Luton Airport has submitted an application to ‘simplify’ noise limits as it starts its expansion programme. The airport has asked its owner, Luton borough council, to change a condition on the planning permission it granted in 2013, to lessen stringent noise limits. St Albans district council has been warned in an officer’s report that this change would “increase noise over and beyond levels that were previously considered unacceptable”. Luton Airport is worried it will struggle to meet one of the conditions attached to its approval, and that airlines found exceeding noise levels will face more penalties very frequently – day and night. Within 6 months of starting its expansion – to ultimately nearly double passenger numbers – the airport is supposed to reduce noise from all aircraft, to lessen the impact upon neighbouring residents. Instead of the condition placing a limit over all 24 hours of the day and night on noise levels generated by all aircraft., Luton wants the reduction to affect planes flown overnight only – between 11pm and 7am. The report by the St Albans council officer says there are already planes exceeding current noise limits. Luton Council has yet to decide on the application.
The expansion is expected to boost passenger capacity from 12 million to 18 million
LUTON Airport has submitted an application to ‘simplify’ noise limits it says will target quieter planes during its expansion.
Neil Thompson, operations director at the airport, said restrictions placed by Luton Borough Council in 2013 on its plans to double passenger numbers meant modern planes – which are quieter – had lower noise limits than older, noisier aircraft.
The condition places a limit 24/7 on noise levels generated by all aircraft.
Mr Thompson said: “What we want to do is to have one limit for the day time and one for the night time because with the current condition, if you are a quiet aircraft, you have a lower noise limit and if you are a noisier aircraft you have a higher limit.
“We want to target noisier aircraft and encourage the airlines to use quieter aircraft.”
The expansion is expected to boost passenger capacity from 12 million to 18 million.
However, the plans have been meet with opposition from a number of groups, including St Albans City and District Council.
The authority said the new limits would result in ‘significant noise disturbance’ for residents.
It said: “We objected to the original planning application due to significant concerns relating to noise from the development and aircraft.
“The variation of the condition would, in the opinion of this council, increase noise over and beyond levels that were previously considered unacceptable.
“This would result in significant noise disturbance to the amenities of residents in the district.”
Luton Council has yet to decide on the application.
This is the report for Luton Airport, by Bickerdike Allen, on why they think the changes are unfair. 15.5.2015
Airplane noise violation limits must remain in force at Luton Airport, says St Albans MP
28 August 2015
By Debbie White (Herts Advertiser)
Stringent noise violation limits imposed as part of an agreement to allow Luton Airport to nearly double passenger numbers must remain, according to the district council.
The airport has asked its owner, Luton borough council, to change a condition attached to the planning permission it granted in 2013, because it fears airlines will be penalised for failing to meet noise limits.
But at a St Albans district council (SADC) planning referrals meeting on Monday (24), councillors agreed to lodge an objection against the proposed variation of the condition with the Luton authority.
St Albans MP Anne Main wrote to SADC in support of its objection, saying that constituents had complained about increased plane noise.
She said: “It is clear that there is deep concern as to how this will impact upon local residents.
“We must maintain the current levels. It is important that residents can enjoy their gardens, their parks, or have peace in their homes without constant disruption overhead.
“Moreover, I have been contacted by residents who also believe the current levels are disruptive, and are calling for a more stringent approach to noise pollution.”
After the meeting Mrs Main said that while she accepted “we need to have a well-connected economy and airports that serve St Albans, authorities must make every effort to mitigate the potential disruption that comes with planes flying overhead.
“I am arranging a meeting with representatives from Luton, NATS [the UK’s main air navigation service provider] and residents to ensure that constituents’ concerns are heard at a high level. We need to ensure everything possible is done so that noise levels are kept to a minimum.”
Luton Airport bid to relax noise limits of flights over St Albans and Harpenden
24 August 2015 (Herts Advertiser)
By Debbie White
The airport has asked its owner, Luton borough council, to change a condition on the planning permission it granted in 2013, to lessen stringent noise limits.
But St Albans district council, which is to discuss the proposed change at its planning referrals meeting tonight, has been warned in an officer’s report that it would “increase noise over and beyond levels that were previously considered unacceptable”.
Luton Airport is worried that it will struggle to meet one of the conditions attached to its approval, and that airlines found exceeding noise levels will face more penalties.
Within six months of starting its expansion – to nearly double passenger numbers – the airport is supposed to reduce noise from all aircraft, to lessen the impact upon neighbouring residents.
Luton is concerned that with the new limits in place, aircraft will violate limits many times, day and night.
Instead, it wants the reduction to affect planes flown overnight only – between 11pm and 7am.
It adds that the current condition penalises operators for flying planes that meet the latest international noise standards.
But, the district council’s report says, there are already planes exceeding current noise limits.
Pointing out that Luton Airport has had ample time to prepare for noise limit changes coming into affect, the report adds: “It simply seems that the operator only appears to be seeking to vary the condition now because a trigger date for new, more stringent noise limits is approaching.”
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Due to the level of disturbance, upset and anger for miles around Gatwick, from increased aircraft noise, narrowed and altered flight paths, Gatwick’s Chairman, Sir Roy McNulty, has commissioned an “independent review” of air traffic, which will focus on Westerly Arrivals (ie. planes arriving from the east, to the airport, when there are westerly winds). The review will be led by Bo Redeborn, who for many years was Principal Director of ATM for EUROCONTROL. Gatwick airport says Mr Redeborn “will be assisted by a small independent review team which has been tasked with ensuring the involvement of local communities most affected.” The review is to look at whether, for westerly arrivals: “Everything that can reasonably be done to alleviate the problems which local communities are raising is in fact being done, whether this involves action by the airport or by other parties most closely involved – NATS, CAA, DfT or the airlines.” And if Gatwick’s approach to providing “information to the local community and for handling complaints are fully adequate for the task.” Thousands of people do not believe Gatwick is succeeding on either. The review is to begin on 1st September 2015. It may end in November, but may be extended if more consultation is needed. There will be a review of Easterly Arrivals later on.
Gatwick announces independent review of Westerly Arrivals
24/08/2015 (Gatwick Airport Press Release)
In response to noise concerns expressed by some local residents, Gatwick’s Chairman, Sir Roy McNulty, has commissioned an independent review of air traffic, which will focus on Westerly Arrivals.
The Review will be led by Bo Redeborn who brings extensive experience and understanding of air traffic control having previously served as Principal Director of Air Traffic Management for EUROCONTROL. He will be assisted by a small independent review team which has been tasked with ensuring the involvement of local communities most affected.
The purpose of the review is to consider, in relation to Westerly Arrivals, whether:
- Everything that can reasonably be done to alleviate the problems which local communities are raising is in fact being done, whether this involves action by the airport or by other parties most closely involved – NATS, CAA, DfT or the airlines; and;
- The approaches which Gatwick has adopted for providing information to the local community and for handling complaints are fully adequate for the task.
The review is to begin on 1st September 2015 and a provisional target date for completion has been set for November. It is accepted that this end date may need to be moved back depending on the extent of consultation which the review team decides is necessary. A review of Easterly Arrivals will be undertaken as part of a second phase review.
Terms of Reference for the Review can be found at the following link.
In response to feedback from some of our local residents and resident groups, Gatwick’s Chairman, Sir Roy McNulty, has commissioned an independent review of the air traffic around Gatwick, focussing in particular on westerly arrivals.
The Review will be led by Bo Redeborn; Bo fulfils very well the principal criteria necessary for this role. He has very extensive Air Traffic Control experience, and has the necessary degree of independence from Gatwick and the other key players involved in these matters. He will be assisted by a small review team, all of whom will also be independent of Gatwick and the other key players.
Amongst other current activities, Bo is currently an independent member of Gatwick’s Environment, Health and Safety, and Operational Resilience Committee. From 2011-2014 he was Principal Director Air Traffic Management in EUROCONTROL and, before joining EUROCONTROL in 2009, he was Manager Air Traffic Management and later Manager Air Traffic Management Support and Development in the Swedish CAA (LVF).
It is intended that the review will be completed in November, but it is possible that it may run into December.
Terms of reference
Gatwick now says it will “carry out a fresh review of the whole situation” on Gatwick westerly arrivals
The group opposing Gatwick’s altered flight paths, “Gatwick Obviously NOT” wrote to Global Infrastructure Partners, (GIP), the main owner of Gatwick, on 9th May. Now a reply has been received from Sir Roy McNulty, who is the Chairman of Gatwick Airport Ltd. [Sir John Major, former Prime Minister, is Chairman of the Senior Advisor Panel at GIP] The letter says: “Sir John Major has shared with me your letter of 9th May. Sir John has asked me to look into this matter and reply to you direct. Having reviewed the issues… I have concluded that the best course is to carry out a fresh review of the whole situation as regards westerly arrivals into Gatwick … Yours sincerely.” Westerly arrivals are those coming in from the east to Gatwick – in other words the narrowed swathe the people in west Kent, and much of Sussex have all been suffering from. The airport and its owners are aware of the extent of the opposition and anger that their flight paths have caused, from the literally thousands of complaints and letters that have been sent. Many people are not only angry about the aircraft ” super-highways” in the sky over their heads, but deeply stressed by having their tranquillity removed, with no consultation or warning. Extracts from one (of many) furious and determined letter are copied here, illustrating the problem.
SESAR Deployment Speech by Bo Redeborn, Principal Director ATM
(not dated – press release from Eurocontrol)
“There is a saying among pilots that particularly useless things include altitude above you, runway behind you and air in your fuel tanks. I’d like to add another one to this list – a development that hasn’t yet been implemented.
We all agree that it’s vital to get deployment right, particularly in the case of a huge programme such as SESAR. However, it’s not easy – in fact we can see that, in many ways, it’s actually much harder than development. For example on deployment you have to involve everyone – not just the subset of stakeholders who volunteer to help on development.
It also involves a lot more money, some 30 billion euros and money, as we all know, is in rather short supply at the moment.
And of course, it’s not a quick exercise. We can expect to be working on the deployment of SESAR for the next decade – well beyond the end of the development phase. So we need to make sure that the mechanism we put in place works – and that it is robust.
So what do we need to do? Well I believe a critical first step is to learn from experience both here in Europe and elsewhere.
Within Europe, we’ve seen deployment of some projects move ahead rapidly while others never seem to get going at all. This can happen even if the development phase of the project has been a success – a good example of how the issues facing deployment are very different to those facing development and how the transition from one phase to the next needs to be carefully handled.
There are many reasons for deployment being slow – for example sometimes there has been a lack of clarity on standards and guidance material. Safety cases have been difficult to conclude. Sometimes the business case has not been made or the benefit has been remote from the investment. We’ve also seen the delays caused by airlines, albeit understandably, adhering to the doctrine of last mover advantage.
Indeed, there is now general acceptance that some public funding will be required to overcome this doctrine. However, public funds are limited – particularly at the European level – and they need to be focused where they will do the most good. Here, there may be some valuable lessons to be learned from the approach to incentivising equipage in other parts of the world.
Another reason for problems has been poor deployment planning. Now, we already have a raft of plans – the Network Strategic Plan, the ATM Master Plan, Performance Plans, the Regulatory Roadmap to name just a few. We need to make sure that our new deployment process is coherent and that all the planning is coordinated. We’ve tried having a proliferation of plans before and it didn’t work.
So we have to take into account the existing mechanisms as we move forward. I’m not saying that these existing mechanisms can’t be changed – far from it, we need to be willing to change. But we cannot just bolt on a new set of processes and plans without considering the effect on what’s already there and without looking at the whole picture.
This sort of wider view is crucial for success in other ways as well. Deployment needs to be coordinated on a pan-European basis across the whole network – both on the ground and in the air, and also working with our military and our general aviation colleagues. In fact, for many aspects, we actually need to think wider than Europe – we need to make sure that our needs are reflected in the ICAO processes designed to achieve global interoperability.
That is why we at EUROCONTROL, together with our stakeholders – indeed with many of those in this room today, are actively preparing for ICAO’s Air Navigation Conference at the end of next year – to make sure that there is a single European voice and that it is heard.
I mention working with our stakeholders on ANC12 not just because that’s what’s happening but also because it is a good illustration of how a joint approach really adds value. However, there are limitations to a purely collegiate approach. As a sailor myself, I strongly believe that you still need a clear direction to steer and a firm hand on the tiller.
You also need to recognise that deployment is a challenge – it is a complex web of equipment, manufacturing, procedures, training, regulation, guidance material and of course finance. Planning for it, working out how it can best be achieved, has been an integral part of our activities at EUROCONTROL for many years.
But we at EUROCONTROL have always taken pride not just in our professionalism but also in our independence. I try to make sure that we approach problems with the question “What’s best for European ATM?” and not “What’s best for this part of the sector?”. Of course, we are fortunate in that we are not just allowed to be independent, it’s actually expected of us – without independence we could not function in our various roles, such as the Network Manager.
The consultation paper marks a step in the debate we now need to have on how to get this difficult thing right. And it follows from a Task Force report that did seem to me to get most things right – the three level approach and so on. But it was always apparent that it was the second level that was going to be the most difficult to fix. And so it is there that we need to devote most effort.
Industry has to have a key role here. But how do you associate all those that need to be involved? And how do you ensure that the work done genuinely meshes with the ATM Master Plan and the Network Strategic and Operations Plans? These and other questions need more work, in particular to ensure that the Network Manager is firmly part of the partnership that is necessary at this level, if it is to succeed.”
So on this occasion I would like to urge everyone to put aside their own agendas and to come together to address the question “What is best for European ATM?”. Because, in the long run, we all need a sustainable, healthy and successful European ATM system.”
Mr. Bo Redeborn has been Principal Director of ATM at EUROCONTROL NV since February 1, 2004 and served as its Director of Cooperative Network Design. Mr. Redeborn served as Director of Air Traffic Management Strategies at EUROCONTROL since February 2004. He worked six years as an air traffic controller in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on an ICAO technical assistance mission, then returned to the Swedish CAA and took up managerial functions with increasing responsibility. Mr.
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The main tunnel into Heathrow airport terminals was built in the 1950s, to the standards of the time. The runways to over it. Now with better safety standards needed in case of fire, and with heavier planes overhead, with aircraft like the A380, the tunnels need to be refurbished and strengthened. This work is costing about £85 million, which is about 10 times the cost of their initial construction. Work is being done at night, keeping one tunnel open. The work is due to finish in about February 2016. Presumably – if Heathrow was to get its north west 3rd runway and the M25 had to be tunnelled underneath it – the same quality of tunnel with extra strength to withstand heavier planes has to be incorporated.The Airports Commission considered the cost of surface access improvements for the Heathrow runway would be about £5.7 billion (the cost of the M25 tunnelling is an unspecified part of that total). Heathrow airport is not willing to pay those costs, and wants the taxpayer to bear the financial burden.
It’s costing tens of millions of pounds and will take another year to be completed.
A major project to refurbish and strengthen the famous road tunnels leading to Heathrow airport is continuing.
It’s to improve safety and allow for the new generation of heavier planes using the runway above.
The work is being carried out during the night so the airport can operate as normal during the day.
Transport correspondent Mike Pearse.
Bam Nuttall ready to go on £85m Heathrow tunnel revamp
Bam Nuttall win £85m job to refurbish the main airport road tunnel and cargo tunnel at Heathrow
The civils contractor confirmed that it had been appointed to the job by Heathrow Airport Ltd, and is due to commence later this month.
Bam Nuttall will be in partnership with specialist mechanical and electrical contractor VVB on the project, after working with the firm on the upgrade to the bound bore of the Blackwall Tunnel.
The firms will be required to keep the tunnels open during the work in order avoid disruption to the airport, meaning the work to refurbish and improve the tunnel ventilation systems and upgrade the fire detection, suppression and alarm systems will take place over night and during pre planned lane closures.
The work is scheduled to complete at the end of February 2016.
Heathrow boss rules out footing the £5 billion bill for road and rail works – wants taxpayer to pay
The Airports Commission left the matter of who would pay for the approximately £5 billion needed to tunnel a section of the M25, and other surface access improvements, vague. The assumption has been made that the taxpayer would have to fund this, though the Airports Commission suggested that Heathrow would be able to find the funding from its investors for this. Now the CEO of Heathrow has dismissed the suggestion that the airport foots the £5 billion bill for road and rail work if a 3rd runway is built. Huge motorway engineering would be needed, to have the runway going over the motorway. John Holland-Kaye has ruled out paying for the surface access work. Though the government funds road and rail improvements under normal circumstances, tunnelling the M25 and dealing with hugely increased road traffic using an airport 50% larger than at present are not normal circumstances. Especially in times of huge economic savings being necessary in public finances. The Commission’s final report said it considered the runway was commercially viable “without a requirement for direct government support. This remains the case even in a situation where the airport is required to fund 100% of the surface access costs.” This would be by Heathrow “raising both debt and equity finance. This finance is then serviced through subsequent revenues and refinancing by the airport operator.”
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Jeremy Corbyn – who might become leader of the Labour party – has come out against a 3rd runway at Heathrow. The Labour leadership favourite has indicated in an interview with the FT that under him, the party would not support expansion at Heathrow. He said: “I think the third runway is a problem for noise pollution and so on across west London…I also think there is an under-usage of the other airports around London. I’d vote against it in this parliament.” If he does become leader (decision on 12th September) this would represent a U-turn from the party’s current stance of supporting the runway, if certain conditions are met. Corbyn’s opposition to a Heathrow runway will have an impact on the London mayoral race, as two Labour candidates are in favour of it, and two against. Tessa Jowell, the favourite to win the nomination, would find herself at odds with her party’s leadership on Heathrow. There are also plenty of moderates in the party who would also rebel against Corbyn. But airports are purely a lobbying issue for mayoral candidates — they have no actual power over the decision. It is not yet known if there will be a parliamentary vote on a runway, though it will require a lot of public funding (directly and indirectly for years). David Cameron will decide by November whether to accept the Airports Commission recommendation of Heathrow, and if Labour now votes against it, that could fatally undermine the project.
Jeremy Corbyn signals the return of Labour’s Heathrow wars
24 August 2015
By Sebastian Payne
Quelle surprise, Jeremy Corbyn has come out against a third runway at Heathrow. The Labour leadership favourite has indicated in an interview with the FT that under him, the party would not support expansion at Heathrow:
‘I think the third runway is a problem for noise pollution and so on across west London…I also think there is an under-usage of the other airports around London. I’d vote against it in this parliament.’
Assuming that the bookies and pollsters are correct and Corbyn is elected leader on September 12, this would represent a U-turn from the party’s current stance. Following the release the Airports Commission’s report in July, Labour’s shadow transport secretary Michael Dugher said the party would back the proposals, under the right conditions:
‘We will scrutinise the Airports Commission’s final report carefully. If the recommendation can meet a number of tests, including consistency with our climate change obligations, we will take a swift decision to back Sir Howard Davies’ proposals.’
Corbyn’s U-turn will have an impact on the London mayoral race. The Labour candidates are split on the issue of airport expansion: Tessa Jowell and David Lammy are pro-Heathrow, while Sadiq Khan and Christian Wolmar are against. Jowell, who remains the favourite to win the nomination, would find herself at odds with her party’s leadership on Heathrow. There are also plenty of moderates in the party who would also rebel against Corbyn.
Khan, like Corbyn, is not from the Blairite wing of the party and is well posted to pickup on the Corbynmania — how many of the new thousands of new members will be backing arch Blairite Jowell? At Corbyn’s rally in Islington last week, his team were out in force to distribute leaflets to those queuing for entry. Judging by the response of those present though, he has a way to go to convince these people.
But airports are purely a lobbying issue for mayoral candidates — they have no actual power over the decision. Heathrow will be a central issue in the 2016 race and if Labour selects a candidate who is pro-expansion to go up against Zac Goldsmith, you can be certain that the Tories will maximise the opportunity and turn the election into a referendum on a third runway. And Labour will find itself split on the issue all over again.
When Heathrow will come to ahead is uncertain. Decisions still need to be taken before the end of this year on which solution the government will back and how it will consult MPs. Coffee House understands that the government has yet to decide whether it will back a sole Heathrow expansion or involve Gatwick, and whether there’ll be a Commons vote.
There remains a possibility that the House will have its say in some form, but as the Times reported in July, a free vote looks unlikely. Building a third runway doesn’t strictly require approval from the Commons as it won’t be using public funds. Given the passionate views within all the parties, some debate on the matter will be expected and justified.
On 2nd July, the Times reported that:
“Heathrow’s chances of its expansion plans being approved by a Commons vote were given a major boost yesterday when Labour swung behind the project to give the west London airport a third runway.
As divisions among Cabinet members were aired in public, Harriet Harman revealed at prime minister’s questions that Labour would back Heathrow subject to the conditions set out in the report by Sir Howard Davies.
The government has not decided whether its eventual decision will be put to a vote. However a senior No 10 source suggested that there was little chance that MPs would be allowed a free vote on the issue if it does.”
Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader could scupper plans for Heathrow 3rd runway
The election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party could scupper plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway, as he has now declared his opposition to it. The three other Labour contenders, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall, all support the plan to expand Heathrow. Jeremy Corbyn appears most likely to win the leadership contest. If the Conservative party needs to get a Heathrow runway approved in Parliament, he may need Labour to be behind it. When the Airports Commission issued their final report on 1st July, Labour supported a Heathrow runway and wanted a quick decision by the Government to get on with it. But now Mr Corbyn said: “A third runway at Heathrow would mean 4,000 homes demolished and 10,000 people displaced. It would cause massive increases in noise and air pollution and inflict misery on hundreds of thousands of Londoners. UK air pollution is already above EU limits, and 30,000 people are dying every year because of it”. He wants better transport links to airports, betteru se of existing capacity, and more even spread to the regions. Of the London Mayoral candidates, Tessa Jowell, Gareth Thomas and David Lammy back Heathrow, and Sadiq Khan, Christian Wolmar and Diane Abbott are against.
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The Government invited airports and airlines to bid for state funding to set up routes, which would not otherwise be profitable. This is only permitted under EU law under certain conditions. In March the DfT published the details of 19 bids it had received during the initial application stage for funding from the Regional Air Connectivity Fund. The funding is available for new routes for regional airports which handle fewer than 5 million passengers a year, and they have to demonstrate that the route would be commercially viable after 3 years. The government hopes that smaller airports will improve connectivity, increase trade and help to create new jobs in their regions. Bids from 15 smaller airports across the “Northern Powerhouse,” of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland are now to be considered on the short-list for the state funding. Patrick McLoughlin said aviation is one of the UK’s economic success stories and our investment ensures it is shared out across the whole country. The shortlisted routes include Dundee-Amsterdam, Doncaster Sheffield-Frankfurt and Newquay-Leeds. The government expects to spend £56 million of taxpayers’ money on this over three years.
Shortlist for new regional air route funding announced
Department for Transport, HM Treasury, The Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP and The Rt Hon George Osborne MP
20 August 2015 (Government press release)
Bids from 15 smaller airports across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland to be considered for awards.
The shortlist of new international and domestic air routes for smaller airports was announced by the government today, Thursday 20 August 2015. Successful routes from this latest stage of the Regional Air Connectivity Fund will provide improved connectivity with new transport connections for businesses and passengers from their local areas.
Fifteen brand-new routes have reached the funding shortlist, open to regional airports handling fewer than 5 million passengers a year. Airports that have reached this stage serve the Northern Powerhouse, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Chancellor George Osborne said:
We’re determined to build a one nation economy, where all parts of the UK are growing and connected. That’s why we support new regional air routes. Further funding for brand new routes will support many more businesses and individuals across UK regions as part of our rural productivity plan. This is a great deal for taxpayers too – the existing Newquay-London route, supported by the fund, delivers benefits to the economy of nearly three pounds for every pound invested.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:
Smaller airports are vital for bringing the country together and creating new international opportunities for their local areas. The shortlist we are publishing today shows the potential for smaller airports to create jobs and drive growth. Aviation is one of the UK’s economic success stories and our investment ensures it is shared out across the whole country.
The shortlisted routes include Dundee-Amsterdam, Doncaster Sheffield-Frankfurt and Newquay-Leeds.
The funding will provide support for approved routes for 3 years. To be successful bidders, the operators of these routes will need to prove they will be commercially viable after that time.
The proposed links will also be assessed for providing maximum value for money for the taxpayer.
The funding continues the government’s support for smaller airports through the Regional Air Connectivity Fund. Launched in June 2013, it has already supported strategic routes from Dundee and Newquay into London. The fund was expanded to support new international and domestic air routes with the final announcement of winning bids to be made in November 2015.
The full list of the routes that have applied is available on gov.uk.
The list of possible routes that may be included in the scheme, DfT, March 2015
International and domestic connections from smaller airports to be expanded across the UK.
27.3.2015 (DfT press release)
Smaller airports across the UK will benefit from new routes thanks to a start-up aid fund to back greater connectivity, aviation minister Robert Goodwill announced today (27 March 2015).
The Department for Transport has today published the details of the 19 bids it has received during the initial application stage for funding from the Regional Air Connectivity Fund.
The funding is available for brand new routes for regional airports which handle fewer than 5 million passengers a year. Smaller airports can play a vital role improving connectivity and increasing trade and helping create new jobs in their regions.
The bids include proposals for air links such as Norwich to Paris, Southampton to Lyon and Oxford to Edinburgh.
Aviation Minister Robert Goodwill said:
The range and ambition of the bids shows how smaller airports can transform their local areas with new connections and trade links. This announcement builds on the government’s commitment to ensuring smaller airports grow, boosting both local and national economies.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said:
As someone from the north of Scotland, I appreciate the value of regional connectivity for businesses and communities, which is why I created the Regional Air Connectivity Fund. I’m delighted that so many regions across the country are set to benefit from improved connections, boosting trade and tourism.
This fund boost regional economies, so is also great value for the taxpayer; the Newquay to London link that I announced last year has a return rate of nearly 3 pounds for every pound invested, benefitting people across the UK. I hope these routes, if successful in the bidding process, will be well used and will support stronger economic growth across the country.
The Regional Air Connectivity Fund was launched in June 2013 and has already supported strategic routes from Dundee into Newquay into London. It is now being expanded to support new international and domestic regional air routes in a bidding process for start-up aid.
The announcement of those routes which have passed the initial application stage has been delayed to allow the department more time to consider the relevant evidence before determining whether the route meets the European Commission guidelines.
The announcement of a short-list of routes that have met the criteria of the initial application stage will now be made in early May. Those routes that are successful at this stage will then move forward to the strategic and economic appraisal stage, with successful bids being announced in July 2015.
The Regional Air Connectivity Fund has a total of £56 million available to cover 3 years of financial support for start-up aid.
Regional airports asked to bid for up to £56 million funding for new routes over next 3 years
Airports and airlines are being urged to bid for government funding of up to £17.5 million in the next year to help launch new routes. This ‘start up aid’ will be made available from the Regional Air Connectivity Fund, which was announced by the government in June 2013 and is open to airports with fewer than 5 million passengers per year. This fund has already been partly distributed to support strategic routes to London from Newquay and Dundee but is now being extended to bids for more routes. The £56 million is available to cover 3 years of financial support for start-up aid, with £17.5 million being made available to bids in 2015/16 and around £20 million a year for each of the remaining years. To apply for the funding, airports and airlines will have to provide evidence to show their proposed route will generate local benefits and represents value for money. The initial application stage will run for five weeks, closing on Wednesday 25 February. Ministers will announce a shortlist of bids in March 2015. A list of successful bidders will then be published in June.
AIRPORT OPERATORS ASSOCIATION WELCOMES REGIONAL AIR CONNECTIVITY FUND BID ANNOUNCEMENT
The Airport Operators Association (AOA), the trade association that represents over 50 UK airports, has welcomed today’s announcement by the Department for Transport that 15 air routes have successfully made the funding shortlist under the Regional Air Connectivity Fund. The Fund, which is open to all airports with fewer than 5 million passengers per annum, will provide economic support for approved routes for a total of three years, following which they will need to demonstrate that they can be commercially viable.
Tim Alderslade, Public Affairs Director at the AOA, said: “The AOA has long supported the Regional Air Connectivity Fund and we’re pleased that this announcement has been made. We believe the policy has the potential to help many of our smaller members, boosting passenger numbers and enhancing connectivity to and between the regions of this country. The Government needs to be careful that in awarding funding for individual routes it is not doing anything to distort competition, but provided that this is not an issue we would urge Ministers to proceed quickly and ensure that the money is allocated as soon as possible.”
Flybe want to connect Leeds Bradford and Newquay
20.8.2015 (Yorkshire Evening Post)
LEEDS could get a direct air link to the UK’s surfing capital if it gets backing from taxpayers.
Flybe wants to operate a new flight from Leeds-Bradford to Newquay and has asked the Government for financial help to get the service off the ground.
It is asking for help from the Government’s regional air connectivity fund which is designed to encourage more flights from regional airports.
Flybe’s proposals are among 15 nationally the Government has judged meet European rules on state-aid.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “Smaller airports are vital for bringing the country together and creating new international opportunities for their local areas.
“The shortlist we are publishing today shows the potential for smaller airports to create jobs and drive growth.
“Aviation is one of the UK’s economic success stories and our investment ensures it is shared out across the whole country.”
To access money from the fund airlines have to show they will be able to operate the proposed routes without financial help after three years.
Further consultations will now be held over the shortlisted flights before a final decision is taken over which receive backing.
NEW flights from Yorkshire airports could be launched with help from the taxpayer.
20.8.2015 (Yorkshirei Post)
The Government has shortlisted two applications from airlines seeking financial help to start new services from the region.
Flybe wants to operate a new flight from Leeds-Bradford to Newquay while BMI regional wants to connected Robin Hood Airport with Frankfurt.
Both airlines are asking for help from the Government’s regional air connectivity fund which is designed to encourage more flights from regional airports.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “Smaller airports are vital for bringing the country together and creating new international opportunities for their local areas.
“The shortlist we are publishing today shows the potential for smaller airports to create jobs and drive growth.
“Aviation is one of the UK’s economic success stories and our investment ensures it is shared out across the whole country.”
To access money from the fund airlines have to show they will be able to operate the proposed routes without financial help after three years.
The two Yorkshire proposals are among 15 the Government has judged meet European rules on state-aid.
Further consultations will now be held over the shortlisted flights.
Dundee to Amsterdam service closes in on Regional Air Connectivity Fund assistance
By ANDREW LIDDLE
20 August 2015
A proposed air route from Dundee to Amsterdam has taken a major step forward after the UK Government agreed to look at subsidising the flight.
The Amsterdam service would be in addition to the current route to London Stansted.
Almost £3 million of taxpayers’ money is already ploughed into maintaining the city’s air link with London Stansted – and it is now hoped a similar deal can be struck to create a route to the Netherlands.
FlyBe are proposing to operate the flight to Amsterdam Schiphol — Europe’s biggest aviation hub.
The news that the planned route has been shortlisted for funding by the UK Government has been welcomed by local politicians who have campaigned for an expansion of the HIAL-operated Dundee Airport.
The proposed new Dundee link was one of 19 routes to be assessed by UK Government Department for Transport for support through the Regional Air Connectivity Fund.
Derrick Lang, HIAL’s Dundee Airport manager, said: “We welcome the UK Government’s decision to progress Flybe’s proposed Dundee to Amsterdam service for potential funding by the Regional Air Connectivity Fund.
“There is no doubt that this service would be of considerable benefit to business and tourism in Dundee and we are pleased that the proposed route will now be subject to further evaluation.
“We are ready to work with Flybe and Dundee City Council to support this bid in any way we can.”
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Sir Howard Davies must have been hoping that after the Airports Commission recommended a Heathrow runway, that would be the end of the matter. However, assessment of the Commission’s conclusions and their analyses has been highly critical. Gatwick airport and its backers have complained vociferously about failings in the Commission’s report – on the economics, the passenger forecasts, the cost and the deliverability. The figures for the economic benefit to the whole country of a Heathrow runway can be looked at in a number of ways, and on some assessments come out little higher than those for Gatwick. Gatwick says the Commission used out of date numbers for Gatwick passengers, and that has seriously undermined the case for Heathrow. Gatwick also argue that the costs of road works and tunnelling the M25 for the Heathrow runway have been considerably underestimated, and this undermines the Commission’s entire case. Gatwick also says the Commission’s interpretation of the law on the Government’s requirement to meet air quality rules is incorrect. Gatwick has sent a full response to the Commission report, setting out their concerns. It can be accessed here.
Sir Howard cannot shake off the airport debate for RBS just yet
Any hopes Sir Howard had of focusing on the RBS chairmanship look set to be dashed
By Ben Marlow
5 Sep 2015 (Telegraph)
Sir Howard Davies must have breathed a huge sigh of relief last week when he finally took over as chairman of Royal Bank of Scotland, having finally delivered his long-awaited but controversial report into airports expansion.
He is taking on one of the City’s most important and most challenging jobs – trying to engineer the rescue of one of Britain’s largest high street lenders from a decade of disaster mired in massive losses and huge misconduct fines.
Ultimately he will be expected to sell off the taxpayer’s stake and return it to public ownership as a healthy, profitable entity. It’s a mammoth undertaking but one that could be seen as less daunting than being the government-appointed airports tsar tasked with solving Britain’s long-standing aviation capacity crisis.
Davies’ Airports Commission was set up in 2012. It took a year to compile a shortlist of options: a third runway at Heathrow; a second at Gatwick; or a new airport in the South-east called the Heathrow Hub; and a further two before the Commission finally published its 342-page dossier in June. Having racked up £20m of costs, the Commission ruled that Heathrow was the “best answer”.
If Sir Howard was hoping his recommendation might mean a quick end to the arduous three-year journey so he could concentrate on his new post at RBS with a clean slate, he is going to be bitterly disappointed.
The Commission’s decision was always going to provoke a long and public battle between Gatwick and Heathrow to win the backing of Government for their respective expansion plans, but it now looks like the people behind Gatwick are going to put up one almighty fight.
Having already published two reports outlining flaws in the findings, Gatwick’s bosses are about to send a third, more comprehensive, set of files to David Cameron. Some of the points have already been made but there are several new revelations that should strengthen Gatwick’s case.
Chief among those is the claim that the Commission’s calculation of the economic benefits of expanding Heathrow included the boost it would deliver to countries such as Germany and the US. If this is the case, then, frankly, Sir Howard’s entire work begins to look a little farcical.
Surely this entire exercise was predicated on which proposal would be most beneficial to the UK economy, not any other country?
Once those figures are stripped out of the Heathrow case then there is very little to choose from between it and Gatwick, according to sources close to Gatwick. This point is further strengthened by Gatwick’s contention that the Commission’s economic analysis was based on Treasury guidelines, which showed that its economic impact was similar to that of Heathrow.
Yet despite this, the Commission chose to rely on separate analysis by PwC, which gave Heathrow a clear advantage, Gatwick claims.
Gatwick will also once again draw attention to the traffic forecasts that the Commission used. And rightly so. The figures forecast that it will hit 40m passengers a year by 2024, when in fact the airport will do so this year.To get such key figures so disastrously wrong is massively embarrassing and risks undermining the Commission’s entire case. No wonder Gatwick is mounting such a fierce fightback.
Another big oversight appears to have been made around the Commission’s estimate of costs to upgrade road and rail links to expand Heathrow, including putting the M4 in a tunnel, and who will foot the bill. Sir Howard’s number crunchers have come up with a figure of £5bn, which is probably far too low, but, more worryingly, the Commission said that Heathrow could pay for this and the boss of Heathrow has already ruled that out.
Gatwick said that its owners, the infrastructure fund Global Infrastructure Partners, which also owns City and Edinburgh airports, can provide a fully financed proposal and is willing to bear the expansion risks.
Gatwick also argues that the Commission’s interpretation of the law on the Government’s requirement to meet air quality rules is incorrect.While Heathrow already breaches EU rules on air pollution in some areas, even before expansion, Gatwick does not and is not forecast to, it claims.
Supporters of Gatwick argue the case for its expansion is overwhelming because it’s cheaper, more deliverable, and would mean a further dent to Heathrow’s monopoly, while the latter’s claim is seriously constrained by cost, air quality, and noise.
As Stewart Wingate, Gatwick’s chief executive, steps up his campaign in the coming weeks, any hopes Sir Howard had of focusing on the RBS chairmanship look set to be dashed.
Gatwick intensifies assault on Airports Commission
The West Sussex airport has published a 50 page dossier attacking the work of the Government-appointed commission
Gatwick has intensified its attack on the Airport Commission by publishing a lengthy dossier of criticisms that it hopes will convince the Government to reject a third runway at Heathrow.
The West Sussex airport issued a 50-page report that outlined its “areas of concern” with the work of the government-appointed commission, which was tasked with deciding on a solution to Britain’s looming aviation capacity crisis.
Gatwick’s plan to build a second runway was last month rejected by the commission in favour of a third landing strip at Heathrow that was proposed by the company that owns the west London airport.
In the dossier, Gatwick claimed that “key elements” of the commission’s final report, which laid out the case for another Heathrow runway and took almost three years to produce, “suffer from omissions or superficial analysis in some critical areas and are not sufficiently thorough in a number of important respects”.
Gatwick believes that the Sir Howard Davies-led commission based its findings on “incorrect” traffic estimates and relied upon economic forecasts made by PwC, which the West Sussex airport argues are unsound.
Gatwick also claims that the commission underestimated the “quantum” of construction work required to build a third Heathrow runway by 2026. Overall, the West Sussex airport believes that the commission did not “set out reasoned or transparent justifications” for its conclusions and that its “rationale is either opaque or completely absent”.
A spokesman for the commission was on Monday forced to defend its work in the face of the Gatwick attack and said: “The evidence in the final report was subject to extensive analysis and consultation and we are confident that it is fit for purpose.”
The dossier marks the second major assault by Gatwick on the work of the commission in the space of the month, and builds upon concerns the airport aired just a fortnight after Sir Howard recommended that the Government supports a Heathrow runway.
David Cameron, the prime minister, has set up a cabinet committee to consider the commission’s final report and has pledged to decide whether to back Heathrow expansion by the end of the year.
Stewart Wingate, the chief executive of Gatwick, plans to use the coming months to lobby MPs and said the airport would be “very active” during the political party conference season, which starts in September.
Prominent Conservatives, including Boris Johnson and Zac Goldsmith are vehemently opposed to Heathrow expansion and some local communities are concerned it will lead to more air pollution and aircraft noise.
Building another runway in west London will cost an estimated £17.6bn and require a further £5bn from the taxpayer to alter road and rail links to Heathrow. Gatwick expansion would be cheaper, costing just £7.1bn and an additional £800m from the government for upgrades to transport infrastructure.
Airports Commission’s findings simply don’t add up
17/08/2015 (Gatwick Airport press release)
A copy of Gatwick’s full response to the Airports Commission report can be accessed here
- Airports Commission’s findings are inconsistent and flawed
- Traffic forecasts don’t even take into account its own night flight ban
- Gatwick today has published a full, detailed, and thorough response
Gatwick Airport today published a full and detailed response to the Airports Commission Final Report pointing out key errors, omissions, and flaws as Sir Howard Davies’s recommendation for Heathrow expansion continues to unravel.
Just one of the key flaws in the report surrounds Sir Howard’s proposed ban on night flights at Heathrow. This would inevitably mean fewer services if applied, but this was not factored in to the Airports Commission’s own traffic forecasts for Heathrow.
The restrictions would impact on the number of long haul flights to and from growth markets in the Far East – the issue at the heart of the decision to recommend Heathrow – further calling into question the robustness of the Commission’s analysis.
Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate said:
“We expected a well-considered examination of all options, but instead the final report contains so many omissions and basic errors that its reliability as the basis of aviation policy must be called into question. The findings of this report simply do not add up.
Britain is in danger of losing out once again if we repeat mistakes of the past – Heathrow has failed time and again and the Airports Commission report and the conditions placed on expansion have not solved the huge obstacles confronting it.
“In recent weeks, it has become abundantly clear that Heathrow won’t meet these conditions, nor will they pay for the £6 billion in surface access improvements needed, and Heathrow’s airlines have shown they don’t want to pay for the runway. The recommendation for Heathrow is unravelling by the day.
“I remain confident that when all the risks and benefits are properly considered, Gatwick will still represent the best option for UK airport expansion.”
The Commission used its traffic forecasts to calculate the potential economic benefits each airport would deliver and Gatwick’s response lists several fundamental assumptions that dramatically underplay traffic at Gatwick and overplay predictions for Heathrow, including:
- expecting Gatwick to reach 40 million passengers in 2024 whereas the airport will reach that number this year
- estimating that Gatwick will generate only two million passengers in the first year of operating with a second runway; in reality Gatwick grew by 2.7 million passengers last year with a single runway
- predicting that, after five years with a second runway, Gatwick will have an additional eight million passengers – less than it assumes Heathrow would have after one year with a third
- between 2025 –2030 Heathrow is assumed to grow by 36 million passengers compared to only 9 million at Gatwick.
In addition to drawing attention to the Commission’s flawed traffic forecasts, Gatwick’s full response highlights a range of other flaws in the Commission’s analysis, including:
Economic benefits: the Commission’s own economic analysis, following Treasury guidelines, shows that the economic value of each scheme is virtually the same. The Commission, however, emphasises and widely quotes the conclusions of PwC analysis, despite the Commission’s own expert panel urging caution about attaching significant weight to these results, stating that care is required in assessing its “robustness and reliability”.
Costs: Heathrow’s costs are multiples of those for Gatwick and yet the Commission assumes airport charges will go up by the same amount for both – from £20 to £31 for Heathrow and £9 to £20 for Gatwick. The Commission also disregards Gatwick’s commitment to enter into a binding obligation to cap charges at less than £15.
Financing: between 2023 and 2025, Heathrow’s plan requires as much as £6.76 billion to be spent each year on average, an average spend of more than £560 million per month. T5 construction only achieved a maximum spend of £85 million per month. Neither Heathrow nor the Commission present any evidence as to how the expenditure for this unprecedented scale of construction could be managed in practical terms and could actually be delivered.
Deliverability: the Commission confirms that there are no overriding environmental or other reasons to believe that Gatwick’s second runway could not be delivered by 2025. In contrast, while the Commission has outlined a massive quantum of work proposed for Heathrow in general terms, it has not adequately considered the detail, the considerable risks, or the cumulative impact and interdependency of the challenges involved, so is unable to say with any confidence that the work is actually deliverable by the 2026 – the date assumed by the Commission.
For example, the Commission’s assessment of the complex challenges of construction at Heathrow does not accurately portray the scale of construction impacts many of which are outside the control of the promoter and therefore pose serious impediments to obtaining planning consent. The risks to cost and programme are considerable due to the scale, complexity and cumulative effects of construction. Constructions risks arise from:
- putting the M25 into a tunnel and widening it
- diverting the A4 and widening the M4
- constructing the Southern rail link
- constructing Terminal Six while maintaining access to T5
- managing the impact over an extended period on M4, M25 and local roads
- delivering a solution for the potentially toxic landfill on the site and moving and rebuilding the existing Energy from Waste plant, and
- implementing a Congestion Charging scheme, the implications of which are not known.
Air quality: the Commission’s analysis of air quality issues at Heathrow does not withstand scrutiny as its conclusions are based on an incorrect interpretation of the law. Its analysis is also incomplete and inconsistent in several material ways and relies upon a notional Air Quality Plan that is yet undrafted and so cannot at present be assessed. The Commission’s analysis confirms Gatwick’s assessment that Gatwick’s new runway can be delivered without exceeding the legally binding air quality limits.
Noise: the Commission concludes that a three runway Heathrow will have a lower noise impact than a two runway Heathrow today. It also largely ignores the fact that Gatwick’s noise impacts would be an order of magnitude lower than Heathrow’s and has avoided meaningful assessment of Heathrow communities newly affected by noise.
Notes to Editors:
A copy of Gatwick’s full response to the Airports Commission report can be accessed here.
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The sovereign wealth fund of Kuwait is teaming up with Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and Hermes to bid for London City airport, while Macquarie is leading a rival consortium. The airport has been valued at £2 billion. Wren House Infrastructure Management is a massive sovereign wealth fund, one of the world’s largest, owned by the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA). The KIA is the world’s fifth largest sovereign wealth fund with some $592bn in assets. The current owners of 75% London City Airport, GIP, hired Credit Suisse to handle the sale. Oaktree Capital owns the remaining 25% of the airport, and has agreed to the sale. London-based Wren House was set up in 2013 to facilitate direct infrastructure investment by Kuwait’s sovereign wealth fund. The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund already owns Bristol airport (bought Sept 2014 from Macquarie) and holds a stake in Birmingham Airport, as well as other non-airport assets. Despite growth in passengers at London City airports, the sale is likely to be complicated by uncertainty over its £200m planned expansion.
Kuwait eyes consortium bid for London City Airport
The sovereign wealth fund of Kuwait is teaming up with Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and Hermes to bid for the airport, while Macquarie is leading a rival consortium
One of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds is part of a consortium that is plotting a bid for London City Airport, which has been valued at £2bn.
Wren House Infrastructure Management, which is an investment vehicle owned by the Kuwait Investment Authority; Canadian giant Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan; and investment firm Hermes have teamed-up to make an offer for the airport, according to sources in the infrastructure sector.
The KIA is the world’s fifth largest sovereign wealth fund with some $592bn in assets.
The trio will come up against a group led by the infrastructure arm of Australian financial group Macquarie, which is also understood to be preparing a rival approach for London City.
GIP, which owns 75pc of London City as well as Gatwick and Edinburgh airports, bought the airport nine years ago for around £750m. It is thought that a sale could fetch up to £2bn. Earlier this week it emerged that GIP had hired Credit Suisse to handle the disposal of London City. Oaktree Capital owns the remaining 25pc of the airport and has agreed to the sale.
London-based Wren House was set up in 2013 to facilitate direct infrastructure investment by Kuwait’s sovereign wealth fund. Kuwait was part of a consortium that unsuccessfully attempted a £5bn takeover of water utility Severn Trent two years ago.
OTPP, which manages about C$154.5bn in assets, is one of Canada’s largest investment houses and is a major player in British infrastructure. It took sole ownership of Bristol Airport last September, holds a stake in Birmingham Airport, and, along with fellow Canadian pension fund Borealis Infrastructure, owns High Speed 1, the company behind the rail link between London St Pancras and the Channel Tunnel.
Hermes is also a key investor in the infrastructure sector and, together with the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, bought a 30pc stake in Associated British Ports for about £1.6bn earlier this year.
Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, which is planning its own consortium bid, was bought out of Bristol Airport by OTPP.
London City is close to Canary Wharf and is a popular airport for workers in the financial services sector. It expects to carry about 4.1m passengers this year, up from 3.7m in 2013 and 2.8m in 2010. The airport is targeting 6m passengers a year by 2023.
Despite the strong growth, a sale of London City is likely to be complicated by uncertainty over its £200m planned expansion. Boris Johnson, the London mayor, blocked a proposal to grow the airport earlier this year, a month after Newham council approved the plans. The airport is now appealing the mayor’s decision.
A spokesman for Hermes said: “We do not comment on market speculation”. Spokesmen for OTPP and Macquarie declined to comment. Wren House did not return requests for comment.
GIP to put London City airport up for sale this year – might raise £2 billion?
August 6, 2015
London City airport is to be put up for sale by GIP by the end of the year, who want to capitalise on the rising global demand for air travel. GIP owns 75%, with Oaktree Capital owning the remainder, but both have agreed to the sale. GIP also has the main stake in Gatwick airport, and Edinburgh but say they are not selling these now. It is thought the airport might fetch as much as £2bn, which the FT says would be a multiple of over 60 times the company’s EBITDA in 2014. GIP bought the airport for about £750m in 2006 from Dermot Desmond; he had paid £23.5m for it in 1995 from Mowlem. The airport is trying to get planning consent for work to increase the annual number of passengers to 6 million per year by 2023, (4.1 million in 2014) but this has been blocked by Boris, due to noise. London City is appealing against this and may hear the outcome next year. City airport has already been granted permission to increase ATMs from 70,000 to 120,000 per year. It is widely believed that GIP would sell Gatwick soon, after the government makes a decision on if/where there might be a new runway. Last month, GIP said it would be prepared to give a legally binding promise that it will not sell out for a quick profit if the government decides to opt for a runway at Gatwick.
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Thirteen members of Plane Stupid, who invaded part of Heathrow on 13th July as a protest about a possible 3rd runway, were charged with aggravated trespass and entering a security restricted area of an aerodrome. At Uxbridge magistrates’ court on 19th August, they all pleaded not guilty to both charges. Dressed in polar bear costumes or wearing David Cameron masks, and carrying placards – they were surrounded by supporters and arrived to chants of “no ifs, no buts, no third runway!” Many of the 40 or so supporters could not get into the public gallery. One of the accused, Sheila Menon, said people are already negatively impacted by Heathrow, and the UK already has enough runway capacity. An extra runway would largely cater for leisure travel by a minority. She believed the government was failing to act responsibly, and: “It is against this background and the failure of democratic processes, we believe our actions were reasonable, justifiable and necessary.” The 13 were released on bail on the condition not to enter Heathrow or the area considered to be its perimeter. A trial date was set for 18th January. It is thought the case will last two weeks, with each defendant expecting to give evidence.
Plane Stupid activists plead not guilty over Heathrow expansion protest
More photos at Demotix
Thirteen charged with aggravated trespass and entering a security restricted area of an aerodrome after runway demonstration in July. Supporters join the 13 Plane Stupid activists outside Uxbridge magistrates court
Thirteen members of the activist group Plane Stupid have pleaded not guilty to charges of aggregated trespass during a protest at Heathrow airport last month.
The seven men and six women are accused of cutting a hole in a fence and chaining themselves to railings on the north runway to protest against the airport’s expansion.
The demonstration at around 3.30am on 13 July – which caused delays for passengers around the world, with 22 flights out of the airport cancelled – coincided with the publication of a long-awaited report that recommended a new runway should be built at Heathrow rather than Gatwick.
After three years of investigation, the Airports Commission said Heathrow was best placed to provide “urgently required” capacity. But environmentalists warn that building a new runway there will make it harder to reduce air pollution and climate change emissions.
The activists are charged with aggravated trespass and entering a security restricted area of an aerodrome. All thirteen, supported by a packed public gallery at Uxbridge magistrates court, took turns to stand and plead not guilty to both charges.
On arriving at the court on Wednesday, the protesters stopped for a statement to be read on their behalf. Surrounded by supporters – dressed in polar bear costumes or wearing David Cameron masks, and carrying placards – the 13 arrived to chants of “no ifs, no buts, no third runway!”.
One of the accused, Sheila Menon, 43, read: “Some of us are part of the local community that is already feeling the hugely negative impact of existing air traffic from Heathrow by way of noise and air pollution, and blight on the area.”
She said the UK had more than enough capacity to deal with the “ordinary people” taking their annual holidays and that airport expansion was being driven by a “minority of wealthy frequent flyers”.
The government was failing to act responsibly, said Menon, adding: “It is against this background and the failure of democratic processes, we believe our actions were reasonable, justifiable and necessary.”
Menon, of Hackney, east London, is accused along with Rebecca Holly Sanderson, 27, of Machynlleth, Powys; Richard Steven Hawkins, 32, and Kara Lauren Moses, 31, both of Heol y Doll, Machynlleth; Ella Gilbert, 23, of Norwich; Melanie Strickland, 32, of Waltham Forest, north-east London; Danielle Louise Paffard, 28, of Peckham, south-east London; Graham Edward James Thompson, 42, of Hackney, north-east London; Cameron Joseph Kaye, 23, Edward Thacker, 26, Alistair Craig Tamlit, 27, and Sam Sender, 23, all of West Drayton, west London; and Robert Anthony Basto, 67, of Reigate, Surrey.
A number of the group’s supporters, a total of about 40 people, were unable to get into the courtroom owing to lack of space and stood outside for the morning, waiting for the hearing to finish.
One of them, who wished only to be named as Margo, said: “I am here to support the amazing, brave activists and to show my solidarity with them. If they get found guilty then it could be an incredibly terrifying sentence for them, because it is a big thing they are being accused of.”
The defendants were released on bail on the condition not to enter Heathrow or the area considered to be its perimeter. A trial date was set for 18 January. It is thought the case will last two weeks, with each defendant expecting to give evidence.
Heathrow disruption: Plane Stupid activists in court
Thirteen climate change activists have pleaded not guilty to charges of trespassing on Heathrow’s north runway.
The Plane Stupid demonstration on 13 July led to delays and the cancellation of 22 flights.
The activists, who were protesting against plans to expand the airport, allegedly cut a hole in a fence and chained themselves to railings.
Supporters chanted “No ifs, no buts, no third runway!” outside the court.
Sheila Menon, one of the accused, read a statement outside Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court. She said the pollution and noise caused by air traffic at Heathrow was already blighting the area.
She said the proposed expansion – recommended by the Airports Commission in its final report last month – was driven by “wealthy frequent flyers” rather than ordinary holidaymakers.
Plane Stupid’s actions were “reasonable, justifiable and necessary”, said Ms Menon.
The activists were charged with aggravated trespass and entering a restricted area of the airport without permission.
They were bailed on condition that they do not enter Heathrow or its perimeter, with a trial expected to begin on 18 January.
Plane Stupid activists set up protest, locking themselves together, on Heathrow northern runway
At around 3.30am a group of 12 climate change activists from the group Plane Stupid cut a hole in the perimeter fence at Heathrow, and set up a protest on the northern runway. They set up a tripod of metal poles, and metal fencing panels, and locked themselves onto these. Some were attached by D locks around their necks, onto the fence. Others used arm locks (two people link arms, handcuffed together, inside a hard tube) to make it difficult for police to remove them. Police arrived on the scene shortly after the protest was set up. The first flights arrive at Heathrow from around 4.30am. Flights were delayed while the airport needed to shift runways. Six protesters were removed quite quickly. The protest was due to the recommendation of the Airports Commission that a 3rd runway should be built at Heathrow. Besides the serious negative impacts of the runway on noise, air pollution, destruction of Harmondsworth, huge costs to the taxpayer and considerable social disruption for miles around, the issue which has been glossed over is the CO2 emissions that the runway would create from greatly increased flights, many long-haul. The Commission itself was aware that a new runway would mean the UK could not achieve its aviation carbon cap, and make it less likely the UK could meet its legally binding carbon target for 2050.
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The Airports Commission has claimed,in its final report (1st July) and the media has uncritically repeated, that a new north-west runway at Heathrow would deliver up to £147 billion benefit for the UK (over 60 years). Now the AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) has done some critical analysis of the Commission’s various documents and figures, to elucidate what the actual economic impact on the UK economy might be. This is complex stuff, and making sense of the various facts (often in different documents at different dates) is not for the faint hearted. However, AEF shows that claims of £147 billion do not take into account the environmental or surface access costs associated with a new runway. The Commission’s own economic advisers have criticised the analysis (not done with the usual “WebTAG” model used by government) for double counting and questionable assumptions in relation to the indirect benefits associated with increased seat capacity. Using WebTAG, it appears – using the Commission’s own data – that there could be a net cost to the UK economy of – £9 billion over 60 years. Not a benefit at all, once all environmental and surface access costs are factored in. With some ‘wider economic benefits’ included, the benefit over 60 years would still be only £1.4 billion (not £147 billion), as quoted in the Commission’s own final report.
AEF briefings: Airports Commission’s climate and economic analyses
The Airports Commission has claimed, and the media has uncritically repeated, that a new runway at Heathrow would deliver ‘up to £147 billion’ benefit for the UK. But this figure is based on analysis that takes no account of the environmental or surface access costs of expansion. Indeed, the Commission’s own specialist economic advisers have criticised the analysis for double counting and questionable assumptions in relation to the indirect benefits associated with increased seat capacity.
The results generated by using the Government’s methodology for cost benefit analysis meanwhile, are dramatically different: the Commission’s own figures, based on this methodology, suggest that building a third runway at Heathrow would result in a net £9 billion loss to the UK once all environmental and surface access costs are included. With some ‘wider economic benefits’ included, the benefit over sixty years would still be only £1.4 billion, as quoted in the Commission’s final report.
In our briefing on the economic impacts of airport expansion, available to download below, we look at how the Commission has presented its analysis of the costs and benefits of a new runway.
We have also published our assessment of whether the Airports Commission addressed our earlier concerns regarding a ‘carbon gap’ in the Commission’s analysis.
Download AEF briefings:
The Airports Commission’s economic fudge: How the economic case for expansion dissolves once climate change limits are accounted for
The Airports Commission’s final report – has it closed the carbon gap?
Some extracts from the AEF report:
“The dominant narrative in the Airports’ Commission’s case for a new runway focuses on the economic benefit that it would bring to the UK, and the media presentation of the Commission’s work has largely repeated this storyline, quoting the Commission’s headline figure of ‘up to £147 billion benefit’ [link P 24] , with the addition that the environmental impacts will nevertheless make it controversial politically. But in fact the economic case for expansion rests on a highly selective presentation of the analysis undertaken by the Commission which gives a misleading impression about the strength of the economic case.”
“Alongside [the conventional “Webtag” which is the Government’s recommended methodology for assessing the costs and benefits of proposed transport schemes] the Commission also commissioned analysis using a methodology it describes as a “novel” approach to capturing possible indirect GDP and GVA benefits as a result of expansion. This “Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) model” relies on the assumption that aviation growth has ‘spillover’ effects in the form of increased trade, business growth, productivity improvements, and job creation. Among the papers published with the final report was a note [https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/438981/economyexpert-panelist-wider-economic-impacts-review.pdf ] from the Commission’s expert economic advisers providing comments on the Commission’s approach to estimating wider economic benefits. This welcomes the attempt to adopt complementary approaches alongside WebTAG but expresses a number of concerns about the findings generated by the CGE model.
too much weighting being given to the assumption that increased seat capacity will lead to wider benefits (for example in terms of increased trade), given that the direction of causality is in some cases unclear:
likely double counting between the direct and wider impact channels in the PwC calculations; and
inexplicable results, such as GDP impacts of more than twice the size of the direct welfare and wider economic benefit gains (while it might be expected that they would be lower).
The conclusion of the reviewers is that “While the content of the model itself has been well tested, the same cannot be said of the front end, where an increase in capacity is converted into an increase in trip-making, trade, tourism and finally productivity. Furthermore the interpretation of the result – what exactly do they mean and is their basis transparent – is an issue. Overall, therefore, we counsel caution in attaching significant weight either to the absolute or relative results of the GDP/GVA SCGE approach (PwC report) within the Economic Case”.
“Since WebTAG is the appraisal that Government guidance requires to be undertaken, it might be expected that the Commission’s WebTAG analysis would be central to its economic conclusions. In fact, however, the results were not included in headline figures or statements to the press and were instead presented in a table on page 147 of the Commission’s final report. These indicate that under a carbon cap (the ‘CC’ figure), the benefit of the recommended new Heathrow runway (in the third column) would be only £1.4 billion over sixty years. ”
[Also interesting information, on pages 3 and 4 of the AEF report, on gaps in earlier documents by the Commission that were finally filled in, in a letter to Lord Deben of the CCC on the day the final report by the Commission was published (1st July 2015). Also showing how some figures by the Commission relate to their “carbon capped” forecast and others to their “carbon traded” forecast. And they said the omission of calculations for the carbon capped scenario (as requested by the CCC) was problematic as the initial figures suggested that carbon costs would ‘dominate’ the appraisal. [That means the costs of carbon would be so high, that the runway would have a negative impact on the economy, rather than a positive impact].
Also by the AEF:
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Around 900 people, many from Sussex and Kent, gathered in a field at Penshurst, Kent, to protest against changes to flight paths. Campaigners have unveiled a huge sign, 100 metres across [the width of the new, narrowed and concentrated flight paths being introduced by NATS and the CAA] consisting of people with hay bales, and that can be read by aircraft passengers (and pilots) landing at the airport.
Martin Barraud is chairman of the group “Gatwick Obviously NOT”. He commented that it is about sending a message to the airport from the people on the ground, making it clear there are a massive number of people who are affected by aircraft noise from Gatwick airport.
Flight paths are now lower over their area, and concentrated – so people suffer from intense aircraft noise,often every two minutes or so, for most of the day. Planes also fly over them at night, though less often than in the daytime.
Someone who attended commented that is was not only people over a certain age who took part, but also a large number of younger people, who are also concerned about the noise.
Watch the video of how the huge sign was populated by over 1,000 people here.
Two short video clips at http://www.itv.com/news/meridian/update/2015-08-16/more-than-a-thousand-people-stage-protest-over-gatwick-flight-paths/
“Gatwick, how low can you go” say residents of Kent, Sussex and Surrey
Led by West Kent protest group, Gatwick Obviously Not, residents protested at Gatwick’s indifference to newly created narrow noisy highways in the sky.
Today (Sunday 16th August at 5pm) around 1,000 residents sent a message to Gatwick management and those in aviation.
“For over a century the aviation industry has done exactly as it pleased with our skies and it’s respect for ground-dwellers is virtually non-existent. This has to change,” said Martin Barraud, Chair of Gatwick Obviously Not.
The creation of noise ghettos by stealth through the dramatic narrowing of flight paths is devastating tens of thousands of people’s lives.
Gatwick is only the start as soon the industry will try and roll this out across the nation.
“This gathering, and the message for the planes is a message from Penshurst and indeed Kent, Sussex and Surrey, for the industry itself; wake up and start treating those affected by aircraft noise with real respect,” said Martin.
Presently there is no statutory body with any power to protect those on the ground from aircraft noise.
The intention of NATS, Gatwick and the CAA (no one will accept total responsibility for the changes and we keep being passed from one to the other) is to narrow a flight path to the East from around 7 miles wide to one just a little bit wider than this 100 metre message today.
“We have dubbed them ‘aerial superhighways’. One plane a minute, day in, day out, over the same areas, 15-30 miles from the airport to the East – soon to be repeated throughout the nation. And they are doing it without consultation with residents”, said Martin.
Gatwick Obviously Not asks, “Can you imagine a new motorway being planted right next to your house, out of the blue, without consultation?”
Gatwick Obviously Not’s goal is simply to change national policy for the benefit of all working closely with all the groups that surround Gatwick and Heathrow.
Last week with Gatwick’s extraordinary exaggeration of the numbers affected by noise at Heathrow (in a ruling by the ASA over Gatwick’s ads) illustrated Gatwick the low regard for accuracy and are playing a very aggressive game in its desire for ever-increasing landing fees through increased throughput derived from narrowing the flight paths.
Please note NATS state such changes will enable throughput to increase by up to 15% – but at what price to the lives of those on the ground?
“There is a widespread belief that the substantial increase in aircraft traffic is also exacerbated (inexplicably) by flying lower than they ever have done both to the West and the East.
Gatwick not only needs to review altitudes, they need to rethink their attitude towards those on the ground,” concluded Martin.
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