Amanda McMillan, managing director of Glasgow Airport, said: “Clearly this is a landmark day for Glasgow Airport and whilst we will be sorry to leave the Heathrow group, we do so knowing we’re in an extremely strong position.

“We have benefited from considerable investment in recent years and have achieved a great deal of success in securing new routes and growing passenger numbers. Together with my team, I am looking forward to working with Ferrovial and Macquarie to further develop our airport and ensure it continues to deliver for Glasgow and Scotland.”

Carol Benzie, managing director of Aberdeen Airport work on the deal had been taking place behind the scenes for several months.

She added: “Locally things remain very much business as usual. Our passenger numbers continue to grow, and we will continue to operate as we have been with a focus on the safety and security of our customers, as well as on delivering an excellent standard of customer service.

“No changes to the way we operate are planned and we will keep striving to deliver on all our commitments in the run up to a formal handover by the end of the year.”

The deal was welcomed by local authorities, with Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson saying: “Glasgow Airport is of huge strategic importance for the city and the west of Scotland with over 5,000 jobs dependant on its continued success.

“Its success is vital to ensure that Glasgow and our city region continues to be an attractive location for investment and for local businesses to expand overseas.

“I’m encouraged to see that this deal is backed with a wealth of experience in both the air industry and public infrastructure – and my council will continue to work in close partnership with our airport to ensure it meets the needs of local business and leisure travellers.”

Mark Macmillan, the leader of neighbouring Renfrewshire Council, said the deal would give Glasgow Airport “security of ownership and more certainty for the future”.

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stuart Patrick said: “The existing management team has done an excellent job in promoting the airport’s assets and attracting in new flights over what have been rough times. There is still huge potential for growth and route development, and that has obviously influenced the attractiveness of Glasgow as an investment.”

 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-29650438

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Douglas Fraser

BBC Scotland business and economy editor

The sale of Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton airports has been some time coming. Since the competition regulator took aim at the formerly nationalised British Airports Authority, later BAA plc, the break-up of that empire has looked likely.

Gatwick was sold five years ago for £1.5bn, and is now fighting hard to get the planning nod for a new runway, instead of letting Heathrow expand.

Either Edinburgh or Glasgow had to be sold, BAA was told, so the capital’s airport went to the same infrastructure investors who own Gatwick for a whopping £807m.

Renaming itself Heathrow Airport Holdings plc, the parent company then had to shed Stansted, going for £1.5bn to council-controlled Manchester Airport. And that left the three smaller parts of the company awaiting their fate.

The uncertainty over ownership has not been helpful for them. New owners may be willing to invest in upgrading Aberdeen’s facilities, while helping Glasgow compete more effectively with both Edinburgh, its new rival, as well as the beleaguered Prestwick. But then, those investors will also want a return on their billion pounds.

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Related BBC Stories

 

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Ferrovial buys – and sells – three UK airports for $1.7bn

17 October 2014 | By Joe Quirke

A joint venture between Ferrovial Aeropuertos of Spain and Australian investment bank Macquarie  is to buy Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports at a cost of $1.7bn.

The consortium will purchase the airports from Heathrow Airport Holdings (HAH), a company in which Ferrovial has a 25% stake.

Ferrovial bought HAH in 2006, at which time it was known as BAA and operated seven airports across Britain. Four of its facilities were sold off after a Competition Commission inquiry found that passengers were suffering as a result of BAA’s dominant position.

After the completion of this transaction, HAH will own only Heathrow airport, but the Spanish contractor will have increased its share of the UK airport sector.

Iñigo Meirás, the chief executive of Ferrovial, said: “We’re aware of the importance of these airports for the population in their surrounding areas. The transaction proves how valuable these assets are for Ferrovial.

“We’re committed to improving these facilities and their services looking to a better passenger experience and in order to grant access to further domestic and international destinations.”

He said the three airports would continue to be managed locally, but would have the additional support of Ferrovial and Macquarie.

Sir Peter Mason Chairman of Thames Water, will be appointed as chairman of the group on completion of the deal.

Macquarie’s half of the 50:50 joint venture is made up of its European Infrastructure Fund 4. Edward Beckley, the manager of the fund, said: “We look forward to working with these airports over the long term to support route growth and enhance the passenger experience for the communities they serve.”

Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton were repectively the eighth, 14th and 18th busiest airports in the UK in 2013.

The transaction is expected to completed no later than January next year.

http://www.globalconreview.com/news/ferrovial-buys-and-se2lls-thr5ee-uk-air4ports-17bn/
CIOB Website of the Chartered Institute of Building

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Earlier:

Glasgow, Aberdeen & Southamptom Airports put up for sale by owners Heathrow Airport Holdings by end of 2014

July 31, 2014

Heathrow Airport Holdings want to complete the sale of the three airports by the end of the year. Key staff at Glasgow Airport were given the news at a briefing this afternoon. Spanish-owned BAA later issued a statement through Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd. “Over recent months Heathrow Airport Holdings group shareholders and management have been considering their strategic position in relation to our three airports, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton. As a result the group is now formally entering a sale process. Whilst there is currently no certainty that a sale will be concluded, the group intends to work towards completing a transaction by the end of the year.” BAA’s sold Edinburgh airport for £807 million in May 2012 to Global Infrastructure Partners. A Glasgow Airport source said: “The feeling here is that BAA need to raise cash to invest in Heathrow, but they are carrying too much debt.”
http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/glasgow-aberdeen-airports-put-up-3944332

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Eurocontrol publishes airport environmental guidance – for consultation

Eurocontrol is the European agency dealing with European airspace matters, funded by European governments. It oversees airspace matters, including those in the UK. It has now produced a very European, written-by-committee-of-bureaucrats sort of document,  (Specification for Collaborative Environmental Management (CEM)) on guidance to airports on managing noise and carbon emissions. It is very guarded, and contains a large number of  repetitions of the words “may”, “shall”, “should,”  to “monitor and assess.”  Its aim is to “formalize collaboration among “core” stakeholders—airport operators, airlines and air navigation service providers ” – and try to set out basics of communication with communities. But Eurcontrol said: “….is it is voluntary. There is no enforcement by Eurocontrol or the European Union.”  But while voluntary, the specification is an official Eurocontrol document, for consultation till 29th November. It is aware of the noise issues affecting a range of communities and trade-offs between communities, and between noise and emissions.
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Eurocontrol Publishes Airport Environmental Guidance

AINONLINE

16.10.2014
Eurocontrol CEM specification
Compliance with Eurocontrol’s Collaborative Environmental Management specification is voluntary, the agency says. (Photo: Eurocontrol)

Eurocontrol has published a “high level, generic protocol” airport stakeholders can follow to jointly manage airport noise and emissions issues. The agency will formally launch the collaborative environmental management (CEM) specification at the Airports Council International 2014 Airport Exchange conference, which will be held November 3-5 in Paris.

Several years in development, the CEM specification serves to formalize collaboration among “core” stakeholders—airport operators, airlines and air navigation service providers (Ansps)—and sets out requirements and recommended practices necessary to establish working arrangements. It supports stakeholders’ “common awareness and understanding of the interdependencies and constraints facing each other’s business,” when confronted with the environmental impacts of air traffic operations.

The first thing to state about the specification is it is voluntary. There is no enforcement by Eurocontrol or the European Union,” said Andrew Watt, Eurocontrol head of environment. It would be difficult for a European-wide organization to impose requirements on airports for local noise and air quality issues, he added. What the CEMspecification does is lay out a “process” that stakeholders can follow, for example, to renew environmental permits, build new infrastructure or introduce new procedures such as continuous descent approaches.

We have fairly good anecdotal evidence that at times they don’t necessarily cooperate as well as they could,” Watt said. “That means that maybe one of them takes an initiative for very good reasons, but maybe forgets to inform (the others)” and the initiative fails. “We know that there are a number of airports in Europe in which the three organizations cooperate extremely well, and using that as an example we’ve developed this specification.”

Specific airports, Ansps, regulatory authorities and trade organizations including the International Air Transport Association and Airports Council International (ACI) support the specification, which complements ACI’s airport carbon accreditation scheme, Watt said.

While voluntary, the specification is nevertheless an official Eurocontrol document. Under the agency’s notice of proposed rulemaking process, it was subject to a formal comment period last year that extended from September 29 to November 29. The agency held a consultation workshop in May at which a negotiated text was agreed, becoming version 1.0 of the specification. “It’s gone through an official Eurocontrol process,” Watt said. “It’s out in the public domain and people can use it or not as they wish.”

http://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/2014-10-16/eurocontrol-publishes-airport-environmental-guidance

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http://www.eurocontrol.int/articles/collaborative-environmental-management-cem-specification


 

Consultation

The EUROCONTROL Specification for Collaborative Environmental Management  was submitted to a formal written consultation from 24 September 2013 to 29 November 2013 using the EUROCONTROL Notice of Proposed Rule-Making (ENPRM) mechanism.

Consultation package:

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The document says:

“The Collaborative Environmental Management (CEM) Specification formalises collaboration among the core operational stakeholders at airports by setting out generic, high level requirements and recommended practices necessary to establish CEM working arrangements in a pragmatic protocol.

“CEM supports and benefits core operational stakeholders’ common awareness and understanding of the interdependencies and constraints facing each other’s business. This in turn can facilitate the development of shared environmental solutions, on which they can then collaborate in joint planning and implementation.”

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The EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Today Airport Operators, Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) and Aircraft Operators
are already investing significant effort in dealing with the environmental impacts resulting
from their combined operations at and around airports. However, these impacts, in general
noise and emissions, remain a significant constraining factor to efficient and sustainable
operations.
Sustainable airport development is essential for improving European ATM capacity and flight
efficiency. To facilitate and strengthen stakeholders’ actions in this respect, and also to
support the wider sustainable development of the aviation sector as a whole, this
EUROCONTROL Specification for Collaborative Environmental Management (CEM) has
been drafted together with them.
The CEM Specification formalises collaboration among the core operational stakeholders at
airports by setting out generic, high level requirements and recommended practices
necessary to establish CEM working arrangements in a pragmatic protocol.
CEM supports and benefits core operational stakeholders’ common awareness and
understanding of the interdependencies and constraints facing each other’s business. This
in turn can facilitate the development of shared environmental solutions, on which they can
then collaborate in joint planning and implementation.
In addition, the CEM working arrangements facilitate a robust and transparent dialogue that
benefits relations with National Regulators, local and regional authorities, land-use planning
authorities, local communities (including Residents’ Associations) and local businesses (Non-exhaustive list and depends on local culture and circumstances ).
Furthermore, CEM can support stakeholders in respect of contributing to the realisation of
the Single European Sky (SES) objective 9 Regulation EC No 549/2004 as amended by Regulation EC 1070/2009 Art.1 Objective and scope [1],[2]) on the sustainable development of the air transport system and improving the overall performance of air traffic management and air navigation services for air traffic in Europe, with a view to meeting the requirements of all airspace users.
CEM supports commitment both to regulatory and industry-led voluntary environmental
impact reduction schemes.
EUROCONTROL Specifications have a voluntary status and are developed to support
Member States and stakeholders. This specification may provide a possible means of
compliance with certain requirements related to SES and aviation environment-related
legislation.

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http://www.ainonline.com/sites/ainonline.com/files/pdf/eurocontrol_cem_specification.pdf

Some extracts:

“Up to 70% of medium to large airports across Europe are currently facing challenges to grow and/or capacity constraints for environmental reasons [11]. A higher number anticipate difficulties in securing planning approval to grow as a direct result of environmental concerns. Many airports are also facing increasing social and regulatory pressure when renewing environmental permits, the contents of which may lead to further limitations on airport capacity. The challenges facing larger airports are increasingly applicable to smaller ones due in part:

–  the decrease in public tolerance of environmental nuisance and potential health concerns; and
– to the growth of traffic during peak and off-peak hours.

Although numerous stakeholders operate at an airport, the public generally views the airport operator as the responsible entity for the environmental impacts. In many instances the airport operator also has legal responsibility for the airport’s impact. Ultimately an airport ill
aim to maximise its sustainable development as a fixed asset.”

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and

“Typically, a compromise or balance is required to ensure that a negative impact in one area does not outweigh the value of a positive impact in another area. However, positive and negative impacts may also be found between different aspects of the same impact area. Examples include (but are not limited to):

Noise versus fuel burn/CO2 emissions: The development of Noise Preferential Routes  (NPRs) may reduce the population affected by noise but may increase fuel burn and CO2 due to the additional track miles to be flown.

Fuel burn/CO2 emissions versus capacity: Optimizing the route structure to enable flights to fly closer to the user-preferred trajectory may result in a complicated route structure which has a negative impact upon capacity.

–  Noise versus noise: The concentration of aircraft trajectories in a particular area due to advanced navigation performance may result in a reduction in the total population exposed to noise but increase the noise impact on the population that will be exposed.

 Noise versus noise: The use of Noise Abatement Departure Procedures (NADPs) may reduce the noise exposure on a certain community near to the airport but increase the noise concentration on communities further from the airport.

 Capacity versus fuel burn/CO2 emissions: An increase in airport capacity may result in a more efficient operation when measured by reduced emissions per flight; however, such an increase in capacity may inevitably lead to an increase in total emissions.

–  Fuel burn/CO2 emissions versus fuel burn/CO2 emissions: An optimisation of
trajectories in the TMA may result in reduced track miles to be flown in the TMA
(reduced fuel burn) but not necessarily lead to a more efficient transition to en-route
airspace outside of the TMA, which could result in an overall increase in trajectory
inefficiency and consequently to increased fuel burn.

Consideration of the interdependencies and trade-offs between the different impacts of an operational change can only be truly determined at the local level. The priorities of the stakeholders will differ according to local requirements, conditions and expectations. An acceptable compromise for all parties can only thus be achieved through effective collaboration among all the relevant stakeholders.”

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What is Eurocontrol?

https://www.eurocontrol.int/about-eurocontrol

“The Agency’s operational expenditure is financed by EUROCONTROL’s Member States. It covers core and support functions of the Agency, logistics and performance improvement. Bank loans are contracted for additional capital expenditures.”  https://www.eurocontrol.int/articles/budget

EUROCONTROL is an international organisation founded in 1960 and composed of Member States from the European Region, including the European Community which became a member in 2002.  We are involved in almost every aspect of air traffic management, in close cooperation with our stakeholders.

Our main activities

  • The Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre provides an air traffic control service for the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and northern Germany.
  • The Central Route Charges Office handles billing across Europe.
  • The Network Manager has built on the role of the former Central Flow Management Unit and now proactively manages the entire ATM Network (with nearly ten million flights every year), in close liaison with the air navigation service providers, airspace users, the military and airports.
    It is now using its experience to develop the Centralised Services initiative, which will open up some services to market competition at a Pan-European level, generating significant savings and operational efficiencies.
  • We support the European Commission, EASA and National Supervisory Authorities in their regulatory activities.
  • We are actively involved in research, development and validation, including a substantial contribution to the SESAR Joint Undertaking.  However our efforts are not limited to SESAR but rather are focused on delivering tangible results which will improve the ATM system performance in the medium and long term.
  • We have a unique approach to civil-military aviation coordination in Europe .

We have over 2000 highly qualified professionals spread over four European countries, who make sure that the appropriate expertise and resources are deployed to address ATM challenges. See what our scope of expertise covers.

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and

Our role

We support our Member States to achieve safe, efficient and environmentally-friendly air traffic operations across the European region.
We work together with all aviation partners to deliver a Single European Sky that will help to meet the safety, capacity and performance challenges of European aviation in the 21st century.

Our role is quite unique in Europe, because:

  • we are the only organisation where EU and non-EU Member States come together to discuss Single European Sky implementation;
  • we provide the technical expertise for building the Single European Sky;
  • we offer a platform for civil-military coordination, building on decades of strong military involvement in our activities;
  • we support the day-to-day operations of the European air traffic management (ATM) network;
  • we help and coordinate the response to crisis situations in Europe;
  • we provide public service functions that only reap their full benefits if organised at a pan-European level, such as the collection of route charges.

 

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Eight rungs on the ladder of citizen participation

Eight rungs on the ladder of citizen participation (Sherry Arnstein  1969)

 

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Heathrow article implies health of Scottish langoustine market depends on 3rd runway ….

An article by Bloomberg, put out as part of Heathrow’s attempts to lobby for a new runway, says (I kid you not) that we need a new runway because people have to be able to export Scottish langoustines more easily to Spain and the rest of the world. The claim the Scottish fishermen, who can make plenty of money out of the crustaceans, can’t get the flight connections from Heathrow for their exports.  They claim this high value product is vital for the UK economy, however unsustainable it is to air freight shell fish half way around the globe.  However, the Scottish langoustine exporters have managed quite adequately to use connections via Schiphol – from Inverness – rather than Heathrow. Heathrow cut many of its flights to regional airports, as more profit can be made from long haul flights elsewhere. The   Bloomberg article is largely written for them by  Heathrow, so trots out a lot of half truths and spin.  Not impressive for the local people who  have recently had their peace destroyed by a concentrated flight path trial – one symptom of which was the meeting attended by 1,000 + people in Ascot, leaving Heathrow in no doubt at all about their opposition to a new runway.
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London’s Runway Crisis Puts Pinch on Langoustine Export

Restaurants from Spain to Hong Kong clamor for mini-lobsters caught off northern Scotland.

For the fishermen who sell the langoustines live for almost $30 a pound, there’s one problem: London’s overstretched airports don’t offer the flight connections needed to get the crustaceans fresh to the markets where demand is surging.

“It’s a logistical nightmare,” said Ben Murray, managing director at Keltic Seafare, Scotland’s biggest shellfish supplier. “If there was a secure network to the Asias and Dubais of this world from the Highlands it would open up all sorts of options.”

His travails encapsulate the economic stakes for Britain as Prime Minister David Cameron pushes for increased exports and less reliance on the financial industry. Few assets are more important in meeting those goals than a state-of-the-art airport, and London’s Heathrow hub falls short, adding urgency to officials’ expansion plans.

“Low-weight and high-value products like lobster or computer chips have become the modern incarnation of the 17th-century tulip,” said Adie Tomer, a senior researcher at the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program in Washington, D.C. “There is a lot at stake in attracting that freight and making sure it doesn’t rot on the tarmac.”

Missing Link

The problem for exporters is that Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, is already at its limits. Increasing capacity by adding a third runway is controversial because it’s enveloped by urban sprawl. Growing Gatwick, London’s No. 2 airport, could dilute benefits of a single hub that make more routes viable, the Confederation of British Industry says.

Now Keltic Seafare delivers 35,000 kilos (77,162 pounds) of fresh langoustines a year to Spain, Europe’s biggest seafood market, via Amsterdam. There are no flights from the local Inverness airport to Heathrow.

Murray said Asian exports would become possible with the restoration of Heathrow services, which ended in 2008 when the former British Midland pulled out of the Scottish route.

Heathrow has flights to just seven other U.K. airports, down from 12 a decade ago as carriers led by British Airways (IAG) assign scarce operating slots to more profitable inter-continental services. Amsterdam’s Schiphol, by contrast, serves 27 U.K. cities including Exeter in southwestEngland and Durham in the north, as well as Inverness, where KLM passenger planes collect Murray’s cargo.

Freight Gap

Heathrow is struggling to keep up outside the U.K. too. A sample of 15 fast-growing emerging markets by the CBI shows Frankfurt’s airport serves 45 cities and Amsterdam 31; Heathrow has links to 22.

Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. founder Richard Branson last week complained that a lack of capacity at Heathrow forced the carrier to cut some flights to Asia and Africa when it wanted to add more services to the U.S.

“It’s impossible for us to get slots at Heathrow,” Branson said in an interview in Dallas. “In order to start a new route we have to close a current route.”

The hub’s cargo volumes are also trailing rivals. Frankfurt and Paris were the only European airports to make the global top 10 by air freight in 2013. Both handled more than 2 million metric tons of goods and mail, versus 1.6 million tons at Schiphol and barely 1.5 million at Heathrow.

Gatwick Pitch

“With our current hub capacity full, we are slipping behind,” said Mark Dittmer-Odell, the CBI’s head of infrastructure said in an interview. “If we’ve got a hub airport in the U.K., that’s a national resource that people should be able to draw into.”

Heathrow’s chief rival in the contest for expansion is London Gatwick, the world’s busiest single-runway airport; the two were shortlisted by a government-appointed commission as leading contenders for a new landing strip.

Gatwick, owned by U.S.-based Global Infrastructure Partners and located south of the city’s sprawl, says it could add a new runway for as little as 5 billion pounds ($8 billion), compared with a bill of at least 14 billion pounds for the construction of a third runway at Heathrow.

A new 2.2-mile runway west of existing terminals would boost Heathrow’s long-haul connections by almost 50 percent to 122, with capacity for 740,000 flights annually, 90,000 more than at Schiphol. Domestic destinations that could be added include Liverpool in northwest England, Newquay in the southwest and Cardiff, Wales, said John Holland-Kaye, who took over as the airport’s chief executive officer in July.

Mayor Opposed

“The choice between a flight to Inverness and a flight to China is a false economy,” he said. “We should have both. The airlines are having to choose and that’s one of the things we want to correct.”

The CEO has traveled the globe to press the case for Heathrow, which accounts for 65 percent of the U.K. international air freight by volume and a quarter of all exports by value, led by high-worth items such as pharmaceuticals.

He’s also courting U.K. media, seeking to win public support with the promise of 123,000 jobs that would result directly and indirectly from the expansion. And he’s lobbying London Mayor Boris Johnson to abandon his plans for a new hub in the River Thames estuary that were dismissed by a government committee last month as too costly and complex.

Johnson plans to seek a parliament seat next year, positioning himself as a possible successor to Cameron. He says he’s completely opposed to any growth at Heathrow because of the resulting aircraft noise over built-up areas.

Airport Poll

The mayor aside, the political landscape is changing to Heathrow’s benefit, according to Holland-Kaye. An Ipsos MORI survey released Sept. 7 found that 58 percent of U.K. lawmakers favor a third runway there, based on a survey of 38 MPs from Cameron’s Conservatives and 46 from theLabour Party.

The prime minister himself also opposed the hub’s expansion while in opposition five years ago, before softening his position in ordering a neutral assessment by the aviation commission underHoward Davies, a former head of the Financial Services Authority and London School of Economics.

“The two larger parties are sitting behind the Davies Commission,” Holland-Kaye said. “They understand this is a complex issue. If it was easy it would have been done a long time ago.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Kari Lundgren in London at klundgren2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net; Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net Christopher Jasper

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-16/london-s-runway-crisis-puts-pinch-on-langoustine-exports-cities.html#disqus_thread

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    MPs call for improved rail links to south-east airports

    A cross-party group of MPs has urged the government to improve public transport links to airports in the south-east.  The MPs, including Dame Tessa Jowell, Margaret Hodge, Zac Goldsmith and Julian Huppert, say excessive car journeys and the consequent pollution as one of the biggest barriers to the future sustainability of airports. [This is the carbon emissions of airports themselves, rather the emissions of the flights they facilitate, which is a massively higher number].   Tim Yeo and Caroline Spelman, Darren Johnson, and John Stewart, have also signed it, but Darren Johnson stressed that his endorsement of the letter did not imply conditional support for airport expansion. Heathrow is very well aware that it cannot build a new runway, unless the level of local air pollution (largely from road traffic) is hugely cut.  It is currently close to the legal maximum, and cannot legally be increased. Heathrow and Gatwick want better rail links, to keep their surface transport emissions down. But those links would largely be paid for by public funding.
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    MPs call for improved rail links to south-east airports

    Petition identifies excessive car journeys as one of the biggest barriers to the future sustainability of airports 
    By , political editor  (Guardian)
    Wednesday 15 October 2014

    A cross-party group of MPs has urged the government to improve public transport links to airports in the south-east.

    The MPs, including Dame Tessa Jowell, Margaret Hodge, Zac Goldsmith and Julian Huppert, identify excessive car journeys and the consequent pollution as one of the biggest barriers to the future sustainability of airports.

    Other signatories include the former Tory ministers Tim Yeo and Caroline Spelman, as well as the Green party London assembly member Darren Johnson, and John Stewart, a campaigner against Heathrow expansion.  Johnson stressed that his endorsement of the letter did not imply conditional support for airport expansion.

    The government-appointed Davies commission is due to report after the election on how best to expand airport capacity in the south-east. It has shortlisted three options: a third runway at Heathrow, lengthening an existing runway at Heathrow, or a second runway at Gatwick.

    The petition by the cross-party group says: “Airports have become an integral part of modern life, however their environmental impacts should be effectively managed and over time brought down.”

    It says airports have a responsibility to reduce pollution, but it is also necessary for the government to guarantee better-quality rail access to help cut emissions.

    “For our major airports – Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted – the government must commit to a step-change improvement in rail access,” the MPs say.

    “This change will be brought about at Heathrow by new rail access from the west, by southern rail access longer term, and by efficient interaction with HS2; at Gatwick by material improvements to the Gatwick Express with the new Thameslink franchise; and at Stansted with new rail infrastructure to secure a world-class Stansted Express.”

    This month delegates at the Liberal Democrat autumn conference defied the party leadership by voting against any net expansion of airport capacity in the south-east.

    At the Labour party conference last month, Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, said: “We must resolve to finally make a decision on airport capacity in London and the south-east – expanding capacity while taking into account the environmental impact. No more kicking into the long grass, but taking the right decisions for Britain’s long-term future.”

    More than 1,000 people attended a meeting this week to protest over changes to flight paths at Heathrow airport.

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/oct/15/mps-rail-links-airports-south-east

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    Let Britain Fly  SUSTAINABLE AIRPORTS SUMMIT:
    OVERCOMING THE SURFACE ACCESS, AIR QUALITY AND CO2 CHALLENGES

    A conference by “Let Britain Fly” and “Runways UK” in London on 15th October (see agenda) focused partly on the desirability of increasing the proportion of passengers arriving at airports by public transport – rather than cars.  Everyone agrees this would be a good plan. However, air passengers are acknowledged to be “challenging” for public transport, as they tend to have luggage, so take up more space than non-airport travellers.

    There is also an existing problem of many train services already being crowded and approaching capacity, for much of the day. The line to Gatwick is a case in point. While the airports claim their air passengers would only add some 10% more people at peak morning rush hour, this time is already often at capacity with standing room only.

    It was stated that for many rail services in the crowded south east, there is no longer just a morning and an evening peak, but services are crowded for longer periods extending across the day.

    While airport passengers may get the benefit of better rail services, the cost of this is not paid by the airports. Better transport links to airports are likely to be paid for by the taxpayer.

    The “summit” was interesting, but not surprisingly, contained a number of very waffly and non-specific speeches, of each speaker pushing a predictable line. The conclusion that many would draw from the day was that there really are no workable, or persuasive, plans for either Heathrow or Gatwick to get a new runway, and meet environmental targets.

    Many supportive speeches were made, but all lacking any real substantive detail on how a new runway could be seen to be environmentally “sustainable.”  Fine hopes. Fine words. Nothing of real substance.

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    Ryanair has been ordered to repay illegal state aid to Germany… AGAIN

    Ryanair has been hit with its second illegal state-aid bill in two weeks after it was ordered to repay €300,000 to the German government. The European Commission ordered the money be returned due to Ryanair’s setup at the Alternburg-Nobitz regional airport about 42km south of Leipzig, where Ryanair was the only airline between 2003 and 2011.  Ryanair is fighting the order, saying this is outside the rules, and it no longer flies from the airport. The European Commission said  “certain service and marketing agreements” between the Alternburg-Nobitz airport manager, Ryanair and its marketing offshoot AMS gave the Irish carrier an unfair advantage to the tune of around €300,000. The contracts had no chance of returning a profit for the airport even in the long term, but they gave Ryanair an unfair economic advantage. Another EC decision earlier this month told Ryanair to pay back €500,000 to the German government for its contract at the Zweibrücken Airport, which amounted to illegal state aid. 
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    Ryanair has been ordered to repay illegal state aid to Germany… AGAIN

    Yahoo. finance   15.10.2014

    Ryanair has been hit with its second illegal state-aid bill in two weeks after it was ordered to repay €300,000 to the German government.

    The European Commission ordered the money be returned over Ryanair’s setup at the Alternburg-Nobitz regional airport about 42km south of the city of Leipzig.

    But the airline has vowed to fight any negative findings about its agreements which it denied fell outside EU rules.

    In a statement today the commission said “certain service and marketing agreements” between the Alternburg-Nobitz airport manager, Ryanair and its marketing offshoot AMS gave the Irish carrier an unfair advantage to the tune of around €300,000.

    Ryanair had been the only airline operating scheduled flights out of the airport between 2003 and 2011, when it stopped using the hub.

    While the commission gave its tick of approval to most of the airline’s arrangements with the airport manager, it said Ryanair’s 2010 marketing deal “could not have been reasonably expected to improve the financial situation of the airport” which meant it amounted to illegal state aid.

    It said the contracts had no chance of returning a profit for the airport even in the long term and they gave the airline an unfair economic advantage.

    Deja vu, all over again

    The latest ruling follows another European Commission decision earlier this month when Ryanair was told to pay back €500,000 to the German government for its contract at the Zweibrücken Airport.

    The airline was cleared over its arrangements at four other airports, but the commission said its Zweibrücken contracts amounted to illegal state aid.

    Ryanair said it planned to appeal both decisions, even though the repayments represent a drop in the ocean for the world’s busiest budget carrier.

    “All of Ryanair’s airport arrangements comply with the EU State aid rules and Ryanair has therefore instructed its lawyers to appeal this ruling to the extent it alleges otherwise,” a spokeswoman said.

    The company recently announced it expected its year-end profits to reach up to €650 million.

    https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/ryanair-ordered-repay-illegal-state-aid-germany-again-103358474–finance.html

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    See earlier:

    EU orders Germanwings, Ryanair and TUIfly to repay large sums for subsidies wrongly obtained

    1.10.2014In February 2014 the European Commission adopted new guidelines on how Member States can financially support airports and airlines in line with EU state aid rules. The aim is to ensure fair competition. The aim is to avoid overcapacity and the duplication of unprofitable airports, or support for an airport that is too close to another. Aid is allowed if there is seen to be a genuine need for accessibility by air to a region, to help economic growth. Many low cost airlines have derived benefit from subsidies to airports, and now a number are having to make repayments for money they should not have obtained. The EU has confirmed that Germanwings must pay €1.2 million, Ryanair €500,000 and TUIfly €200,000 that they got from Germany’s Zweibruecken airport, in the form of lower fees.  Zweibruecken is only 25 miles from Saarbruecken airport.  Brussels Airlines separately faces an EU probe into €19 million that airlines at Belgium’s Zaventem airport received from the state to fund operating costs from 2014 to 2016. And there are other cases. Belgium’s Charleroi airport must give back €6 million in aid.

     http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/eu-orders-germanwings-ryanair-and-tuifly-to-repay-large-sums-for-subsidies-wrongly-obtained/

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    Earlier:

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    Consultation on rules for European Commission state aid to airports and airlines

    July 2013
    Under the European Commission, state aid is granted to various sectors of the economy. However, a key issue is the impact it has on distorting the market, and giving an unfair advantage to those companies or organisations receiving it. Airports and airlines are one sector that receives large amounts of state aid through the EC. The Commission’s DG Competition is tasked with overseeing state aid. There have been earlier sets of guidelines on state aid to airports and airlines, but there is a current consultation – due to end on 25th September (which may be extended). The exact amount of state aid given to the aviation sector is somewhat shady, but is at least €3 billion, for those subsidies that are fully notified.There have been widely publicised cases, such as that of Ryanair at Charleroi airport. Transport & Environment have produced an easy-to-read briefing on the state aid situation, and people are urged to respond to the consultation. The state aid gives the aviation industry unmerited subsidy, and helps to encourage very high carbon travel.
    20.2.2014
    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.

     http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=20007


     

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

    13.2.2014
    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.
    10.10.2013

    The near-bankrupt Italian airline Alitalia is to receive an emergency capital injection from Italy’s state-owned post office. Italy’s government did not say how much Poste Italiane SpA, the Italian postal service, would be investing – but it might be up to €100 million.  The Italian government hope the link between  Poste Italiane and Alitalia would lead to a synergy of logistics, in passengers and cargo.  Italy’s civil aviation authority had warned just hours earlier that the airline risked being grounded if new financing was not found urgently. Alitalia needs some €455 million to stay afloat. The Italian government justified what amounted to state intervention saying Alitalia was considered a national asset.   It filed for bankruptcy in August, as high staff costs, industrial relations issues and surging oil prices further dented its finances. It is being suggested that Alitalia might be able to merge with Air France-KLM to help get it out of its financial problems. Alitalia went bankrupt in 2008, and was re-launched in 2009.

    http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=17904

     

    …. and there are many more  ………..

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    Margaret Hodge: Gatwick runway appeal ‘is hypocritical when it avoids corporation tax’

    Gatwick has been accused of “hypocrisy” for avoiding corporation tax while campaigning to build a new runway, allegedly for the benefit of the UK economy. Margaret Hodge, head of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, said the airport should pay its “fair share” if it wants its runway campaign to be credible. She also criticised Heathrow which has not paid corporation tax for several years. But she particularly criticised Gatwick. Its Guernsey-based parent company Ivy Mid Co LP has invested in a £437 million “Eurobond” which charges the airport 12% interest, thus avoiding tax. Gatwick says this sort of bond is often used by other infrastructure companies. Companies in the UK should pay 21% corporation tax on profits, but by spending  £1 billion on upgrading the airport, Gatwick has made no profit recently. Despite pre-tax loses in recent years, it has paid dividends to its overseas shareholders of £436 million. Heathrow has also avoided profits by investing in new buildings etc.  Mrs Hodge said the companies “made a fortune” from their UK activities, which relied on public services,  adding: “For them to pretend they are only in it for the benefit of the UK economy is a touch hypocritical.”
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    Gatwick runway appeal ‘is hypocritical when it avoids corporation tax’

    Margaret Hodge, head of the powerful Public Accounts Committee, said Gatwick should pay its “fair share” of corporation tax

    Gatwick bosses were today accused of “hypocrisy” for avoiding corporation tax while campaigning to build a new runway for the benefit of the UK economy.

    Margaret Hodge, head of the powerful Public Accounts Committee, said the airport should pay its “fair share” if it wants its campaign to be credible.

    She also criticised Heathrow airport which has not paid corporation tax,  levied at 21 per cent on company profits, for several years.

    But it is the tax affairs of the Sussex airport that have caused the most controversy following an investigation by the Standard. Gatwick’s Guernsey-based parent company Ivy Mid Co LP has invested in a £437 million “Eurobond” which charges the airport 12 per cent interest  and which critics say is designed to avoid tax.

    Gatwick said tax authorities were “wholly aware” of their funding structure, and the Eurobond was commonly used by other infrastructure companies. The scheme had not helped the airport avoid tax as it was not in a profitable situation due to the cost of a £1 billion upgrade to the airport under its new owners, Gatwick said.

    Accounts for the past four years for Gatwick Airport Limited (GAL) show pre-tax losses of £322 million and a tax credit of £192 million, but despite these losses it has paid dividends to its overseas shareholders of £436 million.

    The Standard has also learnt that Heathrow has not paid corporation tax for several years, offsetting the cost of a new terminal to build a tax credit of £234 million despite pre-tax profits of £429 million.

    But the airport, which says it is key to the UK’s economic growth, said it “looked forward to” paying corporation tax later this year and did not “route funds through tax havens”.

    Ms Hodge, a potential London mayoral candidate, said that ministers should put airports under pressure to pay corporation tax as the bidding process for airport expansion reaches its conclusion next spring.

    She said the companies “made a fortune” from their UK activities, which relied on public services,  adding: “For them to pretend they are only in it for the benefit of the UK economy is a touch hypocritical.”

    A Gatwick spokesman said: “Gatwick Airport is fully compliant with UK tax law and HMRC are wholly aware of our funding structure.”

    A Heathrow spokesman said it complies with all tax rules, does not operate tax avoidance measures, and is “entirely UK based for tax purposes”.

    http://www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/gatwick-runway-appeal-is-hypocritical-when-it-avoids-corporation-tax-9795171.html

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    See earlier:

    Gatwick airport announces first profits for years and returns for its investors … UK tax?

    26.6.2014
    Gatwick airport has announced its results for the year to 31st March 2014. It has made a profit, for the first time in 4 years. Gatwick says its passenger numbers reached 35.9 million in 2013/14 (4.8% up on 2012/13). Their turnover is up 10.2% to £593.7 million and EBITDA is up 14.2% to £259.4 million, with a resulting profit of £57.5 million. This compared to a loss in the financial year ending 31 March 2013 of £29.1 million. The airport has spent a great deal improving the airport, and so made losses – and paid no tax to the UK government for years. Gatwick says their investments and more marketing is being effective in attracting more passengers. It now has more aircraft movements at peak times (a cause of the noise nuisance being caused from new flight paths). Gatwick now claims 20% are travelling on business, largely on EasyJet. The figure was 17.5% in 2012. Gatwick says it will now be paying dividends to its investors, though it has not in recent  years. It expects to pay £125m to investors in the current financial year,  £65m return in the 2015/16 financial year and £60m in 2016/17. [Maybe also pay some UK tax?  

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    Gatwick Airport paid no Corporation Tax in three years

    25.6.2013
    Gatwick Airport has a £1.2 billion capital investment programme to improve its infrastructure and facilities. But it paid no corporation tax for three consecutive years despite making £638m in profit before tax. Gatwick tried to defend this position, saying: “Whilst year on year we have lessened our financial losses we have yet to make a profit after tax. As a result the airport has not paid corporation tax …Our current £1.2bn capital investment programme and existing asset base, together with the associated debt structure, result in depreciation and interest costs which reduce our operating profits to a loss before tax.”  In the 2012/13 year, Gatwick Airport made £227.1m profit before tax, a 2.5% increase, as it benefited from flights to new destinations in China, Russia, Indonesia, and Turkey. Despite this, it reported a net financial loss of £29.1m, citing asset depreciation and £226.7m of capital investment in the year. Corporation tax is only levied on a company’s net profit. In the UK the corporation tax rate is 23%. Under UK tax law, corporations can claim tax allowances on certain purchases or investments made on business assets. Campaign group UK Uncut estimates that clever accounting rules and complex tax avoidance schemes cost Britain £12bn annually.      
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    IAG is to pay its first ever dividend and British Airways is due to return to profit

    27.9.2014
    The parent group that owns British Airways, IAG, have said that they are now making profits and will give their first dividend, probably in November.  This is their first dividend since they were created in 2011 through the merger of British Airways and Spain’s Iberia. IAG has also bought bmi and Spanish budget carrier Vueling since its formation. Analysts believe shareholders will receive their first payment at the end of IAG’s 2015 financial year at the latest, as the controversial turnaround at Iberia, which required the loss of some 4,500 jobs and sparked strikes and political outcry in Spain, has stemmed the losses. IAG posted a €96m pre-tax profit for the six months to June 30 this year, up from a €503m loss at the same time in 2013.  IAG says it is on track to improve operating profit this year by “at least” €500m, from €770m in 2013. British Airways’ CEO, Willie Walsh said in August that BA had now returned to profit for the first time since 2007, the start of the financial crisis. BA has barely paid any UK corporation tax for years – it may pay round £61 million for the 2013 financial year.

     

    See also

    Irish clampdown on tax avoidance will be followed by the UK

    14.10.2014

    By Kamal Ahmed (BBC)

    oday the Irish government announced something very significant. The closure of the notorious “Double Irish” tax loophole.

    The reason it’s important is not because it is changing Ireland’s tax regime, which it is.

    It is important because the double Irish is the method by which global companies reduce taxes on the businesses they run around the world.

    And the Treasury is following developments closely and is poised to launch its own crackdown on “diverted profits”, which is what the double Irish allows companies to do.

    Google and Facebook have both been fingered for using the scheme – as have a number of pharmaceutical firms.

    It enables businesses – via a complex system of royalty payments – to move revenues to locations which are described as “tax efficient” – such as low-tax Ireland and no-tax the Bahamas.

    Campaigners argue that tax efficient should be more suitably described as tax avoiding.

    The companies say that they are simply following the rules.

    It wasn’t Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google, who decided that Ireland would allow a system to develop where corporations were effectively “stateless” for tax purposes, and could therefore move payments to tax havens like the Bahamas whilst still creating huge revenues in Europe via a company based in Dublin.

    ‘Lowest taxes’

    The use of the double Irish has had the effect of reducing the available taxes paid to countries where Google and Facebook operate, including the UK.

    George Osborne raised the issue in his Conservative Party conference speech last month.

    “While we offer some of the lowest business taxes in the world, we expect those taxes to be paid – not avoided,” he said.

    “Some technology companies go to extraordinary lengths to pay little or no tax here. If you abuse our tax system, you abuse the trust of the British people.

    “And my message to those companies is clear – we will put a stop to it.”

    I am told that Treasury officials are now busy constructing new rules that will stop the diverting of profits made in the UK via intellectual property payments to company subsidiaries.

    One source told me that profits made in Britain would be taxed in Britain.

    This could make a significant difference to companies like Google and Facebook, which generate large amounts of revenue in the UK but do not pay significant amounts of tax.

    The chancellor wants to make the move part of his “fairer markets” agenda.

    He will need to convince campaigners that this is not just window dressing.

    ‘Tax competition’

    And his message on not avoiding taxes can become confused given that Mr Osborne also trumpets policies like the patent box. This makes it tax efficient to complete research and development in technology and pharmaceuticals in Britain.

    Interestingly, whilst abolishing the “double Irish”, the finance minister, Michael Noonan, did announce the creation of Ireland’s equivalent of the patent box – the knowledge development box.

    Tax competition will always exist. Governments want to encourage investment in certain sectors in their own countries and jealously guard their right to do so.

    The most egregious might be limited. But don’t imagine that companies searching the globe for the best, most tax efficient, place to do business is going to end any time soon.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-29622044

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    Tiles ripped off roof in Birmingham by plane vortex – fortunately nobody injured

    Birmingham Airport has had a Vortex Protection Scheme in place for many years. As with many other airports, the problem of damage to roofs by vortices created by over-flying planes is well known.  In some air conditions, swirling masses of air descend from planes, like a very small tornado, and can rip off loose tiles. So far nobody has been badly injured by this. Airports are keen to get the damage fixed as fast as possible, to avoid danger and bad publicity. Predicting where vortex damage is likely is difficult. Now in Birmingham a resident has had a number of tiles (around 12 perhaps) dislodged from the roof of her council house, falling onto the patio below. She commented that it was lucky that she was not sitting outside, nor that any children were playing there. An airport spokeswoman said officials were “looking into the incident” after being informed. There have been many such incidents, with cases in Germany near Frankfurt airport early in 2013, a case in March 2013 in Old Windsor,  and several incidents at Belfast City Airport in 2010.
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    More information about the problem of vortices, caused by over-flying planes at

    Vortex damage to house roofs from over-flying planes

    Information on the Birmingham Airport Vortex Protection Scheme and the VPS Leaflet.


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    Kitts Green mum ‘lucky to be alive’ after freak airplane ‘vortex’ rip tiles from her roof

    Sharon Ward said she believed the drama was sparked by planes landing at Birmingham Airport

    Sharon Ward claims planes heading for Birmingham Airport ripped roof tiles off her house

    See more photos of the damage

    A mum said she was lucky to be alive after freak winds allegedly caused by a low-flying plane sent roof tiles plummeting into her garden.

    Around 20 tiles were ripped from Sharon Ward’s roof in a scene she described as “carnage”.

    They landed yards from the spot where children had been playing.

    Shop assistant Sharon said she believed the drama was sparked by planes landing at Birmingham Airport.

    The airport confirmed it was looking into the incident.

    Sharon Ward claims planes heading for Birmingham Airport ripped roof tiles off her house

    Sharon, 51, said: “It’s absolute carnage.

    “It looks like a bomb site as about 20 tiles came off and smashed in my garden and onto the furniture outside.

    “I’m lucky I wasn’t sunbathing as I am usually outside if there’s a spot of sunshine.

    “The tiles could have fallen onto me. The neighbour’s children had been playing outside ten minutes earlier.   They could have been seriously hurt. It’s so dangerous and something needs to be done about this.

    “Another neighbour was in his garden at the time and said he saw a plane flying low over my house.

    “I tried calling the airport but I was told to call back on Monday.”

    Council tenant Sharon, of Moodys Croft, Kitts Green, said she heard a huge crashing sound after an aircraft approached at 2pm on Saturday.

    An airport spokeswoman said officials were “looking into the incident” after being informed by the Mail.

    Sharon Ward claims planes heading for Birmingham Airport ripped roof tiles off her house

    See more photos of the damage

    In 2009, the Mail revealed that hundreds of homes in Kitts Green had been re-roofed because of vortex winds producing by landing planes.

    Birmingham Airport conducted a study on the nature of vortex strikes with Kinetic, a company which worked with the Ministry of Defence.

    But the results were inconclusive.

    A member of the airport’s environment team said at the time: “Locating risk areas is very difficult.

    “It can be the case that one side of the street has strikes and the other hasn’t – it is very difficult to predict.”

    http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/kitts-green-mum-lucky-alive-7922031

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    Below are links to some other incidents of vortex damage to houses:

     

    Some incidents of roof damage –  from the news:

    Damage to roof and falling tiles, Birmingham   12.10.2014  read more …..

    Damage to roof in Florsheim, Germany 3.4.2013  read more …..

    Damage to house in Old Windsor 22.3.2013  read more …..

    Belfast residents call for independent inquiry into yet another roof tiles incident   6.6.2010  read more …..

    Damage at George Best Belfast City airport   13.9.2009   read more …..

    Damage at Birmingham airport over several years     read more …..

    Damage in Germany   13.11.2009     read more …..

    Damage in Thailand     6.10.2006     read more …..

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    An earlier article from 2009 about vortex damage in Birmingham:

    Hundreds of houses near Birmingham Airport re-roofed after freak winds from planes

    HUNDREDS of properties near Birmingham Airport have been re-roofed in the last six years due to freak vortex winds produced by landing aircraft.

    HUNDREDS of properties near Birmingham Airport have been re-roofed in the last six years due to freak vortex winds produced by landing aircraft.

    The majority of strikes have occurred around the Kitts Green area, affecting roads lying at the end of the runway, directly under the flight path.

    Vortex strikes are unpredictable. Ben Hanley, working for the Environment Team at Birmingham Airport said: “Locating risk areas is very difficult, it can be the case that one side of the street has strikes and the other hasn’t, it is very difficult to predict.”

    Birmingham Airport conducted a study on the nature of vortex strikes with Kinetic, a company who have worked with the Ministry of Defence. The findings have been inconclusive though it has been confirmed that less than 0.01 per cent of flights cause vortex damage.

    George Megarry of Tile Cross Road is the most recent homeowner to be affected by a vortex when a strike dislodged tiles on his garage roof last Sunday, leaving a visible hole.

    The airport is aware of the concerns of those living in areas at risk of vortex strikes. Ben Hanley said: “We have a strong commitment to the local community, we’ve spent over a million pounds so far on the roofing project. If we get a call about a property hit by a vortex we will make immediate repairs, and then go back at a later date to re-roof the property.” The new roofing will be “extremely robust”.

    Mr Megarry is concerned by the incident, “This was the worst vortex I have ever heard, it was dangerous. If my grandchildren were here, they could have been killed.”

    This is not a problem unique to Birmingham Airport and other major airports support similar schemes. Heathrow Airport is funding a £15 million voluntary Vortex Protection Scheme in which every house, school, church or hospital affected by a Heathrow vortex strike is eligible for vortex protection.

    http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/hundreds-of-houses-near-birmingham-airport-103066

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    Kevin Anderson blog on decisions of academics and climate community about personal travel

    In a blog in June 2014, Professor Kevin Anderson writes about the need for people to consider their own behaviour in relation to flying. He is personally highly conscious of his own energy use.  He looks in particular at academics and those in the climate change community, and their justification for the use of high carbon travel. These are some quotes: “Amongst academics, NGOs, green-business gurus and climate change policy makers, there is little collective sense of either the urgency of change needed or of our being complicit in the grim situation we now face.”  And on the desire to fly to save time to spend with our families: “When we’re dead and buried our children will likely still be here dealing with the legacy of our inaction today; do we discount their futures at such a rate as to always favour those family activities that we can join in with?”  And “Surely if humankind is to respond to the unprecedented challenges posed by soaring emissions, we, as a community, should be a catalyst for change – behaving as if we believe in our own research, campaign objectives etc. – rather than simply acting as a bellwether of society’s complacency.”
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    Does Greenpeace’s sanctioning of short-haul flights mirror wider hypocrisy amongst the climate change community?

    By Professor Kevin Anderson
    June 2014.
    The following article is in response to a  report in the Guardian  in which the head of Greenpeace UK defends the need for one of its top executives to make regular flights between his home and work (Amsterdam and Luxembourg).
    The recent suite of reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) underline the rapidly dwindling global carbon budget into which we have to squeeze twenty first century carbon emissions. This transition from society’s ill-informed focus on 2050 (or some other conveniently far off date) to scientifically credible carbon budgets, reframes the mitigation challenge in terms of deep reductions in emissions delivered over the coming decade.
    It is within this context of urgency and in the pivotal run up to the climate negotiations in Paris 2015, that Greenpeace’s sanctioning of regular short-haul flights, needs to be considered.
    Defending their international programme director’s regular Luxembourg to Amsterdam flights on the basis of “needs of his family”, resonates with my experience as an academic working within the climate change community. Amongst academics, NGOs, green-business gurus and climate change policy makers, there is little collective sense of either the urgency of change needed or of our being complicit in the grim situation we now face.
    Since the first IPCC report in 1990, even the rate of emissions growth has risen – to a point where emissions today, a quarter of a century later, are some 60% higher. If such emission trends continue, then we’re heading for enormous changes for many families even in the short term.
    These families may not be our own – much more likely they’ll be those who have not contributed to the problem, have little income and live in areas geographically more vulnerable to climate impacts.
    We choose to fly to be with our family as quickly as possible – so as not to be away for more than a few days. But the repercussions (ok, not on a 1-to-1 basis perhaps) are for another family in another place to lose their home, suffer food and water shortages, social and community pressures and wider conflicts – to put at risk the very fabric of their families and communities.
    Moreover, using fast and high carbon transport to reduce the time we spend away from our families also has longer-term repercussions for our own children. Are we rushing back for the sake of our families or for our own individual engagement with our families? This is a subtle but important distinction.
    Are we concerned about our families only whilst we’re around to enjoy and benefit from them, or are we more altruistically concerned regardless of our own immediate returns? When we’re dead and buried our children will likely still be here dealing with the legacy of our inaction today; do we discount their futures at such a rate as to always favour those family activities that we can join in with?
    Flying is emblematic of a modern and thriving society. Regardless of evidence the aviation industry is touted as central to future prosperity – a view deeply embedded in the culture and internationalisation agenda of both universities and many NGOs.
    But such a framing of contemporary society is categorically at odds with the carbon budgets accompanying the global community’s pledge to hold the rise in temperature below 2°C – i.e. to avoid “dangerous climate change”.
    Aviation, as with virtually every sector, makes all the right noises about becoming more efficient and reducing carbon intensity. But this misunderstands the science and challenge of climate change. All that really matters are absolute emissions – not how efficient we are.
    This ultimately is the rub – we have left it far too late for technology alone to deliver the necessary rates of mitigation.
    Those of us intimately engaged on climate change know this. Whether academics, NGOs, business leaders, policy makers or journalists, we cannot hide behind a lack of knowledge of our emissions or a poor understanding of the impacts of climate change.
    Despite this, the frequency of our flying to ‘essential’ meetings, conferences etc., mirrors the rapid rise in global emissions – all salved with a repeated suite of trite excuses. Surely if humankind is to respond to the unprecedented challenges posed by soaring emissions, we, as a community, should be a catalyst for change – behaving as if we believe in our own research, campaign objectives etc. – rather than simply acting as a bellwether of society’s complacency.
    ________

    The above response borrows from previous articles, particularly Hypocrites in the air and Evangelising from 32 thousand feet.

    A further exchange, unhelpfully titled “Is flying still beyond the pale”, was published in the New Internationalist.

    With a specific focus on the UK see:
    – Aviation & shipping privileged again?  – published as a Tyndall Centre Briefing Note 47
    – A one-way ticket to high carbon lock-in please – published in Carbon Management

    In addition, the following papers address issues on aviation at the EU, UK and regional levels (these were written several years ago, but the arguments remain broadly valid today – 2014):
    – Aviation in turbulent times
    – Air transport, climate change and tourism
    – Policy clash: Can aviation growth be reconciled with the UK 60% carbon-reduction target?
    – Apportioning aviation CO2 emissions to regional administrations

    For discussion on aviation in relation to 2°C carbon budgets, see 2013 book chapter: Carbon budgets for aviation or gamble with our future

    For similar arguments made in relation to the shipping industry (another sector exempt from the Kyoto protocol and often neglected in national carbon inventories) see: Executing a Scharnow turn: reconciling shipping emissions with international commitments on climate change

    http://kevinanderson.info/blog/failing-by-example-greenpeace-sanction-short-haul-flights-for-its-executives/
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    About Kevin Anderson:

    Kevin Anderson is professor of energy and climate change in the School of Mechanical, Aeronautical and Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester. He was previously director of the Tyndall Centre, the UK’s leading academic climate change research organisation, during which time he held a joint post with the University of East Anglia. Kevin now leads Tyndall Manchester’s energy and climate change research programme and is deputy director of the Tyndall Centre. He is research active with recent publications in Royal Society journals, Nature and Energy Policy, and engages widely across all tiers of government.  

    With his colleague Alice Bows, Kevin’s work on carbon budgets has been pivotal in revealing the widening gulf between political rhetoric on climate change and the reality of rapidly escalating emissions. His work makes clear that there is now little to no chance of maintaining the rise in global mean surface temperature at below 2°C, despite repeated high-level statements to the contrary. Moreover, Kevin’s research demonstrates how avoiding even a 4°C rise demands a radical reframing of both the climate change agenda and the economic characterisation of contemporary society.  

    Kevin has a decade’s industrial experience, principally in the petrochemical industry. He sits as commissioner on the Welsh Governments climate change commission and is a director of Greenstone Carbon Management – a London-based company providing emission-related advice to private and public sector organisations. Kevin is a chartered engineer and Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

    His website is  Kevinanderson.info  comment on climate at http://kevinanderson.info/

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    How an uneven transport market is killing off green options – while the highest CO2 forms are the cheapest

    An interesting blog by a PhD student, researching behaviour change and air travel, looks at the problem of unfair competition between low carbon forms of transport – such as rail – with high carbon flying. Depressingly, many overnight sleeper trains across Europe are now being cut.  Due to the tax exemptions of aviation, paying no VAT and no fuel duty, the market for air travel is rigged. This makes low-carbon travel choices uncompetitive and eventually unprofitable, so they are ended. T&E has estimated the industry’s tax exemptions cost EU governments around €10 billion.  It is also the case that those who travel the most, the furthest, or fly first/business class are the most subsidized.  Because of the tax breaks and subsidies, as well as significant economies of scale enabled by the rapid growth of low cost carriers, air fares have become, on average, 1.3 % cheaper every year since 1979 – a third cheaper in real terms than they were 20 years ago. In stark contrast, rail fares have risen, on average, by 1.2% since 1995.  Transport choices are being reduced, and we risk being on a path to flight dependency, with the lower emissions types being priced out of competition.

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    Blog: Flight-path dependency: How an uneven transport market is killing off green options.

    Picture courtesy of Deutsche Bahn [http://www.bavaria.by/main-stations-bavaria-germany]

    I released a deep sigh last month, when I read that Deutsche Bahn is cancelling night trains on its Brussels-Copenhagen, Paris-Berlin, and Hamburg-Munich lines by the end of this year. I was further saddened to read that the Paris to Barcelona night train – which I took myself a few years ago on a fondly-remembered holiday across Europe – is already a thing of the past, as of last December.

    This news not only made me sad but angry. Sad – because sleeper trains are a low-stress, relaxing and green alternative to flying, evoking a certain romance you won’t get with easyjet. Angry – because one can guess the simple reason why sleeper trains are failing: unfair competition from cheap flights. The ‘cheap’ part is probably obvious to you; the ‘unfair’ part perhaps less so.

    An excellent recent article by Stefan Gossling, my favourite tourism-sociologist (everybody needs one), persuasively argues that there are several ‘transport taboos’ which policy-makers are reluctant to face up to or even admit.

    One of those taboos is that the most energy intensive forms of transport (basically, cars and planes) are the least taxed and the most subsidized. Consider air travel which is, according to figures from DEFRA (which I’ve put into the following graph), the most carbon-heavy form of travel per kilometre.

    CO2 emissions by transport mode

    As you can see, flying, [to the right of the chart] particularly domestic flights or first/business class, is particularly carbon-heavy per kilometre travelled. But there is no correlation between carbon emissions and government taxation. In fact the reverse is true. Firstly, there is no VAT chargeable on international flights. This exemption costs EU governments around €10 billion and, because VAT is (or would be) proportional to the ticket price, those who travel the most often, the furthest distances, or fly first/business class are the most subsidized. So the more carbon your flight creates, the more subsidy you get.

    Perhaps more surprisingly, there is no tax on jet fuel, nor has there ever been since 1944 – this is the crucial exemption which allows flying to be so cheap compared to other forms of travel. In addition, the air industry receives subsidies and preferential treatment which other industries can only dream of.

    Ryanair alone received at least €600 million in government subsidies between 2008 and 2010, mainly to attract them to start new routes (much to the annoyance of rival airlines). As a result of tax breaks and subsidies, as well as significant economies of scale enabled by the rapid growth of low cost carriers, air fares have become, on average, 1.3 % cheaper every year since 1979 – a third cheaper in real terms than they were twenty years ago according to industry figures.

    In stark contrast, rail fares have risen, on average, by 1.2% since 1995.

    I’m sure most of us can relate to this from personal experience. Booking one month ahead, a return flight from London to Edinburgh is priced at £29.98 return (with, you guessed it, Ryanair), while the cheapest train is £69.30. My comparison is not entirely scientific, but I’m sure it’s not entirely unrepresentative. Have you ever wondered why it costs more and more to fill up your car, take a train or coach, yet air tickets remain cheap? It appears that through uneven regulation and taxation, the market is rigged in aviation’s favour. This kind of inequity should offend an economic liberal as much as any tree-hugging greenie.

    In terms of climate change, all this matters because air travel is widely predicted to triple or even quadruple in terms of air passenger miles by 2050 (compared to 2005), with a similar rise in carbon emissions.

    Technological innovation simply cannot keep up. Ed Davies, the UK Energy Secretary, said this week that “If you look at the future of flight it is possible to imagine, with technological innovation, that we have zero-carbon flight in the future”. And he’s right of course: it is possible to imagine it, just like it’s possible to dream of teleports and hoverboards. But as recent research by Matt Grote shows, along with many other studies, that low-carbon air travel remains a distant dream, and zero-carbon air travel a fantasy. One need only look at Boeing’s order book to see that jumbo jets like the 747 series, first produced in 1968, are going to be made and sold until at least 2030.

    If you just imagine hard enough, you can have one for christmas.

    As we can see by the closure of sleeper train routes in Europe, not only does this rigged market make high-carbon travel choices more likely (because flying is cheaper), it actually stops low-carbon travel choices from surviving at all, by making them uncompetitive and eventually unprofitable. Thus, path dependency – or flight-path dependency, if you will – becomes increasingly irresistible.

    Of course, there are moves in the opposite direction. In particular, China’s government is investing heavily in high-speed rail, here the UK is following suit with HS2. Research by      Fu et al shows that when high-speed rail journeys are 4 hours long or less, this is the ‘tipping point’ at which passengers will choose rail over air travel for the same journey.

    One encouraging example of this was in 1992, when HSR was introduced to Spain on the Madrid-Seville route, and the rail share of the total rail-and-air market increased from just 21% in 1991 to a huge 82% in 1993. But simply providing greener travel alternatives will not necessarily mean people use them. Prices have to be competitive to wean people away from flying and this is where governments have a responsibility to end aviation’s easy regulatory ride and even out the transport market.

    As the People’s Climate March and the recent UN climate summit in New York reminded us, climate change requires urgency, not only at the level of states and big emitters, but also at the level of individual consumption. We need to get into green habits sooner rather than later. Governments need to facilitate such habits by leveling out the transport market and ending the crazy situation where the most polluting forms of travel are also the cheapest.

    @RogerTyersUK

    References

    Fu, X., Zhang, A., & Lei, Z. (2012). Will China’s airline industry survive the entry of high-speed rail? Research in Transportation Economics, 35(1), 13–25. doi:10.1016/j.retrec.2011.11.006

    Gössling, S., & Cohen, S. (2014). Why sustainable transport policies will fail: EU climate policy in the light of transport taboos. Journal of Transport Geography, 39(2014), 197–207. doi:10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2014.07.010

    Grote, M., Williams, I., & Preston, J. (2014). Direct carbon dioxide emissions from civil aircraft. Atmospheric Environment, 95, 214–224. doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2014.06.042

    *Domestic travel: between two UK airports, Short-haul: <3700km, Long-haul: >3700km. Flying emissions calculated including Radiative forcing (RF), a measure of the additional environmental impact of aviation. These include emissions of nitrous oxides and water vapour when emitted at high altitude. 

     

    http://thesocietypages.org/sociologylens/2014/10/09/flight-path-dependency-how-an-uneven-transport-market-is-killing-off-green-options/

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    European Commission scraps plan to label tar sands as polluting – it causes at least 20% more CO2 emissions in its production

    The European Commission has proposed scrapping a mandatory requirement to label tar sands oil as highly polluting, after years of industry opposition. The new proposal abandons one obstacle to Canada shipping crude from tar sands to Europe, and will draw strong criticism from environmental campaigners and Green politicians. To extract the oil the tar sands have to be blasted with steam, using large amounts of gas and water. In 2011, the EU agreed that tar sands should be given a carbon value 20% higher than for conventional oil.  However, member states could not agree, and the Commission has been reconsidering the proposal ever since. The new proposal released only requires refiners to report an average of the feedstock used. They do not have to single out tar sands. It retains, however, a method for calculating the carbon intensity of different fuel types over their lifecycle. Some of this very high carbon oil is now making its way to Europe, and some will be turned into jet fuel. This will further increase the emissions from aviation, if  the fuel used has required high carbon emissions in its production.
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    What is the problem with using oil derived from tar sands?

    The report  Exposing Valero’s plans to bring tar sands oil to the UK    says:

    (2012)
    “Buried deep under the Albertan boreal forest is 140,000 square kilometres of bituminous sand, known as the ‘tar sands’ – or ‘oil sands’ by the Canadian government and oil industry. The 169.9 billion barrels of proven reserves in Canada are the third largest deposit of oil in the world after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Industry currently extracts 1.5 million barrels of tar sands oil per day (bpd), the majority of which is exported to the US.

    “The tar sands are the world’s largest and dirtiest industrial project. Compared to conventional crude oil, oil from tar sands is much more energy-intensive to remove and process, requiring substantially more refining. Like many ‘unconventional’ types of oil, tar sands are extracted in an incredibly environmentally damaging way. The process emits 3.2 to 4.5 times more greenhouse gas than conventional oil extraction, uses vast amounts of fresh water and natural gas, and in many cases leaves behind lakes of toxic pollution. Tar sands developments destroy vast tracts of forest habitat, threatening wildlife with extinction. The resulting pollution has been thought to cause local communities, often First Nations, to suffer rare forms of cancer.”


    Commission scraps plan to label tar sands as polluting

    7.10.2014 (Euractiv)

    The European Commission has proposed scrapping a mandatory requirement to label tar sands oil as highly polluting, after years of industry opposition.

    The new proposal abandons one obstacle to Canada shipping crude from tar sands to Europe, and is likely to draw strong criticism from environmental campaigners and Green politicians.

    Last June, EurActiv reported about the draft European Commission proposal.

    It is suggested in a revised draft law, how refiners should report the carbon intensity of the fuel they supply.

    The debate about labelling tar sands, also known as oil sands, dates back to 2009, when EU member states approved legislation with the aim of cutting greenhouse gases from transport fuel sold in Europe by 6% by 2020, but failed to agree how to implement it.

    In 2011, the European Union executive agreed that tar sands should be given a carbon value a fifth higher than for conventional oil. However, member states could not agree, and the Commission has been reconsidering the proposal ever since.

    Confirming a draft seen by Reuters earlier this year, the proposal released on Tuesday only requires refiners to report an average of the feedstock used. They do not have to single out tar sands.

    >> Read: EU proposal scraps mandatory ‘dirty’ label for tar sands

    It retains, however, a method for calculating the carbon intensity of different fuel types over their lifecycle.

    “It is no secret that our initial proposal could not go through, due to resistance faced in some member states,” Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said in a statement.

    “However, the Commission is today giving this another push, to try and ensure that in the future, there will be a methodology and thus an incentive to choose less polluting fuels over more polluting ones like, for example, oil sands.”

    Oil sands crude, exploited by the major oil firms, such as BP Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil, costs more to produce than conventional crude, and uses more energy, water and emits more carbon over its lifecycle.

    Found in clay-like sands, it has to be dug up in open-pit mines with massive shovels, or blasted with steam and pumped to the surface, before oil can be extracted.

    The revised proposal still has to be debated by member states through a fast-track procedure meant to take less than two months. It also needs a sign off from the European Parliament.

    http://www.euractiv.com/sections/energy/commission-scraps-plan-label-tar-sands-polluting-308985


    POSITIONS: 

    Laura Buffet, clean fuels officer at sustainable transport group Transport & Environment, sent EurActiv a statement saying:

    “Company-specific carbon values would provide the incentive for one company to perform better than its competitors, for example by not supplying high-carbon oil like tar sands or oil shale in Europe. If company-specific values are not mandatory, at the very least we must ensure that they are an option to reward oil companies for not bringing in high-carbon oil.”


    FQD – Fuel Quality Directive or Frequently and Quietly Delayed?

    March 27, 2014 (Transport & Environment)

    The Fuel Quality Directive (known in the Brussels bubble by the acronym FQD) is the missing link in the Barroso Commission’s 2020 climate and energy package. This law aims to reduce the carbon intensity of Europe’s transport fuels by 6% by 2020. But its real impact depends on its ‘implementing measures’. These measures rank different types of biofuels and fossil fuels based on their greenhouse gas emissions. They also set up rules requiring oil companies to report the carbon intensity of the fuel they supply. Because of fierce lobbying by oil companies and the Canadian government, the FQD remains unimplemented to this day. This timeline shows the delayed progress of the FQD.
    http://www.transportenvironment.org/publications/fqd-fuel-quality-directive-or-frequently-and-quietly-delayed

     


     

    The European Fuel Quality Directive (FQD)

    For many news stories about the FQD see Euractiv

    http://www.euractiv.com/topics/fuel-quality-directive


    FQD – an oily tunnel. But will there be light at the end?

    19.6.2014 (Euractiv)

    Under the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD), oil companies must reduce the carbon intensity of their transport fuels by 6% by 2020. But heavy lobbying from industry, Canada and the US has led to a weakened Commission proposal. Laura Buffet of Transport & Environment argues that the option for oil companies to report accurate company-specific carbon values for their different oil is crucial for an effective FQD.

    Recent protests greeted the first major shipment of high-carbon Canadian tar sands oil to enter Europe, with 600,000 barrels arriving at a Bilbao refinery. On almost exactly the same day, EU media reported that the European Commission is planning to weaken the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD), a law to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of Europe’s transport fuels by 6% by 2020, in order to appease oil industry, Canadian and US government lobbying. As is often the case, there is some truth to the reports on the FQD – but from the version of the draft proposal that T&E has seen, we can say that there are still some useful elements in this weakened text.

    The Commission has given in by making the oil industry as a whole, and not individual companies, accountable for the carbon footprint of the fossil fuels that they sell. While the proposal recognises that higher carbon values should exist for unconventional oil like tar sands and oil shale, in terms of complying with the 6% decarbonisation target, fuel suppliers would only use one EU average carbon value. So there is an industry-wide average value instead of different company-specific carbon values for their various sources of oil.

    That is a very strange, unfair and inefficient choice. Imagine the same thing for the car industry; it would mean that if Ford chooses to specialize in SUVs, all the others would have to make up for Ford’s cars’ extra emissions. Note that it is the oil industry itself that has asked for this collective arrangement. Either it thinks the law will not be serious, or it behaves like a cartel. The truth is probably a bit of both. Either way, it takes away the incentive to keep tar sands oil – and other high-carbon oil, for that matter – out of Europe. That is a very serious thing, also because it will drive up the cost of our climate policy.

    But the sheer fact that big oil and North America are still lobbying in Brussels suggests that this proposal can still have value when it will finally emerge, hopefully this summer.

    The draft may not oblige companies to report their individual performance, but it does allow them to do so with a so-called ‘opt-in’ clause. Logically, this might be attractive for the better-performing companies – those with relatively low-carbon products. Strangely enough, even allowing oil companies to use their own performance seems a bridge too far for some departments in the Commission. And surely, and tellingly, the oil industry lobby wants its members not to have this choice either.

    The text takes positive steps by calling for the differentiation of oils via their crude trade names. These trade names give an indication of the origin of the oil and indirectly of the initial fields where the crude has been extracted. Fuel suppliers are therefore expected to set up tracking systems for the origin of the petrol and diesel sold. These steps are the start of a much-needed improvement in transparency in the oil market. As other sectors, like the food and car industries, begin to disclose more information about their products, consumers and investors will push for oil companies to do the same. It is about time.

    It’s too early for a final verdict, as we still need to see a final proposal and then the actual EU law. Under heavy pressure, the Commission is backtracking. But the oil industry will have to be, and will be, part of the solution, not just part of the problem. And the FQD will be very far from perfect. But it will be a start.

    http://www.euractiv.com/sections/energy/fqd-oily-tunnel-will-there-be-light-end-302921


     Earlier:

    University of Calgary analysis tar sand oil extraction show it is sometimes not even a net producer of energy

    According to a new scientific analysis, many tar sands wells are actually using more energy than they produce. If it requires a barrel of oil – or its equivalent in gas – to retrieve a barrel of oil, then what’s the point? It appears this is only possible at present in Canada as the price of oil is lower than the price of oil, so it is commercially viable to burn the cheaper gas in order to get out the more expensive oil. It may make some (warped) financial sense, but it makes no energy or environmental sense. But if the price of gas rises, in relation to the  price of the oil, these tar sand wells will go bust. The economics of oil extraction use the term  EROEI (Energy Return on Energy Investment) –  ideally with EROEI as high as possible (eg. the light, sweet crude found near the surface in Iraq). Other assessments have found the EROEI for tar sands may be 7:1 for extraction and 3:1 after it has been upgraded and refined into a useful fuel. Squeezing oil out of tar sand is an extremely wasteful process, requiring between 2 – 4 tons of tar sand and 2 – 4 barrels of water to produce one barrel of oil. The richest deposits are being exploited first, but already produce a low return – which will become worse once the “lowest hanging fruit” has been removed.

    http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/university-of-calgary-analysis-tar-sand-oil-extraction-show-it-is-sometimes-not-even-a-net-producer-of-energy/


     

    Earlier:

    Nobel laureates demand European Commission action to classify oil from tar sands as very high carbon

    Twenty-one Nobel prize winners, many of whom have won Nobel Peace Prizes, have urged the EU to immediately implement the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) which would label tar sands as higher carbon (“dirtier”) than other fuels. The Nobel laureates say the extraction of unconventional fuels – such as oil sands and oil shale – is having a particularly devastating impact on climate change. The powerful letter has attempted to restart the discussion about how tar sands and oil shale should be treated in the EU, a discussion that has been delayed for too long, following a massive lobbying campaign by Canada, the US and the global oil industry. Conventional oil has been given a value of 87.5g of CO2 equivalent per megajoule. In comparison, tar sands oil has a value of 107g, oil shale 131g and coal-to-liquid 172g.  The laureates quote IEA warnings that unconventional fuel sources are especially damaging to the environment and climate, and its calculation that two-thirds of known fossil-fuel reserves must be left in the ground ‘to avoid catastrophic climate change’. The letter says the time for positive action is now. The EU can demonstrate clear and unambiguous leadership on this.

    http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/nobel-laureates-demand-european-commission-action-to-classify-oil-from-tar-sands-as-very-high-carbon/


     

    The group “No Tar Sands” says:

    Tar sands extraction is one of the biggest threats to our climate. While Canada and the EU go head to head over the Fuel Quality Directive, and Obama battles hundreds of thousands of US pipeline protesters, a little-known company is planning to slip tar sands-derived fuel into Europe, discreetly and quietly.

    We need to pipe up about this now, before it’s too late.
    The majority of Valero’s operations are focused on the business of taking crude oil from various sources, processing it at its refineries to produce gasoline (petrol), diesel, jet fuel, asphalt, petrochemicals, and other products, then selling them either on the market or directly to the consumer through its 6,800 retail outlets.

    Valero – no tar sands in the UK!

    UK Tar Sands Network, Corporate Watch and Pembrokeshire Friends of the Earth have just released a new report  [ http://www.no-tar-sands.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/valero_report_4web.pdf ] outlining Valero’s plans to bring tar sands to the UK.

    This page gives a summary of the report.

    US-based Valero Energy is the world’s largest independent petroleum refiner (a company which refines crude oil, but doesn’t drill for it).

    Valero has an appalling environmental record, having repeatedly violated air and water pollution legislation, funded climate change deniers, and fiercely opposed carbon reduction legislation.

    Valero is heavily involved in tar sands.

    Valero has committed to taking on at least 100,000 barrels a day (20% of initial capacity) from the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline until 2030. The company has also recently upgraded its Port Arthur refinery in Texas, increasing its ability to process heavy sour crude (such as tar sands oil) to 80% of its 310,000 barrels per day capacity. Port Arthur is located where the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is planned to finish, on the Texas Gulf Coast, perfectly positioned for export to Europe and Latin America.

    Valero has recently expanded into the UK.

    In August 2011, Valero purchased the Pembroke refinery in Wales, marking its first foray beyond the Americas. The £450 million deal also included ownership interests in four major pipelines and 11 fuel terminals, a 14,000 barrel per day aviation fuels business, and more than 1,000 Texaco-branded service stations in the UK and Ireland.

    [See map]

    Valero wants to bring tar sands to the UK.

    In an investor presentation in 2011 Valero (…  demonstrated….) its plans to export diesel from its Gulf Coast facilities to Europe:

    By 2012, Valero’s investor presentation was showing this map. Worried yet?

    [The red lines are “Diesel / Jet” ]

    Valero tar sand oil

    It is difficult to ascertain the exact details of Valero’s plans. Pembroke refinery is not itself configured to process heavy oil straight from the tar sands.

    Oil coming to Pembroke or elsewhere in the UK would come from refineries in the Gulf Coast and would include a blend of oil from different origins, making the supply chain difficult to trace. But as more tar sands oil finds its way to the Gulf Coast, more and more of this is likely to originate from the tar sands.

    But wasn’t the Keystone XL pipeline stopped?

    The Keystone XL pipeline has faced severe opposition from environmentalists, farmers, landowners, First Nations and the general public, and is currently locked in legislative battle in Congress. However, the southern section of the route, from Oklahoma to Texas, was given support by the Obama Administration and construction has already started. In the meantime a series of alternative pipelines routes out of Alberta are being explored.

    And wasn’t the FQD meant to prevent tar sands coming here?

    The EU Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) would discourage the use of high-emission crude oil, like tar sands, in the EU transport sector. Despite strong support for the legislation from the EU Parliament, EU Commission and many member states, the FQD has been subject to aggressive lobbying from the Canadian government and oil companies like Shell and BP, causing severe delays.

    Assuming it is eventually successful, the FQD will still not actually ‘ban’ fuel derived from tar sands, but act as an economic disincentive. It will also not prevent tar sands-derived products that are used in sectors other than transport, such as ‘petcoke’, a high­carbon solid fuel used in steel refining, power stations and cement production.

    Is there already tar sands oil coming to Europe?

    There is a tiny trickle of oil derived from tar sands coming into several locations, such as the Netherlands, Spain and France – but it is almost impossible to accurately trace. And guess who is behind most of this oil – Valero.

    Greenpeace and Platform’s report, Tar Sands in Your Tank, provides more information.

    The tar sands industry needs to be shut down, not expanded. What can we do?

    Challenge Valero to share information. We need to force Valero to fully disclose the origin of the oil it imports to Pembroke and other locations in the UK, as well as its long­ and medium­ term plans for how this might change based on pipeline expansion in the US.

     

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    The Canadian Government and Big Oil are working together to promote the tar sands industry and weaken climate legislation throughout the world. They are particularly targeting Europe. A primary battleground is the EU Fuel Quality Directive.

    The Fuel Quality Directive

    The EU is negotiating a Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) with the aim of encouraging the use of low-carbon transport fuels and discouraging the use of high-emission fuel. It aims to reduce Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions from road transport by 6% before 2020.

    An independent study concluded that oil from tar sands produces 23% more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional crude. Based on this, the EU wants to label tar sands oil as more polluting than conventional oil, which would have the effect of strongly discouraging tar sands imports into the European market.

    As a result, the Canadian government is fighting it tooth and nail, largely due to the precedent this would set for other important markets – such as US states. It could also discourage planned tar sands extraction projects in other parts of the world, such as Madagascar.

    The Canadian government began by trying to call the science into disrepute, insisting tar sands oil is no more polluting than conventional oil, and invoking the spectre of a legal challenge for unfair discrimination at the World Trade Organisation.

    Once the EU had secured a peer-reviewed study confirming the highly carbon-intensive nature of tar sands extraction, Canada switched tack and began stalling the FQD by claiming tar sands shouldn’t be singled out until every other possible source of transport fuel is measured for carbon-intensity.

    This argument was misleading as other fuels are also being included in the FQD. But a lot of countries, including the UK, bought it, as well as erroneous arguments about ‘unfair administrative burdens’ on importing companies.

    When it came to a vote in February 2012, enough major countries voted against or abstained to stall the process.

    Under pressure from environmental campaigners, the UK switched its vote from ‘no’ to ‘abstain’, which was a small but significant victory against the dirty diplomats.

    The EU is now undertaking an impact assessment, which will lead to a new proposal and another vote some time in the first half of 2014.

     

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