Flybe likely to cancel routes as it prepares for 2017 financial loss – due to weak demand

Flybe has not had a good year, and says a tough aviation market will send it into the red, even without other issues to dent its profits. Its share price is down, at £42.50. Flybe said it has suffered from weak demand recently, “in an uncertain consumer environment, together with price competition arising from overcapacity amongst airlines and sharpened price activity from rail operators. … Weather related and operational cancellations, as well as industrial action, mainly by French air traffic controllers, also impacted revenue.” Saad Hammad left as Flybe’s chief executive in the autumn, and it then announced a 70% fall in pre-tax profits at the half year to £7 million. Flybe will be spending £5 – 10 million on e-commerce and review of its IT.  Flybe will be reducing the size of its aircraft fleet – now 85 – and “improve efficiency and stop unprofitable flying.” Flybe announced in December that it would be starting flights between Heathrow and Aberdeen and Edinburgh. It got those slots due to commitments required by the European Commission following the acquisition of BMI by International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG). Flybe already has flights from Aberdeen and Edinburgh to London City airport.  The airline has been fined £70,000 for sending more than 3.3 million marketing emails to people who had opted out of receiving them.
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Flybe threatens to CANCEL routes as it prepares for 2017 financial LOSS

FLYBE operates more domestic flights than any other airline in the UK, but that could all be about to change.

By CLAUDIA CUSKELLY (Express)

29.3.2017

The largest independent regional airline in Europe has warned it may have to cancel some of its routes.

Flybe has cut capacity and costs due to weak demand, pricing pressures and rising competition from rail operators.

The British airline is expected to report a loss when its yearly results are posted at the end of this week.

Flybe is battling a multitude of problems, which include flight cancellations due to the weather.

The airline was also hit in the fourth quarter by French air controller strikes and operational cancellations.

Flybe has warned profits will have dipped by a staggering £5m to £10m compared to last year’s financial results.

Shares in the company dived by 6.4% when today’s announcement was made.

A Flybe spokesperson said: “The period has been characterised by weak demand in an uncertain consumer environment, together with price competition arising from overcapacity amongst airlines and sharpened price activity from rail operators.”

http://www.express.co.uk/travel/articles/785557/flybe-routes-financial-results

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Flybe nosedives on profits warning

By Robert Lea, Industrial Editor (The Times)
March 30 2017

The airline blamed the weather, trains, French industrial action and IT trouble for its poor performance.

Everything that could go wrong is going wrong for the regional airline Flybe, which says a tough aviation market will send it into the red, even without other issues to spook investors.

….    Full article at

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/flybe-blames-the-weather-the-trains-and-the-french-for-its-woes-srhp6vjxc?shareToken=7f07ab49f057a7b1f9ee773e7e79ede6

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Earlier:

FLYBE HEADS TO HEATHROW

Flybe strengthens UK regional connectivity by launching two new routes between Scotland and Heathrow

20TH DECEMBER 2016 (Flybe press release)

Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline, has today announced that it is heading to London Heathrow for the first time next year to connect the UK’s largest international airport with Scotland, offering a choice of more than 40 scheduled flights a week from Aberdeen and Edinburgh. The new routes complement Flybe’s well-established London City flights from the two Scottish airports.Flybe will operate the slots which became available as a result of commitments required by the European Commission following the acquisition of BMI by International Consolidated Airlines Group. Flybe is not required to pay to use the slots, other than meet Heathrow landing and passenger charges. The slots will not be purchased by Flybe and will therefore not be brought onto the balance sheet.

Flybe will be using Heathrow’s Terminal 2 and will offer ‘One Stop to the World’ connectivity to its codeshare and interline partners. Flights have been conveniently timed for both business and leisure travel and fares are from £39.99 one way including taxes and charges.

This route expansion means that, with effect from 26th March 2017, Flybe will offer up to 18 flights a day between London and Edinburgh, and 10 between London and Aberdeen.

Flybe’s Executive Chairman, Simon Laffin, said: “We are delighted to announce our first flights to London Heathrow, significantly enhancing our UK domestic route network and offering even better links between Scotland and London. The new routes to Heathrow complement the existing ones we operate to London City, and will benefit our business customers and customers in Scotland who want to connect with our long haul codeshare partners.

“Flybe is the leading airline serving UK domestic passengers and these new services position us well to serve our passengers in both Scotland and the South East. We have long been lobbying for Heathrow to offer more opportunities for domestic flights to enhance regional connectivity. Whilst other operators may have dismissed the possibility of further domestic routes into Heathrow, we look forward to working with the airport to further expand the range of domestic destinations.”

Heathrow’s Chief Executive, John Holland-Kaye, added: “Improving the connections into Heathrow from all around the UK will be vital in helping to secure the economic future of communities in every corner of the nation. Today’s announcement shows that the measures we’re introducing, such as the £10 reduction on domestic passenger charges, are already working to secure vital links. More airlines flying routes to Scottish airports means more flights, more competition and choice for families, and more visitors to Scotland. With Flybe based at Terminal 2, it also means new, unique direct access from Heathrow to markets such as Colombia, Taipei and Auckland – meaning more opportunity for Scottish businesses looking to reach new export markets.”

UK Aviation Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon commented: “These routes are great news for passengers and businesses who rely on strong links between Scotland and Heathrow, the UK’s major hub airport, opening up more opportunities to connect Aberdeen and Edinburgh with destinations around the world. It is precisely these sorts of connections which make expanding Heathrow the preferred choice for the UK, to deliver an economy that works for everyone.”

https://www.flybe.com/corporate/media/news/1612/20.htm

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Flybe fined for sending 3.3 million unwanted emails

29.3.2017 (BBC)

The airline Flybe has been fined £70,000 for sending more than 3.3 million marketing emails to people who had opted out of receiving them.

The emails, sent in August 2016, advised people to amend out-of-date personal information and update their marketing preferences.

They also gave people the chance to enter a prize draw.

But the regulator said Flybe should have obtained people’s consent before sending the emails.

“Sending emails to determine whether people want to receive marketing, without the right consent, is still marketing, and it is against the law,” said Steve Eckersley, head of enforcement at the Information Commissioner’s Office.

“In Flybe’s case, the company deliberately contacted people who had already opted out of emails from them.”

Flybe told the BBC it wanted to “sincerely apologise” to affected customers.

“We can confirm that appropriate mechanisms have already been actioned to ensure that such a situation does not happen again,” it added.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-39430349

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MSP motion lodged at Holyrood about Edinburgh Airport flawed flight path consultation

Neil Findlay MSP (Labour Party) is a firm opponent of the changes to flight paths, overflying many areas that were previously unaffected, that Edinburgh airport is planning.  He has lodged a motion at Holyrood about the airport’s current consultation on airspace change. If the motion gets sufficient support from MSPs across at least 3 political parties, it becomes eligible to be debated in the Chamber. Neil Findlay was able to lead a previous members’ debate in September 2015 which led to the scrapping of the airport’s TUTUR flight path trial. Neil has now put down a motion in the Scottish Parliament (Motion S5M-04708) saying: “That the Parliament notes what it sees as the growing concerns about Edinburgh Airport’s plan to introduce new flight paths; and asking “Edinburgh Airport scraps what is considered this flawed consultation and begins the process again with up-to-date information and a more robust and credible consultation process.”  People in Scotland are encouraged, by Edinburgh Airport Watch, to contact their MSP by email to ask them to sign his motion. The consultation by Edinburgh airport is inadequate, contains incorrect information, and is based on faulty data. But the altered routes would inflict noise on new areas, and for huge numbers of those sensitive to noise, have life changing consequences.
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Edinburgh Airport Flawed Flight Path Consultation – MSP motion lodged at Holyrood

“Flawed Airport Consultation: Motion in Parliament S5M-04708”

21st March 2017

Neil Findlay MSP has lodged a motion at Holyrood about the airport’s current consultation.

This is really important.  If this motion gets sufficient support from MSPs across at least 3 political parties, it becomes eligible to be debated in the Chamber. Neil Findlay was able to lead a previous members’ debate in September 2015 which led to the scrapping of the airport’s TUTUR flight path trial. YOU therefore need to take action now. Today.

And the best bit is, you don’t have to do very much at all. All you have to do is send an email to all your MSPs and ask them to sign it.

Call to action today!
3 easy steps which will make you feel empowered in our fight against Edinburgh Airport Expansion.

This is our real chance to have it debated in Parliament. We need ALL political parties.

  1. Look up your MSPs    https://www.writetothem.com
  2. Email them to support Neil Findlay motion https://bb.parliament.scot/…/DetailsPart…/S5M-04708/20170321
  3. Copy Edinburgh Airport Watch  in your email edinburghairportwatch@gmail.com and tweet or Facebook that you have done it. Find us on Facebook at Edinburgh Airport Watch and on twitter @EAW_group

Please take a few minutes to send an email to your MSPs today, the airport’s proposals are based on faulty data and have little justification yet will have life changing consequences for hundreds of thousands of people. Concerted efforts can put a stop to it – but it starts with you.

Share this message as widely as you can throughout all your networks. The airport is on the ropes, at the public meetings last week in Dunfermline and Livingston they were under serious pressure from angry and worried members of the public. Reasonable questions are simply not being answered. Their plans need to be subjected to serious parliamentary scrutiny. Your email to your MSPs today will be the first step along that road. Thank you!

Link and full text below.

http://www.parliament.scot/…/currentm…/Neil-Findlay-MSP.aspx

Motion S5M-04708: Neil Findlay, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 20/03/2017

That the Parliament notes what it sees as the growing concerns about Edinburgh Airport’s plan to introduce new flight paths; understands that around 120 people attended the latest in a series of public meetings in Livingston to voice their opposition; believes that a number of flaws within the consultation have been identified, including the lack of inclusion of a health impact assessment of the proposed changes to airspace use since 2014, despite a number of residents reporting mental and physical health effects due to increased noise over their homes, the lack of evidence for the assertion that 25,000 fewer properties will be overflown as a result of the changes, that Winchburgh and East Calder residents were informed through the first consultation that they would not be affected by any proposed changes but have since found that they will be affected by new plans, and the use of outdated census data from 2011 as the basis for the consultation, and notes calls for the Scottish Government to urge the Civil Aviation Authority to demand that Edinburgh Airport scraps what is considered this flawed consultation and begins the process again with up-to-date information and a more robust and credible consultation process.

http://www.parliament.scot/…/currentm…/Neil-Findlay-MSP.aspx

Read more »

Edinburgh airport flawed and inaccessible consultation on airspace changes condemned by opponents

On 2nd February, Edinburgh Airport launched its second consultation, which closes on 30th April, on its airspace change programme. The consultation is very hard for a layperson to understand, with voluminous documents.  The aim is to make more “efficient” use of airspace – ie. fit in more planes, especially at the few times of day when Edinburgh airport is particularly busy, like early morning. People are asked to comment on various route options, many of which mean new areas overflown, and some areas newly intensely overflown, under narrow PBN routes. Hundreds of local people, who will be badly affected by some of the proposed changes, have attended packed public meetings. The local group Edinburgh Airport Watch (EAW) are very worried about the lack of justification for the plans. There are no projected numbers on flights, types of planes, the times of day that planes may fly.  EAW say the noise shadows created by the proposed flight paths will be enormous, and will affect hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom will not have been exposed to aircraft noise before. Areas excluded from the initial stage consultation were excluded from the published swathes, told they would not be affected and now find flight paths directly over them. Not surprisingly, they are furious. Neil Findlay MSP has lodged a motion in the  Scottish Parliament, asking that the consultation be re-done, with proper information.
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Edinburgh Airport Watch says:

At both meetings, the most recent on 14th March in Livingstone, the audience asked a number of clear and succinct questions which were not answered by the airport.

The airport wishes to obtain carte blanche to fly over or near huge areas of Fife, West Lothian, Falkirk, East Lothian, Midlothian and parts of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Airport has already made changes to the way it uses the airspace, without consultation, and people are complaining to them about noise in record numbers, yet the airport continually denies it has changed any procedures.

71% of responders in West Lothian and 67% of responders from Fife to the airport’s initial consultation said an emphatic No to further flight path change, yet the airport is pressing ahead anyway, basing its route preferences on faulty population data.

The airport is operating fewer takeoffs and landings now than 10 years ago.

The airport does not need new flight paths to grow, and it does not need new flight paths to install new navigation technology.

Areas excluded from the initial stage consultation were excluded from the published swathes, told they would not be affected and now find flight paths directly over them. Not surprisingly, they are furious.

The airport claims to be flying over 25,000 fewer people yet had failed to count populations correctly.

Over 900 pages of documentation has been published – slammed by members of the public as unclear and designed to confuse. The documents are riddled with errors and omissions, with key information apparently hidden.
Edinburgh Airport Watch are very worried about the lack of justification for these plans. There are no projected numbers on flights, types of planes, the times of day that planes may fly.

Below are links to the charts  – these are the existing SIDs (Standard Instrument Departure) routes and the proposed “Preferred Routes” with additional options. These charts are not in the main consultation book – why?

These appear in a document from the CAA and are available on the “Lets go further” website, under Consultation material, Reading Library, CAA ERCD Noise Analysis. The noise information charts also in that document are interesting mainly because of what is missing.

Chart Proposed SIDs ERCD Feb 17 pg 14

Chart Existing SIDs ERCD document Feb 17

 

Public Meeting with Edinburgh Airport on Flight Path Expansion.

Airport gets a rough ride from Communities yet again…….

16.3.2017 (Edinburgh Airport Watch)

Last night, Neil Findlay MSP chaired another well attended and lively meeting of West Lothian residents at Livingston Football Stadium that had angry local people queuing up to grill Edinburgh Airport Chief Executive Gordon Dewar.

Despite 71% of responders from West Lothian telling the airport in the previous 2016 consultation that they did not want new flight paths, many new routes are proposed with most of them over areas not previously affected by aircraft noise.

Edinburgh Airport’s latest flawed consultation process came under fire from people who were previously told they would not be affected and now find there are flight paths directly over them.

People slammed the more than 900 pages of the latest proposals as “poorly designed, unclear and intended to confuse”.

Gordon Dewar apologised for misleading the public and admits the airport has not counted populations affected properly and that no assessment of the health impact on people of new or existing flight paths has been carried out.

Mr Dewar could not answer the question “How can the airport claim to a reduction of 25,000 people overflown when it has failed to count all the people living under the proposed new routes?”

In relation to the huge proposed new housing developments in West Lothian that are planned, Mr Dewar said “Having a plan does not mean it is going to happen”

But he refuses to publish details on what the airport’s plans for their proposed enlarged flight paths are or what it will mean for communities. They refuse to tell us now many planes, what type of planes, what hours of day they might fly and how frequently.

No clear answer was given to the question “What is the problem that the airport is trying to solve?” leading to concerns that this is all about inflating the airport’s value as an asset with little operational justification for change on this scale.

People already living under existing flight paths described unbearable levels of noise every two minutes from 6am to midnight 7 days a week, and being woken during the night by cargo planes. The airport wants to increase its take-offs to one every minute.

Gordon Dewar showed little care for people who had bought their homes under flight paths – and says they would have known about the noise. But says nothing about the “newly overflown” people, who since 2015 have woken up to find themselves living under busy flight paths and who bitterly contest the baseline of flight path use that the airport is using in their consultation process. Noise complaints are at record levels, with a 60 fold increase on 2015 numbers.

Airport says it is building more cargo storage areas, which could mean even more overnight disturbance for Communities from increased night flights. There are no operating hours restrictions at Edinburgh Airport.

Edinburgh Airport chief says Edinburgh Airport “is a big economic engine for the economy” – and claimed (to derision from the audience) that jobs in the Western Isles are dependent on Edinburgh Airport. Unsubstantiated nonsense and spin from a report prepared by consultants paid for by the airport, and the people last night could see it.

Edinburgh Airport Watch said:

“The people attending the meeting last night were rightly very worried about the life changing implications of the airport’s proposals and clearly do not trust what the airport is telling them. They are confused by the 900 pages of documents the airport has produced, which also contain factual errors. Many are furious that they were excluded from the first stage of the process.

“People are still not being told what the impact will be of noisy jet aircraft flying over their homes, businesses and schools.

“The cost of unfettered aviation expansion is poorer air quality, traffic chaos on the roads around the airport, more noise misery for neighbours – some of them now 20 miles or more from the runway – and a worsening of Scotland’s already enormous tourism deficit as people take their money out of our economy and spend it elsewhere.

“A health and environmental disaster is unfolding for West Lothian, parts of Falkirk, Fife, East Lothian, Midlothian and Edinburgh with no independent assessment of the consequences of these proposals or any justification for them.

“It is difficult to see what sustainable benefit there can be to Scotland or the local area from allowing this airport to expand any further – it is profit before people.

“We urge people to respond to the latest consultation process before the end date on 30th April, reject ALL of the proposals on the table, (one of which is the failed 2015 TUTUR trial route that caused uproar and led to 8000 complaints)”.

People should write a letter or email to the airport outlining their concerns, copying in:

all their elected representatives; MP, MSPs Local Authority Councillors and Community Council; Andrew Haines, the chief executive of the CAA, Humza Yousaf, the Scottish Transport Minister, and Lord Ahmad, the UK aviation Minister, as well as Edinburgh Airport Watch.

 

Contact:

Helena Paul  helenaspaul@gmail.com

Email: edinburghairportwatch@gmail.com

Edinburgh Airport website: www.edinburghairportwatch.com

On Facebook at Edinburgh Airport Watch

and on twitter @EAW_group

 


 

 

Edinburgh Airport launch Consultation 2 on Airspace Change Programme

2.2.2017 (Edinburgh Airport press release)

Edinburgh Airport has today launched the second stage of its public consultation on the Airspace Change Programme (ACP).

The ACP is about the way in which Edinburgh Airport intends to grow, ensuring that it continues to be able to support Scotland’s economy and jobs in a safe and effective way.

The existing flight paths used by aircraft rely on the 1950s technology of ground-based radio beacons. Any new flightpaths changes would be introduced using well-established and more accurate form of navigation called Area NAVigation (RNAV). RNAV uses a combination of satellite and ground-based navigation technology to permit aircraft to follow a precisely defined path over the ground with far greater accuracy than is possible with conventional routes.

The second stage of consultation “You Spoke and We Listened” material presents a range of proposed new flight paths which have been informed and influenced by the public responses from the initial ACP consultation period between June – September 2016.

If the airport’s preferred proposed flight paths are approved by the CAA, it would mean that aircraft would fly over fewer people than at present and would reduce the noise impact for thousands of residents in our neighbouring communities.

If implemented the airport’s preferred options would deliver the following major benefits:

  • The number of people who are currently overflown by aircraft up to around 7,000 ft above their properties would also reduce significantly compared to our current routes, and affecting the lives of nearly 25,000 fewer people.

*based NATS analysis

  • We would be reducing our Carbon Foot print and our effect on the environment.
  • Optimised operational benefits and the ability to meet and accommodate existing and future growth while maximising the safety of all of passengers.

Speaking in West Lothian today, Gordon Dewar, Edinburgh Airport’s Chief Executive, said:

“Today I have written to over 640,000 households across Edinburgh, the Lothians, Falkirk and Fife outlining the design of the flight paths and seeking the public’s views on the proposals of a range of options in and out of Edinburgh Airport.

“Our proposed flight paths are a balance of interests focused on three key factors; impact on communities, airspace regulation as well as airport and aircraft operations. Edinburgh Airport and the aviation sector in general are strongly growing parts of a still sluggish Scottish economy – and we have get this right for the sake of jobs in Scotland and environmental considerations.

“At the very heart of our proposals are the findings of the initial consultation – we have listened to the public in finding a solution.

“The bottom line is that our proposed changes would mean a reduction in noise for nearly 25,000 people.

“We have worked closely with key stakeholders including community and environmental groups and our proposed changes would reduce the noise impact on the community, reduce emissions and allow us to continue to meet growing demand safely and sustainably.

“In this second stage of public consultation we will be reaching out again to our neighbouring communities. Our community engagement campaign will be backed up by media advertising and a locally targeted social media campaign to provide information relating to drop-in sessions and links to the feedback pages of the website.

“We will host drop-in sessions in communities and A mobile advertising trailer will be in the area in the days prior to highlight this opportunity.

“In the initial consultation over 5,000 members of the public responded to the consultation. This time, with lines on the map, we look forward to hearing from even more people.

“As with all major infrastructure expansion plans, we know that not everyone will agree with our proposals; therefore we are committed – where people are adversely impacted by changes – to mitigation and compensation measures.”

Further info:

Notes – www.letsgofurther.com

http://www.edinburghairport.com/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/edinburgh-airport-launch-consultation-2-on-airspace-change-programme

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https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/edinburghairport/files/acpv2/ACP_consultation_book.pdf

 

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Edinburgh Airport Flawed Flight Path Consultation – MSP motion lodged at Holyrood

“Flawed Airport Consultation: Motion in Parliament S5M-04708”

21st March 2017

Neil Findlay MSP has lodged a motion at Holyrood about the airport’s current consultation.

This is really important.  If this motion gets sufficient support from MSPs across at least 3 political parties, it becomes eligible to be debated in the Chamber. Neil Findlay was able to lead a previous members’ debate in September 2015 which led to the scrapping of the airport’s TUTUR flight path trial. YOU therefore need to take action now. Today.

And the best bit is, you don’t have to do very much at all. All you have to do is send an email to all your MSPs and ask them to sign it.

Call to action today!
3 easy steps which will make you feel empowered in our fight against Edinburgh Airport Expansion.

This is our real chance to have it debated in Parliament. We need ALL political parties.

  1. Look up your MSPs    https://www.writetothem.com
  2. Email them to support Neil Findlay motion https://bb.parliament.scot/…/DetailsPart…/S5M-04708/20170321
  3. Copy Edinburgh Airport Watch  in your email edinburghairportwatch@gmail.com and tweet or Facebook that you have done it. Find us on Facebook at Edinburgh Airport Watch and on twitter @EAW_group

Please take a few minutes to send an email to your MSPs today, the airport’s proposals are based on faulty data and have little justification yet will have life changing consequences for hundreds of thousands of people. Concerted efforts can put a stop to it – but it starts with you.

Share this message as widely as you can throughout all your networks. The airport is on the ropes, at the public meetings last week in Dunfermline and Livingston they were under serious pressure from angry and worried members of the public. Reasonable questions are simply not being answered. Their plans need to be subjected to serious parliamentary scrutiny. Your email to your MSPs today will be the first step along that road. Thank you!

Link and full text below.

http://www.parliament.scot/…/currentm…/Neil-Findlay-MSP.aspx

Motion S5M-04708: Neil Findlay, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 20/03/2017

That the Parliament notes what it sees as the growing concerns about Edinburgh Airport’s plan to introduce new flight paths; understands that around 120 people attended the latest in a series of public meetings in Livingston to voice their opposition; believes that a number of flaws within the consultation have been identified, including the lack of inclusion of a health impact assessment of the proposed changes to airspace use since 2014, despite a number of residents reporting mental and physical health effects due to increased noise over their homes, the lack of evidence for the assertion that 25,000 fewer properties will be overflown as a result of the changes, that Winchburgh and East Calder residents were informed through the first consultation that they would not be affected by any proposed changes but have since found that they will be affected by new plans, and the use of outdated census data from 2011 as the basis for the consultation, and notes calls for the Scottish Government to urge the Civil Aviation Authority to demand that Edinburgh Airport scraps what is considered this flawed consultation and begins the process again with up-to-date information and a more robust and credible consultation process.

http://www.parliament.scot/…/currentm…/Neil-Findlay-MSP.aspx

Read more »

Fears on how Tory party want post-Brexit bonfire of EU “red tape” on environment etc regulations

Brexit comes with immense uncertainties, one of the main ones for anyone concerned with the state of the environment, air pollution, water pollution, or carbon emissions, is how much European legislation will be dumped. The Telegraph writes of how keen it, and many in the government, are to get rid of tiresome regulations that hold back business and economic growth, for no better reason than environmental protection. There are comments like these: the “Telegraph calls on the Conservative Party to promise a bonfire of EU red tape” … Iain Duncan Smith thinks the Tories should promise at the next election to “whittle away” unnecessary rules, reducing the “burden” on businesses and citizens. … “we can reduce the cost on business and on individuals by reducing regulations which will improve our competitiveness, our productivity and therefore ultimately our economy” … Lord Lawson (prominent climate denier) says UK must swiftly seize the chance to “transform the British economy” by cutting “massive” numbers of EU regulations. … “Builders have been frustrated by rules on preserving newts, which are classed as “endangered” in Europe even though they are thriving in the UK” [probably due to years of protection] …. The Green Alliance is working to ensure proper environmental protections survive. Read their blog here.
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Cut the EU red tape choking Britain after Brexit to set the country free from the shackles of Brussels

By 

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Britain must sweep aside thousands of needless EU regulations after Brexit to free the country from the shackles of Brussels, a coalition of senior MPs and business leaders have demanded.

Theresa May will on Wednesday start the formal process of leaving the EU when she invokes Article 50, giving her a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to rejuvenate the UK economy.

Today The Daily Telegraph calls on the Conservative Party to promise a bonfire of EU red tape in its 2020 manifesto to put Britain on a radically different course.

The proposal has the backing of the former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, who believes the Tories should promise at the next election to “whittle away” unnecessary rules, reducing the “burden” on businesses and citizens.

He said: “Let us leave and then the Conservative Party at the next election needs to say ‘we can reduce the cost on business and on individuals by reducing regulations which will improve our competitiveness, our productivity and therefore ultimately our economy’.”

According to a House of Commons report, ministers will have to import 19,000 EU rules and regulations onto our statute books as part of the Great Repeal Bill, which will take shape in a white paper published on Thursday.

EU regulations are estimated to cost Britain a total of more than £120 billion per year. The Common Agricultural Policy alone reportedly costs £10 billion in direct costs and by inflating food prices.

After Brexit occurs in 2019, the merits of each regulation will be assessed before a decision is made on whether to jettison it or not.

Lord Lawson, the former Chancellor, said the Conservatives must then swiftly seize the chance to “transform the British economy” by cutting “massive” numbers of EU regulations.
Theresa May’s letter to Donald Tusk will be delivered on Wednesday 

Business leaders and doctors hope to see the back of the working time directive, which imposes such strict conditions on shift patterns that workforces cannot be as flexible as they need to be, and surgeons say it prevents them gaining vital training.

Builders have been frustrated by rules on preserving newts, which are classed as “endangered” in Europe even though they are thriving in the UK. Meanwhile, consumers have been angered by rules which have banned the most powerful vacuum cleaners and forced householders to use dim energy-saving lightbulbs.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Duncan Smith said that once Brexit is complete in 2019, “we should prepare to carry out a root and branch review of the costs of the regulatory burden of its intrusions into the daily lives of the citizens and businesses of the UK”.

Owen Paterson, the former environment secretary, said the Government now had a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to scrap such hated regulations as the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy and replace them with legislation “tailored to what is right for us”.

We must lose no time in getting rid of regulations, Lord Lawson said 
Lord Lawson said the Thatcher government’s wide-ranging programme of deregulation in the 1980s “transformed the performance of the British economy”, adding: “Once out of the EU we have the opportunity to do this on an even larger scale with the massive corpus of EU regulation. We must lose no time in seizing that opportunity.”

According to a study by the Eurosceptic think-tank Open Europe, ridding Britain of needless EU regulations will save the economy £13 billion a year. Stephen Booth, director of policy 
and research at Open Europe, said: “EU regulation places a significant cost on the UK economy and there is scope for savings, so we would call on parties to commit to repealing unnecessary red tape.

“Brexit offers an opportunity to tailor rules to the specific nature of the UK economy, rather than the one-size-fits-all approach characterised by EU regulation.”

Lord Tebbit believes in taking advantage of the opportunity Brexit gives the UK

In the US, President Donald Trump has adopted a similar approach by appointing his senior White House adviser Jared Kushner to lead a new Office of American Innovation.

Lord Tebbit, a former member of the Thatcher Cabinet, said: “I am all for taking advantage of the opportunity Brexit gives us to do a substantial job of deregulation.”

Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Business communities across the UK always like to see the back of red tape. But they want any change to be considered carefully.”

On Wednesday Sir Tim Barrow, the UK’s permanent representative in Brussels, will hand-deliver a letter from Theresa May to Donald Tusk, President of the European Council.

The letter will contain notification of Britain’s intention to leave the EU by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, starting the clock on two years of Brexit negotiations.

The news came as David Davis, the Exiting the European Union secretary,  suggested that Britain could leave the EU without paying anything like the reported £52billon bill.

He told a BBC Question Time special, said: “I don’t know about 50bn. I’ve seen 40, 50, 60, I’ve seen no explanation for any of them.
“We will, of course, meet our international obligations. But we expect also our rights to be respected too.

“So I don’t think we’re going to be seeing that sort of money change hands.

“We will meet our international obligations, whatever that turns out to be. But that is nothing like [what] we are talking about here.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/27/cut-eu-red-tape-choking-britain-brexit-set-country-free-shackles/

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Five EU directives we’ll be glad to see the back of

EU working time directive

The directive, which has been phased into British law since 1998, is a source of acute frustration for surgeons and medical staff. Many believe it deprives them of the chance to perform enough procedures to become fully competent because of the strictures it imposes on shift patterns.

The directive guarantees employment terms such as a maximum 48-hour week and four weeks of paid holiday per year, as well as rules on hours of rest for shift workers.

While individual workers can ask to be exempted from the directive, NHS trusts are obliged to draw up rotas that meet the rules. This often means that doctors who are on call, but who sleep undisturbed through their shift, are nevertheless sent home “to rest” when they could take part in training.

Bendy bananas

In 1994 the European Commission drew up regulation 2257/94, which stated that bananas in general should as a minimum be “free from malformation or abnormal curvature of the fingers”. Under the regulation “extra” class bananas must be “free from defects” while class 1 bananas can have “slight defects of shape” while class 2 bananas are allowed to have “defects of shape”. The regulation was repeatedly highlighted by Boris Johnson during the EU referendum campaign.

Green energy

The EU renewable energy directive requires the UK to generate 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 – up from just three per cent when the directive was adopted in 2009. That’s not just electricity but also energy used in heating and transport.

The target has led to Government subsidies for renewable power sources such as wind, solar and biomass power plants, which are ultimately paid for by customers through their energy bills. The National Audit Office estimated that green energy subsidies will cost every household £110 a year by 2020.

Great crested newt

The great crested newt is endangered in some parts of Europe, but remains fairly common in England. However under the EU habitats directive, which covers all 28 member states, they are a protected species.

If even a small number are found newts have to be fenced, trapped and relocated in the spring, which can cost £10,000 even for a small project. George Osborne, the former Chancellor, said in 2011 the directive placed 
“ridiculous costs on British businesses”.

Incandescent lightbulbs

In 2009 the European Commission announced plans to phase out traditional incandescent lightbulbs amid concerns that 95 per cent of the energy that goes into them gets turned into heat rather than light. However their replacements, LED and fluorescent bulbs, while far more energy-efficient, have proved unpopular because they give off a cold, unnatural light compared to their predecessors.

Best vacuum cleaners

In September 2014 the European Commission introduced new energy efficiency rules which banned many of the best vacuum cleaners on sale.

Companies were prohibited from manufacturing or importing any vacuums with motors above 1,600 watts. The deadline led to a rush on sales of the best performing vacuum cleaners. Of seven “best buy” ratings awarded by Which? since January 2013, five of them have motors of more than 1,600 watts.

From September this year the limit will be reduced to just 900 watts. The commission said the rules would help cut energy usage and lower people’s bills.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/27/cut-eu-red-tape-choking-britain-brexit-set-country-free-shackles/

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Green Alliance Blog:

Five very real risks to our environment from Brexit and how to tackle them

There has been little mention of the environment in the government’s Brexit priorities so far, so it may come as a surprise to hear that an estimated four fifths of all our environmental protections are covered by EU law. As the Westminster government heads towards triggering Article 50 this week, to be closely followed by the repeal bill which will transpose EU law into domestic law, what are the  risks to our environmental protections?

Although some laws will be relatively easy to transfer across, a significant proportion will not, as the Defra Secretary of State Andrea Leadsom has indicated. The complexity of the transfer creates risks that, if not addressed, could be a serious cause for concern. Here are the important ones to watch, and what the government should be doing to avoid them:

The 5 are:

1. Guiding principles
2. Effective implementation
3. Cross border issues
4. Diverging standards
5. Lost opportunities

Read the whole blog – well worth the effort – at
https://greenallianceblog.org.uk/2017/03/27/five-very-real-risks-to-our-environment-from-brexit-and-how-to-tackle-them/

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On Thursday, Theresa May, prime minister, will publish details of her plans for the great repeal bill, setting out one of the country’s biggest legislative tasks for decades if not more.

The process may end up giving ministers and Whitehall officials virtually untrammelled power as they reshape British law. It will ultimately involve fundamental decisions on who holds powers of regulation in Britain, what kind of rules hold sway

her pledge to remove Britain from the purview of the European Court of Justice so that “our laws will be made not in Brussels but in Westminster”.

The great repeal bill will scrap the European Communities Act 1972 and therefore ends the applicability of EU law in the UK

The aerospace and aviation industry is concerned that the government will give up membership of the European Aviation Safety Authority. EASA sets the rules for certification of everything from aircraft and their components to training schools for repair and maintenance crews. Recreating a domestic regulatory system in the UK would be expensive, say industry executives, and take years.

The aerospace and aviation industry is concerned that the government will give up membership of the European Aviation Safety Authority. EASA sets the rules for certification of everything from aircraft and their components to training schools for repair and maintenance crews. Recreating a domestic regulatory system in the UK would be expensive, say industry executives, and take years.

Some amendments will be minor, striking out references to EU institutions. Others will be substantial, notably where an entire EU regulatory regime has to be replaced by a British regime. In many sectors, the UK will have to decide who in future will be the regulating body: will it be parliament, an independent regulator or some other group?

The aerospace and aviation industry, for example, is lobbying the government for clarification on continued membership of the European Aviation Safety Agency, because establishing a domestic regulatory system would be costly and time consuming.

Because of that concern and those existing in many other sectors, Mrs May is set to keep Britain under the remit of some EU agencies for a long transition after Brexit — an admission that the UK does not have the time or expertise to replace European bodies with a fully fledged new British system within two years.

More than 1,100 laws affecting environment and rural affairs have been derived from the EU over the past 40 years. It is unclear which watchdog will monitor air pollution in the UK. Enforcing EU laws on water quality, wildlife habitats and other issues presents a huge challenge, with the possibility that ministers will unpick existing regulations and change standards.

The risk is that ministers will use delegated powers — executive orders that are not subject to parliamentary scrutiny — to make big policy shifts.

For more details, see  https://www.ft.com/content/2f2f0f14-12ce-11e7-b0c1-37e417ee6c76

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IPPR says apprenticeship levy will deepen north-south divide – with areas like Heathrow benefitting

One of Heathrow’s most often repeated claims as benefits for a 3rd runway is taking on 5,000 more apprentices, taking the number up to 10,000, by 2030. In reality, much of the training for apprentices comes from the government, so companies benefit.  Many of the apprentices are not young people entering a first job, but existing staff improving their skills. Heathrow would benefit, and get money back, that they have to pay into the levy. Now analysis from the Thinktank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) suggests the new £3 billion levy on larger employers, starting in April 2017, will raise less money and have smaller impact on areas that need it most – in the regions.  Instead it will deepen Britain’s north-south divide, with London and the south-east benefiting most, as this is where there is the highest number of big employers. The areas where it is most needed are those that have been hit by deindustrialisation and suffer from low levels of qualifications, low productivity and low pay. Not the Heathrow area. The levy is to be paid by employers in England with a payroll of more than £3m and charged at a rate of 0.5% of their annual wage bill (ie. perhaps nearly £3bn per year.) The IPPR said: the government should analyse the regional impact of its new apprenticeships policy, so it does not leave unemployment hotspots in the north-east or Yorkshire with proportionately less funding.
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Apprenticeship levy will deepen north-south divide, IPPR says

Thinktank’s analysis suggests new £3bn levy on larger employers will raise less money and have smaller impact on areas that need it most

By Katie Allen (Guardian)

The government’s new £3bn apprenticeship levy threatens to deepen Britain’s north-south divide, according to a new analysis, with London and the south-east benefiting most from the government’s shakeup of staff training.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has warned that the apprenticeship levy, which comes into force next month, will raise less money and have a smaller impact in the areas that need it most. These areas are those that have been hit by deindustrialisation and suffer from low levels of qualifications, low productivity and low pay.

The new levy is designed to increase the number and quality of apprenticeships in the UK, with the government aiming to create 3 million new placements by 2020. It will be paid by employers in England with a payroll of more than £3m and charged at a rate of 0.5% of their annual wage bill. The Treasury has estimated it will raise nearly £3bn a year.

But the IPPR said its analysis of official figures suggested a disproportionate amount of investment would be stimulated in London and the south-east, where there was a relatively high number of big employers. Those areas have 38% of the UK’s large businesses that would be targeted by the levy, but higher levels of employment and only 27% of the population, IPPR’s research found.

Clare McNeil, IPPR associate director for work and families, said: “The government has said that it wants to break down the barriers to social mobility faced by young people in this country. It is clear to see that young people outside of London and the south-east face a much harder time finding a first job or training opportunity – particularly those not going on to university.

“It is extraordinary then that the government has not analysed the regional impact of its new apprenticeships policy, which is likely to boost investment in training precisely in those areas where employment is higher, such as in London and the south-east, leaving unemployment hotspots in the north-east or Yorkshire with proportionately less funding.”

The government has sought to underscore how some of its funding will be targeted at young people most in need of help getting on a career path. Under the new system, employers that are too small to pay the levy – around 98% of those in England – will have 90% of the costs of training paid for by the state. Extra support will also be available for employers with fewer than 50 employees who take on 16- to 18-year-old apprentices or young care leavers.

“We truly are investing in the whole of England by doubling funding for apprenticeships to £2.5bn by 2019-20 – twice what was spent in 2010-11 – and giving employers more power than ever before to design training that meets their needs. ”

The IPPR is urging the government to change the apprenticeship levy system to redistribute some of the money collected to areas with the biggest training needs. It also wants a broader levy that would apply to all employers with 50 or more staff in order to raise more money.

“Unless it changes the policy to ensure that investment is distributed more fairly between north and south, it will exacerbate existing regional disparities in opportunity for young people,” McNeil said.

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/mar/27/uk-apprenticeship-levy-will-deepen-north-south-divide-ippr-warns

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Details from government in August 2016 on the new apprenticeship levy, starting in April 2017

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/views-sought-on-plans-to-boost-apprenticeships


Criticism of the levy, with it being called a “payroll tax” on companies, and not especially helpful for training apprentices

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/nov/26/fury-over-osbornes-116bn-business-payroll-tax 


UK apprenticeships plan attacked by key employer groups

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/oct/02/uk-apprenticeships-plan-attacked-employer-groups

One main concern is that employers could rebadge existing jobs as apprenticeships to meet training targets and recoup the costs of the levy.


The government prefers the NW Heathrow runway because Heathrow Airport Limited pledge to create 5,000 new apprenticeships by 2030.

It is nice that they plan to create some apprenticeships.  What is now known is how many of those are for genuinely unemployed young people, and how many are just retraining existing employees.  That is not quite so good.  See link and details at bottom of this page, about how companies can “Turn your existing staff into apprentices”.

Heathrow’s apprenticeships promise looks much more like enlightened self-interest, and getting money back from a scheme into which they have to pay, than deliberate generosity or care about local youth unemployment !

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Heathrow’s website says:

Apprenticeships at Heathrow with expansion

Approximately 300 apprenticeships are currently started each year across the airport. This number would double with the opportunities an expanded Heathrow would bring.

This would mean 3,000 apprenticeships in the lead up to construction, a further 3,000 during construction, and then another 4,000 during operation until 2030. We will continue to deliver an apprenticeship programme beyond 2030 and will establish our target for this by 2025.

Expansion at Heathrow has the potential to end youth unemployment in the five surrounding boroughs to the airport – Ealing, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Slough and Spelthorne. Youth unemployment currently accounts for a third of total unemployment in the five local boroughs.

https://your.heathrow.com/takingbritainfurther/10000-apprenticeships-with-heathrow-expansion/


See earlier:

Apprenticeship levy will go ahead next year, government confirms

Scheme will start in April 2017, despite business groups’ call for a delay because of economic uncertainty

The business sector is divided over the introduction of levy to help fund apprenticeships.

The UK government is sticking to plans for a levy on employers to help fund apprenticeships, ignoring business groups’ calls for the charge to be delayed because of the economic uncertainty sparked by the Brexit vote.

Some business lobbyists reacted with dismay at the confirmation on Friday that the levy on larger companies in England will be launched as planned in April 2017. They were already critical of the plan before the referendum result, claiming it was poorly designed and risked reducing rather than raising the quality of training.

Other groups, however, have welcomed the scheme as an important step in addressing skills shortages and a way of broadening young people’s routes into decent careers.

Theresa May has made tackling inequality a key theme of her new government, and this marks the second time in a week the prime minister has stood up to big business groups concerned about rising salary bills. On Monday, Downing Street dismissed pressure to slow the implementation of the “national living wage”.

Robert Halfon, the apprenticeships and skills minister, said the levy would help to ensure “people of all ages and backgrounds have a chance to get on in life”.

“Apprenticeships give young people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, a ladder of ‎opportunity. That’s why we continue to work tirelessly to deliver the skills our country needs. The apprenticeship levy is absolutely crucial to this,” he said.

The levy is designed to fund 3m places for apprentices. It will be paid by employers in England with a payroll of more than £3m and charged at a rate of 0.5% of their annual pay bill. When George Osborne unveiled the levy last year, the former chancellor said those paying it would “get out more than they put in”.

The government has also said employers that are too small to pay it – around 98% of those in England – will have 90% of the costs of training paid for by the state. Extra support, worth £2,000 per trainee, will also be available for employers and training providers who take on 16 to 18-year-old apprentices or young care leavers.

One body for the construction industry described the levy as a “fair settlement for small employers”. The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) said the only cure for the industry’s skills shortages was to recruit and train more people.

The FMB’s chief executive, Brian Berry, said: “Small and medium-sized firms do the majority of training in our industry. Micro businesses [those employing fewer than 10 people] alone train around half of all construction apprentices. It is therefore crucial that new apprenticeship funding arrangements work for these firms and do not impose higher costs on them.”

The CBI, which represents companies that employ nearly 7 million people, has criticsed the levy and called on the government to push back the April 2017 start date.

Carolyn Fairbairn, the CBI’s director general, said: “We welcome the government’s focus on growing investment in apprenticeships, and business stands ready to step up and increase its own commitment. However, the apprenticeship levy in its current form risks turning the clock back on recent progress through poor design and rushed timescales.”

“The levy is too narrowly defined. It covers only one type of training and employers can only reclaim off-the-job costs. As a result, valuable forms of training risk being cut back, with quantity put ahead of quality.”

The trade group for the human resources sector, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), said the levy in its current form risked devaluing apprenticeships by putting the number of beneficiaries ahead of the quality of training they receive.

Ben Willmott, the CIPD’s head of public policy, said: “It is irresponsible for the government, particularly in a time of economic uncertainty in the aftermath of the referendum, to simply press ahead with a policy that is not fit for purpose.”

Employer groups have also said the levy could prompt some firms to rebadge existing jobs as apprenticeships to meet training targets and recoup the costs of the charge.

The British Retail Consortium also called for a delay. “The government should delay its introduction to 2018, allowing more time to design a truly viable system that delivers high-quality training,” said Helen Dickinson,its chief executive.

The British Chambers of Commerce welcomed the support for those taking on 16 to 18-year-old apprentices, but also urged the government to focus on quality. The manufacturers’ organisation EEF welcomed plans to increase funding for apprenticeships in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, but it too said questions remained over the levy’s design and it pushed for a later start date.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), however, said the government was right to launch the levy in April.

“Following Brexit, British employers may not be able to rely on recruiting migrant workers to fill skills gaps, so we’ll need more apprenticeships to train up our domestic workforce,” said Jonathan Clifton, IPPR’s associate director for public services.

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/aug/12/apprenticeships-levy-will-go-ahead-next-year-uk-government-confirms

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Did you know that you can up-skill your existing staff by enrolling them onto an apprenticeship course so that they can obtain a nationally recognised qualification whilst working on the job?

The beauty of doing this is that you can give your existing staff NVQ training and qualifications and thus ensuring they have the right skills and training in place.

In order to turn your existing staff into apprentices for FREE then the staff must be aged between 16-18 as the government fully funds this age group. If the staff members are aged 19-24 years old then the funding is cut and there may be a small contribution to pay. In some cases it may be free, but it depends on the training provider and how much funding they have available.

To give you an example, if a 23 year old admin assistant was enrolled onto an apprenticeship, they would gain a Level 2 or Level 3 NVQ in Business Administration in 12 months. This would cost around £150 + VAT as this cost would contribute to the shortfall in the cut in funding.

The amount of money you would have to contribute depends on the qualification as funding varies between industries.

As apprenticeship specialists we would scour the market to get you the best prices possible and try to keep the training free where possible.

Business Administration is a distance learning qualification so you would not lose your staff member to regular College attendance, instead an assessor would visit the workplace every 8 weeks. This varies depending on industry and the amount of staff you place into apprenticeships. For example, Digital Marketing or IT Support would require College attendance 1 day per week, but if there were a number of apprentices in the same workplace, it may be viable for a college to deliver the training on site. We would assess on a case by case basis.

You may get a £1,500 apprenticeship grant if:

  • You have less than 50 employees
  • Your apprentice is aged 16 to 24
  • You can claim support for up to 5 apprentices.

We can help turn existing staff into apprentices if:

  • Aged 16-18 for fully funded training
  • Aged 19-24 for part funded training
  • Aged 24+ you will have to pay a larger fee unless we can source a provider with 24+ funding
  • You can commit to providing support and on the job training
  • Are willing for the staff to attend college as necessary
  • Apprentices work at least 30 hours per week
  • You have a genuine desire to up-skill your workforce
  • Keep apprentices on current salary (We won’t work with employers who want to use apprentices as an excuse to provide lower wages)
  • The staff have at least Grades A – E in Maths and English

From https://www.northernapprenticeships.co.uk/turn-your-existing-staff-into-apprentices/

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Virgin likely to be in the red again, and wants lower charges if Heathrow gets a 3rd runway

Virgin Atlantic wants Heathrow to reduce its passenger charges once (perhaps that should say IF) its 3rd runway opens. Virgin CEO Craig Kreeger said charges are already too high. Virgin, naturally, wants flying to be as cheap as possible – or growth in numbers is slower (less profit). Virgin is not doing very well at present. The Times reports that Virgin Atlantic’s pre-tax profit, excluding exceptional items, rose by 2.2% to £23 million last year – the 3rd successive year it has been in the black. However, it may make a loss this year, because it faces competition from British Airways and increasing capacity in the North Atlantic market.  BA will start low cost transatlantic flights from £86 this summer, on a new airline called Level, from Barcelona.They also have to contend with lower air fares, rising fuel prices, fears of London terrorism and currency fluctuations that will hit profits.  Virgin faces weak consumer confidence since the £’s fall against the US $, making trips from the UK to the US, its main route, more expensive. Virgin has to pay more for its fuel and new planes now, as these are bought in dollars. It is not yet known if many US tourists will be wary of coming to London, after the killings in Westminster. Virgin’s air cargo turnover fell 15.9%, due to weaker sterling and overcapacity in the market.
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Virgin calls for drop in charges after Heathrow expansion

28TH MARCH 2017 (Travel Mole)

from 2nd Feb 2017 ?

Virgin Atlantic is calling on Heathrow Airport to reduce its passenger charges once its extra runway opens.

Speaking as the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling unveiled his draft National Policy Statement on airports, outlining what Heathrow must do as part of its expansion, Virgin CEO Craig Kreeger said charges are already too high.

“We are pleased that the Government, the CAA and the airport are talking about the importance of affordability, but the devil will be in the detail and strict cost control is absolutely vital,” he said.

“With passenger charges at Heathrow already the highest in the world, it is simply untenable to increase them further to fund expansion.

“As tens of millions more passengers start using the airport when the runway opens, our customers would expect charges to fall over time to more internationally competitive levels.”

He added: “Expansion is an exciting, once in a generation opportunity to significantly increase airline competition at the UK’s hub airport.

“When one airline group has a stranglehold on almost 60% of the slots at the airport, it inevitably limits the amount of competition that Virgin Atlantic and other carriers can provide.

“If the full benefits of the new runway are to be realised, new capacity must be allocated in a way that brings more choice, lower fares and better service for customers.”

Meanwhile, Liverpool Airport CEO Andrew Cornish said he supported the call for Heathrow to add more domestic links as part of the expansion criteria.

“We have been a long-time supporter of Heathrow’s plans for a third runway and will respond to the Government’s consultation supporting the need to secure these new domestic links, knowing that regional airports such as Liverpool can benefit by the future opening up of access to the UK’s hub airport for improved worldwide connectivity,” he said.

http://www.travelmole.com/news_feature.php?news_id=2025763&c=setreg&region=2

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Virgin faces turbulence from terror and sterling

By Alex Ralph (Times)
March 28 2017

The airline is also facing competition from British Airways and increasing capacity in the North Atlantic market. Group revenue dipped from £2.78 billion to £2.69 billion

Lower fares, rising fuel prices and currency fluctuations will push Virgin Atlantic back into the red this year.

The airline is facing weak consumer confidence since the pound’s fall against the dollar, making trips to the US, its main route, more expensive. Virgin Atlantic is also battling against rising costs because it buys fuel and aircraft in dollars and is suffering after terrorist attacks.

Craig Kreeger, chief executive, said that it was too early to tell how last week’s attack [in Westminster, people on Westminster Bridge killed by car and policeman stabbed to death near Parliament] would affect the number of tourists flying to the UK. “It’s a painful reminder of the new reality we live in,” he said.

The company is also facing competition and increasing capacity in the North Atlantic market, on which the airline has focused since going into a $360 million joint venture with Delta Air Lines in 2013.

It faces competition from British Airways, which has launched Level, a carrier offering transatlantic flights from £86 this summer, from Barcelona.

Virgin has opened its own new routes, including a daily service between Heathrow and Seattle and it plans to introduce wifi from June.

Group revenue dipped from £2.78 billion to £2.69 billion as cargo turnover fell 15.9%, despite increased volumes, because of weaker sterling and overcapacity in the market, and as the number of passengers carried fell by almost half a million to 5.44 million.

Airline unit passenger revenue, a proxy for average fares, fell 4.3 per cent on a constant currency basis, as Virgin cut prices.

The fall in revenue was also partly caused by a shift towards smaller Boeing 787-9 aircraft and away from Airbus A340-600s, which Mr Kreeger said had 70 to 80 fewer seats and were more fuel efficient and quieter. It helped, however, to boost its passenger load factor, a measure of how full its planes were, by 1.9 percentage points to 78.7 per cent.

A drive to strip out costs and a strong performance in its Virgin Holidays business, where underlying profits rose to £19.1 million, helped to support the bottom line.

Pre-tax profit, excluding exceptional items, rose by 2.2 per cent to £23 million last year. It is the third successive year that Virgin Atlantic has been in the black.

Savings also came from a £191 million reduction in fuel costs as the two-year rout in oil markets fed through. That was offset by £179 million of losses from hedges that the airline had put in place. Statutory profit before tax came in at £231.6 million.

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/virgin-faces-turbulence-from-terror-and-sterling-r02kf9h9b?shareToken=a281a8d26a40f8cd90386b1ee407bedf

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Virgin CEO says Heathrow expansion ‘must benefit passengers’

By Aaron Greenwood
6th February, 2017

The CEO of Virgin Atlantic has called on planners to ensure any expansion to Heathrow Airport primarily benefits passengers and generates increased competition among carriers.

Responding to the publication of the government’s National Policy Statement on airports to enable Heathrow expansion, Virgin Atlantic CEO Craig Kreeger commented: “We support Heathrow expansion provided that it delivers for passengers a transformative increase in airline competition and genuine value for money. We will study the Government’s National Policy Statement to ensure its provisions do just that.

“Expansion is an exciting, once in a generation opportunity to significantly increase airline competition at the UK’s hub airport. When one airline group has a stranglehold on almost 60% of the slots at the airport, it inevitably limits the amount of competition that Virgin Atlantic and other carriers can provide. If the full benefits of the new runway are to be realised, new capacity must be allocated in a way that brings more choice, lower fares and better service for customers.

“We are pleased that the Government, the CAA and the airport are talking about the importance of affordability, but the devil will be in the detail and strict cost control is absolutely vital. With passenger charges at Heathrow already the highest in the world, it is simply untenable to increase them further to fund expansion. As tens of millions more passengers start using the airport when the runway opens, our customers would expect charges to fall over time to more internationally competitive levels.”

http://www.traveldailymedia.com/246780/virgin-ceo-says-heathrow-expansion-must-benefit-passengers/

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Level: British Airways sister airline offering transatlantic fares dramatically lower than rivals

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Can long-haul air travel also be low cost?

Our love affair with budget airlines continues unabated. Ryanair, the Irish carrier that passengers have long loved to hate, last year overtook Lufthansa to become Europe’s biggest airline by passenger numbers.

Norwegian carried about a quarter of Ryanair’s 117 million passengers in the same period. But unlike its competitors, the Oslo-based airline has found considerable success by flying across the Atlantic from cities including London and Paris for the past four years – and appears to have the likes of IAG worried.

The decision by IAG, which owns British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus, to launch a low-cost long-haul airline is regarded as a direct response to the threat posed by Norwegian. A “reactionary tit-for-tat move” is how one analyst describes the move.

The Barcelona-based carrier will initially offer flights to four destinations including Los Angeles and Buenos Aires at “even more affordable” prices from June. IAG says it sold 52,000 tickets in the 24 hours after Level’s website went live last week.

The presidential palace, the Casa Rosada, in Buenos Aires – one of the destinations Level will fly to.

The arrival of budget operators on long-haul routes is good news for consumers as they are proving “very stiff competition for traditional airlines”, says a spokesperson for Abta.

But the travel agents’ body points out that passengers may be less willing to put up with a cramped cabin for flights that take many hours – as well as paying extra for food and checked baggage.

All airlines must impose air passenger duty of £75 each way, which Abta says is one reason the arrival of Level will not trigger a price war. In addition, it will start with just two planes, but as Gerald Khoo, an airlines analyst at Liberum, notes: “Two aircraft will not be the sum total of IAG’s ambitions.”

‘Asleep at the wheel’

Level plans to add more routes with more planes from summer 2018 and is “talking to other potential European airports where Level may operate”. Khoo expects the UK to be on its wish list, with Manchester a possible first port of call.

The advantage of using a new brand such as Level not only allows IAG to keep costs as low as possible, but also means a break with the past.

Khoo argues that BA passengers have certain expectations of what the service levels should be, which may no longer be realistic. Norwegian does not suffer from the same problem and seems to be exceeding expectations given its customer satisfaction ratings, he adds.

But another analyst who covers IAG says the company “may have left its run too late – it’s been asleep at the wheel for too long”.

Norwegian started offering the UK’s first low-cost long-haul flights to the US from Gatwick in July 2014 and has become the third biggest airline at the Sussex airport. It now flies to seven US destinations from Gatwick, with twice-daily departures to New York and a daily flight to Los Angeles.

Stuart Buss, a spokesperson for Norwegian, says it had long wanted to fly across the Atlantic but could not make the numbers add up until the arrival of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner in late 2011. The plane is largely made of composite materials, making it far lighter and thus much more fuel efficient.

Norwegian was one of the first to order the plane and among the first airlines to start flying it. The company has 13 Dreamliners in service, with another 30 on order. “It’s been the backbone of our long-haul growth,” Buss says.

The airline will also start flying from Barcelona to the US in June, around the same time that it begins services from Edinburgh, Belfast, Cork, Shannon and Dublin using Boeing single-aisle 737 aircraft.

This year Norwegian starts taking delivery of the 737 Max, the latest version of the plane. Buss says its improved fuel efficiency will make it “another gamechanger”. The airline has 100 of the planes on order, underlining the scale of its ambition.

Seasonal swings

While putting bums on seats to the US in the summer months at prices as low as £135 each way should not be too difficult, Norwegian may find it more challenging to fill planes from regional cities in the autumn or winter, says one airlines analyst.

And despite Michael O’Leary’s oft-repeated claims, the analyst doubts Ryanair will ever launch trans-Atlantic services. “It’s just not economic – Ryanair could fly from Shannon to Boston now using 737-800 planes, but they can only do one return journey a day, compared with four or five turns on European routes.”

That obstacle does not appear to be deterring other airlines from echoing IAG’s plans. Lufthansa’s budget offshoot, Eurowings, flies to countries such as Cuba and Thailand from Germany.

Meanwhile, Air France will start long-haul services on its Boost subsidiary next year with the aim of “opening new routes, re-opening routes closed due to their lack of profitability and maintaining routes under threat”.

Next year BA plans to squeeze another 36 economy seats into its Boeing 777 planes that fly from Gatwick to holiday destinations in Florida and the Caribbean, bringing the total to 252. It has also started to charge for food on short-haul flights, further blurring the lines between traditional and budget airlines.

When it comes to flying, it seems we very much get what we pay for.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-39366831

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Level: British Airways’ new sister airline is offering transatlantic fares dramatically lower than rivals

Prices from Barcelona to California and to Buenos Aires are undercutting the market

By Simon Calder Travel Correspondent (The Independent)

20.3.2017

 

“Yesterday we hit record sales: 52,000 tickets sold,” tweeted Level — British Airways’ new sister airline. “Wow!”

Level’s new transatlantic network was launched at the weekend and takes to the skies in June. The budget carrier is part of the IAG conglomerate, which includes Aer Lingus, Vueling and Iberia as well as BA.

The carrier will be based in Barcelona, with flights to Los Angeles and Oakland in California, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and the Argentinian capital, Buenos Aires.

The opening one-way fares announced by airline were €99, and all the cheapest seats appear to have been snapped up fast. But research by The Independent reveals many tickets are on sale for only slightly more — particularly in the autumn.

Departing from Barcelona to Oakland — the airport serving San Francisco — for a week on 4 November costs €113 for the outbound leg, and €134 inbound, giving a return fare of €247, or about £220. Similar fares are available on many dates in November and the first half of December.

On similar dates on the identical route, the low-cost airline Norwegian’s fares are €199 outbound and €213 inbound — two-thirds higher than its new rival.

The basic fare on Level covers only a single piece of cabin baggage, with maximum dimensions of 56x45x25cm. It appears there is no weight limit.

Meals, drinks and Wi-Fi are charged separately on Level. Norwegian offers complimentary Wi-Fi, but its free cabin baggage baggage allowance is not so generous as Level’s.

For British travellers, the arrival of a new option to Buenos Aires is especially appealing. On the key pre-Christmas Friday, 22 December, returning two weeks later, the return fare from Barcelona is €947. Together with a separately booked low-cost flight from Gatwick (allowing plenty of time for the connection outbound and return), the total in sterling is around £930 return.

The cheapest non-stop flight on British Airways from Heathrow to Buenos Aires on these dates is £1,414, and the lowest fare via Madrid on Iberia or Air Europa is around £1,000.

Flights are operated by the Spanish airline Iberia on behalf of Level. A source at Aer Lingus expressed surprise that a new entity had been set up for low-cost transatlantic flying, when the Irish airline is already offering budget services — and has an established and well-regarded brand.

The fare quotes for a series of test bookings suggest that the final decision on a name was taken fairly late on in the project. It shows the operator as “Iberia for Newco”. Newco appears to be the working name for the new airline.

http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/level-british-airways-sister-airline-transatlantic-flight-fares-prices-norwegian-lower-rivals-a7639771.html

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Blog: “One flew over the cuckoo nest, then another hundred, and another, and another…”

In July 2016, a seminar was held in the House of Commons, on the link between exposure to high levels of aircraft noise, and mental health. It is known that the stress of finding one’s home is newly under a busy flight path affects some people very badly. With planes at low altitude – one after the other, hour after hour, day after day – the impact of this new intrusion into someone’s home life can cause anxiety, stress and depression. This is particularly the case for those with pre-existing susceptibilities. The situation is made worse when those now subjected to intense, almost daily, plane noise find there is no source of help, and no way to reduce the problem – causing a feeling of helplessness, and even despair. The problem has only become intense in the past few years, now the aviation industry is using P-RNAV. That means constantly repeated noise for those below flight routes. But what can be done to help people whose mental health is harmed, through no fault of their own, when they find – without warning or permissions – that a flight path has been created over them?  Is “respite” for a few hours per day, or a few days per week, enough to make a difference?  Would providing funding to move house be the answer, for those whose mental health is seriously damaged by the noise intrusion? Read a new blog by a noise sufferer, on the difficult, but important, issue of mental health impact of more concentrated flight paths. 
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One flew over the cuckoo nest, then a hundred,……..

The writer of the blog below has consistently blogged and warned of the likelihood of new and excessive aircraft noise tipping severely depressed over the edge, with the very real possibility that some will not be saved.  [That means an increased suicide risk].

And although the link between aircraft noise and depression is now generally accepted, he points out that nothing has yet been done to protect the most ‘noise vulnerable’ from radical, ‘once in a lifetime’, airspace change. This may see the over concentration of low flying, noisy aircraft in narrow tracts, re-creating noise ghettos. These are, he argues, ‘incubators for mental ill health’.

Whilst acknowledging that respite – breaks from aircraft noise – may benefit many, it is not a silver bullet, and he reasons that they will be insufficient for a small, but significant minority, notably including those with severe pre-existing mental health pathologies. Others too are potentially at risk where ‘hotspots’ have been locked into the new flight path designs. These are most likely to arise where there is highly concentrated targeting of particular flight paths (not all are equal), aircraft are at low level, in large numbers, and noise is neither significantly mitigated nor equitably dispersed within communities.

In such, exceptional cases, he urges an imperative ‘Respite plus’ solution, described more fully elsewhere as:

  • Stage 1: an appeal (to an Independent Noise Authority/Ombudsman) for the ‘hotspot’ to be reviewed and adjusted, where practical, to cause less harm. If this fails, then the case should be escalated to the next stage.
  • Stage 2: involves the provision of effective acoustic glazing and insulation for ‘hotspot’ properties.  In instances where, for example, there is an acute mental health concern, then the solution should be ‘stepped up’, increasing the choice, range and effectiveness of products/services- the focus should always be on the required solution. Extremely noise vulnerable need to be able to ‘turn off’ the noise. And, in even rarer cases
  • Stage 3: the possibility of supported ‘move on’, where necessary, using a variety of financial /innovative solutions (details published elsewhere), if previous stages fail. Each local authority, in ‘hot spot’ areas, should be provided with ring fenced funds via the Government to support such a scheme. It would seem appropriate that they worked closely with other housing bodies, taking a strategic approach to the problem.

He urges that Government, Public Health and Local Authorities still have much to do protect the noise vulnerable, as does aviation generally. He urges them to get on with it as a matter of  urgency before it’s too late.


The blog: 

One flew over the cuckoo’s nest

20/3/17

One flew over the cuckoo nest, then another hundred, and another, and another………

The classic film ‘one flew over the cuckoo nest’ provided a stark insight into mental illness and treatment in the 70’s. Today, our approach to Mental Health, and particularly mental illness, has progressed significantly. So too has the world of aviation, and increasingly its reported concern with aviation noise, and good mental health.

Genuine concern for mental health of overflown in UK or pie in the sky?

Currently our skies are being ‘divvied up’ to allow significant growth in the number of aircraft using it, now, and well into the future. These changes have been described by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as ‘once in a lifetime’. It follows, therefore, that the greatest care and attention should be applied to designing and managing this transition. This is especially so as there is absolutely no chance of a second chance, and some peoples’ lives are therefore literally hanging by a thread, depending on a reasonable outcome.

But aviation policy has shifted towards compressing noise footprints (the area over which noise pollutes) making them smaller, but more concentrated, and then compounding this by concentrating the noise on the ‘fewest people’. While such an approach is considered more efficient and effective by the aviation industry, they don’t have to ‘live’ with the misery that is created for many. Not only will many lose any right to the quiet enjoyment of their home, their physical and mental health may be adversely affected, life expectancy reduced, and homes blighted.

In addition, no one knows what ‘dose’ is safe! Is it 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 planes per day? Then the next day, and the next, and the next. If you survive you’ll be allowed some days off, before it starts all over again. This is an example of what respite might look like. We’ll return to this shortly.

Unfortunately, if you care to think about it, this policy is neither fair nor ethical. By accident, and design, it actually creates ‘winners’ by creating and exploiting ‘losers’. And since the ‘winners’ outweigh the ‘losers’ in number terms, it is no surprise that their voice, and power, is diminished. Noise, in such circumstances, is not ‘consulted away’, it is merely exported to another area, often one that is under-represented.

Nothing is being done, it seems, to satisfactorily address this, at present

Noise sewers – twenty first century apartheid

The term ‘noise sewers’ was recently coined and used I believe by the Chief Executive of the CAA to describe the undesirable impact of overconcentrated flight paths, and therefore noise pollution (must not forget particulates and other environmental pollution). He went on to explain that such overconcentration was rarely necessary, and therefore implied that they shouldn’t feature in airspace (re)design.

Certainly, this was making the ‘right kind of noise’ with the significantly overflown, and soon to be significantly overflown communities. But it is very unclear whether the aviation industry’s feet are yet following the words (industry/organisation cultures are hard to shift).

John Stewart, Chair of HACAN, [Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise] had first coined the term ‘noise ghettos’ to describe the ‘locked in’ communities deluged with aviation noise. The term ‘ghetto’ hinted at the injustice of this ‘fencing in’ and the denudation of human rights. This injustice still exists in places and while respite may provide a break, and a solution for many, it may create a nightmare for others as noise is effectively relocated elsewhere, but in a highly concentrated and targeted way. Unaddressed this is most likely to cause blight and physical, and/or mental ill health.

There is no safe noise dose, no research to establish what might be safe, so ’noise overdoses’ are likely to occur in some cases with potentially catastrophic effects on mental and physical health. Also as there will be no Independent Noise Ombudsman, who one can go to, who could adjudicate on the impact of changes and to provide redress? Yet this is what was unanimously called for at the Let Britain Fly Aircraft Noise Summit 2014, but nothing has happened since. It is wrong to effectively subjugate and deny the rights of decent people in this way. Why should they have to lose out, through no fault of their own? Why should their life’s work be compromised by a ‘once in a life time’ flightpath change and redistribution of historic noise?  Two wrong’s don’t make a right.

The risk with airspace (flightpath) change, currently subject to DfT consultation, is that as things stand one may be excluded from any form of redress, yet have your life and enjoyment of your home profoundly affected in a very negative way!

This is so very wrong, and surely must be unacceptable? It doesn’t happen with HS2 or any major road scheme does it? Why should the impact of airspace change, and such, I repeat, ‘once in a lifetime changesbe treated any differently to new runway impacts???

Peoples’ lives are at stake here – the sort of people who have done the hard yards, paid into the system, taken zilch out, put something back into society, yet they are still being seen as cannon fodder.

Consider going from few aircraft flying overhead, to perhaps 400 or more per day (including very early and late), flying low, at perhaps 90 second intervals. Would you like it? Would you think it was right? Of course not, no one in their right mind would. So why allow it? So why not do something about it?

Give us a break!

Respite, which has been briefly touched upon, is the latest offer from the aviation industry. The idea, in essence, is that by providing the overflown with breaks from noise this will improve their quality of life. In many heavily overflown areas it is understandably welcomed with open arms. This isn’t hard to understand. The downside is that for breaks to be provided other new or existing areas need to be overflown – noise will be redistributed. This raises issues about fairness and the adequacy of existing governance arrangements which are not what one might expect given the lives that will be affected one way or another.

Respite has also gained popularity on the back of the NORAH study into the effects of concentrated flightpaths at Frankfurt airport. It was found that concentrated flightpaths led to depression in some overflown people, and that respite was valued by those heavily overflown. Notably the impact on pre-existing severe mental health conditions was outside the scope of this study, but other European research suggests that such conditions increase the susceptibility to harmful effects from such noise. This is a major ‘blind spot’ (and risk) for current UK airspace redesign.

It is crucial, therefore, that the risks inherent in this approach are fully understood, evaluated and communicated. Above all it is crucial that those who will be expected to ‘suck it up for others’ are assisted, where necessary with noise reduction initiatives, and in exceptional cases, assisted to move on. There are a raft of innovative schemes that can be developed to deliver this, as many people will be locked in by depreciation. I presented the ‘Respite Plus’ solution at the House of Commons seminar on Aviation Noise and Mental Health 2016, as in some cases respite alone, will be inadequate. It’s time has come.

Far too many flew over the cuckoo’s nest

Having fought back from the abyss I have since 2014 been privileged to have shared several platforms with John Stewart addressing aviation noise, and in my case its relationship with mental health. It has been essential, therapeutic, and I had thought it would make a difference.

I have pitched at the GLA, House of Commons and even on BBC radio 4. I flew the flag for the discounted and unrepresented, and wore my heart on my sleeve, saying it as it was.

Not once did anyone from the main policy or regulatory agencies stop to have a word, or a conversation about the ideas ventilated at the events or in subsequent in blogs, which attracted a lot of attention in the UK and abroad. I regret this, and I also find it ominous as there is currently a DFT consultation on airspace change underway. It is why I have been forced to comment on the unacknowledged.

It so easy to selfishly park noise on others. If that’s what’s being done, especially in a highly concentrated way, the least that can be done is that they are adequately protected. Give them the means of redress. Don’t pretend noise is no big deal and that periodic breaks will ‘sort it’ for everyone. It won’t. Some may be so exhausted/ill waiting for a break that they are unable to benefit from it when available, and so a slow but irreversible cycle of decline is likely to be triggered. Pills won’t cure this, or breaks (although they may for many).

I have also encountered some excellent people including Ruth Cadbury (MP) and Dr Tania Mathias (MP), amongst others – people who cared, in positions of responsibility.

Even Matt Gorman (Heathrow’s Sustainability and Environment Director), I would include on my list. I have sought to persuade him that LHR should be world leaders in developing products and services to assist the noise vulnerable in living with aircraft noise. There is also so much that can and should be done, if the Government, and Local Authorities, and Public Health Bodies focused on this important, but badly done by constituency. Why don’t we get on and do it?

One flew over the cuckoo nest, then 100, then another and another ……and the next day and the next……Why then ask ‘does aviation noise cause depression/severe depression or mental ill health’? Just ask yourself, ‘does a duck quack’?

 

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Packed first public meeting of new anti-Heathrow expansion group, BASHR3 in Hounslow

Nearly 200 residents packed out a church hall to attend the launch meeting of a new local anti-Heathrow expansion group – BASHR3. The first public meeting of Brentford and Hounslow Stop Heathrow Expansion (BASH Runway 3) meeting on March 21st  was a lively event, with speeches from Ruth Cadbury (Brentford & Isleworth MP), John Stewart of HACAN, and Maggie Thorburn, from Friends of the Earth.  Putting profits and pollution before people were high on the agenda and there were serious concerns that tens of thousands more people in Brentford, Isleworth, Osterley, Chiswick and Hounslow will be affected by a third runway. Ruth Cadbury was adamant that the threat of a third runway would be eradicated, and many claims made by Heathrow of how they would deal with problems such as noise, air pollution and carbon emissions were “laughable.” …Ruth believes that “Together, we’ll see off the threat to our area for good.”  The 3rd runway means the massive intrusion of aircraft noise into the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, who not currently under a flight path. Being overflown for the first time would come as a deeply unpleasant shock for many, and the DfT has made no attempt to give out information about who would be affected.  Air pollution will also become worse across the constituency as a result of the traffic generated by the extra cars and lorries on the local and motorway road network.
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Heathrow third runway: New anti-expansion group claims ‘profit is being put ahead of people’

Congested roads, pollution and noise were discussed at the first gathering held by new local group BASH Runway 3

BY SALINA PATEL (Get West London)
23 MAR 2017

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Nearly 200 residents packed out a church hall to attend the launch meeting of a new local anti-Heathrow expansion group.

Putting profits and pollution before people were high on the agenda at the Brentford and Hounslow Stop Heathrow Expansion (BASH Runway 3) meeting on Tuesday (March 21).

The campaign group also believes tens of thousands more people in Brentford , Isleworth , Osterley , Chiswick and Hounslow will be affected by a third runway.

Anti-Heathrow expansion group BASH Runway 3 hold first meeting to fight third runway. MP Ruth Cadbury spoke at the meeting (Lots of photos available on the web link below).

The crowds were addressed by Brentford & Isleworth MP Ruth Cadbury , John Stewart from anti-expansion group HACAN and Maggie Thorburn from West London Friends of the Earth.

Ms Cadbury was adamant that together the threat of a third runway would be eradicated, adding certain claims made by Heathrow Airport were “laughable.”

Putting profits and pollution before people was discussed at the first meeting held by new anti-Heathrow expansion group BASHR3

“Together, we’ll see off the threat to our area for good,” she said.

“Heathrow expansion means hundreds of thousands of people not currently under a flight path will be overflown for the first time.

“Air pollution will also become worse across the constituency as a result of the traffic generated by the extra cars and lorries on the local and motorway road network.

“Heathrow’s claims that Runway 3 can be delivered without any increase in vehicles using the airport is laughable.”

Living under Heathrow’s flightpath increases risk of stroke and heart disease a report claims

The meeting was held at Brentford Free Church on Boston Manor Road.

Other issues covered included:

– increased congestion of local roads
– expansion of the M4
– local air quality
– the substantial increase in aircraft noise with an additional runway flight path
– air quality falling below legal limits
– the perceived lack of opposition to the plans from Hounslow Council

Dave Waller, chairman of BASH Runway 3, which was created earlier this year, added: “It was great to see so many local residents come along to our first public meeting, where many residents raised serious concerns with what Heathrow expansion really means for our area.

“It makes me angry that once again profit is being put ahead of people, ahead of human health and ahead of a generation of children who will be blighted with asthma as a result of 250,000 more planes per year in our area.”

The group has also joined the new coalition No Third Runway , along with 17 other anti-expansion groups, councils and MPs.

The group vows there is more to come in the coming weeks to help put a stop to the expansion of Heathrow.

http://www.getwestlondon.co.uk/news/west-london-news/heathrow-third-runway-new-anti-12786752#r3z-addoor

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See also:

 

Major new coalition launched to fight Heathrow 3rd runway

A major new coalition has been launched to fight the proposed 3rd runway at Heathrow. The coalition is formally backed already by 18 local campaign groups, including to name a few, Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE), HACAN, Teddington Action Group (TAG) and recently formed BASH Runway 3 (based in Brentford). More groups are expected to join in the coming weeks. The coalition also has the support of 5 local authorities as well as leading politicians from all main parties. The aim of the coalition is to put additional pressure on the Government to drop plans for the runway, building upon the work of existing opponents including campaign groups, local authorities and MPs. It will provide opponents of the runway a platform, allowing them to work effectively together – including support from MPs to the heroic local Councils challenging Heathrow in the courts. The coalition will work to highlight issues – including noise, air pollution and economics – with the DfT’s current, deeply flawed, consultation on the Heathrow National Policy Statement (NPS). Though the DfT has held 20 consultation exhibition events across west London, Berkshire and Surrey, considerable numbers of residents were left disappointed that there was no information on locations of new flight paths, and that will not be presented until much later in the process.

Click here to view full story…

See earlier:

 

Heston residents and businesses can breathe a sigh of relief as M4 widening plans will not go ahead

MP for Feltham and Heston Seema Malhotra raised concerns in Parliament over confusion on M4 proposals

BY SALINA PATEL (Get West London)
3 FEB 2017

Plans to widen the M4 following the proposed Heathrow expansion which would impact residents and businesses in Heston have been denied.

Concerns were raised in Parliament by local MP Seema Malhotra on Thursday (February 2).

However transport secretary, Chris Grayling, confirmed there is no such plan in place, however there are proposals to create a smart motorway on the M4.

In a letter to Chris Grayling dated January 31, Ms Malhotra said: “I understand the department made a statement to the media to the effect that this proposal will not be going ahead and that there are no current plans for land acquisition of property in the vicinity of Winchester Avenue.

“However, recent Parliamentary Written Answers to me seem to again suggest that the proposal is under consideration.”

Original references were made to widening the M4 in the Airports Commission surface access strategic road network proposals, published by Highways England in October.

Speaking in parliament, Ms Malhotra added: “The document includes proposals to widen the M4.

She added: “The government made a statement to the media two weeks ago to the effect that that would not go ahead, but the answers to written questions that I have received have not been so clear.

“Will the Secretary of State confirm that those proposals will not go ahead, and that there will be no land or property acquisition in Heston?”

The question was raised on the day that the government’s public consultation on a third runway at Heathrow were published.

In response Mr Grayling said in Parliament: “I can be absolutely clear about this.

“There is no plan to widen the M4, although there is a plan to create a smart motorway on the M4.

“There is no plan that I am aware of, or that I have discussed in any way, shape or form, to start buying houses in her constituency for a wider M4, and I have not seen a budget for that either, so she can take it from me that there is no plan to widen the M4.”

http://www.getwestlondon.co.uk/news/west-london-news/heston-residents-businesses-can-breathe-12551109

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Response by T&E to EU consultation on VAT – there is no logical reason why air travel is exempt

The EU held a consultation recently, about VAT and changes to the European Directive on it. The consultation closed on 20th March 2017.  Some of objectives of the consultation were to ask if there should be greater freedom for Member States to fix VAT rates; the proper balance between harmonisation and Member States autonomy in setting VAT rates; problems of differentiation of VAT rates within the Single Market etc.  Air travel is zero rated for VAT across the EU.  The group “Transport & Environment” responded to the consultation, and a couple of their points were that: having no VAT on air travel means the most carbon intensive transport mode, aviation, has ticket prices which are artificially lowered, creating distortions between rail/bus and aviation/ferry. … all Member States must impose VAT on all passenger transport, especially aviation … where this cannot be agreed, it should be easy for some Member States to impose VAT on passenger transport …  for things that benefit society such as medicines there is a very strong argument to allow for super-reduced rates, however, climate intensive travel by air or cruise vacations are not among them. There is currently also no VAT on cruises – which are most definitely not essential items.
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The response from Transport & Environment is here

https://www.transportenvironment.org/sites/te/files/publications/2017_03_TE_response_Commission_passenger_VAT_consultation.pdf 

and this shows all the questions.

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Below are the main points made by T&E:

Could you specify what were the goods/services concerned and how the difference in VAT rates affected fair competition ?

Passenger transport VAT varies on the basis of the different modes of transport. In many cases bus and rail must pay VAT while aviation and maritime transport do not. This means that the most carbon intensive mode, aviation, has ticket prices which are artificially lowered, creating distortions between rail/bus and aviation/ferry.

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Could you specify what would be the goods or services concerned and why new distortion of competition would be created ?

Member States have long had discretion in the field of passenger transport and it has essentially resulted in a race to the lowest common denominator VAT rate. Environmental NGOs primarily support the position where all Member States must impose VAT on all passenger transport, especially aviation, the most carbon intensive mode of transport. However, where this cannot be agreed, facilitating (and encouraging by simplifying the place of supply rules) some Member States to move ahead with the imposition of VAT on passenger transport could be a supportable secondary solution.

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If you wish to add further information – within the scope of this questionnaire – please feel free to do so here.

Passenger transport is exempted through a complicated series of zero rating and exemptions throughout the VAT Directive so that aviation and maritime transport benefit from a super-reduced rate. This was supposed to be temporary when first introduced but was never abolished. It is time to do so now. Environmental NGOs take no position on the other goods and services that benefit from exemptions but for things that benefit society such as medicines there is a very strong argument to allow for super-reduced rates, however, climate intensive travel by air or cruise vacations are not among them.

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If you wish to add further information – within the scope of this questionnaire – please feel free to do so here.

Re Q33: We disagree strongly with the suggestion that “Under both options all currently existing reduced rates…would be maintained.” Passenger transport derogations must be abolished and standard rates applied in all MS.

Re Q34: We were not allowed to answer Q34 and Q35 because of our answer at Q33. However, we would like to answer: “prevent the application of reduced rates to high-value goods and services…”

Re Q35: We would like to answer: “Once intra EU derogations are abolished there can be no justification for taxing passenger transport at less than the standard rate – modes such as aviation and cruise ships should in particular be able to be taxed at the highest rate. No super reduced rates, certainly not for passenger transport.”

Re Q39: There is a grave danger of tax competition between MS as regards passenger transport rates and the accompanying erosion of revenue and tax base. As regards passenger transport we would strongly oppose the granting of greater flexibility.

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