Heathrow / Gatwick / new runway? Residents campaign, political parties stay silent – avoiding the issue pre-election

The coalition government deliberately instructed the Airports Commission to report AFTER the general election, so there would be no active runway planning during the course of the last parliament. And the main parties are keeping pretty tight-lipped on the matter of a new runway in this election campaign, aware of just how unpopular a runway decision would be. So while the airports lobby feverishly, and the campaigners against airport expansion campaign, the electorate do not get to discuss the issue before they vote.  The Tories just say they will “respond to the Commission” and Labour that it will “make a swift decision.” They are not even saying if they will take any notice of the Commission’s recommendation.  Gwyn Topham, with an excellent round-up on the issue in the Guardian says: “… decisions over the nation’s infrastructure after the 7 May election will involve billions in spending; affect tens of thousands of jobs; consign many communities to blight, noise and pollution; and alter the economic map of the UK. Yet political debate about the two most critical transport projects undertaken in decades [HS2 and a new runway] is all but absent.” Policy ideas on aviation, such as they are, party by party.
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Heathrow and Gatwick expansion: residents campaign, parties stay silent

The big issue: Although the timetable for airport expansion has been artificially lengthened, decisions over transport infrastructure will play a part for voters in west London and Sussex

5.5.2015 (Guardian)

by Gwyn Topham (Transport Correspondent)

The regular clients who used to visit Hair by Jackie in the centre of Sipson have largely moved on: many left the village in 2010, the last time it looked like a third Heathrow runway would wipe out their homes. It’s a different place now, says proprietor Jackie Clark-Basten, but things were different all round then. She recently handed in a petition at Downing Street reminding David Cameron what he said then: no new runway.

“‘No ifs, no buts’!” she recalls. “At the last election there were promises in each manifesto. For Londoners it’s a big issue, and MPs should say. Residents obviously feel strongly – but nationally is it such a big deal?”

Certainly, decisions over the nation’s infrastructure after the 7 May election will involve billions in spending; affect tens of thousands of jobs; consign many communities to blight, noise and pollution; and alter the economic map of the UK. Yet political debate about the two most critical transport projects undertaken in decades is all but absent. On HS2, the £50bn high-speed rail scheme, parties have nailed their colours to the mast, officially backing it. But when it comes toairport expansion, a decision is imminent, yet neither of the largest parties will show its hand.

The airports commission, set up by Cameron in 2012 to examine – again – whether more capacity was needed, will report by July with a recommendation to build a new runway at either Gatwick or Heathrow. Chairman Howard Davies has made no secret that the timetable was artificially elongated past the election. Even as it was kicked into the long grass, parties refused to commit to its findings.

Ministers have lined up to reassure the industry that the question would not become an election issue; the big parties’ manifestos avoid any particulars beyond the broad pledges to “respond to the commission” [Conservatives] or “make a swift decision” [Labour].

At a recent Guardian debate, Patrick McLoughlin, the transport secretary, would only say: “It was right to get this work done. And we’ll see what the commission says.” Lilian Greenwood, of Labour’s transport team, added: “I think it’s difficult… I don’t think any party can commit. It’s a reality.”

With some in the coalition apparently ruing the decision to scrap the third runway on taking power, both parties now stress the importance of political consensus in building infrastructure – even if that consensus appears to turn into a conspiracy of silence.

Anti-expansion protesters gather at Heathrow Terminal 5. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Christine Taylor, a Stop Heathrow Expansion campaigner whose home in Harlington will effectively be lost under a third runway, says: “I think it’s scandalous. It’s a huge issue that’s going to leave thousands out of their homes, many more overflown. Add in climate change, and the fact that it’s not on the agenda – I can’t believe they’ve managed to get away with it so far.”

The airports argue vehemently that it is far from a local issue: Heathrow says the benefits of expansion, and the costs of constraint, would be felt nationally in jobs and growth; it has signed up a host of chambers of commerce and business leaders from the south-west to Scotland to put its case. Gatwick has sought similar backing.

And opposing environmental and climate change arguments clearly go beyond west London. Aviation’s definition of sustainable growth is dependent on the theoretical trading of its carbon emissions in decades ahead: while Davies claimed that an extra south-east runway was compatible with the UK’s CO2 targets, the forecasts included in the commission’s report suggest this is problematic. According to research by the Airport Environmental Federation, fares would have to rise or regional airports close to meet Britain’s carbon commitments.

Candidates in noise-blighted west London are by and large opposed to a new runway – although the Tory MP for Spelthorne and its borough council, just south of Heathrow and out of the flight path danger zone, back an extra runway. Clark-Basten laughs: “We’ve been asking Spelthorne council, is it okay to put our name on your housing list? Because we’ve got

Marginal seats nearby turned blue and yellow at the last election, when the Labour government had committed to Heathrow expansion, underscoring what Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate calls the “politically undeliverable” nature of Heathrow’s plans. Yet campaigners in Sussex think that holds for Gatwick too.

“All the parties know any new runway will be immensely unpopular and lose votes,” says Brendon Sewill of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign. Despite having also recently directly petitioned Downing Street, Sewill, an ex-Treasury adviser, has seen enough Sir Humphreys to be resigned to the pre-election realpolitik.

“The object of the commission was to kick the question into the long grass and report after the election. For them to announce anything before its dog has barked would be silly.”

A Conservative victory could see Boris Johnson join cabinet heavyweights including Theresa May and Philip Hammond, who would all pick Gatwick over Heathrow. But Sewill believes the electoral maths can help anti-Gatwick campaigners too. “All the way from Tunbridge Wells to Arundel, the candidates are on our side. Assuming the Tories get back in to what are safe seats, we’ve got a band of 10 ‘antis’ – which is not a bad minority party if we get into that business.”

Labour have promised a swift decision should they win, with Ed Balls appearing to strongly back Heathrow, although Ed Miliband in power would likely insist any expansion would demonstrate its compatibility with the climate change act he introduced.

Different permutations of coalition could make inaction more or less likely. The SNP has not endorsed either airport but Scottish MPs are likely to particularly value the possible connections to an expanded Heathrow. Northern Ireland generally wants a bigger Heathrow. The Lib Dems’ manifesto reiterated the party’s opposition to more runways – although the leadership is open to Gatwick expansion, and Heathrow believes they would not stand in its way again. The Green party is implacably opposed, but remains unlikely to have more than one or two MPs.

Only the smaller parties break the tacit consensus elsewhere too: the Greens would block not only new runways but HS2. Ukip would also scrap HS2. The Greens’ transport spokesperson, Rupert Read, says: “It’s no good having a transport policy that means noise, pollution, shutting down local shops and destroying communities. Transport or mobility isn’t a good in itself.” He says HS2 would accentuate dependence on London and commuting.

The big parties explicitly back HS2: unpopular or not, the shared policy risks no votes nationwide. According to McLoughlin, “Nothing will give the transport capacity increase in the way that HS2 will. It is absolutely vital to move people and freight – it is the answer.” Miliband has been outspoken in support of HS2 even in the Camden borough where he lives, and where the loss of homes and years of disruption ahead have fuelled intense opposition. The Lib Dems say: “Those who doubt the project need to think hard about what we would lose if we didn’t go ahead with HS2 – 400,000 jobs and £50bn of economic benefits.”

According to airports commission estimates, the economic benefits of a third Heathrow runway would be double that. But campaigners point out the cost: on a recent weekend they planted oaks beside the ancient church and tithe barn in the village of Harmondsworth, earmarked for demolition. Says Christine Taylor: “We’re looking to the future, even if a third runway means we don’t have one. Whoever gets elected may think they’ve got five years to get this done, but they’ve got one hell of a fight.”

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Transport pledges by political party


Conservatives

Headline pledge is to freeze rail fares in real terms over the whole parliament. Plenty of detail on planned improvements to rail infrastructure but most of it is under way; the similar £15bn on new road schemes would be championed by the Tories and possibly targeted by other parties.

Labour

Rail gets the biggest attention: a fare freeze and a franchising review is promised, including allowing public sector operators to bid to run service. Labour will take steps to devolve power on transport and reregulate buses. It also nails its colours to the mast by postponing road schemes to fund its fare pledges.

Liberal Democrats

A much bigger focus on sustainable and local travel than from either of the other main parties, with the Lib Dems putting the environment and air quality at the heart of transport policy – including a green transport act to ensure main rail routes are electrified, to push low-emission zones and encourage cleaner vehicles. The Lib Dems would build more local rail infrastructure as well as HS2, increase funding for cycling and buses, encourage moves to trams and limit rail fare rises to inflation.

The Green party

Central vision is to limit the need for transport to reduce emissions by keeping services as local as possible. That would involve a push for cheaper, devolved, greener public transport; electrifying all rail; giving free local travel to the young and students; slapping VAT on air fares; restoring the fuel duty escalator – and renationalising the railways, as well as stopping HS2 and airport expansion.

SNP

Build HS2 from Scotland down to the south; devolve power over air passenger duty, cut and axe it in Scotland.

Ukip

Scrap HS2; oppose road charging; limit speed cameras; re-open Manston airport.

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/may/05/heathrow-and-gatwick-expansion-election-decision-transport-environment

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GACC critical of Gatwick’s promises – unless part of legal agreements signed before any runway consent

Gatwick’s latest leaflet to those that live around Gatwick is full of promises but provides no guarantees and misses much of the details, as usual. GACC (the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) has suggested to the Airports Commission that they need to make sure that all the attractive looking promises made by the airport are real, and not just part of their publicity campaign – to be forgotten when the airport is sold. The promises should not unduly sway a decision about a 2nd runway, unless the airport can be compelled to keep their word. The reality is that there is no method of enforcing the various undertakings being made by Gatwick, other than by legal agreements.  However, any new legal agreement would need to be negotiated before approval is given in principle for the runway, otherwise all bargaining power would be lost. GACC submitted this fact to Crawley Borough Council this week, which seemed to be unaware of it. Signing binding legal agreements would prove the airport’s sincerity about its offers, rather than just using them for PR purposes. Gatwick is promising some compensation to a small number of people; it is promising £5,000 per house built for a Gatwick employee; £10 million towards motorway widening; and that landing charges would not rise above £15 till 2030. 
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Gone are the guarantees  – back come Gatwick’s “ice cream” promises

4.5.2015  (GACC – Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)

“Gatwick’s BIG Enough”

Gatwick’s latest leaflet to those that live around Gatwick Airport is full of promises but provides no guarantees and misses much of the details, as usual.                                               [The Gatwick “Our pledges to the local community” ].

GACC has suggested to the Airports Commission that they need to make sure that all the sugar-sweet promises made by Gatwick Airport are for real, and not just part of their publicity campaign – to be forgotten when the airport is sold.

GACC chairman Brendon Sewill says: “We are confident that, in the end, no new runway will be built at Gatwick, but we don’t want the Commission, local authorities or residents to be bamboozled by ice-cream promises from the airport which melt in the sun.”

There is no method of enforcing the various undertakings being made by Gatwick Airport Ltd. GACC has good knowledge of this issue having been closely involved in drawing up and overseeing a number of legal agreements with BAA when they owned Gatwick.

 

Gatwick’s Promises to its neighbours

Direct Compensation – for the majority there would be no compensation.

More Jobs – The Commission state that there would have to be a mass inward migration of workers due to the lack of unemployment in areas surrounding Gatwick, so the job market would change as we know it as families move here in search of work.

Housing Support and More Apprenticeships – There is no legal agreement to enforce the promise of £5,000 per house built for a Gatwick employee.  When challenged, Gatwick management suggest this money will be held until they had received proof that a house had been built due to Gatwick expansion. £10m that Gatwick has offered for work to improve roads would only cover 1 mile of motorway widening.  The other costs such as construction of ring roads and underpasses would have to be borne by the taxpayer, and the costs could be many millions of pounds.

Apprenticeships are welcomed but Croydon has so been the major beneficiary of these to date.

No Financial Cost to You – This is not true.  Residents will not have to pay for the runway if they do not fly.  But the cost of the infrastructure to support Gatwick, which may be even larger than that required at Heathrow, has not been evaluated nor has the cost of dealing with the huge influx of workers to West Sussex looking for homes and amenities.

Local Engagement – The poll carried out by Gatwick was created by Gatwick with their own wording. It provided no detailed information to what a new runway would mean to Kent, Sussex and Surrey residents. Results of the polls are often dictated by the questions set.

Better Rail Connections – Gatwick has one railway line that is already congested. You can add trains, carriages but you can’t expand the line unless you remove all the houses from Gatwick to London and the coast. So who will pay in overcrowding, delays and fare rises?

Lower Fares – Gatwick specialises in low cost airlines, unlike Heathrow. Building a new runway at Gatwick could mean the airport is no longer competitive for low-cost airlines, due to overheads. That could force airlines to seek cheaper landing fees at other airports such as Stansted and Luton, which are not full.

 

Considerable public concern has been expressed in recent months about promises made by foreign multi-national companies in the course of take-over bids that are subsequently negated when the takeover is approved. An example was the take-over of Cadbury by the US based Kraft in 2010.

In a normal planning application, undertakings given by the applicant are incorporated either in legally binding planning conditions, or in a legally binding section 106 agreement.

 

The answer is a legal agreement. But any new legal agreement would need to be negotiated before approval is given in principle, otherwise all bargaining power would be lost, GACC submitted this fact to Crawley Borough Council this week, who seemed ignorant of this fact.

This procedure would impose a good reality check on GAL’s aspirations. If they were not prepared to sign a legal agreement (in the vernacular, if they were not prepared to put their money where their mouth is), it would prove that their aspirations are not to be taken seriously.

www.gacc.org.uk

Gatwick Airport Ltd (GAL) is making a number of promises but does not mention the environmental damage to Kent, Sussex, Surrey. In fact it will destroy the tranquillity for thousands of people, including in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). Residents in areas affected will pay for a Gatwick runway, through a reduction in their quality of life.

Gatwick’s runway plan is not supported by EasyJet, BA, or Virgin.  It is also not supported by the Institute of Directors, and only 25% of London First support expansion at Gatwick.

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See earlier:

 

GACC says Gatwick’s rash promise to cap landing charge at £15 puts its runway plan in doubt

Gatwick airport have made a very rash promise not to raise their landing charges above £15 (plus inflation) for 30 years, if they get a 30 contract from the government (details not specified). Brendon Sewill, of GACC said: “The whole runway project is in doubt…. Gatwick’s rash promise not to raise airport charges above £15 per head …. seriously puts in question whether building a new runway at Gatwick is a viable business proposal – either for the present owners or for the new owners if Gatwick is sold.” The Airports Commission calculate that Gatwick charges would need to rise to ‘between £15 and £18, with peak charges of up to £23. GACC points out that Gatwick’s promises are meaningless unless they are put into a legal agreement binding on the present airport owners – and future owners. If so, the £15 would become a legal maximum – rather than the current £9. Even at £15, some airlines, and passengers might well decide instead to use much cheaper airports such as Stansted or Luton. GACC has pointed out to the Airports Commission the risk that Gatwick may have fewer passengers than forecast, in which case the cap of £15 may not be sufficient to cover the costs of a new runway and new terminal. Brendon Sewill asks: “What would happen if the money runs out when the new runway is only half built?”

Click here to view full story…

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Gatwick hoping its “pledge” of £46.5 million if it gets 2nd runway will go towards a new Crawley hospital

The local Crawley press reports that Gatwick airport has said they will provide money to contribute towards the cost of a new hospital serving Crawley if they are allowed to build a 2nd runway. This is not a new offer – it was in their list of “pledges” put out in July 2014. However, last week Crawley Borough Council announced that it will tell the Airports Commission a new hospital for Crawley and Horsham must be built if Gatwick is expanded. Members of the council’s overview and scrutiny commission debated a report by council officers that the Commission had “significantly underestimated” what healthcare needs would be created by expansion. Gatwick has said it would provide a £46.5 million fund for community infrastructure projects if there is a new runway. (There is doubt whether a future owner of Gatwick would be legally held to any pledges made now by GIP). Gatwick says it would provide just £5,000 per new house needed, and it estimates that number to be 9,300. ie. £46.5 million. But that would have to cover all areas, down to the coast, not only Crawley. Other figures of the cost of building a hospital put the cost at around £330 – £430 million. Local hospital facilities in the area are already under pressure.

Click here to view full story…


 

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Research, in “Science” calls for ‘airspace reserves’ with reduced or restricted human activity (eg flights)

Researchers in Argentina and Wales have written a new paper, showing the increasing extent to which man-made structures, and human activities, are having an impact on creatures that fly. The scientists say growing numbers of skyscrapers, wind turbines, power lines, planes and drones threaten billions of flying birds and animals, huge numbers of which are killed in collisions. The researchers say “airspace reserves” should be created to protect wildlife, by providing airspace zones where human activity is partially or totally restricted to reduce the aerial conflict.  These could be temporary zones, for example to help protect birds on their seasonal migrations, or permanent areas, put in place over key habitats. They need to be taken account of in planning for major construction projects. The authors say: “Most of the conservation in reserves and national parks is mainly focussed on the ground or more recently on water. None of them have focussed on the airspace.” Bird strikes with planes cause a risk to humans, so drastic measures are taken to remove birds from the vicinity of airports. The impact of drones is yet to be assessed, but could become a problem.
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‘Airspace reserves’ could protect wildlife

Birds and planeThere is a growing conflict between animals and humans in the air

“Airspace reserves” should be created to protect wildlife, scientists say.

They warn that growing numbers of skyscrapers, wind turbines, power lines, planes and drones are threatening billions of flying animals.

Researchers in Argentina and Wales have called for airspace zones where human activity is partially or totally restricted to reduce the aerial conflict.

The report is published in the journal Science.

Sergio Lambertucci, from the University of Comahue and the Argentina Research Council (Conicet), said: “Most of the conservation in reserves and national parks is mainly focussed on the ground or more recently on water. None of them have focussed on the airspace.”

Human cost

The skies are becoming increasingly crowded.

Scientists estimate that millions of animals die each year from collisions with tall buildings, power lines and wind turbines.

But the aerial conflict can cause problems for humans too.

The research team, also from Swansea University in Wales, says that bird strikes with planes have killed more than 200 people globally and have damaged thousands of planes.

The impact of drones is yet to be assessed, but the researchers fear they could be a growing problem.

The scientists say that areas of pristine airspace should be created.

These could be temporary zones, for example to help protect birds on their seasonal migrations, or more permanent areas, put in place over key habitats.

The scientists add that the impact on wildlife needs to be taken into account in the planning stages of major construction projects.

Dr Lambertucci said: “If you know all the species that use that area before you build an airport or a building or a wind farm, you will probably be able to reduce a lot of the conflicts.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-32536907

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Science 1 May 2015:
Vol. 348 no. 6234 pp. 502-504
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa6743
  • PERSPECTIVE      ECOLOGY

Human-wildlife conflicts in a crowded airspace

  1. Sergio A. Lambertucci1,
  2. Emily L. C. Shepard2,
  3. Rory P. Wilson2

+Author Affiliations

  1. 1Laboratorio Ecotono, INIBIOMA (CONICET–Universidad Nacional del Comahue), Bariloche, 8400, Argentina.
  2. 2Swansea Lab for Animal Movement, Biosciences, Swansea University, UK.
  1. E-mail: slambertucci@comahue-conicet.gob.ar

Over the past century, humans have increasingly used the airspace for purposes such as transportation, energy generation, and surveillance. Conflict with wildlife may arise from buildings, turbines, power lines, and antennae that project into space and from flying objects such as aircrafts, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) (see the figure) (13). The resulting collision and disturbance risks profoundly affect species ecology and conservation (1, 4, 5). Yet, aerial interactions between humans and wildlife are often neglected when considering the ecological consequences of human activities.

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See also:

Global bird culls by airports, to deter bird strike. Hundreds of thousands gassed, shot and poisoned

The issue of bird strikes for planes is an emotive one. Some collisions do little damage to planes, but hitting a large bird can disable an engine, or worse. While birds and planes co-exist, some strikes are inevitable. Rose Bridger has been looking into this subject for years. She says shortly after the Hudson incident in 2009, New York’s 3 main airports began culling Canada geese. This escaped public attention until June 2010, when wildlife officials rounded up nearly 400 birds and gassed with CO2 in a nearby buiding. In fact, the geese that downed the plane were not locals, but migrants from northern Canada. By autumn 2013 geese were being rounded up from municipal properties within a 160 square kilometre area. After a non-fatal (for the plane) collision with a flock of geese at Schiphol in 2010, 5,000 were gassed in 2012. The area where geese are deemed a hazard to aircraft was extended to cover a 20 kilometre radius around the airport, and a further 10,000 geese were gassed between January and July 2013. In January, the New York Port Authority announced plans to eliminate the entire population of 2,200 wild mute swans. And there are many, many other examples. Airports should not be built in or near important bird habitats and migratory flightpaths.

Click here to view full story…

Belfast boy wants alternative home for geese facing cull for safety of Belfast City Airport planes

A 10-year-old boy – Jack McCormick – has appealed to Belfast’s Lord Mayor to have geese, considered to be posing a threat to low-flying aircraft, moved to another park. The Lord Mayor has promised to raise the issues in a meeting with George Best Belfast City Airport. “I am an animal lover and would hate to think of anything bad happening to the grey geese at the park,” Jack wrote: “My papa takes me to a great park in Gilnahirk …. It is big, but it has no geese or any animals. Why not move some of your geese from Victoria Park to the park at Gilnahirk? I would make sure that they were well-looked after. If you can’t move them to Gilnahirk, could you not move them to other parks around Belfast?” The authorities prick the eggs so they don’t develop. Jack said (children aren’t stupid!): “Last year I noticed that there wasn’t that many goslings but this year I’m hoping there will be an increase,” he said. “I don’t want any of them to die just because of being near an airport. To be fair, the geese were there first, and then the airport was built there.”

Click here to view full story…

Daily Mail claim of sharp rise in birdstrikes not borne out by the facts from CAA

The Daily Mail, it being the “silly season” with no news, had done an article on an alleged increase in the number air birdstrikes by aircraft between 2009 and 2012. However, the data published by the CAA up to March 2013 do not bear out the Mail’s claims of a doubling in three years. The CAA produces data on reported birdstrikes, and on confirmed strikes – the latter being a much lower number than the former. For instance, in 2012 there were 2215 reported birdstrikes, and 1404 confirmed strikes. Some of the increase in reporting may be due to changed reporting requirements of incidents to the CAA. The species hit most often in recent years have been various species of gulls (together the largest group), then swallows, skylarks, swifts and woodpigeons, then pigeons and kestrels. The number of birdstrikes rose significantly after 2008, when the CAA introduced a new system through which all strikes can easily be reported online. It has been mandatory for all strikes to be reported since 2004.

Click here to view full story…

Airports using a biotech high alkaloid endophytic form of grass to deter insects and birds

A form of grass – with the trade name Avanex – has been developed by a firm in New Zealand, Grasslanz Technology and commercialised by PGG Wrightson Turf. It has been designed to be endophytic, which means it incorporates a form of fungus that produces a high amount of alkaloids. This makes the grass distasteful to insects, and so the areas sown with this grass have no or few insects, and consequently few birds. The grass can be toxic to animals and comes with health warnings about livestock eating it. However, airports are enthusiastic to use the grass in order to deter birds and hence the risk of bird strike. The grass has so far been trialled in New Zealand airports since 2010 and found to cut bird numbers by large amounts, making airports very sterile areas, which is what the airport operators want. However, the blurb says “The grass could also be used at sports stadiums, golf courses and even domestic lawns,” so the company wants to use its biodiversity-destroying product even more widely.

Click here to view full story…

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BA’s CEO, Willie Walsh, says post-election indecision will block building of any new south east runway

Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG, the parent company of British Airways, has again said that there will not be a new south east runway. He has often said this before, but this time he sees the likelihood of political indecision after the election as an additional issue. Willie Walsh thinks  that to build a runway, there would need to be “political consensus across all the parties – not just coalition partners.”  He also warned that the cost of each of the 3 runway proposals would all be prohibitive.  The expense would lead to higher landing costs, and airlines would not find that acceptable.  Willie Walsh reiterated his view that there was “no business case” for a 2nd Gatwick runway,  with not enough demand from airlines for it.   He has said in the past that Gatwick does not have the same international attraction as Heathrow.  He commented that Heathrow was already “the most expensive airport around.”  The runway decision would be a political one, and with a coalition government looking to be inevitable, there would be huge political difficulties in pushing through an unpopular runway, with dubious benefits even to the airlines.
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Post-election indecision will halt airport expansion in south-east, says BA boss

Willie Walsh also warns cost of three competing runway schemes at Heathrow and Gatwick are a political barrier

30.4.2015 (Guardian)
By Gwyn Topham (Transport correspondent)
Post-election indecision will scupper the building of any more runways in the south-east, according to British Airways boss Willie Walsh, despite pledges from the main parties to respond to the Airports Commission’s verdict on expanding Gatwick or Heathrow.

Walsh, who is chief executive of BA’s parent company IAG, said there needed to be “political consensus across all the parties – not just coalition partners – before you can have any confidence that anything will come about. I don’t see any evidence of change in the outlook.”

He also warned that the cost of the three competing runway schemes – two Heathrow options or Gatwick – would be prohibitive: “The politics of this will be the main stumbling block – not the only one, because the cost of all three options are excessive and would translate into an unacceptable increase in charges at the airports.”

Walsh reiterated his stance that there was “no business case” for Gatwick expansion, but said Heathrow would also need to review its proposals. “Heathrow is the most expensive airport around and increasing costs here would be unacceptable to us, so I think they’re going to have to sharpen their pencil and come up with a way to make it more cost-effective.”

Walsh declined to endorse a party ahead of the election, but said he did not think the Conservatives were good for business or that the prospect of a Labour-led coalition would affect his company’s economic fortunes. He said: “I’ve been very open in my criticism of all politicians. I don’t take the view that Conservatives are good for business and therefore Labour are bad. We’ve looked at the election and in the totality it’s not going to impact on IAG.”

He said devolving decisions on air passenger duty to Scotland and potentially seeing the tax cut should the SNP hold power would benefit BA but would damage airports in the north of England. “If you devolved APD the Scottish economy would benefit but at the expense of the north of England.”

Walsh was speaking as the airline group revealed it had for the first time made a profit for the first quarter of the year – traditionally a difficult trading period for European aviation. [First announced last year].

The group made an operating profit of €25m, compared with a loss of €150m in the same period in 2014. Revenue rose 12% to €4.7bn. BA drove much of the increase but Walsh said sister airline Iberia’s performance was particularly pleasing, with the standing of the brand and customer satisfaction having improved as well as revenue growing and costs being cut.

Walsh defended his own 30% pay rise to £6.4m, revealed last month. “I’ve seen my pay increase largely as a result of the increase in the share price … my base salary has remained the same. The benefit I see is one that all of the shareholders see.”

Regarding IAG’s ongoing bid to buy Aer Lingus, Walsh said “constructive” discussions were continuing with the Irish government over its stake. “We’re hoping they will be able to make a decision in relation to their shares in the next couple of weeks … we’re relatively calm about the timing.”

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/apr/30/post-election-indecision-will-halt-airport-expansion-in-south-east-says-ba-boss?CMP=share_btn_tw

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Earlier:

Willie Walsh says there is no business case for a 2nd Gatwick runway – BA has Gatwick’s 2nd largest number of passengers

Willie Walsh, the head of IAG, will not support a 2nd Gatwick runway, even if it is chosen by the Airports Commission or backed by the next government. He does not believe there is a business case to support its expansion, and there is insufficient demand from airlines for extra capacity at Gatwick. Mr Walsh campaigned heavily for a 3rd Heathrow runway before 2010, but has made frequent comments indicating he does not believe UK politicians will have the “courage” to build that. Willie Walsh says British Airways would resist higher landing charges, which would be necessary to fund a runway – either at Heathrow or Gatwick. (EasyJet has also said in the past they don’t want a new runway, if it means substantially higher charges – their model is low cost). BA would want lower costs, not higher costs, from a new runway. IAG’s shares have now risen as it has now made a profit at last, and will be paying its first dividend (and maybe some UK tax). Gatwick’s main airline is EasyJet with around 37% of passengers, and British Airways 2nd largest at around 14%. 

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2014/11/willie-walsh-says-there-is-no-business-case-for-a-2nd-gatwick-runway-ba-has-gatwicks-2nd-largest-number-of-passengers/

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Willie Walsh still wants 3rd runway – but “Heathrow is always going to be a 2-runway airport”

Edit this entry.

Interview in the Independent on Sunday with Willie Walsh. He wants a 3rd Heathrow runway, though he unwillingly accepts it will not happen. He says he stopped campaigning when “the Conservatives said they were not going to support it.” … “I accept it…. I’ve not done anything since.” Now, he says, there is “not sufficient political will – it’s seen as too risky to support a 3rd Heathrow runway. Even Labour, which did back the idea when in government, has changed. “Ed Miliband was the only member of the Labour Cabinet against the 3rd runway. Now he’s the leader”…. “It’s highly unlikely we will see a 3rd runway. Heathrow is always going to be a 2-runway airport.”  We can, Walsh says, dismiss Boris Island for a start. “There’s no support for Boris island other than from Boris.” As for Sir Howard, it does not matter what he concludes, because “whatever he does will be handed over to politicians, none of whom are bound by his recommendations”.  So with no new runways we just reach south east airport capacity and UK aviation stops growing? Yes, says Walsh.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2014/05/willie-walsh-still-wants-3rd-runway-but-heathrow-is-always-going-to-be-a-2-runway-airport/

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Willie Walsh of BA: Heathrow expansion is a ‘lost cause’

Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA owner, IAG, has said again that there will not be a 3rd Heathrow runway, as it is too controversial.  He says UK politicians “lack the character” to get it built. “Historically, politicians have not been brave enough and I don’t think they will be brave enough going forward. You need a big shift in the politics of the country,” he said. However, Walsh warned a Conservative or Labour-led government against choosing Gatwick for an extra runway, adding that the case for growing the capital’s second-largest airport is “significantly weaker.”  Gatwick did not have the same international attraction. He said: “You won’t find many airlines that say ‘God I’d love to be able to fly to Gatwick’. That’s why this isn’t a business issue, an economic argument. It’s a political argument and the politics of expanding Heathrow are significantly more difficult than the politics of expanding Gatwick.”

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2014/10/willie-walsh-of-ba-heathrow-expansion-is-a-lost-cause/

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Willie Walsh tells AOA that a Heathrow 3rd runway will never be built – it is too politically difficult

Willie Walsh has said – at the Airport Operators Association in London – that a 3rd runway at Heathrow will “never” be built  – as he claims politicians will always put their election campaigns over national interests. He said nimbyism will stop politicians from doing anything with the findings of Sir Howard Davies’s Airports Commission – and a new  Heathrow runway is just politically too difficult.”  He claims, rather bitterly, that “This is politics with a small ‘p’. The national interest gets lost as the individual politicians look to understand how this will impact on them getting elected.” Perhaps he is also considering self interest. Sir Howard Davies, also speaking at the AOA conference, said of the airport capacity/new runway decision:  “Realistically this is the sort of decision that gets made early in a Parliament if it gets made at all,” as it is too contentious to be dealt with by politicians in the run-up to an election.  The Airports Commission know any new runway would take “a decade or more to come into effect” and the process will likely be delayed by legal challenges. The commission already faces the threat of a judicial review after campaign group, Stop Stansted Expansion, initiated legal proceedings earlier this month.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2013/10/willie-walsh-tells-aoa-that-a-heathrow-3rd-runway-will-never-be-built-it-is-too-politically-difficult/

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Willie Walsh tells Transport Committee there is no business case for a Gatwick 2nd runway

At the Transport Committee evidence session, Stewart Wingate, Gatwick chief executive, said he would oppose a 3rd runway at Heathrow and wanted to see Gatwick develop as a competing hub airport.  But BA’s Willie Walsh said airlines will only pay for expansion at one UK airport and that is Heathrow, implying he would oppose a 2nd Gatwick runway.  Willie Walsh also told the committee there was no business case to expand Gatwick, and he was not aware of any discussion with airlines about the extra amount they would have to pay for a new Gatwick runway.  Willie Walsh said “the only business case you could stand over is one to invest in a 3rd runway at Heathrow, but I’m not going to waste my time because it’s not going to happen.” 
http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2012/12/walsh-on-gatwick/
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IAG is to pay its first ever dividend and British Airways is due to return to profit

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. 

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2014/09/iag-is-to-pay-its-first-ever-dividend-and-british-airways-is-due-to-return-to-profit/

 

 

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New briefing on the Airports Commission – why their runway recommendation is likely to be flawed and incomplete

Before the 2010 General Election, both Conservatives and LibDems had come out against new runways in SE England. However, by September 2012 the Coalition government set up an  “Independent Commission” to look into the runway issue. Though the impression has been given that the Commission’s work is thorough, painstaking, and has assiduously covered every issue, the reality is somewhat different.  A short paper produced for AirportWatch (very readable) sets out the areas where the Commission’s analysis has not dealt with issues adequately, including key social, health and environmental costs. Some examples are that the extent of claimed economic benefits of a new runway are based on an “innovative” – ie. unproven – economic model, which leaves out the cost of noise and air pollution. There is obfuscation on climate change, where the bald fact is that any new runway would almost certainly be inconsistent with the UK’s climate target for 2050. Air quality work has not been done. The paper concludes: “… politicians and others should feel entirely free to make their own judgements about airport expansion – based if possible on genuinely independent and unbiased evidence.  They should not be influenced by recommendations from the Airports Commission. ”  
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“Word” version of the paper can be found here

Airports Commission and airport expansion


 

The truth about the Airports Commission and airport expansion

The story so far

29.4.2015

(By Nic Ferriday, for AirportWatch)

 

Before the 2010 General Election, both Conservatives and LibDems had come out against new runways in SE England. [i]

In October 2009 David Cameron said: “No third runway at Heathrow – no ifs, no buts.” [ii]  This was widely recognised as a political tactic to protect marginal constituencies around Heathrow.

In June 2010, soon after the coalition government was formed, transport secretary Philip Hammond said: “We have been clear in our opposition to additional runways at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, so the challenge we face now is making them better within existing runway capacity constraints.” [iii]

However, these statements did not prevent heavy lobbying from industry and backbench Conservative MPs for airport expansion.

An “Independent Commission” was established in September 2012.  The government appointed an ‘establishment’ figure, Sir Howard Davies, as part-time chair and four establishment and virtually silent part-time commissioners.  The detailed work was devolved to a secretariat drawn mainly from the DfT (Department for Transport).  Those staff will return to their roles at DfT after the Commission finishes to implement the policies of their political masters.

The Commission was tasked with producing a shortlist of expansion options by December 2013.  It duly responded, producing its interim report with a shortlist of Heathrow (two options) and Gatwick. [iv]

The Commission was tasked with making its final recommendation in summer 2015, conveniently after the latest date for a general election.

The Commission’s work for the interim report failed to demonstrate convincingly economic benefits of new runways.  It used an “innovative” – ie. unproven – economic model [v], for ‘wider economic benefits’ but the Commission could not find the time to explain it properly to consultees.  The assessment omitted the cost of noise and air pollution and other impacts. [vi]

While there was a good deal written about climate change, it was largely obfuscation.  The bald fact was that the expansion options would almost certainly be inconsistent with the UK’s climate target for 2050. [vii]

Despite these major shortcomings, the Commission’s interim report in December 2013 recommended one new runway by 2030.  It had, to all intents and purposes, decided there should be a new runway, irrespective of environmental and social impacts.

By this means, the Airports Commission, with other supporters of airport expansion, had firmly moved the public debate on from “if” there would be a new runway to “where” it should be built.

The Commission duly published its evaluation of the 3 shortlisted options in November 2014, for consultation. [viii]

The impenetrable economic studies in the Commission’s consultation documents produced economic benefits for all the shortlisted options (when carbon constraints were ignored). [ix] ‘Wider economic benefits’ were again based on an “innovative”   (ie. unproven) economic model, which again was not explained. [x]

The Commission’s assessments continued to omit key social, health and environmental costs which could well have made the net economic outcome negative.

The Commission failed to explain why British business opportunities in the global economy would suffer from lack of UK airport capacity at Heathrow and Gatwick when there is a large amount of spare runway capacity at all other British airports.

It failed to highlight the fact that under a quarter of flights are for business and just 14% are UK business people’s trips abroad. [xi]  The vast majority of flights are for leisure, which takes far more money out of the UK than it brings in.

The Commission failed to show how much of the demand for extra capacity is due to the current tax regime which inflates demand.  Tax-free fuel and VAT exemptions for the aviation industry are worth about £10 billion pa. [xii]

If aviation were to pay its fair share of tax, growth in demand would be far less and the economic impact of a new runway would probably move from being positive to become negative.

The Commission failed to assess air pollution impacts in any detail [xiii] , despite the fact that air pollution levels round Heathrow already breach legal UK and EU limits set to protect our health. [xiv]  Air pollution is estimated to kill over 4,000 Londoners every year. [xv] However, a very rushed report and consultation was later carried out [xvi]  which suggests that air pollution will not be problem. [xvii]

It has failed to assess noise impacts properly; it has just used some “indicative” flight paths to gauge possible impacts. [xviii]  The real flight paths, and numbers of people that would be affected, are not known.

The Commission has hidden away the fact that all its shortlisted proposals are inconsistent with the UK’s targets for reducing CO2 emissions. [xix]

Unlike other economic activities, aviation produces large amounts of greenhouse gases in addition to CO2, emitted at high altitude.  These have been dismissed by the Commission [xx], thereby under-stating the climate impacts of expansion.

It has failed to carry out the recommendation by the government’s Committee on Climate Change that an assessment should be made of the economic benefits of new runways if aviation remains within its allowable CO2 emissions. [xxi]

The reason for not doing the study on CO2 emissions is that the estimated future economic benefits of a new runway would become negative [xxii] (due to CO2 emissions requirements alone – even without the adverse economic impact of the industry’s favourable tax status, social and health costs and environmental costs).

Although jobs would be created, the Commission provides no evidence that expanding Heathrow or Gatwick would reduce unemployment.  It concludes that extra jobs at Heathrow would lead to inward migration and a need for up to 70,000 new housing units. [xxiii] At Gatwick it estimates up to 18,400 new housing units. [xxiv]

It gives no assessment of the impacts on schools and hospitals that are already stretched to breaking point, or road congestion, water supply or sewerage.

The Commission may do some further work on these issues.  But results will not be published or open to public scrutiny before the Commission’s recommendations are published.  So in practice such work will have no effect.

And to cap it all, the DfT has just appointed Simon Baugh from Heathrow as its Communications Director!

 

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Conclusions

The history of the Commission and analysis of its findings point inexorably to a ‘stitch-up’.

The Coalition government, having originally confirmed opposition to new runways, then set up a Commission whose recommendations would enable it to renege on its promise.

The Commission was packed with government employees and establishment figures and duly came up with the result the government wanted – airport expansion justified by economic benefits. 

To this end, the Commission had to leave out major ‘inconvenient truths’ – about climate change, tax avoidance and social impacts.

It had to leave out these impacts and use an unproven economic model for ‘wider economic benefits’ in order to demonstrate an economic justification for a new runway.   

Given this situation, politicians and others should feel entirely free to make their own judgments about airport expansion – based if possible on genuinely independent and unbiased evidence.  They should not be influenced by recommendations from the Airports Commission.

Nic Ferriday,  April 2015

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk

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[i]  http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2008/sep/29/toryconference.transport ;

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/sep/17/heathrow-third-runway-costs

[ii] http://www.richmondandtwickenhamtimes.co.uk/news/4694685.David_Cameron___No_third_runway___no_ifs__no_buts_/

[iii] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/better-not-bigger-hammond-creates-south-east-airports-taskforce

[iv] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/airports-commission-interim-report

[v] See endnote x.

[vi] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/266670/airports-commission-interim-report-appendix-3.pdf  paras 2.11, 17, etc

[vii] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/266670/airports-commission-interim-report-appendix-3.pdf   Para 5.17, page 71

[viii] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/airports-commission-publishes-consultation-on-shortlisted-options-for-a-new-runway

[ix] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/381912/AC01_tagged_amend_25_11.pdf  Eg paras 3.22,23,72,73

[x] Ibid Para 3.128

[xi] http:/www.aef.org.uk/uploads/Bus_proportion.doc  See “detailed results”.

[xii] Green Alliance press release 15/6/10: “The UK aviation sector enjoys historic tax exemptions worth £10 billion a year, because it does not pay fuel duty and VAT is not paid on airline tickets”;
Policy studies Institute report: “ .. if it [aviation] was taxed to the same extent as trains and coaches are on fuel it would pay £8.5 billion a year (Eagle [ministerial answer] 2008) .. If VAT was charged on tickets at the standard rate of 17.5 per cent that would bring in £2.3 billion a year (House of Commons Transport Committee 2010).”

[xiii] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/381912/AC01_tagged_amend_25_11.pdf  paras 2.56,57.

[xiv] http://www.london.gov.uk/moderngov/documents/s6457/Minutes%20-%20Appendix%202%20-%20Heathrow%20Air%20Quality%20Map.pdf

[xv] http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/jun/30/london-air-quality-premature-deaths

[xvi] https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/airports-commission-air-quality-assessment

[xvii] The study used two different models and the conclusions are based on the one which gives lower values.  It concludes that EU limits would not be breached.  However, this depends on its forecast that air pollution levels will plummet anyway from now until 2030 and it only considers the impacts of a new runway soon after it is opened, ie when far from fully used.

[xviii] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/381912/AC01_tagged_amend_25_11.pdf  para 2.54.

[xix] http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/AirportWatch_short_climate_and_runway_briefing_January_2015.pdf

[xx] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/271231/airports-commission-interim-report.pdf ; Box 41, p15: “As scientific understanding in this area continues to improve, climate policies may need to evolve to take better account of NCEs.[non carbon emissions]”

[xxi] http://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/CCC_letter_aviation_commission.pdf

[xxii] AW members were told at a meeting on 17/12/15 with DfT that if the ‘abatement cost of carbon’ were included in the economic assessment, the net benefits would be negative.

[xxiii] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/374664/evidence-base-heathrow-north-west-final.pdf  para 1.56 “The additional employment supported by Heathrow’s expansion would lead to a significant requirement for additional housing. The Commission’s analysis indicates this would total between 29,800 and 70,800 houses by 2030 within the local authorities assessed as part of the local economy assessment. This additional housing and population growth would also require substantial supporting infrastructure including schools and health care facilities.”

[xxiv] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/374662/evidence-base-gatwick-airport-second-runway.pdf  Para 8.13

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“Word” version of the paper can be found here

AC and airport expansion 

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Not only is the election silent on climate or the new runway issue, but the runway debate is silent on climate change

The glaring omission in this election of discussion of a range of issues has been noted by many commentators. A recent open letter in the Independent asked the parties to set out their polices on a range of climate issues. Tim Johnson, Director of the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF), in a letter in the Independent, has said of the gap in  the current political discourse about climate change, that this is “nowhere more apparent than in relation to the impending decision on airport expansion….Shortly after the election, the new government will receive the advice of the Airports Commission in relation to new runway capacity. But while the commission’s head, Howard Davies, speaks as though climate change impacts are being taken fully into account, in fact the commission’s own analysis predicts that aviation emissions will exceed the maximum level compatible with the UK’s Climate Change Act if any of its shortlisted schemes at Heathrow or Gatwick is granted approval. ….This enormous climate hurdle in the way of expansion appears almost totally absent from political debate. With a new runway potentially locking the UK into an emissions path entirely at odds with our long-term climate commitments, politicians will very soon need to face up to the CO2 consequences of sanctioning airport growth.”
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Letters:  Airport debate is silent on climate change

26.4.2015 (Independent on Sunday)

Peter Wadhams and his co-signatories (18 April) highlighted the gap in current political discourse about climate change. This is nowhere more apparent than in relation to the impending decision on airport expansion.

Shortly after the election, the new government will receive the advice of the Airports Commission in relation to new runway capacity. But while the commission’s head, Howard Davies, speaks as though climate change impacts are being taken fully into account, in fact the commission’s own analysis predicts that aviation emissions will exceed the maximum level compatible with the UK’s Climate Change Act if any of its shortlisted schemes at Heathrow or Gatwick is granted approval.

This enormous climate hurdle in the way of expansion appears almost totally absent from political debate. With a new runway potentially locking the UK into an emissions path entirely at odds with our long-term climate commitments, politicians will very soon need to face up to the CO2 consequences of sanctioning airport growth.

Tim Johnson
Director, Aviation Environment Federation (AEF), London, SE1

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/letters/letters-teachers-morale-has-never-been-lower-10205545.html

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Nic Ferriday, speaking for AirportWatch, said:

“The Airports Commission is well aware that a new runway puts UK carbon targets seriously at risk. However, this is not politically convenient. All the main parties have been only too glad to keep the climate implications of a runway hidden away, and keep the highly contentious issue of a runway off the agenda for the election.

“That was why the Conservatives arranged for the Commission to only report after the election. Some would call that cynical.”

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Letters:  Climate change: time is shorter than we thought

16..4.2015 (Independent)

Atmospheric CO2 has risen above 400 parts per million and is accelerating. The Arctic Ocean may well be ice-free this summer; methane gas is being released from the melting permafrost into the atmosphere and ocean acidification is intensifying. Sea levels are now rising far faster than predicted only a couple of years ago.

All these changes are irreversible. They make maintaining the global temperature rise below 2C an illusory goal. The unavoidable outcome of this nightmare scenario is a rapidly deteriorating climatic situation.

It will pose a number of grave problems for all aspects of society in the short-term and certainly well before the end of the next parliament.

The effects will be economic as well as ecological and are already evident. The mitigation actions needed are colossal. They will drive up energy demand at a time when international agreements on climate change will require the imposition of strict limits on carbon emissions and drive up public expenditure as tax receipts from economic growth shrink.

The future of all nations is irrevocably and immediately threatened. Yet we see little or no discussion of this by any of the main political parties during this general election campaign.

We therefore request for the benefit of the electorate and as a matter of urgency that all parties specifically set down clearly what policies they propose on  the following:

– ceasing all infrastructure development in flood risk areas as determined by the latest science and observations of ice- sheet collapse;

– plans to evacuate flood-prone cities and to protect critical infrastructure such as nuclear power stations;

– moving to a zero fossil-fuel economy by the next decade, with full acknowledgment of all  the political and  economic impacts;

– the extent of international co-operation to be pursued on climate change, in particular focusing on the management of security – given the paradox that the global nuclear weapon arsenal (including Trident) is being upgraded when  the futures of all nations  are most threatened by climate change.

Peter Wadhams – Professor of Ocean Physics, University of Cambridge

Angie Zelter

Dr Mark Levene

Dr Mayer Hillman

Robert Aldridge

Professor John Whitelegg

Dr Robin Stott

Jeffrey Newman

John Pilger

Paul Ingram

Kevin Lister

 


 

Letters:  The neglect of the issue of climate change in the election

16.4.2015 (Independent)

The present election campaign is being labelled fascinating by some and frustrating by others. My frustration is the comparative neglect of  the massive issue of  climate change.

A consensus of scientists suggests that on current trends we have 15 years before the emission of greenhouse gasses destabilises the world climate disastrously and irreversibly. With this prospect, political wrangling over many other issues becomes irrelevant or even absurd.

Why should political leaders not appeal to the electorate with a programme that involves the necessary investment in renewable energy sources and the disinvestment in fossil fuels?

The financial cost of such a policy would be substantial, but the long-term benefit would be immeasurable.

People do care about the future for their children and grandchildren. Rather than buy votes for short-term advantages, shouldn’t our leaders be visionaries who can harness this deeper concern, and implement effective policies on climate that can be replicated across the world?

Maurice Sinclair

Birmingham


 

General Election 2015: Academics call on parties to set out plans to evacuate cities and move to a fossil fuel-free economy

They slammed politicians for ignoring climate change during election campaigning

by TOM BAWDEN
17 April 2015 (Independent)

Academics and campaigners are calling on all parties to set out clear plans to evacuate cities and move to a fossil fuel-free economy, as they condemn politicians of all persuasions for virtually ignoring climate change during their election campaigning.

In a letter published in the Independent, University of Cambridge Professor Peter Wadhams and nine other leading climate change experts warn that the world is headed for an ‘unavoidable nightmare’ that will “pose grave problems for all aspects of society in the short-term and certainly well before the end of the next parliament”.

Particular problems are likely to result from the rising sea levels, ocean acidification and melting Arctic ice and permafrost associated with climate change, the letter warns.

“The future of all nations is irrevocably and immediately threatened. Yet we see little to no discussion of any of this by any of the main political parties during this general election. We therefore request for the benefit of the electorate as a matter of urgency that all parties specifically set down clearly what policies they propose,” said the letter, also signed by Professor John Whitelegg of the University of York and University of Southampton genocide researcher Dr Mark Levene.

The letter also calls on parties to set out their policies for protecting critical infrastructure such as nuclear power stations from flooding, for building infrastructure in flood risk areas and for international co-operation to tackle climate change.

“I think it’s a disgrace that climate change is seeing so little attention and it’s a sad indictment of the political system in the UK and internationally,” Prof Wadhams told The Independent.

“Emissions in the UK and EU have come down a little bit but only because we have outsourced our manufacturing to China and India where emissions have gone up in leaps and bounds,” he added.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/generalelection/general-election-2015-academics-call-on-parties-to-set-out-plans-to-evacuate-cities-and-move-to-a-fossil-fuelfree-economy-10185069.html

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Another area where the silence on climate impact is stunning is the possible new south-east runway.

The Airports Commission, due to make its runway recommendation shortly after the election, has given the impression that it has carefully considered the issue of carbon emissions generated when saying that Heathrow or Gatwick should expand.

The industry, the media and the politicians have taken it as unquestioned that a runway can be added without endangering carbon targets. However, the reality is that the Commission and the Department for Transport are well aware that the addition of a new runway would mean UK aviation would exceed the recommended carbon limit, if the UK is to meet its overall climate obligations. But that information is hidden away in an appendix to the Commission’s consultation.

Nic Ferriday, speaking for AirportWatch, said:

“The Airports Commission is well aware that a new runway puts UK carbon targets seriously at risk. However, this is not politically convenient. All the main parties have been only too glad to keep the climate implications of a runway hidden away, and keep the highly contentious issue of a runway off the agenda for the election.

“That was why the Conservatives arranged for the Commission to only report after the election. Some would call that cynical.”

Some background:
The Committee on Climate Change recommended in 2009 that the carbon emissions from UK aviation should not exceed their level in 2005, by 2050. The figure set for annual UK aviation carbon is 37.5 megatonnes of CO2 pa.

That level is what is required in order for the UK to have a good chance of meeting its climate targets under the Climate Change Act, by 2050.

(The target for aviation is already a very generous one – effectively double the carbon emissions compared to their level in 1990, while all other sectors have to cut theirs by 85%).

Adding a new runway in the SE does not of itself increase UK aviation CO2 emissions, but it has to be taken as part of the UK whole. Taking into account the growth forecast by the Airports Commission at all regional airports as well as a new runway in the SE, the target is breached by a large margin.

This is actually shown in the Airport Commission’s report but is buried away in the small print. www.aef.org.uk (home page) shows their results in accessible form.
The graph is shown on the attached.

While the political parties mention airport expansion when pressed, none except the Green Party are citing climate change as a consideration when discussing airport expansion.

www.airportwatch.org.uk

 

 

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Great majority of election candidates around Gatwick oppose a 2nd runway

GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) members have carried out a survey of the views of parliamentary candidates about a new runway at Gatwick. All 11 Conservative Parliamentary candidates in the seats around Gatwick (Crawley, Horsham, Arundel and South Downs, Mole Valley, Reigate, East Surrey, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge & Malling, Tunbridge Wells, Mid Sussex, and Wealden) oppose a 2nd  runway.  So do all Green Party candidates.  So do all UKIP candidates.  Almost all Lib Dem candidates oppose a 2nd runway – except for a few; the odd ones out being the candidates for Crawley and Horsham.  The Labour candidates are about equally divided, half for and half against the runway.  Many of the candidates have now signed a pledge against the runway, appreciating the runway would produce an increase in aircraft noise, worsened environment and lack of infrastructure such as roads, rail, schools and hospitals. At the national level both the Labour and Conservative manifestos say in effect that they will wait for the recommendations of the Airports Commission (expected June/July).  At the Lib Dem conference last year a resolution supporting a Gatwick runway was overwhelmingly defeated, and their manifesto reflects this policy but leaves a little wriggle room if the Airports Commission comes up with “compelling new evidence.” 
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Candidates Oppose Gatwick 2nd Runway

26.4.2015

(GACC – Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)

All eleven Conservative Parliamentary candidates in the seats around Gatwick oppose a second runway.  So do all Green Party candidates.  So do all UKIP candidates.

Almost all Lib Dem candidates oppose a new runway, the odd ones out being the candidates for Crawley and Horsham.  The Labour candidates are about equally divided, half for and half against.

GACC members carried out a survey of parliamentary candidates with many of them signing a pledge to oppose a new runway due to increase in aircraft noise, worsened environment and lack of infrastructure such as roads, rail, schools and hospitals.

At the national level both the Labour and Conservative manifestos say in effect that they will wait for the recommendations of the Airports Commission (expected June/July).  If all the Conservative candidates were to be re-elected the bloc of eleven votes in a hung Parliament might perhaps just be sufficient to stop the runway.

The Green Party candidates are in line with their national manifesto which opposes any new runway, mainly on climate change grounds.

The UKIP manifesto opposes any new runway but supports instead greater use of Manston.

At the Lib Dem conference last year a resolution supporting a Gatwick runway was overwhelmingly defeated, and their manifesto reflects this policy but leaves a little wriggle room if the Airports Commission comes up with compelling arguments.

The constituencies included in the survey were Crawley, Horsham, Arundel and South Downs, Mole Valley, Reigate, East Surrey, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Malling, Tunbridge Wells, Mid Sussex, and Wealden.

Not all candidates could be contacted but the summary above gives an accurate reflection of the majority views.

www.gacc.org.uk

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Councils around Gatwick opposed to a 2nd runway

Almost all the county, borough, district, town and parish councils around Gatwick have decided to oppose a second runway.

  • Kent County Council has reversed its position, from support for a second Gatwick runway to opposition.
  • After a long and passionate debate, West Sussex County Council councillors voted 37:26 to cancel their support in principle and to oppose a 2nd runway.
  • Surrey County Council is sticking to its policy, agreed a few years ago, to oppose a second runway unless sufficient infrastructure improvements are made first.
  • Crawley Borough Council, the planning authority for Gatwick, has voted 25:11 to oppose a second runway.
  • Horsham District Council has voted 23:1 against.
  • Mole Valley District Council has voted unanimously against.
  • Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has voted 39:1 against.
  • Tandridge District Council has sent in a response drawing attention to its core strategy to oppose any expansion of the airport which would adversely affect their residents.
  • Mid Sussex District Council has strongly opposed a 2nd runway
  • Wealden District Council has opposed a 2nd runway
  • Reigate and Banstead Council is still making up its mind.
  • Horley Town Council and virtually all the fifty or so parish councils around Gatwick have voted No to a runway
  • The only odd one out is East Sussex County Council which voted 27:19 to support a 2nd runway. Most of the votes in favour came from councillors in seaside areas such as Hastings or Eastbourne who were enticed by the prospect of more jobs.
  • None of the Members of Parliament around Gatwick support a 2nd runway. Eight out of nine MPs have declared their opposition. One (Henry Smith) says that Gatwick have not yet made a case for a new runway, and has now stated that the costs would outweigh the benefits.

 

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and see

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/01/crawley-borough-council-votes-by-2611-to-oppose-second-runway-at-gatwick/  for much more on councils opposed to a new Gatwick runway

Read more »

Crispin Blunt, Kwasi Kwarteng and Sam Gyimah send open letter to Gatwick Chairman blasting Gatwick 400,000 Heathrow leaflets stunt

Crispin Blunt, Kwasi Kwarteng and Sam Gyimah (all Surrey MPs in the Coalition government and Conservative candidates) have written to Gatwick Airport Chairman, Sir Roy McNulty, to complain about Gatwick’s leafletting of the Heathrow area. Gatwick has sent out provocative leaflets to some 400,000 households in constituencies around Heathrow, pushing the case for a Gatwick runway. It is doing this at the same time as failing to engage with local communities around its own airport. Gatwick is trying to frighten residents around Heathrow, about the appalling noise and other environmental and economic impacts of a 3rd Heathrow runway. Instead it pushes Gatwick’s negative and unbalanced campaign for its runway. The MPs say Gatwick’s actions demonstrate “an astonishing disregard for the concerns of families and communities around Gatwick, about whom you should have most concern.” They say: “Instead of frightening the communities around your competitor, you should focus on engaging with the communities that surround your airport.” “If Mr Wingate or his team had taken the time to adequately consult with his local communities …[Gatwick would know] … there are wide ranging concerns about the huge strain Gatwick expansion would place on local transport infrastructure, housing, schools and healthcare.”
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Crispin Blunt signs open letter to Gatwick Chairman blasting Gatwick leaflet stunt

 21.4.2015 (Crispin Blunt – MP for Reigate in the Coalition government)

Crispin Blunt has co-signed an open letter to Gatwick Airport Chairman, Sir Roy McNulty, following revelations that Gatwick Airport is sending provocative leaflets to 400,000 households in constituencies around Heathrow.

Whilst Gatwick is failing to engage with local communities around its own airport, with this leaflet, they are seeking to frighten residents around Heathrow. It ignores the considerable local and national benefits of Heathrow expansion and escalates Gatwick’s negative and unbalanced campaign against Heathrow.

Below is the letter co-signed by Crispin Blunt, Conservative candidate for Reigate, Kwasi Kwarteng, Conservative candidate for Spelthorne, and Sam Gyimah, Conservative candidate for East Surrey:

The Letter:

Sir Roy McNulty, Chairman, Gatwick Airport

Dear Sir Roy,

On behalf of constituents in communities around both Heathrow and Gatwick – residents we hope to continue to represent if re-elected – we are deeply concerned about the scare tactics being deployed by your Chief Executive, on behalf of Gatwick airport, as the debate on airport capacity draws to a conclusion.

The mass mail you have sanctioned, targeting 400,000 leaflets to residents around Heathrow – west London, Surrey and Berkshire – demonstrates an astonishing disregard for the concerns of families and communities around Gatwick, about whom you should have most concern.

It is unacceptable that you continue to ignore your own communities, those who will be most affected by the considerable impact of expansion at Gatwick, and to suggest that ‘Gatwick sounds better’. It doesn’t, and if Mr Wingate or his team had taken the time to adequately consult with his local communities he would know this. You would also know there are wide ranging concerns about the huge strain Gatwick expansion would place on local transport infrastructure, housing, schools and healthcare. Local groups, such as CAGNE and GACC, continue to raise concerns – which have been ignored – about the devastating impact of an expanded Gatwick leaving little local authority or local political support for your plans.

In addition, taking this approach during the election campaign is a blatant attempt to capitalise on outdated views of the political landscape around Heathrow, where expansion is supported by more than 50% of local people polled, precisely because of the employment (40,000 local jobs, 10,000 apprentices) and other benefits that will follow.

Airport expansion, wherever it may be, will require careful and considered planning to ensure that the whole country benefits and that local communities are protected. Your proposals deliver neither.

Instead of spending resources on leafleting households around Heathrow you should be looking after your own neighbours, by concentrating resources on mitigating the impact of P-RNAV and sorting out the altered Gatwick departure flight paths, which are causing an explosion of complaints from residents newly affected by noise.

Instead of frightening the communities around your competitor, you should focus on engaging with the communities that surround your airport.

Yours sincerely,

Kwasi Kwarteng
Conservative candidate for Spelthorne

Sam Gyimah
Conservative candidate for East Surrey

Crispin Blunt
Conservative candidate for Reigate

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http://www.blunt4reigate.com/news/crispin-blunt-signs-open-letter-gatwick-chairman-blasting-gatwick-leaflet-stunt

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Earlier:

Gatwick distributes 400,000 flyers around west London warning of Heathrow noise (to get backing for Gatwick runway)

As Gatwick has difficulty getting much local support for its runway plans (almost all local councils and local MPs oppose it) this week the airport is distributing 400,000 flyers to homes across west London. Uxbridge and South Ruislip in particular are being targeted, (86,000 leaflets) warning about the increased noise there would be from a Heathrow 3rd runway.  Gatwick has focused its attention on negative campaigning about Heathrow, though Heathrow has not – publicly – being doing the equivalent on Gatwick. Gatwick is not revealing the cost of their 400,000 leaflet effort. As the local residents do not have the ability to choose whether a runway is built, the aim is to influence local politicians. Gatwick claims that 683,000 people and 362 schools would be impacted by noise if a 3rd Heathrow runway was built, while only 36,000 people and 15 schools by a Gatwick runway. In the 55 Lden contour. (Clever of them, as the flight paths are not yet know …. nobody knows the numbers). Heathrow and Gatwick are arguing over the figures. Gatwick appears to discount the impact of increased noise from its own planned runway. This has infuriated local residents in the Gatwick area. Gatwick’s ploy of leafleting people near Heathrow, who are rightly frightened at the prospect of a 3rd runway – playing on their fears – has further increased local opposition.

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Candidates Oppose Gatwick 2nd Runway

26.4.2015  (GACC – Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)

All eleven Conservative Parliamentary candidates in the seats around Gatwick oppose a second runway.  So do all Green Party candidates.  So do all UKIP candidates.

Almost all Lib Dem candidates oppose a new runway, the odd ones out being the candidates for Crawley and Horsham.  The Labour candidates are about equally divided, half for and half against.

GACC members carried out a survey of parliamentary candidates with many of them signing a pledge to oppose a new runway due to increase in aircraft noise, worsened environment and lack of infrastructure such as roads, rail, schools and hospitals.

At the national level both the Labour and Conservative manifestos say in effect that they will wait for the recommendations of the Airports Commission (expected June/July).  If all the Conservative candidates were to be re-elected the bloc of eleven votes in a hung Parliament might perhaps just be sufficient to stop the runway.

The Green Party candidates are in line with their national manifesto which opposes any new runway, mainly on climate change grounds.

The UKIP manifesto opposes any new runway but supports instead greater use of Manston.

At the Lib Dem conference last year a resolution supporting a Gatwick runway was overwhelmingly defeated, and their manifesto reflects this policy but leaves a little wriggle room if the Airports Commission comes up with compelling arguments.

The constituencies included in the survey were Crawley, Horsham, Arundel and South Downs, Mole Valley, Reigate, East Surrey, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Malling, Tunbridge Wells, Mid Sussex, and Wealden.   Not all candidates could be contacted but the summary above gives an accurate reflection of the majority views.

 

www.gacc.org.uk

Read more »

Supreme Court hears ClientEarth case on getting faster UK action to comply with legal NO2 limits

The Supreme Court in the UK heard ClientEarth’s case against the UK Government over its failure to meet legal limits for air pollution, for the final time on 16th April.  This is the culmination of a 4-year battle in the UK and EU courts.  The UK has been in breach of EU NO2 limit values in 16 areas.  The Supreme Court case follows the 2014 ruling by the ECJ which held that the UK must have a plan to achieve air quality standards in the ‘shortest time possible’.  The UK Government’s current plans will not meet legal limits for NO2 until after 2030 – almost a quarter of a century after the original deadline. ClientEarth is calling on the Supreme Court to order the Government to produce a new plan to rapidly deliver cuts to NO2 emissions in towns and cities across the UK.   The plan will need to target pollution from diesel vehicles, which are the main source of NO2 pollution. That is particularly the case around Heathrow.  ClientEarth wants Defra to produce the plan within 3 months. Defra’s lawyers suggested the plan might be produced before the end of 2015, but there is no indication when all areas would be compliant. As one of the five Supreme Court justices, Lord Carnwath, commented: “Here we are 4 years on without any idea when the Secretary of State thinks it will achieve compliance.”  Judgment will probably be given one to three months after the hearing.
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What does the ClientEarth case mean for UK air quality?

20.4.2015 (Air Quality News)
Editor’s blog, by Michael Holder

After a fortnight which saw high air pollution levels, a Defra website hacked by an Islamist group and political party manifestos launched, the UK government was once again in the dock over its failure to meet nitrogen dioxide limits. It’s hard to think of a more high profile period for the Supreme Court to hear a case about our air quality.

But amid the complicated legal wrangling over often convoluted wording in EU legislation – namely the Ambient Air Quality Directive – it was a little harder to unpick more precisely what the case is about, and most importantly, what it might mean for the air we breathe.

We know that the UK has been in breach of EU nitrogen dioxide limit values in 16 areas – the Supreme Court said so in 2013.

But while Defra drafted its current air quality plan aimed at meeting these limit values in 2011, it then conceded last year that this plan will not see legal air quality until sometime after 2030 in several UK zones.

So, as it stands, it is unclear when people in several densely populated parts of the country will be able to breathe lawful air, but we are told that it will be at least another 15 years in the likes of London, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire, and more than 20 years after the original EU deadline.

To its credit, Defra has more recently announced that it would be revising its air quality plan “to reflect recent action so we can be compliant as soon as possible”, and indeed Kassie Smith QC made regular reference to this revision process in the Department’s defence to the Supreme Court on Thursday (April 16).

But while the QC suggested the plan would be likely to surface before the end of 2015, there was no indication as to when the plan would aim to have all UK zone compliant with the EU Directive beyond ‘as soon as possible’.

And this issue is at the crux of the matter, as while Defra is drafting a new plan on its own timescale, ClientEarth demands that the Supreme Court order Defra to produce a new plan “within three months” that is as detailed and rigorous as possible.

So a major question is whether the Supreme Court deems it necessary to give a mandatory order for Defra to produce a new air quality plan.

And, if the Court does order a new plan, what kind of detail must such a plan contain? And how tough or ambitious must the plan be in seeking to meet the EU limit values?

It is now four years since ClientEarth first launched legal action against Defra over the NO2 breaches, and it will be hoping for answers to these questions.

As one of the five Supreme Court justices, Lord Carnwath, commented during last week’s hearing: “Here we are four years on without any idea when the Secretary of State thinks it will achieve compliance.”

http://www.airqualitynews.com/2015/04/20/what-does-the-clientearth-case-mean-for-uk-air-quality/

 


 

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ClientEarth braced for final UK air quality court hearing

16.4.2015 (Air Quality News)
By Michael Holder

The government faces its final hearing in the Supreme Court today (April 16) in a case brought by environmental lawyer group ClientEarth over the UK’s failure to comply with EU air pollution limits.

The UK Supreme Court’s final hearing in ClientEarth’s case against the UK government will takes place today – April 16 2015 (Photo – UK Supreme Court)

However, a final judgement in the case may not be handed down by the Court until July 2015, 12 weeks after today’s final hearing and around two months after the General Election on May 7.

The case is the culmination of a four-year battle for ClientEarth in both the UK and EU courts and follows last year’s ruling from the European Court of Justice (CJEU) that the UK can be ordered by national courts to draw up a plan to meet EU NO2 limits in the ‘shortest possible time’.

This was the CJEU’s first ever ruling on the effect of the EU’s Air Quality Directive, which establishes a set of legal limits and target dates for reducing air pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide.

Under current government plans, the UK is not expected to meet legal limits for nitrogen dioxide in three zones – Greater London, West Midlands and West Yorkshire urban areas – until after 2030. This is 20 years later than the original EU legal deadline.

Current government projections, revised last year, show that 5 of 43 UK zones will be compliant by 2015, 15 zones by 2020, 38 by 2025 and 40 out of 43 by 2030.

Plan

In today’s hearing, ClientEarth will call on the Supreme Court to order the government to produce a new plan to meet the EU limits.

And, according to ClientEarth, this plan will need to target pollution from diesel vehicles, which it says is the main source of nitrogen dioxide pollution.

Ahead of the hearing, Alan Andrews, ClientEarth lawyer, said: “We all have the right to breathe clean air and ClientEarth has spent the last four years fighting to uphold that right in Court.

“The government’s current plans won’t achieve legal limits for decades. Every year that goes by, thousands more people will die or be made seriously ill from heart attacks, asthma attacks, strokes and cancer. We need to get the most polluting diesel vehicles out of city centres as soon as possible for the sake of our health and our children’s health.”

Since ClientEarth first brought the long-running case against the UK government, the European Commission has also separately launched legal proceedings against the UK over its ‘failure to cut excessive levels of nitrogen dioxide’, as well as against 16 other EU Member States (see AirQualityNews.com story).

However, Defra has said it is “investing heavily” in measures to improve air quality and to comply with EU law, including £2 billion since 2011 on initiatives to increase the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles, sustainable travel and green transport.

http://www.airqualitynews.com/2015/04/16/clientearth-braced-for-final-uk-air-quality-court-hearing/

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UK Government in Supreme Court over illegal air pollution on Thursday 16 April 2015

13 April 2015  (Client Earth)

The Supreme Court will hear ClientEarth’s case against the UK Government over its failure to meet legal limits for air pollution for the final time on Thursday (16 April 2015).

The culmination of a four-year battle in the UK and EU courts, the hearing follows last year’s ruling from the European Court of Justice which held that the UK must have a plan to achieve air quality standards in the ‘shortest time possible’.

The Government’s current plans will not meet legal limits for the harmful pollutant nitrogen dioxide until after 2030 – almost a quarter of a century after the original deadline, despite the fact that scientists estimate at least 29,000 people die early in the UK each year as a result of air pollution.

ClientEarth will call on the Supreme Court to order the Government to produce a new plan which will deliver urgent cuts to the illegal levels of air pollution in towns and cities across the UK. This plan will need to target pollution from diesel vehicles: the main source of nitrogen dioxide pollution.

Alan Andrews, ClientEarth lawyer, said: “We all have the right to breathe clean air and ClientEarth has spent the last four years fighting to uphold that right in Court.”

“The Government’s current plans won’t achieve legal limits for decades. Every year that goes by, thousands more people will die or be made seriously ill from heart attacks, asthma attacks, strokes and cancer.”

“We need to get the most polluting diesel vehicles out of city centres as soon as possible for the sake of our health and our children’s health.

ENDS

Notes to editors

Any court order will be binding on the office of Secretary of State as representative of central government, regardless of what political party or parties form the next government. Judgment will probably be given one to three months after the hearing.


Air pollution health impacts

•    Around 29,000 people die early in the UK each year as a result of air pollution – more than traffic accidents and passive smoking combined.
•    Air pollution has been linked to coronary artery disease, heart attacks and strokes.
•    Studies have shown that traffic-related air pollution affects lung function in children.
•    Diesel vehicles emit far more of the dangerous pollutants than petrol vehicles.

The case concerns 16 cities and regions including London, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Glasgow. Government plans show that these areas will suffer from illegal levels of air pollution long after they were obliged to comply with limits.

http://www.clientearth.org/news/press-releases/uk-government-in-supreme-court-over-illegal-air-pollution-on-thursday-16-april-2015-2821

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Report by ERM shows Heathrow could not build a new runway and meet air quality standards

Gatwick Airport, keen to show up all the problems with a new Heathrow runway – attempting to promote its own scheme instead – has commissioned a study by ERM (Environmental Resource Management) on Heathrow air quality. The pollutant and averaging period of most relevance around Heathrow is the annual mean limit value for NO2, which is 40 μg/m3 of air. The Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010 say the Secretary of State must ensure that NO2 annual mean level is not over the limit value of 40 μg/m3 anywhere. Heathrow and the DfT predicted 10 years ago that diesel vehicles would emit much less NO2 by 2015 than they in fact do; diesel emissions from road vehicles have not fallen as fast as was expected. Heathrow is therefore not likely to meet the air quality standard, even without a new runway, till perhaps 2030.  The Gatwick-funded ERM report is critical of modelling submitted by Heathrow to the Airports Commission that continues to use outdated emission performance of vehicles.  The report says no detailed air quality impact modelling has been conducted since the DfT study 10 years ago. The Airports Commission has also not yet done adequate work on this, and said it would do “more detailed dispersion modelling”. This will probably not be available before the Commission’s (June?) announcement.
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Dodgy figures are the basis of Heathrow’s air quality claims, says report

17.4.2015 (Colnbrook Views)

Modelling supplied by Heathrow as part of its submission to the Davies Commission last year was based on emission figures which the airport would have known to have been out of date.

Predictions for Nitrogen Dioxide levels in 2030 prepared for Heathrow by AMEX last year (above) are remarkably consistent with forecasts prepared in 2007 indicating "that AMEC have used assumptions on emissions similar to those used ... which subsequently proved to be erroneous."

Predictions for Nitrogen Dioxide levels in 2030 prepared for Heathrow by AMEX last year (above) are remarkably consistent with forecasts prepared in 2007 indicating “that AMEC have used assumptions on emissions similar to those used … which subsequently proved to be erroneous.”

 

The Gatwick-funded report published yesterday [by ERM, Environmental Resources Management – a company with an OK reputation ….] says that Heathrow’s figures are based on ten-year old data on diesel emissions that has subsequently been discredited in the light of actual results.  Heathrow, it concludes, would have known better.

Modelling carried out ten years ago by the Department of Transport prior to the last expansion attempt had concluded that air quality would be reaching compliance by 2015.

The Project for the Sustainable Development of Heathrow (PSDH) had got its sums wrong because many diesel-fuelled vehicles still do not comply with new EU standards which continue to emit NOx at higher rates than expected.

“The situation has improved at some of the locations close to the airport itself, but many residential areas close to the M4, for example, are exposed to NO2 concentrations in excess of the Limit Value. The contribution to NO2 concentrations from the road network has clearly not reduced as expected.”

Those living adjacent to the M4 are expected to suffer most from the increase in road traffic during construction and once the new runway is open

Those living adjacent to the M4 are expected to suffer most from the increase in road traffic during construction and once the new runway is open

 

The report, by environmental consultants Environmental Resources Management is critical of modelling submitted to the Airports Commission in June last year that continues to use outdated emission performance of vehicles.

“… AMEC have used assumptions on emissions similar to those used for PSDH which subsequently proved to be erroneous.”

It is critical of Heathrow Airport’s submission which is “without evidential foundation” and “may well not prove to be correct”.

It concludes:

“There is significant evidence available that establishes that even without a Heathrow scheme coming forward the attainment of the limit value in the Heathrow area will not occur until after 2025 and will be difficult to achieve.

“The construction and operation of a Heathrow scheme would thus introduce additional sources of NOx into an area that is already struggling to attain the limit value.”

The study is also critical of the Airports Commission’s own analysis.

It says that no detailed air quality impact modelling has been conducted since the Department for Transport’s study a decade ago.   (See link). 

“To date, none of the documents submitted to the Airports Commission, or produced by the Airports Commission, quantify the effectiveness of the suggested mitigation measures and the question of their efficacy is still uncertain.

“As a result it is difficult to understand how the Commission can have reached the conclusions that it has in its Sustainability Assessment.”

Related links

Read more analysis of the report on Colnbrook Views:

Heathrow’s pollution strategy will “transfer air quality problems to other areas”

Road pollution would make a Colnbrook Runway undeliverable and illegal

Or read the full ERM report here.

or the dumbed down version (Gatwick infographic, pushing Gatwick) here.

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The Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010 say the Secretary of State must ensure that NO2 annual mean level is not over the limit value of 40 μg/m3 anywhere.

The pollutant and averaging period of most relevance around Heathrow is the annual mean limit value for NO2, which is 40 μg/m3 of air.


Some extracts from the ERM report

The report states:

“WHY EMISSIONS HAVE NOT REDUCED AS EXPECTED
The Euro emission standards for motor vehicles have become increasingly stringent for total oxides of nitrogen (NOx, which includes NO2 and nitric oxide which can go on to form NO2). The most recent set of standards is Euro 6 for cars and Euro VI for heavy duty vehicles. It is now clear, however, that NOx emissions from vehicles with diesel engines have not have not reduced in line with these progressively stringent Euro standards. Many diesel-fuelled vehicles do not comply with the standards in practice and are emitting NOx at higher rates than originally expected – and hence higher than previously modelled. Consequently, overall emissions in NOx are not reducing as might be expected and this explains, at least in part, why NO2 concentrations at many locations have not also declined, as was expected a decade ago.”
and
“Equivalent reductions were not achieved for other vehicles classes. Notably, diesel engines continued to be higher emitters. Not only do diesel engines emit at greater rates than a petrol equivalent with a three way catalyst, but some of the vehicles manufactured in the last decade have been shown to emit at significantly higher rates ‘on the road’ than implied by the type approval limit – which is to say that even when new, they are emitting certain pollutants at rates higher than the maximum allowable under the Euro standard.”
and
“The ‘Project for the Sustainable Development of Heathrow’ (PSDH) in 2004- 2007 was a major undertaking by the Department for Transport and included a review of techniques to model air quality around Heathrow. In the latter stages, a modelling study was carried out that examined the compliance issue, for both baseline (i.e. two runway) and third runway scenarios.”
….

“The modelling carried out as part of PSDH in 2007 indicated that the NO2 concentrations around Heathrow would be approaching compliance with the NO2 limit value by 2015. However, measurements now show that this is not the case. The situation has improved at some of the locations close to the airport itself, but many residential areas close to the M4, for example, are exposed to NO2 concentrations in excess of the Limit Value. The contribution to NO2 concentrations from the road network has clearly not reduced as expected.”


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Report conclusions

These are the conclusions of the:
(Gatwick Airport Limited funded)
“Current and Future Air Quality around Heathrow Airport – Implications for its Further Development Report”
19 March 2015
Prepared by: Roger Barrowcliffe (Clear Air Thinking) Gavin Bollan (ERM)
For and on behalf of Environmental Resources Management

Conclusions:

At many places in the UK, the trend is for concentrations of NO2 to decrease and air quality is improving gradually. However, the rate of any improvement has not been as high as previously expected, and non compliance with the requirements of the Directive is widespread, as exemplified by DEFRA’s acknowledgement that there are 43 ‘zones’ where action is required to achieve compliance as soon as possible.
It is against this background that the European Commission has initiated infraction proceedings against the UK Government for failing to meet the NO2 limit value by 2015, as originally intended.
This is unquestionably an important issue for UK Government and any nationally significant infrastructure project must be designed such that it does not cause non-compliance with, or delay the achievement of, the NO2 limit value in any way.
The issue of whether the expansion of Heathrow can be achieved without causing or giving rise to any such delay can be distilled into one aspect of its impact on local air quality.
The principal issue regarding air quality in the Heathrow area and the proposed Heathrow schemes is whether or not it can be established that they can be constructed and operated without delaying the attainment of the annual mean NO2 limit value for a longer period than would occur if those schemes were not constructed and operated.
There is significant evidence available that establishes that even without a Heathrow scheme [ie. runway] coming forward the attainment of the limit value in the Heathrow area will not occur until after 2025 and will be difficult to achieve.
The construction and operation of a Heathrow scheme would thus introduce additional sources of NOx into an area that is already struggling to attain the limit value.
The mitigations proposed by Heathrow, whilst potentially beneficial in relation to airside sources, are available in the baseline 2 runway situation in any event.
Mitigation proposed in relation to road traffic sources, which are the more important issue where compliance with limit values is concerned, is generalised in nature and its potential effects have not been examined or quantified in any detail.
There is no certainty that the annual mean NO2 limit value could be met with a Heathrow Scheme being constructed and operated.
There are no assurances that the construction and operation of a Heathrow scheme could be undertaken without delaying compliance with NO2 limits values.
Neither is there any certainty therefore that a Heathrow Scheme could be delivered and the UK’s legal obligations, under the 2008 EU Air Quality Directive and the 2010 Air Quality Regulations, still be met.
If the Commission was to recommend one of the Heathrow schemes, there is a significant risk that the scheme will prove to be undeliverable.
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Briefing by AEF asks whether a new runway would breach legal limits for air quality

The AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) has published a short, easy to read, briefing on air pollution in relation to a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick. It considers the importance of air pollution and how far the Airports Commission has gone to address the issue to date. The Commission says a full assessment and modelling of the local air quality impacts has yet to be undertaken. AEF says because air quality is a key issue for a new Heathrow runway, as the area already breaches legal air quality limits, the Commission should publish the modelling it will carry out of the local air quality impacts, including damage to human health. AEF says the future Government should assess the Commission’s recommendations in terms of their impact on human health. They should assess the risks to air quality legal limits from runway plans, and only permit a runway if it can be shown that legal limits on pollutants can already be met consistently, and are falling. The Commission is aware that improvements in aircraft engine emissions may take a very long time to happen; that reducing the amount of air  pollution from road transport around Heathrow may take a very long time; and EU air quality standards may be tightened. 

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2014/12/briefing-by-aef-asks-whether-a-new-runway-would-breach-legal-limits-for-air-quality/

 

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Airports Commission consultation shows air quality problems with new runways, but no adequate data yet

The Airports Commission consultation document is aware that air quality is a major obstacle for a new Heathrow runway.  It says expanding either Gatwick or Heathrow would have a negative impact on air quality, with all proposed schemes requiring expansions to local road networks to accommodate increased road traffic. For both the Heathrow runway options the Commission says “Both local Air Quality Objectives and EU limit thresholds are at risk of exceedance at a small number of monitoring sites in the local area under this scheme. While in some cases these exceedances are also forecast to occur in the do minimum scenario, there is clearly a substantial negative impact of the scheme on air quality, unless forceful mitigation measures are implemented.” But they have not been able to complete full detailed modelling of the air quality impacts of new runways and further work is needed. This unfortunately is not in time for the consultation.  The Commission intends to supplement this at a future date with “more detailed dispersion modelling”. That means models to show how wind and weather disperses pollution, and it could be questioned how much faith should be placed on sufficient wind speeds in coming years.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2014/11/airports-commission-consultation-shows-air-quality-problems-with-new-runways-but-no-adequate-data-yet/

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