The Scottish Government bought the loss-making airport for £1 in 2013, and is trying to find ways for it to make money. Prestwick now has hopes of becoming a “space hub” delivering small satellites and tourists into low-level orbit. The Scottish Government will provide a funding package, for 2 years, of £240,000 from South Ayrshire Council and Scottish Enterprise. This will cover “infrastructure, business development, energy reduction and supply chain development.” The Queen’s Speech in May confirmed aims to drive through the complex legislation needed to certify the safe operation of space vehicles through the Modern Transport Bill. The DfT is setting up a regulatory framework to license individual sites, with Prestwick and two other Scottish locations – Campbeltown on the west coast and Stornoway in the Western Isles – among those short-listed last year. There are hopes of jobs, if the project goes ahead. Prestwick has now signed a memorandum of understanding with California-based space launch vehicle designer XCOR Aerospace, and space plane design and operating company Orbital Access Limited, setting out an action plan. This would be a competitor to the Virgin Galactic sub-orbital passenger flights, taking 2 passengers at a time into an orbit of 350,000 feet for a short time, at immense cost.
Prestwick’s spaceport ambitions boosted by deal with US spaceplane designer
13.7.2016 (Herald Scotland)
By Helen McArdle
Space tourism from Prestwick is a step closer after a US firm at the cutting edge of spaceflight design struck a deal with the Ayrshire base to bring manned launch services to Scotland.
The spaceport has signed a memorandum of understanding with California-based space launch vehicle designer XCOR Aerospace and space plane design and operating company Orbital Access Limited, setting out an action plan for operations at Prestwick.
The move takes it closer to launching manned flights using XCOR’s Lynx, a two-seater supersonic spacecraft which is vying with Virgin Galactic to become the first firm to launch sub-orbital passenger flights.
XCOR has already sold more than 200 tickets at $95,000 (£72,000) each for the inaugural flights, which promise give passengers a view of Earth from a gravity-defying altitude of 350,000ft.
The tie-up between XCOR and Glasgow Prestwick comes as the taxpayer-owned airport ramps up its efforts to become the UK’s first spaceport, a venture that would also allow it to become a major base for scientific research and satellite launches.
Mike Stewart, business development director at Glasgow Prestwick, said: “We already have the vast majority of the infrastructure in place and with as little as £1million investment we could be up and running.
“Having a pipeline of partners, customers and suppliers in place will be hugely helpful in pulling together the business case for the investment required to get up and running.
“The progress that we are making now that the UK Government has decided to make this a licensing regime rather than a bidding process demonstrates that this was the right decision for the industry and the UK economy.
“This has allowed the market to accelerate the process and decide where it feels that launches can be best delivered. We are delighted that Orbital Access and XCOR have decided that the best place for them is Glasgow Prestwick Spaceport and that they are establishing operational bases onsite.”
XCOR president and CEO, Jay Gibson, added: “Strategic aerospace industrial partnerships and strong routes to market characterise our approach to bringing this ground breaking system to fruition.
“Our unique reusable rocket motor technology is at the core of the Lynx and we are looking forward to working with partners in the Scottish aerospace and space sector.”
The collaboration, which is supported by Scottish Enterprise, was unveiled yesterday at Farnborough International Airshow.
Stuart McIntyre, the chief executive of Orbital Access, said: “The Lynx represents a highly versatile manned spacecraft to service space research missions in zero gravity, and provide academics and industry with a unique and responsive research environment. It can also support leisure sub-orbital flights.
“This will complement our satellite launch systems, which are in development, and complete the suite of launch services Orbital Access will be offering at spaceports globally.”
The development comes after doubts over the future of the Lynx project when XCOR began laying off US staff involved in designing the spaceplane, which was first announced in 2008.
In March, there were also reports that XCOR might divert resources into other research after it signed a deal with United Launch Alliance, the Boeing-Lockheed partnership that launches lots of military satellites, to develop a new rocket engine powered by liquid hydrogen.
The prospects for space tourism generally suffered a blow when Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo crashed during a test flight over the Mojave desert in 2014, killing co-pilot Michael Alsbury.
Officials say a spaceport at Prestwick could deliver 1,450 jobs.
Plans to create a space hub around Government-owned Prestwick Airport have received a fresh funding package of £240,000 from local government and economic development authorities.
The money, supplied equally by South Ayrshire Council and Scottish Enterprise, will fund a two-year support package covering infrastructure, business development, energy reduction and supply chain development.
It includes the appointment of a new “programme manager” to be based out of the airport’s administrative offices. The move comes as the struggling operation competes to become one of the UK’s first “spaceports” delivering small satellites and tourists into low-level orbit.
Last month’s Queen’s Speech confirmed aims to drive through the complex legislation needed to certify the safe operation of space vehicles through the Modern Transport Bill.
The Department for Transport is setting up a regulatory framework to license individual sites, with Prestwick and two other Scottish locations – Campbeltown on the west coast and Stornoway in the Western Isles – among those short-listed last year.
Should Prestwick get a licence, officials say the project could deliver as many as 1,450 jobs within ten years, with £320 million of additional economic activity. The new programme manager will work alongside a variety of organisations through the Prestwick Aerospace partnership.
Eileen Howat, chief executive of South Ayrshire Council, said it is now the right time to push forward ambitious plans for Prestwick. The Scottish Government bought the loss-making airport for £1 in 2013, and is seeking to re-build its fortunes under newly-appointed chief executive Ron Smith.
Scotland leading race to host UK’s first spaceport
4 January 2016 (Scotsman)
Campbeltown, Stornoway and Prestwick among Scottish contenders Scottish spaceport ‘could be operational by 2019’ Cornwall and Gwynedd also in running SCOTLAND is leading the race to host the UK’s first space port, with a new report suggesting it could be operational by 2019.
All of the potential Scottish space sites are in step with a government checklist of base requirements – with their remote nature helping allay safety and noise pollution fears over bids south of the Border.
Spaceports have previously only been seen in films like Star Wars, but the government is keen to establish one in the UK to allow regular space tourism flights and to send satellites into orbit.
With firms like Space X and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic expressing an interest in launching flights from the UK as soon as 2018, the reality of space tourists and commercial rocket launches is tantalisingly close.
The Department of Transport published a list of criteria for any site bidding last week.
Key among them was a clear flight path north, over the sea, into a polar orbit.
The government also made it clear it preferred a coastal site with low population density.
The demands put the Scottish contenders, Campbeltown, Stornoway and Prestwick, ahead of competitors in England and Wales.
Newquay in Cornwall and Llanbedr airport in Wales are also being considered, but Tom Millar, director of the Campbeltown-based Discover Space UK bid, said he was ‘confident’ of a Scottish victory.
He said: “I’d be surprised if our bid doesn’t finish top of the league. The more detail we get of what the government wants, the more convinced I am that our bid is the best.
“The driver from our point of view is that we are suffering depopulation and unemployment. This could be a game-changer.”
Howie Firth of the Spaceport Scotland group added: “Economically, a spaceport is not a luxury – it’s a vital investment.
“It would be a tremendous prize to come to Scotland. It would attract industries, create jobs and it would be the most incredible inspiration. The potential is huge.”
The UK’s space industry is still relatively small, with firms looking to launch satellites having to wait for a slot on rockets launching from South America or Kazakhstan.
Mr Firth added: “The current situation is like having a shipbuilding industry thousands of miles from the sea.
“If instead of having to package up a satellite and send it miles away you could simply put it in a van and drive to a spaceport it would make a tremendous difference.”
A final list of technical specifications for the spaceport will be published next year before the official bidding process opens.
At another of the massive protests organised by the campaigners against the new airport, there were some 25,000 people, from across France. They came again, in huge numbers, from the 200 or so support committees across France and Belgium, who work to block the new airport. John Stewart attended and his blog about the event explains just how pointless the plan is to move the airport to this new site, closing down the existing Nantes airport, which is not even full. The new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes has become the most controversial environmental project in France. It is causing the Government of Francois Hollande a major headache. The (non-binding) referendum held on 26th June voted by a small majority for the new airport, but much of the pro vote was from areas some distance to the north, perhaps hoping for jobs or easier trips to the airport on holidays. The new airport is not being built to cope with high demand, or to avoid flights over Nantes. The economic case is very weak. Opponents feel the new airport is largely an ego project for local politicians. Work has to start before February 2017, when the planning consent runs out. There are fears there will be violent scenes – perhaps this autumn – when the army is likely to be called in to evict those defending the ZAD area. And all for such a pointless, seriously environmentally harmful, project with little real justification.
Even if you are a big fan of aviation, you’d be hard-pushed to back the proposed new airport outside Nantes in west France.
The huge numbers (possibly as many as 25,000) that turned up last weekend (9th and 10th July) to two days of protest highlighted once again why the plan to build the airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes has become the most controversial environmental project in France.
It is causing the Government of Francois Hollande a major headache. There are over 200 groups across Belgium and France which back the opponents of the airport and which carry out demonstrations in their own areas in support of them. There were violent scenes a few years ago when the French Police tried to evict some of the thousands of young activists who are camped in Le Zad on the site of the proposed new airport.
Hollande tried to get round his problem by calling a (non-binding) regional referendum this summer. People were asked to decide whether they wanted to retain the existing one-runway airport close to the city or back the new two-runway airport over 17 kilometres outside Nantes. Hundreds of thousands of people voted. The vote went 55% to 45% in favour of the new airport.
But, far from settling the issue as Holland had hoped, the breakdown of the result has highlighted the pointlessness of the new airport. The city of Nantes split 50/50 but the communities in the city close to the existing airport plus those under its flight path voted to keep it. They wanted to keep the jobs it provides and signalled that the flights to the half-empty airport are not a problem. The vote in favour of the new airport was swung by communities 20 – 50 kilometres north of Nantes, some of whom felt the new airport might provide them with jobs and others who believed it would be easier for them to get to than the exiting airport on the other side of the city.
So this is a major new airport, ‘Nantes International’, being proposed on prime farmland not to relieve congestion at the existing airport, nor in response to demands for noise relief for those under existing flight paths, nor even because Nantes is in the middle of nowhere; it is just two hours by train to Paris. And not because a convincing economic case has been made for it.
The justification for the new airport seems to be that it will act as a catalyst for economic growth in the west of France. Plonked in the middle of nowhere, the idea is will serve the surrounding towns, Nantes, Angers and Rennes, each of them many kilometres from the airport. But there are real doubts whether there are sufficient people in these medium-sized towns to sustain such a project.
Almost certainly, any realistic assessment of the market would rule out the airport. And the links to these towns from the new airport are unplanned. There may or may not be a rail link to Nantes. Rennes and Angers would be served by coaches! The campaigners claim that the airport has more to do with the egos of the local politicians than the needs of the local area.
The Government needs to start building the airport by February 2017 or the planning permission it got five years ago falls. That means it would need to start evicting the environmental activists in Le Zad (the Zone a Defendre) and the local farmers in the autumn. It recognizes that, given the scale of the opposition across France and beyond, it will require the army rather than the police to do so. It may be a battle it cannot win.
You don’t need to be an anti-aviation activist to be against this new airport.
No works. No expulsions. It is always NO to the airport. (Don’t touch my tree)
No expulsions. No works. No airport.
One tiny part of the crowd.
Speakers. Gaspillage means Waste.
Inside the main tent, listening to speeches
Sowing the seeds of democracy.
Hundreds of lanterns against the NDDL airport, and in memory of Rémi Fraisse, who died recently while opposing the building of a dam at Sivens, in the Garonne. Link
The “Free Ride” stall at the gathering. Leo Murray set up the campaign, to show how in the UK 70% of the flights are taken by only 15% of people. More airport capacity is generally to serve these very frequent fliers. They can fly so much because flying is artificially cheap, paying no fuel duty and no VAT.
AirportWatch Europe is a network of aviation and airport activists from across Europe concerned about the expansion of aviation.
Joint statement by the Nantes anti-airport movement at Notre-Dame-des-Landes
June 28, 2016
This is the joint statement of the anti-airport movement on Sunday night following the results of the consultation. “As was shown the various components of the movement, the setting, the process and the content of this consultation were fundamentally biased . This was based on a series of government lies and was radically unfair. There was no question for us that this is just one step in the long struggle for a future without an airport at Notre Dame des Landes. This struggle continues tonight. We know that the attacks of the government and pro-airport side will be strengthened. On our side, we will not cease to live, grow and protect this farmland. It will continue to be defended with great energy because it carries the ineradicable hopes today against the destruction of the living and the commodification of the world. We call on all supporters and committees throughout France and beyond to mobilize and be vigilant in the weeks and months ahead. There will not be an airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. We call in this sense, and in the first instance, for a massive convergence at Notre-Dame-des-Landes for a summer anti-airport gathering, on 9th and 10th July.”
Notre-Dame-des-Landes referendum: 55% majority in favour of new airport – ACIPA fights on
June 27, 2016
There was a referendum in the Loire-Atlantique département on 26th June, with the question whether people backed the moving of the current Nantes-Atlantique airport south of Nantes, to a site north of Nantes, at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. Finally the voting was 55% in favour of the move. The area to be destroyed for the new airport is good farm land and valuable wetland habitat, and there has been fierce, determined opposition to the project for years. The local opposition, focused through ACIPA, was deeply critical of the way the referendum was organised. They believe areas other than just those in Loire-Atlantique should have been consulted. Some of these areas would be opposed to the move, and some have to contribute public funds towards it. The government wanted the poll as early as possible, as there is a “declaration of public utility” lasting till October, so work has to start by then. The prime minister, Manual Valls, made a statement as soon as the referendum result was known, that “the government will implement the verdict.” Those backing the new airport want to clear the protesters living illegally on the ZAD, some of the land on which the airport would be built, moved away soon, so clearing work can start. ACIPA said this result was just one step in their long struggle against the airport, and their struggle now continues.
English translations of some videos explaining arguments against a new Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport
June 20, 2016
The local opposition around Nantes, to the building a new airport north of Nantes, have produced a series of short videos, setting out some of the issues. There will be a referendum on 26th June, for people in the area, on whether the existing airport, Nantes-Atlantique, should be closed and a new airport constructed at Notre Dame des Landes (NDDL). The opponents of the NDDL airport say, among other things: – The number of flights at Nantes has hardly grown in 10 years. – It is possible to slightly grow the current Nantes-Atlantique airport (just south of Nantes) and slightly extend the runway by 60 metres. – It is possible to take measures to slightly reduce the noise at the Nantes-Atlantique airport. – The new NDDL airpot would cost the taxpayer about €280 million. – There would be no more destinations from the new NDDL airport than from the Nantes-Atlantique airport. Germany has 45 airports, and France has 156 airports. – The NDDL airport would mean the destruction of 700 hectares of wetland and about 900 hectares of farmland. – Many protected species would be lost. – About 200 agriculture-associated jobs would be lost, and most of the alleged new jobs would just move from the old airport. – The costs to passengers will be higher at the NDDL airport. And there is a lot more. With English translations here.
Local referendum on whether to move Nantes-Atlantique airport to Notre-Dame-des-Landes – 26th June
June 3, 2016
On 26th June there will be a consultation/referendum on the issue of whether the existing airport, Nantes-Atlantique, just south of Nantes should be moved to a site north of the town at Notre-Dame-des- Landes (NDDL). The government announced this referendum back in March.The question that will be asked is: “Do you support the proposed transfer of Nantes-Atlantique airport to the municipality of Notre-Dame-des-Landes?” The referendum is open to voters of the municipalities of Loire-Atlantique. Opponents are running an active campaign, to provide information to every potential voter and attending public meetings, with their spirit of quiet determination. Opponents, including local campaign ACIPA, say nobody asked for this referendum, and it does not in any way legitimize the airport project at NDDL, which they consider to be illegal, ruinous and destructive. They say the conditions for real democratic debate are not met; the area chosen for the referendum excludes some important local communities; the question is biased; and there is no guarantee of fair treatment of the opposition. They are not impressed that the Prime Minister has announced the start of work in the autumn, despite the referendum. They say the airport cannot proceed until various legal matters have been sorted out. There will be another huge anti-NDDL gathering on 9th and 10th July. “On a tous une bonne raison de voter NON.” (We all have a reason to vote NO.)
The Committee on Climate Change has produced an extensive report on the likely implications of climate change for the UK. They warn of multiple impacts, some of which could amplify and intensify others, leading to a domino effect. The UK is not well prepared. The 2,000 page report warns of flooding, and unsuitably built homes which are not designed for very hot summers, and damage to soils and farming, as well as water supply issues. There is much to be done to adapt to the altered climate that is inevitable, with the rapidly rising level of CO2 in the global atmosphere. The CCC warns that UK food production will be at risk, and food production elsewhere in the world will also be affected, causing shocks to the food system. The projections are based on the supposition that governments keep promises made in the Paris climate agreement, but there is no certainty that even these rather inadequate pledges will actually be met. The report comes the day before Theresa May becomes Prime Minister, which is significant timing – to remind her of her role in ensuring the UK takes its climate responsibilities seriously. As well as adapting sufficiently to climate change, the UK needs to ensure it plays it role on the global level, in cutting our country’s contribution to global CO2.
In a 2,000-page report, the Climate Change Committee says flooding will destroy bridges – wrecking electricity, gas and IT connections carried on them.
The committee also warns that poor farming means the most fertile soils will be badly degraded by mid-century.
And heat-related deaths among the elderly will triple to 7,000 a year by the 2050s as summer temperatures rise.
The UK is not prepared, the committee says, for the risks posed by climate change from flooding and changing coasts, heatwaves, water shortages, ecosystem damage and shocks to the global food system.
The projections are based on the supposition that governments keep promises made at the Paris climate conference to cut emissions – a pledge that is in doubt.
The committee says if emissions are allowed to spiral, London summer temperatures could hit 48C (118F) in an extreme scenario, although the advisers say they don’t expect that to happen.
The report from 80 authors is the most comprehensive yet on the potential impact of climate change on the UK.
‘Cascade of risks’
It identifies 60 risks and opportunities – many of them happening already as the climate has warmed.
Its conclusions on the inter-linking nature of threats to infrastructure is based on recent research.
The chairman of the committee’s adaptation sub-committee, Prof Sir John Krebs, told BBC News: “Infrastructure could be affected in a way that interacts.
“So, if you take electricity supply, the delivery of fuel to power stations might be affected by flooding which would then affect electricity.
“Then look at flooding… if bridges are affected then they carry electricity cables and communications infrastructure, so we have to look not just at how each piece of infrastructure works but how they interact together.
“There could be a cascade of risks.”
Higher food prices
On food and farming, the committee warns that UK shoppers could face higher food bills as imported crops like soya are harmed by heat or drought.
It says farming in the UK might benefit from more warmth but warns that soils are likely to dry out quicker, and that rain is more likely to arrive in unhelpful downpours.
The committee also says some of the UK’s most fertile land – the peat fields of the East Anglia fens – are suffering badly from decades of intensive farming.
Prof Krebs said 85% of the peat had been washed or blown away, and the rest would follow in coming decades unless farmers were more careful.
Risks and opportunities
Among the other risks needing more action the committee mentions:
• Coastal change risks to communities, businesses and infrastructure
• Risk of shortages in public water supply with impacts on freshwater ecology, water for agriculture, energy generation and industry
Opportunities for the UK from climate change include:
• Economic opportunities for UK businesses from an increase in global demand for adaptation-related goods and services, such as engineering and insurance
• Milder winters should reduce the costs of heating, helping to cut winter cold deaths.
Prime Minister Theresa May must get serious about climate change – now
By Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party
The status quo is not an option and demands urgent action, writes Natalie Bennett
Today the Committee on Climate Change released a deeply concerning report warning that the UK is ill-prepared for the effects of climate change set to hit this country in the coming decades – including fatally hot summers, new diseases and flooding here, and climate-stoked wars and rising migration overseas.
The report is a stark reminder that while political parties wrangle and cabinets reshuffle, the climate is burning, and it must decisively set the agenda for new Prime Minister Theresa May.
Under David Cameron, the Tories’ promise to be the ‘greenest government ever’ turned into a sad, sick joke as subsidies for solar power and onshore wind were slashed, plans to force all homes to be zero-carbon from 2016 were scrapped, fracking was given the green light and vital regulations were stripped away.
The vote to leave the EU has put our environment further at risk, as we stand to lose protections for clean air, wildlife, and water and targets on renewable energy and emissions.
Theresa May’s record on climate change and environmental issues does not look promising: she has generally voted against measures to prevent climate change, in favour of the disastrous badger cull, and against stronger regulation of fracking.
However, there is still room for her to show the leadership that the country – and the planet – needs. The environmental crisis we face is one which crosses party lines and requires tough decisions and urgent action.
Today’s report warned that deadly heatwaves like that of 2003 will become normal by 2040; by 2050 the number of homes at risk of flooding will double; and extreme weather will lead to lost crops and drive up food prices.
These are not fringe issues or distant concerns but serious threats to our health and security which will impact us within our lifetime.
This is only one of the crises facing our new prime minister.
…. and it continues on other matters ….
Following the publication by Stansted Airport of the process it will adopt to deal with long overdue compensation payments for local residents, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has accused it of unreasonably seeking to deter thousands of local residents who may well have a valid compensation claim, from even submitting one. As part of its ‘Guide to Residents’ on submitting compensation claims, Stansted has published a map which shows an incredibly small ‘eligibility area’ – with no explanation as to the basis for this. SSE says there is absolutely no legal basis for eligibility for compensation to be thus restricted. The law only requires claimants to demonstrate that the value of their property has been reduced by physical factors (noise, air pollution etc.) arising from the airport expansion. This came about because of infrastructure that enabled the airport’s passenger throughput to triple in the space of the 8 years leading up to 2007. The limited area includes just a few hundred homes, but the full area includes many thousands of homes that have lost a significant amount of value. Stansted residents have only received any compensation for expansion much earlier, in the 1990s. SSE is advising people not to be deterred, and it will be asking Stansted for a lot more clarification of the legal basis for its attempt to limit claims.
SSE TELLS STANSTED AIRPORT TO PUBLISH ITS EVIDENCE
Accuses airport of seeking to evade its responsibility to compensate local residents.
Following the publication by Stansted Airport Ltd (STAL) last week of the process it will adopt to deal with long overdue compensation payments for local residents, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has accused STAL of unreasonably seeking to deter thousands of local residents who may well have a valid compensation claim, from even submitting a claim.
There is absolutely no legal basis for STAL to restrict eligibility for compensation to a shaded area on a map. The law only requires claimants to demonstrate that the value of their property has been reduced by physical factors (noise, air pollution etc.) arising from the expansion of Stansted Airport which was enabled by the infrastructure added between 2001 and 2007 – the so-called Phase 2 development of Stansted.
Only a few hundred homes are within STAL’s eligibility area whereas evidence gathered by SSE in 2007 clearly indicates that many thousands of local homes lost a significant amount of their value (compared to the general movement in house prices) between 2001 and 2007 – i.e. at the time of the Phase 2 development of Stansted. This expansion of Stansted’s taxiways, aircraft stands and runway infrastructure enabled the airport’s passenger throughput to triple in the space of the eight years leading up to 2007. To date, local residents have received no compensation for this.
Local residents have only ever received compensation for Stansted Airport’s expansion to 8 million passengers per annum (8mppa) in the 1990s – the so-called Phase 1 development of Stansted. At that time, compensation payments ranging from 2% to 20% of the value of their houses were paid to residents in Broxted, Burton End, Great and Little Hallingbury, and parts of Birchanger, Bishop’s Stortford, Elsenham, Hatfield Broad Oak, Hatfield Heath, Spellbrook, Takeley and Thaxted.
Stansted’s Phase 2 development from 2001 to 2007 enabled the airport to triple its throughput to 24mppa and STAL believes that the airport can achieve a throughput of 35mppa (possibly more) without any additional taxiways, aircraft stands or runway infrastructure. This throughput would be more than four times the 8mppa throughput for which compensation has been paid to date.
SSE’s evidence – based on the official Land Registry statistics – shows significant house price depreciation in areas far beyond the shaded eligibility area on STAL’s map. There is evidence of house price depreciation in postcode sectors CM6 1, CM6 2, CM6 3, CM22 6, CM22 7, CM24 8 and CM23 5. That is not to say that all the properties in all of these postcode sectors experienced a loss in their relative value due to Stansted’s Phase 2 development. Nor is it to say that no property outside these postcode sectors was devalued by Stansted’s Phase 2 development.
SSE strongly recommends that individuals who believe they may have an entitlement to claim should not be deterred by STAL’s attempts to minimise the number of claimants, and they should take professional advice. It is not SSE’s role to advise which individual homes may be eligible for compensation and which may not. It is however very clear to SSE that STAL is seeking to be unreasonably restrictive with the eligibility area it has drawn on its map. STAL does not explain how it has arrived at this area and, as we have said, it has no legal basis.
SSE has written to STAL asking for the evidence it relied upon to define its eligibility area. The letter also asks STAL to explain and clarify a number of other restrictions attached to STAL’s compensation process with no apparent justification in law or otherwise.
SSE Chairman Peter Sanders commented: “It took the threat of legal action to force the airport to make a commitment to start dealing with these long overdue compensation payments for local residents. However, it’s already beginning to look like the airport’s management will need to be dragged every inch of the way to make these compensation arrangements fair and reasonable – and accessible – to all those local families who have a legitimate right to compensation.”
Peter Sanders concluded: “This has already gone on far too long. It’s time the airport stopped trying to evade its responsibilities and started behaving with some decency and integrity.”
Stop Stansted Expansion prepares to launch legal proceedings against Stansted airport, over compensation delays
June 14, 2016
Stansted Airport faces legal action on behalf of thousands of local residents denied compensation over devaluation of their property caused by airport expansion. The cost to the airport could run to hundreds of millions of pounds. Stansted failed to meet a deadline (31st May) to make a public statement agreeing to introduce a compensation scheme for local residents after years of prevarication. Since 2002, Stansted has used the excuse that it has no legal obligation to pay compensation until it has completed everything listed in its 1999 Phase 2 planning consent. Completion of a small part of these works, the Echo Cul-de-Sac, has been repeatedly postponed – most recently until the mid-2020s – and has thus been branded the ‘golden rivet’ loophole. Stansted lawyers finally accepted this, but then immediately put forward a new excuse for rejecting compensation claims – that claims were now time-barred under the Limitation Act. This gave rise to withering criticism from the judge who remarked: “So, after years of telling people you can’t claim until the works are complete, you’re now saying Tee-Hee – you’re too late.” Due to Stansted stalling, SSE are now taking legal action, to safeguard the interests of local residents. SSE’s preparations for a legal challenge ,on the airport’s use of the Limitation Act, are underway. They have appointed and briefed its legal team, which includes two expert barristers and one of the country’s foremost planning solicitors. SSE presentation with prevarication details
Stop Stansted Expansion sets out details of Stansted’s devious attempts to avoid compensation payments from 2000
June 14, 2016
Stop Stansted Expansion have catalogued the appalling deceit and prevarication used by Stansted Airport, in its attempts to avoid making compensation payments to people affected by airport’s expansion. Work on Phase 2 was started in 1999, to take the airport up to 15 million passengers per year, and claims should then have been possible. But Stansted insisted that no claims could be made until one of the taxiway piers, Echo, was completed. Each year, from 2004 to 2011 the date when the Echo stand’s completion date was pushed further and further back (partly as Stansted had a dramatic fall in passenger numbers in the recession). Finally this April Stansted’s lawyers said ” …1 March 2007 is a relevant date at least in respect of some of the works in paragraph 1.8..” In other words Stansted finally concedes that it had been wrong to use the ‘golden rivet’ ploy to avoid paying compensation. But now Stansted has a new ploy to avoid paying compensation, saying any claim had to be brought within 6 years. The Deputy President of the Lands Tribunal remarked: “So, after years of telling people you can’t claim until the works are complete, you’re now saying Tee-Hee – you’re too late?” Stop Stansted Expansion gave the airport until 31st May to make a public statement reversing this stance – or face a legal challenge. No satisfadtory response was received in time from owners, MAG.
Chris spoke movingly at the event held at the House of Commons, on 4th July, about his experiences of dealing with both mental health problems and the unwanted imposition of aircraft noise from Heathrow flights near his home. In a blog, Chris explains some of the issues of depression, especially serious depression, its impacts on other family members and the time people can take to get well. Many people with mental ill-health are vulnerable to noise, and noise sensitive. Through no fault of their own, other than choosing to live in the wrong place, people can find themselves subjected to relentless intrusive plane noise, that causes stress, anxiety and depression. Having moved to a quite area, to recover from illness, Heathrow changed flight path use, so Chris’s home was intensely overflown. The anxiety this cause was made worse as there was no proper information or reassurance from anyone about what was going on, or why, or when it might stop. Worse still, it was unclear what, if anything, anyone affected could, do to try and protect themselves. As well as annoyance, eventually the feeling of powerlessness, having no legal remedies, and the perceived lack of fairness about the situation, lead to a crushing sense of helplessness. For those with mental conditions, this can have dangerous – even life threatening – results. The seriousness of the noise problem, especially for those already susceptible to depression, needs to be acknowledged. The issue of people who are vulnerable to noise should not be ignored any longer.
Aircraft noise and mental well-being – the looming challenge only starting to be acknowledged
He spoke of having suffered from severe depression, with his last episode about 12 years ago, and the struggle following a ‘near death experience’ to slowly reclaim his life after a period of hospitalisation and lengthy rehabilitation. Confidence and the ability to do the smallest of things such as to go out, go to the shops, travel on public transport, and eventually return to work had been lost, and took years to recover.
Severe depression, is a serious illness, which although treatable in many cases, may not always respond. Sadly more than 6,000 people a year commit suicide in the UK each year. Many are severely depressed.
Now much better, Chris does not want to ever trigger a relapse, not least because the prognosis for a successful recovery is very poor. This is why he actively does everything possible to remain healthy, and has publicised the risk of aviation noise to mental health – for example, for people recovering, or who have ‘recovered’ from, severe depression.
Ironically he and his family moved to a new home about four years ago to de-stress. Very soon after, there were unannounced changes to Heathrow flight paths, and the introduction of PBN, meaning much more concentrated flights. The anxiety it caused, was made worse as there was no proper information or reassurance from anyone about what was going on, or why, or when it might stop. Worse still, it was unclear what, if anything, anyone could do about it, to try and protect themselves. Eventually the feeling of powerlessness, having no legal remedies, and the perceived lack of fairness about the situation, had the effect of increased annoyance and a strong sense of helplessness.
Chris spoke of how difficult it is to describe intense depression, and the feelings of those who suffer from it. The stress is not only on the person with depression, but also on their families. The strain and uncertainty can be immense, on everyone, and it is not something that is quickly treated with the person returning to being well in a week or two, once they complete a course of tablets. It can take months or even years to recover, if at all, and for families to begin living and believing again.
The unanticipated and unannounced arrival of aircraft noise, over areas that previously were not affected by concentrated flight paths, is, Chris felt, certainly a trigger for stress, anxiety, and in many cases depression (mental illness). He was convinced, through ‘lived experience’, that concentrated aviation noise is unhealthy and causes mental health to deteriorate. The effect can be that people either (newly) acquire depression, or in the case of pre-existing conditions depression/severe depression, is reactivated. These risks and impacts were currently ignored by the government and public health policy.
To those attempting to kick this public health issue into the long grass, advocating further research to scientifically establish a link before doing anything, Chris advised that there wasn’t time. If flight paths changed in the meantime innocent people who are vulnerable to noise and their families would be harmed. At the extreme, for a minority worst impacted, their risk of suicide could increase.
As to the question as to whether aircraft noise led to metal illness Chris advised that one merely had to ask the question, ‘does a duck quack?’.
Chris has been taking all steps he can to be pragmatic, to adjust to the noise situation in which he finds himself, while promoting awareness around the issue (the ‘elephant in the room’), and the immediate need for assistance, especially for the ‘noise vulnerable’. There is no point if someone is in crisis now, he reasoned, waiting on the chance that they may –eventually – get some assistance from the local airport. For example, double glazed window s may be promised, 6 months or more into the future. The airports, government, public health and local authorities need to understand that in the case of debilitating mental stress caused by the over-flight noise, action needs to be taken without delay. Otherwise he reasoned there could be increased mental illness, or worse.
He noted that there is a whole raft of possible mitigations against the noise, but unless people happen to live within the recognised appropriate noise contour for the airport, (eg . 57dB) they are not considered to have a problem. They are therefore given no assistance. There is much more that airports could do to help those who really suffer from the effects of plane noise.
Unfortunately the current government policy of reducing the number of people over flown has the (unintended) effect of creating unacceptable levels of noise for the minority that is overflown, by compressing and concentrating noise. There is not yet proper research into the effects, on physical and mental health, of exposure to high levels of unrelenting aircraft noise, although the NORAH study has made a direct link between increases in aviation noise and depression. Chris particularly mentioned areas where several flight paths overfly the same areas, giving people a particularly intense noise exposure, and that these are often concealed in noise contours.
In the context of new flight paths / ‘new noise’, and absence of an Ombudsman, Chris therefore advocated, a ‘double take’ which may be triggered where several flight paths converge at low altitude, with high frequency traffic, and where people overflown have serious pre-existing mental health conditions. Where someone also has pre-existing hypertension, for example, the risk factor increases still further, and the solution required is amplified. The process should allow the existing flight path architecture to be challenged. If a ‘least harm’, rather than ‘least people’ approach was taken in such case, then relatively minor adjustments in flight paths might see the number overflown increasing. This might return to more like the numbers who were moderately overflown, before route concentration was introduced. The more equitable sharing of noise could potentially save lives.
Once active mitigation opportunities (flight path location) have been exhausted there needs to be effective, adequate and available passive mitigation measures, with insulation to tackle any significant residual noise. This needs to provide people with choice, and an opportunity to ‘switch off’ noise from leaking into their homes, so people to take back some control.
For noise vulnerable people, the range of insulation products and services needs to increase from the basic acoustic survey, double glazing and insulation to in addition include triple glazing (if it was more effective), acoustic roof lights, and internal and acoustic external window shutters, where required, acoustic baffles, and other measures (Chris listed approximately 12 altogether).
In some cases, the noise levels mean people have no option but to move house. Financial help needs to be provided in order to do this, and Chris mentioned a range of approaches that could see blended funding – from airport, government and even health sources in the short term – being used to address this, especially where over concentration has brought the airport perimeter to one’s neighbourhood.
There was much more to be done to protect the potentially badly affected/noise vulnerable people, where respite alone will be insufficient. This is a major concern. With more planes, and more concentration of flight paths, the issue of the impact of aircraft noise on mental health is an issue that can no longer be ignored. It must be tackled. An advanced society should look after the welfare of its more vulnerable members.
At an event held on 4th July in Parliament, the issue of the noise impact of Heathrow flights on mental health was considered. This is perhaps the first time this has been discussed, and the links made. Heathrow’s Matt Gorman spoke at the meeting, and said Heathrow creates jobs and those employed have better mental health because of their financial security. This spurred Murray Barter, a member of one of the groups that emerged in the past 2 years, due to changes to Heathrow flight paths, to write a blog about the widespread dissatisfaction there is with Heathrow and the way it is dealing with communities. In his impassioned blog, Murray says: “Employment at Heathrow for a minority is not, and cannot be, an antidote to the known adverse impacts on health, well being and quality of life that are caused by the airport’s operations. These affect hundreds of thousands, indeed millions, of people living as much as thirty miles from Heathrow.” And “The adverse effects of plane noise on vast numbers of people – including increased incidence of mental stress and depression – cannot, and must not, be swept under the carpet merely because Heathrow provides employment. The good does not outweigh the bad, and attempting to blur the two does Heathrow no credit.” And Heathrow expansion cannot be used as a social experiment in noise torture for the unfortunate minority who find themselves under a “noise canyon” (the CAA’s term). Read the full blog.
Heathrow’s truly negative health impacts on millions of people are not ameliorated by the airport providing local employment
6th July 2016
By Murray Barter (RAAN)
At the event in Parliament on Monday 4th July, looking at the links between exposure to aircraft noise and negative mental health impacts, Matt Gorman (Heathrow’s Director of Sustainability and Environment) was invited to speak.
Matt made the somewhat unrelated point, but one that Heathrow is always keen to promote, that having a job at Heathrow, or associated with it, increases physical and mental well-being. True enough, having a job and financial security is much better for mental stability than the stresses of being unemployed – and having financial problems. But it somewhat misses the point.
What the meeting was about was the impact of aircraft noise, so this employment argument was seen by some as a cheap point and dismissive of the real problems that Heathrow creates for those its planes overfly. Employment at Heathrow for a minority is not, and cannot be, an antidote to the known adverse impacts on health, well being and quality of life that are caused by the airport’s operations. These affect hundreds of thousands, indeed millions, of people living as much as thirty miles from Heathrow.
Matt’s attempt to excuse Heathrow’s noise impacts, by job claims, was a stark reminder of how the aviation industry continues to seek to spin every ounce of information/data into a positive – for their own benefit.
The adverse effects of plane noise on vast numbers of people – including increased incidence of mental stress and depression – cannot, and must not, be swept under the carpet merely because Heathrow provides employment. The good does not outweigh the bad, and attempting to blur the two does Heathrow no credit.
There are few bounds to Heathrow’s publicity, propaganda & their deliberate warping of information, data, and science. The incessant advertising shows this, with several adverts and claims found wanting by the Advertising Standards Authority.
One of Heathrow’s most insidious forms of distorting reality is their use of the outmoded and discredited 57dB “average noise contour” measurement, and also how PBN-based flight concentration is deliberately used to gerrymander the apparent reductions in the size of noise contours. (They recently state a range of noise metrics ought to be considered, though their publicity & speeches always stick to the averaged noise contours, as it shows them in the most favourable light. What would be more appropriate are contours showing individual noise events > 50dB, e.g. grouped into > 25, > 50, > 75, > 100 etc. All studies show significant increases in community annoyance at much lower levels than 57 dB. See the ANASE study )
Given this, with aircraft landing and taking off every 90 seconds for 13+ hrs/day, it has become increasing clear that raised risk of mental illness for sections of the population is being wilfully – if unintentionally – delivered by Heathrow.
These negative effects are being glossed over and ignored by the airport and those who back its expansion, who are chiefly :
1). A predominance of MP’s from constituencies north of Bedford & west of Swindon who are simply unaware of the serious issues of noise anguish, and the detrimental impacts of airborne pollution & associated surface access movements. The MPs appear uncaring towards those affected.
2). Businesses salivating at the anticipated honeypot of potential profits, from prospects dangled before them of rising GDP and more exports, or airport construction work. They conveniently ignore the likely disproportionate increase in imports, and the capital & jobs outflows, as do Heathrow – which only considers exports and inbound tourists, and not the reverse.
3). The highly conflicted and aviation-centric DfT & CAA – and the Treasury. (By contrast, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), DEFRA, DCLG, DoH need to deal with the consequences of aviation expansion, with its environmental and social costs).
4). The conflicted Airports Commission, with its Economist-centric staffing bias, coupled with its Chairman who has Prudential board membership . The Commission was given misdirected Terms of Reference (‘to maintain the UK’s position as Europe’s most important aviation hub’), resulting in only one feasible outcome, given the status quo
Against all this, the tax-paying, law-abiding communities are at the butt end, and in the vast majority of cases, derive no benefit from Heathrow’s operations. The airport has paid lip service to its responsibility to them for decades, never making serious attempts to be a good neighbour. The current Community Noise Forum is the latest in a long line of headline-grabbing, perfunctory talking-shop smokescreens with zero achievement made, after two years and counting.
The Airports Commission didn’t include any economic modelling based upon Brexit, and therefore the discredited, exaggerated and double-counted 60-year economic forecasts need serious and immediate remodelling. That would immediately downgrade Heathrow’s already patently absurd claims of expected GDP growth.
Incidentally, the Airports Commission didn’t seem to take into account the disproportionate increase in imports that would inevitably happen at the same time as any growth in exports, further adding to our net trade deficit, nor the net capital and jobs outflows. It would therefore appear the £24 million Airports Commission report started out as being misdirected, finished as incomplete upon publication, then became obsolete in under 12 months.
Heathrow expansion cannot be used as a social experiment in noise torture for the unfortunate 20% underneath a proposed “noise canyon” (source: the CAA). Those unluckly enough to live in these “canyons” are being subjected to inhuman and/degrading suffering and treatment, through the noise burden inflicted on them. And this excess noise is merely the result of Heathrow, NATS and the CAA attempting to “squeeze a quart into a pint pot” in terms of south east airspace – and enabling Heathrow to meet its allotted (outdated, outmoded, discredited) noise measurement criteria, as set by the government.
What future, 21st century vision do we have for our children and their children in Britain? Are we genuinely serious about schools with adobe huts, as an illusion of outdoor play spaces? Or the desecration of huge areas where instead of homes being places of calm and quiet, they are becoming mental-torture chambers of repetitive noise, where “respite” can shrink to as little as just 4 hours per day without the din? This is not a modern progressive society, which cares for the well-being of all its members, including the most vulnerable.
Heathrow accounts for 28% of people affected by aircraft noise in the whole of Europe. It talks of an £18.7 billion ‘privately funded’ infrastructure project as a boost for the UK economy at this time,. However it, and its business backers, conveniently chooses to omit the ‘elephant in the room’ – the taxpayer requirement of up to £20 billion (Transport for London figure) for regional infrastructure spending needed to support it. Without these improvements in surface transport, the new runway means gridlock and illegal air pollution for miles around the airport.
I’m sure the government has other rather more pressing priorities than this runway, in terms of time & resource allocation, at this present time where most economists are forecasting downturns of economic activity & travel.
If the appropriate question is posed, Heathrow expansion is most certainly NOT the answer
And are Heathrow’s multi million £ media and lobbying campaigns, glossing over its insuperable problems that are an inevitable consequence of its operations, a satisfactory and sufficient basis for its expansion?
by Murray Barter, Residents Against Aircraft Noise (RAAN)
RAAN is one of the groups set up in 2014 due to the worsening noise from Heathrow airport, affecting new areas in Berkshire, Surrey and North Hampshire. RAAN is involved with the Heathrow Community Noise Forum.
After the Brexit vote, there are very real uncertainties about the demand for air travel in future decades. Agreements need to be worked out between the UK and Europe, and this includes the Open Skies agreement between the UK and the US. These could take several years to work out. The Airports Commission gave absolutely no consideration to the possibility of Brexit. However, instead of sensibly deciding to delay a runway decision, Sir Howard Davies (as ever appearing oblivious of the many and serious deficiencies of his Commission’s report) is pushing hard, in the media, for a Heathrow runway. These claims are dangerous. Howard Davies says the economic case for a 3rd runway has been strengthened by the Brexit vote; “there are already signs of a slowdown in inward investment, which the project would help to offset.” .. The UK “needs some forward-looking decisions to create a sense of momentum, and the construction industry….will soon need the work.” Some businesses see not building the runway as “a symbol of a lack of interest in Britain’s links with the wider world.” He says a Brexit choice is “presented by our competitors as an insular move. An early runway decision would do a lot to offset that impression. I hope the cabinet can be brought to see that argument as soon as possible… ” … “If you say your strategy is to be a global trading nation reaching out to China and India, but actually you aren’t prepared to provide any airport capacity for people to land here, then that’s a joke.”
London airport expansion: Britain risks becoming ‘a joke if we keep dithering’ over Heathrow and Gatwick
By JOE MURPHY (Evening Standard)
Friday 1 July 2016
Airports Commission chief Sir Howard Davies today warned that Britain risks becoming “a joke” if it fails to push ahead with extra runway capacity for London and the South East. [Might be a laughing stock if it makes a really bad, unsound decision that ends up needlessly costing the taxpayer a great deal of money, and makes large areas of West London unpleasant to live in. AW comment]
In an Evening Standard interview, he said it was more important than ever following the Brexit referendum to show that Britain was open to business with growing markets like China and India.[Might that be because the Brexit vote means the Airports Commission’s report is no longer of much use, as it failed completely to consider Brexit? And Howard Davies is keen that his work is not shelved – thus reducing his reputation? AW note]
He warned: “If you say your strategy is to be a global trading nation reaching out to China and India, but actually you aren’t prepared to provide any airport capacity for people to land here, then that’s a joke. [There is plenty of UK airport capacity for links to the far east etc. If fewer flights from Heathrow were going to European destinations, there is ample space at Heathrow for as many long haul business destinations as there is demand for. Brexit may mean – nobody knows yet – fewer flights to and from some European airports. AW note]
“Internationally there’s a risk that the Brexit decision is seen as a kind of inward-looking choice. It’s crucial, I think, that we try as a country to offset that – and here is a good way of doing that. So I think it has much more significance now that it had before.” [There is also the case to be made that links to distant parts of the world can easily be organised, without building a new Heathrow runway. That is just the option that suits Heathrow, and its shareholders, best. Howard Davies, till September 2012, advised the GIC (Singapore), which owns 11.2% of Heathrow. He is still a board member of Prudential, details, an insurance group which invested in property near Heathrow, just months before the Commission recommended a 3rd runway. Also involved in Chinese banking.Details. AW note].
Urging David Cameron’s successor to “be bold” he said the country’s governance would look “threadbare” and “daft” if there was further indecision. [No, it would not. Making a very wrong decision, for very bad reasons, would look “daft.” AW note ]
The interview marks exactly a year since the commission headed by Sir Howard recommended Heathrow expansion after three years of research and studies.
He expressed frustration at the repeated delays announced by Mr Cameron and said: “They needed to be bold. Just waiting for something to turn up in a Mr Micawber-like way, hoping that suddenly everybody will agree, it isn’t going to happen, actually.
“The French say ‘gouverner c’est choisir’ – to govern is to choose. But it has just been put off further and further.”
The senior businessman urged the next Prime Minister to “screw his courage to the sticking point” and endorse Heathrow’s third runway. “Heathrow have made the concessions we asked for, more or less,” he said. [More of less pretty much sums it up. Heathrow has not given proper assurances about a real ban on night flights. The aspirations about making less noise with 50% more flights are largely wishful thinking. The promises on air quality are not for Heathrow to achieve, so are largely meaningless. And they are not prepared to pay the costs of surface infrastructure. Let alone on carbon emissions. If anyone believes that means meeting the conditions, their perspective seems to be very biased – or their understanding incomplete. AW note ].
He also revealed that he did not think Tory frontrunner Theresa May was a diehard Heathrow opponent, contrary to the view of some MPs.
Intriguingly, Sir Howard did not think Theresa May would be influenced against Heathrow on the grounds of local noise nuisance for her Maidenhead constituents. “I’ve met her and talked about it and she asks good questions but she has never said ‘over my dead body’,” he said.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin yesterday told MPs it would now be October at the earliest before a decision could be taken because of Mr Cameron’s resignation. The further delay was strongly criticised by business leaders.
Sir Howard said business would not accept endless delays. “I would be very disappointed if nothing happened – and I would not be the only one. [It is not for “business” (meaning here, some businesses and not by any means all ) to decide on a matter like the devastation of a huge area of West London or of Surrey and Sussex. If the right decision has to be made, then business just has to accept it, like everyone else. The UK should not be run merely for the whims of big business. AW note] .
“They are going to have to do it pretty soon after a new prime minister is appointed because I just think the credibility of the governing process in this country is now rather threadbare on this. Internationally it looks pretty daft.”
By Sir Howard Davies (Chairman of the, now closed, Airports Commission that recommended a 3rd Heathrow runway on 1.7.2015)
1.7.2016 (In the Financial Times)
[ Caution – read this with great caution. It is written from the perspective of someone very keen to have his work taken seriously and acted upon. Its arguments, such as they are, are as full of holes as a Swiss cheese. AW note ]
There are already signs of an inward investment slowdown this would offset, writes Howard Davies
“It is now exactly a year since the Airports Commission, which I chaired, published its final report, recommending a third runway at Heathrow. The government had planned to make an early decision, but announced yesterday that this will not happen until October at the earliest. It is perhaps not surprising, as there are one or two other things going on, but it underlines the unwisdom of a year’s procrastination, in the hope that a more propitious moment would arrive. Since a decision on runway capacity in south-east England has already been put off for several decades, a further delay while the Conservative party elects a new leader seemed an attractive option. But it is arguable that the cost of delay is rising and has escalated since last Thursday’s vote to leave the EU.
Most of the leadership candidates have not been closely involved in the runway debate. The non-appearance of Boris Johnson as a candidate will simplify the choice. He continued to hanker after a new airport in the Thames Estuary. But there is no enthusiasm for that highly costly and environmentally challenged project elsewhere in government. So the options are those we set out last year: two different schemes at Heathrow and one at Gatwick.
In the year since our report was published, the public debate on the merits of the three options has continued. Gatwick has spent a lot of money on advertisements, some of which the Advertising Standards Authority forced it to withdraw, but no material new points have emerged to invalidate the Airports Commission analysis.
The air pollution problem, which is serious for all cities, is becoming more salient, partly as a result of the VW affair. But at the airport it can be resolved and will be alleviated by London-wide measures that are necessary anyway. The noise increase, while obviously unwelcome to those close to the airfield, we believe to be manageable. A three-runway configuration allows respite for affected communities, and aircraft are getting quieter year by year.
Our support for Heathrow expansion was, however, conditional on some important and costly concessions by the airport and the airlines, notably a ban on early morning arrivals, which cause particular concern; a noise levy to fund insulation schemes; and tough actions to reduce car traffic to the airport. In particular, the “kiss and fly” habit of driving right up to the airport to drop off passengers is one we need to break: kissing should be reserved for rail and bus stations, not Heathrow set-down zones.
The airport has now accepted almost all those recommendations, which was an important step forward.
The economic case for the project has in my view been strengthened by the events of the past few days. There are already signs of a slowdown in inward investment, which the project would help to offset. It is likely that the greater part of the nearly £20bn investment would come from overseas investors, who remain keen to participate. The business case for Heathrow expansion remains strong.
The narrative of those arguing for Brexit included the point that the UK should be focusing more attention on fast-growing non-EU markets in the Far East and elsewhere. Stronger air links will be essential if that aspiration is to become a reality. Heathrow already offers far more non-European destinations partly because it has a supporting air freight infrastructure vastly greater than Gatwick. Expanding Gatwick, which is dominated by short-haul European leisure services, does not offer anything like the same advantages. Heathrow benefits from the network effects that come from a huge spread of long and short-haul routes, built up over half a century, which help to incubate new routes and make them viable. That cannot be quickly replicated elsewhere.
More broadly, the country needs some forward-looking decisions to create a sense of momentum, and the construction industry — whose stocks have suffered badly since the referendum — will soon need the work.
So the political case for delay is not as strong as the economic case for a decision. We talked to overseas investors and businesses, many of whom saw the lack of a decision on airport capacity as a symbol of a lack of interest in Britain’s links with the wider world. The Brexit choice is similarly presented by our competitors as an insular move. An early runway decision would do a lot to offset that impression. I hope the cabinet can be brought to see that argument as soon as possible after their bucket and spade break. The waverers could take our compelling report to the beach. It is a page-turner, right up there with The Girl on the Train.”
The writer is a professor at Sciences-Po, Paris and chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland
That then prompted a letter from Sir Roy McNulty, of Gatwick:
[Also with some very dodgy and selfl serving logic].
July 3, 2016
Gatwick expansion is now more important than ever
Howard Davies is wrong to assert that no material new points have emerged in the long period since the publication of his report commissioned by David Cameron (“Heathrow needs its third runway to take off without delay”, July 1).
One reason for that delay was that the report itself failed adequately to address the issue of air quality, a matter of increasing national concern; it is now clear that air quality issues around Heathrow are a much more significant impediment to expansion than Sir Howard recognises.
The report’s conclusions have also shown to be wrong in other respects. In the past year, Gatwick has served more than 40m passengers (a number the report suggested would not be reached until 2024) and has announced 20 new long-haul routes, including routes to second cities in China, giving the lie to the idea that only “hub” airports can open new routes to emerging markets. Indeed, a freedom of information act request has revealed that the commission’s own data show that long haul traffic for the UK will be the same under expansion at Gatwick as at Heathrow.
Further assessment of the risks of the two schemes, an area that the Treasury select committee identified as lacking in the analysis, has shown clearly that Gatwick’s scheme is low risk whereas the risks associated with Heathrow’s scheme are an order of magnitude greater. And a new report by the Competition and Markets Authority has identified the very considerable benefits of competition between airports, an issue largely dismissed by Sir Howard.
In the new environment in which the UK finds itself, our ability to act with agility and efficiency, to deploy our national resources judiciously, is more important than ever to demonstrate that we are open for business. The commission concluded that expansion at Gatwick was credible, financeable and deliverable. Gatwick has recently confirmed its ability to deliver a new runway by 2025, at no expense to the taxpayer and at a cost that will maintain our competitive position in the world market. That would be a better outcome than seeking to perpetuate an old orthodoxy which has so evidently failed time and again.
Airports Commission chairman warns Government over Heathrow delay
By Ben Martin
1 JULY 2016 (Telegraph)
It would be “a joke” if the Government sets out to boost trade with emerging markets following Brexit without building more runway capacity in the south east of England, the City grandee who led the Airports Commission has said.
Sir Howard Davies chaired the Government-appointed Commission that exactly a year ago told ministers the best way to tackle the looming aviation capacity crisis is to build a £17.6bn third runway at Heathrow.
The Government delayed a decision on the Commission’s findings in the 12 months since. Patrick McLoughlin, the transport secretary, then provoked fury among businesses on Thursday when he said the post-Brexit political chaos would result in another delay and a decision should not be expected until “at least October”.
Sir Howard, who is now chairman of Royal Bank of Scotland, said in an interview with the Evening Standard: “If you say your strategy is to be a global trading nation reaching out to China and India, but actually you aren’t prepared to provide any airport capacity for people to land here, then that’s a joke.”
He continued: “Internationally there’s a risk that the Brexit decision is seen as a kind of inward-looking choice. It’s crucial, I think, that we try as a country to offset that – and here is a good way of doing that.”
Expanding Heathrow is controversial because of worries it will increase air and noise pollution.
Instead of backing the Commission, the Government in December said it would carry out more environmental work on a third runway and two rival projects – a second landing strip at Gatwick, and a plan to lengthen an existing Heathrow runway proposed by a group that is independent of the airport. It will now be left to David Cameron’s successor as prime minister to choose which scheme goes ahead.
Heathrow is almost full and Gatwick is also approaching its limits. The commission spent almost three years and £20m examining how to expand capacity before deciding another Heathrow runway would be the best way to solve the problem.
Department for Transport says more airport capacity is needed to cope with doubling in passenger numbers
Government White Paper published on third runway at Heathrow
Government says it backs Heathrow’s third runway
Public consultation launched
Conservatives come out against the plans for third runway
Third runway is approved by the Labour Government
Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition rules out third runway
Coalition asks Airports Commission to review options for air capacity in south east
Commission says it backs third runway at Heathrow
Government delays decision until Summer 2016 – at the earliest
Heathrow offers to ban night flights in a bid to win approval for a third runway. The measure had been a sticking point.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin says the decision will now be made in the autumn when a new prime minister has been chosen.
An article by Bloomberg looks at the A380, and Airbus’s failure to sell enough of them. It has been a financial failure. Not a single US airline has bought one; Japanese airlines have just a few; the only real user is Emirates, with 81 flying and an additional 61 reserved, which is 45% percent of the A380s delivered or on order. Airbus has delivered 193 A380s—early on it predicted airlines would buy 1,200 over two decades—and has only 126 in its order book, to be built over the next five years or so. Most airlines don’t want planes with 4 engines that burn so much fuel. Airbus knows it will never recoup the €25 billion it spent on development. If it produces fewer than 30 planes a year, the program could fall back into the red. “Axing the A380 outright is hard to do. Besides the embarrassment of admitting defeat on the program, Airbus would need to write off factories across Europe and redeploy thousands of workers. Airlines would see the resale value of their A380s plummet, and the plane’s demise would leave airports worldwide questioning the wisdom of facilities constructed to accommodate it; Dubai, for instance, built a dedicated terminal for the A380.” The A380 has largely sucked the life out of Boeing 747, with just 40 sold since 2012 and 11 more on order.
Airbus Is Running Out of Buyers for Its Enormous A380s
Orders for the superjumbo are drying up as airlines shift to more efficient planes.
By Andrea Rothman (Bloomberg Businessweek)
July 8, 2016
Since its commercial introduction in 2007, the Airbus A380 has brought a long-lost sense of glamour back to travel. Its first-class cabins feature private showers and buttery leather armchairs. It sports in-flight lounges where bartenders mix bespoke cocktails. A broad staircase reminiscent of a 1920s ocean liner links the two decks.
Financially speaking, it’s a disaster of similarly grand proportions.
An initial flood of interest from airlines has turned into a slow drip, and Airbus is leaning heavily on one customer, Emirates, for sales. Not a single U.S. carrier has bought one, and Japanese airlines, among the biggest cheerleaders for huge planes, have taken just a handful. Airbus has delivered 193 A380s—early on it predicted airlines would buy 1,200 supersize planes over two decades—and has only 126 in its order book, to be built over the next five years or so. Worse, many orders appear squishy, because airlines are shifting away from superjumbos.
As the aviation world starts gathering on July 11 for the Farnborough International Airshow in England, where carriers often announce big orders, there’s little indication any A380 contract will be unveiled.
Airbus concedes its timing was off with the A380, which lists for $433 million but almost always sells at a discount. The financial crisis hit just as production was picking up in 2008, and soaring oil prices made airlines reluctant to buy the four-engine behemoth. The company only last year managed to start breaking even on production, and it’s acknowledged it will never recoup the €25 billion ($32 billion) it spent on development.
Zafar Khan, an analyst at Société Générale, says the concern is that if production slips far below 30 planes a year, the program could fall back into the red. “The crying happens when it’s losing money,” Khan says.
Axing the A380 outright is hard to do. Besides the embarrassment of admitting defeat on the program, Airbus would need to write off factories across Europe and redeploy thousands of workers. Airlines would see the resale value of their A380s plummet, and the plane’s demise would leave airports worldwide questioning the wisdom of facilities constructed to accommodate it; Dubai, for instance, built a dedicated terminal for the A380.
Airbus says 10 years is too short a time to determine its fate. While Chief Executive Officer Thomas Enders said in December the company would assess the plane’s future “in cold blood,” sales chief John Leahy has pledged to continue the program. “The A380 is here to stay,” he says. “We are maintaining, innovating, and investing in it.”
With its short snout and upper deck crouching above the cockpit, the A380 can’t match the distinctive profile of Boeing’s humpbacked 747. Nonetheless, the A380 has largely sucked the life out of Boeing’s jumbo—perhaps the biggest Airbus success with its plane. Since 2012, when Boeing started deliveries of the latest passenger version, the 747-8, it has done far worse than the Airbus double-decker, with just 40 sold and 11 more on order.
Four-engine planes have become a tough sell because of their high fuel consumption. Airbus in 2011 scrapped the A340, its other four-engine model, as carriers gravitated to smaller, more economical widebodies such as the Airbus A330 or Boeing 777; and adding more fuel-efficient engines to the A380, an upgrade Airbus has pulled off for smaller planes, remains risky with so few orders coming in. Although the A380 is popular with passengers for its spacious interior and smooth flight, carriers find it tough to fill in turbulent economic times.
Malaysia Airlines learned this the hard way when, in the wake of a pair of fatal crashes involving other aircraft, it couldn’t draw enough traffic to fill the half-dozen A380s it had bought. The airline is trying to offload two of them but can’t find buyers.
Lately, Airbus has seen a hemorrhaging of contracts that once seemed solid. In the past two years, three A380 customers have dropped their orders because of financial difficulties or shifts in strategy.
Leasing company Amedeo three years ago announced plans to buy 20 A380s, but it’s failed to find a single airline willing to lease them and has delayed deliveries. The plane’s biggest fan by far is Emirates, with 81 flying and an additional 61 reserved, which adds up to 45 percent of the A380s Airbus has delivered or has on order. The carrier is fretting about the jumbo’s future. “I think the size of the plane scares most of the airline world,” says
The A380 was a prestige-fueled project for Airbus and the European governments that backed the program. The company had been successful with its A320 single-aisle jet introduced in the 1980s, but it wanted a bigger piece of the lucrative long-range market. With the managers who hatched the plan two decades ago long gone, the ardor has abated, says Richard Aboulafia, a longtime critic of the plane and vice president of aviation consultant Teal Group. “Nobody seems to want this plane other than Emirates,” he says. “The A380 might just make it until 2020, but even that’s almost optimistic at this point.”
The bottom line: A decade after the Airbus A380’s debut, its future is in doubt as airlines shift to more efficient planes.
Fears over UK taxpayers’ £530m investment in Airbus as A380 production slashed
By Alan Tovey, industry editor
18 JULY 2016
Airbus’s decision to slash production of its A380 “superjumbo” raises questions over when UK taxpayers will get back the £530m they handed to the plane-maker to help launch the jet.
Britain gave the money to Airbus in 2000 to help develop the giant jet under a scheme known as repayable launch investment (RLI).
The Business Department confirmed the loan but said its terms were commercially sensitive, though Airbus is understood to pay a royalty each time it delivers one of the giant jets.
But waning demand for the A380 led Airbus to announce at last week’s Farnborough airshow that it was cutting production of the jet from the current rate of 27 a year to just 12 in three years’ time. Some believe that the slowdown could be the first step to killing the project after poor sales.
Fabrice Bregier, boss of Airbus, admitted the lower production rate could mean that A380 will go into the red, though the company says the programme is breaking even at the current rate.
Critics claim that unless the jet is profitable, Airbus is not obliged to pay back RLI, and the lower production rate means the jet will never recoup its costs. The terms of the deal are shrouded in secrecy, they were based on the business case for A380 when it was being developed.
When the A380 first flew in 2005 at the Paris airshow, an Airbus presentation predicted sales of 751 of the aircraft by 2021. So far just 319 of the double-deck jets have been sold, with 193 delivered.
A spokesman for Airbus said: “Repayment of RLI does not depend on the success of a project. It is repayable regardless of how successful the programme is.”
Despite the disappointing sales of the A380, Airbus has held early stage talks about winning further RLI to develop a upgraded version of the jet in the hope it will attract more buyers. Upgrades include more efficient engines and the possibility of “stretching” the fuselage to increase capacity has also been floated.
Although the terms of RLI deals vary between different programmes, taxpayers have lost out before with hundreds of millions pumped into developing the A340 airliner written off after failed to win the sales that were hoped for. However, the huge success of the single-aisle A320 jet means Britain has received back more than it invested in jet.
One industry source said: “Overall, RLI has been a very good deal for the UK Exchequer, which has received twice as much from Airbus as has invested.”
RLI is the centre of a complex and long-running World Trade Organisation legal battle between the Airbus and Boeing. The US plane-maker claims that RLI is illegal under global rules, and that the Airbus unlawfully been handed $18bn through the loans, allegations which Airbus refutes.
Boeing faces similar claims from Airbus, which says the US company gets unlawful tax credits to build aircraft in the US, effectively subsidising its jets.
In the wake of the Brexit vote, there has been speculation about the effect of the UK leaving the EU on environmental regulations. The lawyers, ClientEarth, fear that environmental protections may be weakened, and ask politicians of all parties “to affirm their commitment to strong UK environmental laws and to guarantee united action on climate change, despite our upcoming exit from the EU.” Client Earth says many of the laws they use to ensure that nature and health are protected in Britain were drawn up with the UK’s agreement in Brussels. During the referendum campaign, no one made clear which environmental laws would be kept. ClientEarth have taken action on air pollution, but Brexit could mean air quality laws, with which the UK has failed to comply, could be weakened or scrapped. Taking action through the courts may be harder. Some of the key legislation for aviation has been developed at a national level, independently of the EU, most notably the Climate Change Act (2008). Maintaining full access to the Single Market may, in any case, require the UK to demonstrate compliance with EU environmental legislation, including having to abide by the Environmental Noise Directive and Ambient Air Quality Directive. Brussels-based green NGOs have urged the European Commission to push on with its 2030 climate legislation – despite the uncertainty in the wake of the UK Brexit vote.
Brexit “challenge” to politicians over UK environmental laws
The not-for-profit organisation – which has offices in London, Brussels and Warsaw – regularly uses EU laws to challenge governments across Europe on a wide range of issues, including air quality, nature, wildlife, toxics and transparency.
CEO James Thornton said: “Voters have made their views known on Britain’s future out of Europe. We respect that democratic decision of course, but it leaves me shocked, disappointed and extremely concerned about the future of environmental protections in the UK.
“Today, therefore I challenge politicians of all parties to affirm their commitment to strong UK environmental laws and to guarantee united action on climate change, despite our upcoming exit from the EU.
“Many of the laws which my organisation uses to ensure that nature and health are protected in Britain were drawn up with the UK’s agreement in Brussels.
Call for politicians to maintain protections
“Now as the UK prepares to go it alone, we have no idea which laws will be retained since those who campaigned for Brexit did not have a united position. They failed to make clear during the campaign which environmental laws would be kept. We therefore call upon all parties to promise to maintain existing protections.”
ClientEarth campaigned against Britain leaving the EU because of the impact it would have on the environment and because of the importance of united action on issues such as pollution and climate change, which do not respect international borders.
Brexit means that air quality laws, with which the UK has failed to comply, could be weakened or scrapped.
James Thornton added: “We will consider what changes we need to make as an organisation, but London is our international headquarters.
“We will use the months and years ahead to urge the UK government to live up to the EU laws which are currently on the statute books. Anything which weakens those laws would be a catastrophe for Britain’s environment.”
Nearly two weeks ago, the UK was in shock following the result of the EU referendum, with 52% of the UK public voting to leave the European Union. There are still major uncertainties for the UK ahead but here we take a look at the reaction of the industry and NGOs, and at some of the changes to the political landscape, to try to gain an understanding of what leaving the European Union could mean for our work.
What does Brexit mean for the aviation industry?
The predicted economic impacts of Brexit have left the future of the UK’s aviation market now looking quite different from the world imagined when the Airports Commission undertook its assessments. The pound has fallen significantly in value and the last time this happened (during the 2008 recession), the number of air passengers decreased considerably as people cut down on flying. Preliminary estimates by the airline association, IATA, suggest that “the number of UK air passengers could be 3-5% lower by 2020, driven by the expected downturn in economic activity and the fall in the sterling exchange rate. The near-term impact on the UK air freight market is less certain, but freight will be affected by lower international trade in the longer term.”
Flights to and from the EU are, meanwhile, an important and significant component of the UK’s aviation industry. The EU is easily the single biggest destination market from the UK, according to IATA, accounting for 49% of passengers and 54% of scheduled commercial flights. EU countries account for the majority of UK holiday destinations, with 76% of UK holidays being taken in the EU. In addition, 68% of business visits from the UK are to EU countries, and 73% of business visitors to the UK are from EU countries. Whether or not all these flights will be sustained in the future depends on the UK’s relationship with the EU after Brexit, especially if there is a restriction imposed on the free movement of people into and out of the UK.
There already seems to be concern in the industry about what could happen to the UK aviation market, with EasyJet suggesting it could move its headquarters from the UK.
What does Brexit mean for airport expansion?
The Brexit vote and subsequent Prime Minister’s resignation have led to a delay in the Government’s decision on airport expansion. The leading candidate to succeed David Cameron, Theresa May, has a constituency near Heathrow but has recently been quiet on the subject of Heathrow expansion.
Brexit may be used by proponents of expansion to up the pressure for a favourable decision. Sir Howard Davies, former chair of the Airports Commission, made the case on the Today Programme, for example, for a decision to be made ‘as soon as possible’ to counter the impression that the UK is ‘turning in on itself’. Given the industry assessments anticipating a significant and long-term impact on passenger growth, however, the demand case for a new a new South East runway surely needs reviewing.
How will Brexit affect environmental legislation?
There’s been much early analysis of what Brexit could mean for environmental protection in the UK (since many regulations were agreed in Brussels), and for the UK’s leadership on climate change, including this very good assessment by Dr Charlotte Burns of the University of York for Friends of the Earth, in July 2015.
Some of the key legislation for aviation has been developed at a national level, independently of the EU, most notably the Climate Change Act. Maintaining full access to the Single Market may, in any case, require the UK to demonstrate compliance with EU environmental legislation,including having to abide by the Environmental Noise Directive and Ambient Air Quality Directive.
However, Client Earth haveindicated that while its on-going court case against the UK Government for air pollution breaches won’t be affected, it may be harder for future cases to be enforced through the courts after Brexit.
Amid the current uncertainty about the implications of Brexit, AEF will be continuing to campaign for the protection of public health and for effective climate change policy, whether that comes from the EU or the UK. And we will continue to make the case for the Government’s decisions about aviation and airports to be consistent with these policies, and based on up-to-date environmental evidence.
Brexit ‘the greatest political threat to the environment in the UK’
4 April 2016 (Client Earth)
“Brexit is the most dangerous political threat to the environment that we face in the UK,” environmental lawyer James Thornton has warned today.
Speaking to the Guardian, the ClientEarth CEO explained that membership of the EU has positively influenced the way the UK approaches decisions that affect the environment. Experience shows, meanwhile, that when left to its own devices the UK does not choose paths that are good for nature.
He argues that those politicians who want to leave the EU because it imposes rules on the UK fail to recognise those regulations offer necessary protection for the environment. Removing the requirements of EU law seriously diminishes protections for our seas, our air and habitats in the UK and across the globe.
Brexit and environment: EU laws need better enforcement
James holds up the UK’s failure to tackle air pollution blighting its towns and cities as evidence of the need for EU oversight.
“If you have a country in which the government is clearly happy to let 40,000 people a year die of air pollution, we need some external guidance to help them take care of their own citizens,” he said.
James also rebuffs assertions from environment minister George Eustice that EU regulations are ‘clunky’, saying “the EU’s environmental laws are extremely well-designed. There is no doubt , however, that they should be better enforced.”
ClientEarth’s lawyers work on the implementation of a broad range of national and EU environmental laws and regulations crucial to the defence of our forests, oceans, habitats and health.
Joint statement by Transport & Environment, Carbon Market Watch, Fern, WWF European Policy Office, and the European Environmental Bureau
Brussels-based green NGOs [Transport & Environment, Carbon Market Watch, Fern, WWF European Policy Office, and the European Environmental Bureau] have urged the European Commission to push on with its 2030 climate legislation – despite the uncertainty in the wake of the UK referendum result.
The proposal for Europe’s largest climate instrument, the so-called Effort Sharing Decision (ESD), is set to be published on 20 July. Any delay would send the wrong signal and risk derailing global efforts to tackle climate change.
William Todts, climate director at Transport & Environment, said: “We cannot afford to put the fight against climate change on hold. In Paris, we saw the EU at its best; acting together in everyone’s best interest and playing a leadership role. The EU should continue to lead on this.” He continued: “The EU law that will establish the national climate targets for 2030 is a vital part of the implementation of the Paris climate change agreement so it needs to go ahead.”
The ESD regulates transport, buildings and agriculture emissions – among other smaller sectors – which account for the 60% of EU greenhouse gas emissions that are not covered by the Emission Trading System (ETS).
EU heads of state and government have agreed to reduce emissions from these sectors by 30%. The UK has already signalled it wants to continue to lead the fight against climate change. Last week the government adopted a climate law to reduce UK emissions by 57% by 2030 [ Link “CCC welcomes Government backing for fifth carbon budget and continued ambition to meet 2050 target” ].
Imke Lübbeke, head of climate and energy policy at WWF European Policy Office, said: “The EU has always been a global leader in terms of climate action. At this time of flux, it is more important than ever that the EU unites around its core values, such as sustainability and protection of people and planet, and pushes through ambitious legislation that will ensure dangerous levels of carbon emissions fall rapidly.”
The Commission has also promised a proposal to include land use and forestry (LULUCF) in its climate plans. Emission reductions in the ESD (Effort Sharing Decision) sectors and carbon removals resulting from the use of forests, soils, plants and biomass will both be essential to keeping global warming below 2°C. However, some EU member states such as Ireland and Poland want to use “fake” forestry credits as a loophole to do less in other sectors such as transport and agriculture.
Hannah Mowat, forests and climate campaigner at Fern, said: “The window of opportunity to limit warming to two degrees, let alone 1.5, is getting smaller and smaller, so we need to both increase carbon sequestration in forests at the same time as moving to a low-carbon economy. Our policies need to incentivise this, which will only happen if you keep forestry removals separate from the ESD.”
Bill Hemmings, (from T&E) explains the hurdles to ICAO agreeing an environmentally meaningful deal in October. The global aviation sector needs to play its part in the international aspiration, from the Paris Agreement, to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C, or 2 degrees at worst. However, ICAO is not looking as if this is likely, largely due to the differences between historical and current CO2 emissions, and current and future growth rates, between airlines from countries (US and Europe largely) with historic aviation sectors, and those of developing countries, with young aviation industries. Ways to apportion the CO2 fairly need to be agreed, but solutions favour one group or the other. The developing countries (including Brazil, South Africa, and Nigeria) want their aviation CO2 to be exempted from any scheme. But emissions gap would amount to around 40-50% of the total, and so directly threatens the integrity of the commitment to carbon neutral growth from 2020, to which IATA pays lip service. Then there is the problem how to determine what percentage of emissions above the 2020 baseline airlines should have to offset each year. European and US airline CO2 is barely growing, but the CO2 from some is rising by 8% per year. US airlines do not want to pay for this. The issues are complicated. Read Bill’s explanation.
An ICAO deal that falls well short of carbon-neutral growth target will have no credibility
Thursday 7 July 2016 (GreenAir online)
By Bill Hemmings (Aviation Director of sustainable transport group Transport & Environment)
ICAO’s triennial Assembly, to agree on how to address the climate impact of international aviation, is just two months away. (Starts 27th September, ends 7th October). States undertook in 2013 to develop a global measure that would cap annual aviation CO2 at 2020 levels.
Largely reflecting industry concerns over cost, it was later agreed that this would be achieved by requiring airlines to purchase carbon offsets for all emissions above the 2020 baseline.
Industry and the US argued strongly that a global deal was preferable to a so-called patchwork of measures, a reference to Europe’s first-of-its-kind emissions trading system (ETS).
The EU was prevailed upon to drastically reduce the scope of the ETS to give ICAO and its parties time to sort out details of the global market-based measure (GMBM) before the forthcoming assembly. Regrettably, important details remain unresolved, potentially putting any credible and environmentally meaningful ICAO agreement at risk.
At the heart of the issue is the question of differentiation, a fundamental aspect of all international climate agreements. In the case of ICAO, differentiation means asking how the obligations of all carriers can reflect the fact that the vast bulk of historical emissions are due to legacy carriers headquartered chiefly in North America and Europe. Should developing country carriers have to share an equal burden? A Chinese proposal to have obligations related to the share of carriers’ emissions since 1990, when developing country aviation was largely in its infancy, was rejected on grounds that there was no data.
Initially, Europe, and later civil society, called for a route-based system where carriers on routes between geographic regions might bear varying carbon obligations depending on the density of traffic or country status – a rough indicator of where historical emissions lie.
In the end, however, the ICAO Council President opted for a simple system for determining eligibility and obligations based on traffic generated by each country’s registered carriers, together with a GDP per capita formula that was later discarded.
Most African countries, which account for barely 2-3% of global emissions, were always going to be exempt. But the President’s proposal exempted a second tier of countries with a larger share of emissions – including Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria and possibly even smaller EU countries.
The emissions gap due to these exemptions is now some 40-50% and directly threatens the integrity of the commitment to carbon neutral growth from 2020. The position of countries like China and Russia in any agreement also remains unclear.
The only element of differentiation left in the deal – apart from the huge exemptions gap – is the formula for determining what percentage of emissions above the 2020 baseline carriers should have to offset each year.
The ICAO proposal has all carriers together offsetting the average growth of the sector above 2020 levels. This introduces an important element of differentiation, as fast-growing carriers – more often than not from the emerging markets – will have to offset a lower percentage of their emissions above 2020 levels than if the obligation were to be based on individual carrier growth.
However, US carriers represented by A4A together with IATA are arguing for an approach based more on individual airline growth. And now it seems the US supports this position, calling for carriers over time to pay a percentage closer to their actual growth rate.
The reason is not hard to find; according to the latest IEA statistics, US international outbound CO2 emissions between 2010 and 2013 declined on average 0.02% a year while Chinese international outbound emissions grew on average 8.02% a year in the same period.
If we assume national airline traffic/emissions growth is pretty closely related to growth in a country’s total outbound emissions, then we can roughly estimate a carrier’s annual growth in emissions. So if the US and Chinese trends above are any indication of the state of the industry post 2020, under the individual approach a carrier like United Airlines might well incur zero or near zero offset costs while an airline like China Southern might have to pay over 8%.
The table below (see http://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=2257 ) from the most recent IEA data suggests airlines from Mexico, India, Brazil, Argentina and Nigeria might be in a similar position if the formula for determining offsetting obligations was based on individual carrier growth.
Such a formula would represent a pretty good deal for US carriers like United. The more so given thatunlike Europe where domestic emissions are covered by its ETS, US carriers are currently bound by no domestic climate measures, yet they generate within the US alone almost 20% of all aviation CO2 globally.
On top off this, at its recent AGM, IATA has stated bluntly that “emissions which are not covered by the scheme, as the result of phased implementation or exemptions, should not be re-distributed to those operators which are subject to the scheme.”
Since it is only airlines that will have to offset their emissions, it is either the case that negotiations in the next few weeks prevail upon a wider group of countries to join the GMBM and their routes close the gap, or carriers on routes within the GMBM offset more in order to close the gap. The ideal solution is a mixture of minimising the gap through increased participation and then closing the gap through a higher offsetting obligation on carriers operating on developed country routes. Industry should be to the fore in calling for such an outcome.
However, rather than use its influence to help resolve this, IATA’s statement regrettably seems tantamount to industry washing its hands of the huge emissions gap problem.It removes any possibility of achieving carbon neutral growth from 2020, something industry claimed to support.
Even worse, suggestions are now circulating that there should be no eligibility criteria for exemptions; states should be given the option at the Assembly of stating whether they would like their airlines to opt in or not. A patchwork of measures indeed.
Industry and the US need to think again. A deal which falls well short of the target of carbon neutral growth from 2020 goal will have no credibility.
As it is, such a commitment is a very modest first step for the sector to deliver the level of reductions that the Paris agreement requires and would need to be strengthened and supplemented quickly.
And if there is no deal, or a weak deal – possibly because the US, industry and others wind back on differentiation – then we are back to where we started, perhaps choosing between patchworks, but after three wasted years while the planet warms.
Bill Hemmings is Aviation Director of sustainable transport group Transport & Environment
The Paris Agreement and Implications for Reducing Aviation Emissions
(ICSA – the International Coalition on Sustainable Aviation)
The Paris Agreement and the ICAO process to adopt effective climate measures are not separate. The Paris Agreement covers all anthropogenic emissions, sets out important principles on carbon markets, and sends a clear signal that the aviation sector must act.
Download the full document “THE PARIS AGREEMENT AND IMPLICATIONS FOR REDUCING AVIATION EMISSIONS” here.
This states that the Paris Agreement:
“SETS A LONG-TERM GOAL FOR ALL MAN-MADE EMISSIONS
The Agreement commits parties to limit an increase in global temperatures to well below 2°C, pursue eforts to limit that increase to 1.5°C, and reduce emissions to net zero. This would achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases since the second half of the 20th century. Not only would this transpire on the basis of equity, but in the context of sustainable development and eforts to eradicate poverty. As aviation emissions, both international and domestic, are very much caused by humans, this directly brings them into the ambition and requirements of the Agreement.
It “ESTABLISHES THE PRINCIPLE OF INCREASING AMBITION OVER TIME
The contributions put forward by parties to date are insufficient to achieve the 1.5/well below 2°C objectives. The Agreement therefore requires the ambition of these contributions to rise over time in order to reach the 1.5/well below 2°C objectives. These increases in ambition will take place as part of a regular, five-year review process starting with a stock-take in 2018. Simply maintaining the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Global Market Based Measure (GMBM) target of stabilizing net emissions at 2020 levels will be inconsistent with the 1.5/well below 2°C objective. It is important that the ICAO commits to substantially increasing its ambition to bring its reduction targets in line with temperature objectives as soon as possible.”
The document concludes:
“THE PARIS AGREEMENT AND THE ICAO MBM (Market Based Measure) ARE MUTUALLY SUPPORTIVE
The Paris Agreement and the ICAO process to adopt efective climate measures are not separate. The Paris Agreement covers all anthropogenic emissions, sets out important principles on carbon markets, and sends a clear signal that the aviation sector must act. While measures adopted at the ICAO level must have unique features – such as respecting the principle of nondiscrimination between airline operators – this is not a barrier to swift and effective action to reduce aviation’s climate impact. The spotlight is now on ICAO to live up to its commitment to finalize a (global market based measure) GMBM at its upcoming Assembly in October 2016.”