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Summaries of, and links to, the latest aviation news stories appear below. News is archived into topics

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Latest news stories:

Willie Walsh and aviation insiders think Heathrow hopes of getting planning consent by 2020 are unrealistic

The Times reports that Willie Walsh, head of British Airways’ parent company IAG, (Heathrow’s biggest customer), said that Heathrow's target for its runway plans were over optimistic. He did not think the timetable of getting the support of MPs in the Commons within 12 months and then getting the planning process completed - through all the legal and planning hurdles - in a further 2 years was realistic. Those timings are highly optimistic, but Heathrow is preparing to start work on a 3rd runway in three years from now - in 2020. An airline insider told The Times that DfT officials had privately told industry bosses that planning permission would not be won until 2021. There will be legal challenges, and those could mean the timetable could slip even further. Heathrow wants to get its runway built by 2025, so it could increase the number of flights by 50% by 2030, compared to the number now. Heathrow has said it wants to apply to raise the number of flights from its legal cap now, of 480,000 per year, to 505,000 from 2021 - if it has been granted planning approval for the runway. That might involve one or two fewer flights in the night period, but a loss of some runway alternation during the day - perhaps softening people up for the worse noise, and shorter respite periods, there would be with a 3rd runway.

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Environmental Audit Cttee says government should take account of aviation non-CO2 impacts on climate

The Environmental Audit Committee report is highly critical of the government's handling of the issue of carbon emissions created by a 3rd Heathrow runway. The EAC raises the issue of non-CO2 impacts, which is something this government (and the Airports Commission) tries to totally ignore. Atmospheric science is complicated, and the exact extent that non-CO2 impacts from emissions by aircraft high in the atmosphere contribute to warming effects is uncertain. It is estimated to be up to twice the impact of the CO2 alone. The government used to use a multiplier of x1.9, but this was quietly dropped after 2011.The EAC have asked the Secretary of State whether "the DfT's upcoming aviation strategy would examine greenhouse gas emissions other than CO2. He said that non-CO2 emissions would be reduced alongside CO2, but “there is no clear scientific basis to look at other emissions and put those at the heart of our strategy”. The Appraisal of Sustainability says that non-CO2 emissions “are likely to be up to two times the magnitude of the CO2 emissions themselves, but [...] cannot be readily quantified due to the level of scientific uncertainty and therefore have not been assessed”. The EAC says the government should take account of the likely additional climate change impact of some non-CO2. Read the briefing on non-CO2 impacts.

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Brussels to start fining planes overflying city at night, but conflict of interest with Flemish areas

Brussels Zaventem airport has started fining planes that overfly the Brussels region if they exceed certain noise limits. The fines will be over the period of 11pm to 7am. The crucial period is 6 to 7am. It is thought that the fines could be around €5,000 - €10,000 per plan for an average plane, but with a range of fines from €1,300 - 62,000. The higher level fines are unlikely. Ryanair calculated its fines might be €6,000. Thomas Cook estimated they would be in the €1,200-2,000 range. If a flight is scheduled to arrive at 06:50 but does not reach the Brussels runway before 07:00 it would avoid the fine, unless it exceeds the daytime noise limits. However, there is - and has been for decades - a conflict of interest between the Flemish (northern) and French speaking parts of the city. The fines are for the French speaking areas, meaning planes will preferentially fly over the Flemish areas, to avoid the charges. Flemish mobility minister Ben Weyts filed an initial conflict complaint at the end of last year, which froze the introduction of the new limits for 60 days. As that term has now expired with no agreement reached, the Flemish Community filed a new complaint. Brussels said it was not ready to observe another 60-day delay and that it would administer fines, though it would not, for the time being, make the airlines pay.

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Plans for third runway at Heathrow ‘will blight 47,000 additional homes with dangerous levels of air pollution’

The Daily Mail reports that a 3rd Heathrow runway would expose 47,000 additional homes to dangerous air pollution from NO2 because more vehicles will travel to the airport. The runway would cause a rise in the number of cars, coaches and lorries - raising levels of NO2, that come especially from diesel engines. The Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) says the runway would rise breaching air pollution limits, and that is a key barrier to it being built. The EAC has ‘no confidence’ the Government can meet its target to fix the problem, or that 60% of all new cars would be ultra-low emissions by 2030. Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show 1.29 million new diesel cars were registered last year, which was 48% of all new car purchases. EAC Chair, Mary Creagh, said there was no evidence of any “step change” in the Government’s approach that the Committee had called for in their previous report. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has proposed a £3,500 diesel scrappage scheme to pay people to replace their old diesel cars, but this may not be popular. As well as over 47,000 homes likely to be exposed to worse air pollution, due to Heathrow expansion, the air near Wraysbury Reservoir (a SSSI for birds) would also be have illegal air pollution. The Supreme Court has ordered the Government to produce a new air pollution strategy by April, after ruling that its Air Quality Plan is based on ‘optimistic emissions data’.

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Council leaders attack ‘dishonest’ Heathrow promotional leaflet, circulated widely by DfT

Conservative town hall leaders have accused the Government of “misleading” up to three million people over the impact of a 3rd Heathrow runway, and a "dishonest approach." The leaders of Wandsworth, Richmond, Hillingdon and Windsor and Maidenhead council tore into the DfT over the “shamelessly one-sided” consultation leaflet sent to around 1.5 million households and businesses (an estimated 3 million people). The leaders say the leaflets fail to include any details of proposed new flight paths, or the extra numbers of flights, or the reduction in "respite" periods that would happen, due to the 3rd runway. There is also no proper information on likely increases in traffic, and therefore in air pollution.The leaflet is instead ecstatic about alleged economic benefits it might bring, and unashamedly bigs up pledges of home price compensation for compulsory purchase, future insulation schemes (over up to 20 years?), and some apprenticeships. The leaders believe the leaflet is intended to mislead, and its dishonest approach is undermining the fragile trust residents have in politics. Areas that are already badly overflown by Heathrow planes, such as Clapham, Lambeth, Pimlico, Marylebone, Westminster, Streatham, Mayfair and Kennington were not included in the consultation exercise. Lord True commented: "The Government need to stop the spin.”

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UK Government announces £3.8 m funding for a Londonderry to Stansted (BMI Regional) air route

The UK government has announced £3.8 million (2 years) for a Londonderry to London air route, as the current operator Ryanair will stop operating the route at the end of March.  BMI Regional has been chosen as the preferred operator for the route between City of Derry Airport and Stansted, following a competitive tender process by Derry City & Strabane District Council. Flights begin on 2 May 2017, and the government will fund the route over the 2017/18 and 2018/19 financial years.  The new service will include two return flights each day, except for Saturdays which will have one flight each way.  Lord Admad believed that the 13 weekly flights will "allow business passengers to get to central London and complete a full day’s work before returning home."  The UK government maintains regional airport links through the Regional Air Connectivity Fund, which "can be used to protect important regional air connections to London which may otherwise be lost." [As they are unprofitable]. Derry already has a route through the Fund, to Dublin. In December 2015 the DfT announced that 11 successful bidders had been awarded support from the Fund, for routes. The intention is that airlines, with the subsidy, can build up the routes that are not viable so they become profitable in a few years. 

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Transport Committee announces start of its inquiry into (Heathrow) Airports NPS (24th March deadline for evidence)

When he was Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin told the Transport Select Committee that there would be a 3 month inquiry, by a select committee, into the draft National Policy Statement for a Heathrow runway. He said in February 2015 that the inquiry would take place after the end of the NPS consultation. Now the Transport Select Committee has announced, just 20 days after the publication by the DfT of the draft NPS consultation, the start of their own inquiry into the NPS. They are only taking written evidence until the deadline of 24th March. The committee's website does not say what happens next, if or when witnesses would be called, etc. The Committee says they are interested to hear more about a variety of issues including: "How well the proposal reflects government policy on airports and aviation more generally" ... "The suitability of the Government’s evidence and rationale in support of a north-west runway at Heathrow" ... "How well the proposal takes account of other aspects of the Government's transport strategy." ... "How comprehensive the proposal is in terms of the supporting measures for affected communities" ... "How well the proposal takes account of sustainability and environmental considerations and the adequacy of relevant documentation and information published alongside the draft proposal." And so on.

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EAC: “Government must mitigate environmental impact of new Heathrow runway” – current plans do not

The Environmental Audit Committee report on plans for a Heathrow runway show huge failings by the government, on noise, CO2 and air pollution, even after several years of trying to gloss over them. The EAC report warns that proposed safeguards surrounding noise and pollution are inadequate, and just how inadequate the current NPS consultation on the 3rd runway is. The report warns that the proposed ban on night flights between 11pm and 5.30am would, in reality, result in only 4 arrivals being rescheduled each day. At present the airport is limited to about 16 night flights in a 24-hour period, with most scheduled just before 6am, which would not be affected by the new ban. The report criticises ministers for effectively giving Heathrow the green light without “concrete policy proposals” covering the environment. There is no proof that Heathrow could be expanded without an increase in the number of polluting cars being driven to the airport. The runway is likely to increase aviation CO2 by 15% above a previously agreed limit, with no plans for how other sectors of society could compensate with deeper CO2 cuts (or even that they have been advised of the problem). Noise would become worse for many areas, and the independent aviation noise watchdog proposed would be inadequate, with no powers and just an “advisory function”. And much, much more.

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New EAC report highly critical of government lack on clarity on aircraft noise targets

The EAC has now published a follow up report to their November 2015 report, after the oral evidence given by Chris Grayling on 30th November. It is highly critical of the government on its assurances on noise targets and its low level of ambition in limiting noise in future. The EAC says: "We are concerned that the Government’s National Policy Statement has provided no further clarity on how predictable respite will be achieved or on the specific timings of a night flight ban." ... "The Government must carry out further work on respite which should form part of the NPS process, alongside plans for a live timetable of respite to be published beginning when the new runway is operational. We welcome the Government’s commitment to a 6.5 hour night flight ban. ... it would appear inconsistent to reject its key recommendation on the precise timing of a night flight ban." ... and ..."The stated goal of “fewer people […] affected by noise from Heathrow by 2030 than are today” shows a lack of ambition. Without Heathrow expansion, local communities would have seen a decrease in aircraft noise as new technology and airspace management techniques were developed." ... and "We are concerned with the inconsistency of the metrics used to measure noise attitudes. The Government has recognised that the level of significant annoyance has reduced and the number effected increased, yet it bases its conclusions on the out of date 57 dB LAeq 16hr contour." And much more.

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New EAC report says government must provide clarity about its intentions on Heathrow CO2 emissions

The EAC has now published a follow up report to its November 2015 report, after the oral evidence given by Chris Grayling on 30th November. It is highly critical of the government on its assurances that the runway will meet carbon limits. The EAC says: "The Government claims that Heathrow expansion can be delivered within “the UK’s climate change obligations”. The Government has not set out what it means by “obligations”, let alone how it will meet them. It has not decided whether to accept the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation on limiting emissions from international aviation. It has not decided on whether to follow the CCC’s advice on offsetting. The Airports Commission told us the appropriate body to make recommendations on managing aviation emissions is the CCC. It would not be a credible position for the Government to claim that it can deliver Heathrow expansion within emissions limits whilst rejecting independent advice as to what those limits should be and how they should be met." ... The EAC says though Chris Grayling said told them the Government had not decided whether it intended to work towards the planning assumption [of limiting UK aviation to 37.5MtCO2 by 2050], when asked if he "had consulted other Ministers or sectors over the higher emissions reductions that they might be required to make if the planning assumption was not met. He said he had not yet done so." And much more ....

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New EAC report says government has given no guarantees that air quality targets will be met with Heathrow 3rd runway

The EAC has now published a follow up report to their November 2015 report, after the oral evidence given by Chris Grayling on 30th November. It is highly critical of the government on its assurances that the runway will not increase air pollution. The EAC says the government's air quality analysis is over-optimistic. "The effectiveness of the Government’s new air quality plan will be integral to determining whether Heathrow expansion can be delivered within legal limits. We are concerned that the timing of the draft National Policy Statement consultation means the Government will be unable to carry out a comprehensive re-analysis of the air quality impacts, using the new air quality plan, before the [NPS] consultation process is complete." ... "The Government must publish such an assessment alongside the final NPS, it must work towards a scenario in which all road links affected by expansion have predicted concentrations below the limit value. Whilst the health impact assessment is a step in the right direction, the Government must carry out work to reduce the significant health impacts identified, before construction of the third runway begins." ...."Since the Government intends to withdraw the UK from the EU before April 2019, there is no certainty about what our legally binding air quality limits will be after 2019. We are disappointed that these limits are not clearly laid out in the Draft NPS." And there is much more ....

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RHC challenges economic need for night flights at Heathrow, when slots can be provided during the day

The Richmond Heathrow Campaign has submitted a detailed response to the night flights consultation. One particularly interesting point they make is that Heathrow does not actually need flights between 11pm and 6am or even 7am. The airport proposed adding 25,000 more flights per year, if it is given planning consent for a new runway, before the runway is built. That means there can be 25,000 more flights per year - around 68 more per day, or about 4 - 5 per hour more (half take offs and half landings). Heathrow says it is full, but would be able to fit in these extra flights, if it wants to. Therefore, if these slots are possible, some of the flights currently in the night period could be moved into the day period. However, there are concerns that the extra 25,000 flights per year would mean loss or runway alternation, that is seen as vital for those currently overflown by Heathrow approach flight paths. The RHC believes late running flights and increased numbers of flights between 6 and 7am are largely ignored by the consultation and people may wish to comment. For the sake of people's health, the noise disturbance to sleep has to be ended, with no flights before 7am. There needs to be a ban on scheduled and unscheduled night flights starting by 2020, irrespective of any decision on a 3rd runway.

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5 arrested for blocking Heathrow tunnel – traffic chaos with tunnel closed 2 hrs 30 mins

Protesters from the Rising Up group caused tailbacks on the M4 heading towards Heathrow airport, in their latest action against plans to build a third runway. A video posted by the group shortly before 8.30am shows a car blocking the Heathrow Tunnel that accesses Terminals 2 and 3. They draped in a sign reading ‘No new runways’ over the car, and there was an activist lying next to the vehicle, locked to it, on the road. The Met police said officers attended the scene at 8.25am and arrested two people for obstructing a highway. The police said five people were arrested. Three protesters were locked to one of the vehicles and two were drivers of two cars. The tunnel was closed for over two hours, and the M4 spur road was also temporarily closed, while police worked with Heathrow Airport staff to remove the people locked to the third car. A contra-flow was put in place in the outbound tunnel to facilitate the movement of traffic around the blocked tunnel. There were delays in surrounding roads. Transport for London said just after 11am the tunnel re-opened. The protest follows a flashmob the group held at Heathrow on the weekend. The DfT opened its 4 month consultation on the 3rd runway on 2nd February. The degree of bias, and absence of balance or information on negative impacts of the expansion, in the consultation, has angered many people.

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With Dublin airport (state-owned) 2nd runway work to start, a 3rd terminal (privately owned) to be considered

A new review of airport capacity will look at the potential of establishing a third, privately-operated, terminal at Dublin Airport, according to the Minister for Transport. A forthcoming review, in the next few weeks, will examine the longer-term capacity needs of Ireland's 3 State airports will include an option for a 3rd terminal. However, the chief executive of DAA, the State-owned company that owns Dublin and Cork airports, said the idea of an independent terminal was theoretical, costly and inflexible. It had been tried in only two major airports in Europe and North America, and had failed and been reversed at both. The DAA said the delivery of the new 2nd parallel runway and other infrastructure to support growth at Dublin airport should be a priority as a third terminal was a long way down the line. The industry is hoping the number of passengers would double in the next 20 years, and this could be helped by Brexit. However, Brexit could cause problems with the liberalisation of the air transport market - so Ireland wants the market to remain fully liberalised and deregulated. Opponents of the runway (and terminal) say there is no consideration of carbon emissions, and much of the public see the airport's expansion as a "no brainer."

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Air pollution from PM2.5 particulates implicated in increasing risk of premature births

Reducing air pollution from the tiny particles, PM2.5 may help to prevent 2.7 million premature births per year worldwide, according to a study published in Environment International. These particles come from sources such as diesel powered vehicles, fires and other sources. Worldwide about 10% of births are classed as preterm, and for these babies there can be significant short and long-term health implications - depending on how early the baby was born. Problems associated with prematurity are the top cause of death among children under 5 years old, and has also been associated with learning and developmental disabilities as well as an increased risk of psychiatric disorders. The number of premature births caused by this air pollution in the UK per year might be as much as 4,500. The worst problems are in south and south east Asia, including India and China. The study considered that about 18% of all pre-term births were associated with the particulate pollution in 2010. Other factors linked to pre-term birth are maternal age (young and old), multiple pregnancy (twins etc.), social and personal/lifestyle factors such as poverty, maternal education, prenatal care, physical activity, diet, and alcohol and drug consumption.

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Beaconsfield MP Dominic Grieve says constituents should respond to NPS consultation, as parts of borough negatively impacted

Beaconsfield MP Dominic Grieve has written in the local Bucks paper to advise his constituents of respond to the DfT consultation on the Heathrow NPS. He says that because of the proximity of the airport, communities in the constituency will be directly affected by the proposals. He toes the government line about the runway being [allegedly] good for the UK economy and the Buckinghamshire economy, with more local jobs. But communities like the Richings Park area around Iver will face direct, adverse environmental impact from noise. Burnham has also been pinpointed as an area likely to have increased aircraft noise. He also mentions concerns about air pollution because limits "have been exceeded at the current levels of activity, prior to the expansion which is proposed." There is a DfT public consultation event on Saturday, March 11th in Gerrards Cross. Dominic Grieve says residents will be able to go through the consultation documents (not that easy a job) and make their own minds up. Deadline for responses is 25th May 2017. In October 2016 he said there were problems with vehicle movements, and air pollution, and quality of life of residents is being adversely affected in an unacceptable fashion. He said "the government and developers must demonstrate that they can address these issues fully."

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Opponents in Austria delighted by court decision to ban Vienna 3rd runway due to CO2, but airport may appeal

Austria's Federal Administrative Court has blocked Vienna airport's plans for a 3rd runway because of the extra greenhouse gas emissions it would have caused, and unacceptable loss of agricultural land. The airport and its allies are furious and have sworn to break this ruling. Legally they should not be able to because ordinary appeal was excluded. They must overcome the very high hurdles of an extraordinary appeal, but opponents fear they will try to get this. The appeal would have to make transparent what is at stake: is Austria going to take climate change seriously or not? In the UK we have the same problem, but our courts are clearly not mandated in the same way in relation to climate change (air quality is separate). Calculations show the 3rd runway, with its traffic projections, would have been by far the most polluting project in terms of GHG-emissions, and would have destroyed several hundred hectares of agricultural land - needed to grow food. Some of the Austrian media are taking the line that such a decision is not to be made by the court but by politicians, and that the Austrian economy should be more important than the climate. So the airport and Vienna city (20% shareholder of the Vienna airport stock corporation) want to appeal. Opponents are worried.

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Richmond criticises the 1.5 million DfT leaflets promoting 3rd runway as inadequate on noise problems

Lord True, the leader of Richmond Council, has complained (as have thousands of other people) that the information being put out in the DfT consultation on the Heathrow NPS is inadequate. He said: "The leaflet that was sent out last week it propaganda in its finest. And, the more we read into the full consultation material the more concerned we are at the Government’s selective presentation of the third runway’s impacts. They should be proactively informing flight path communities about major changes like the loss of daytime respite periods but that’s not been their approach. In the next few weeks there will be a number of resident consultation events, coordinated by the Department of Transport. I urge all concerned people to go and have their say and let the government know if they are not giving the information we need.” The DfT is not making it clear that areas like Richmond would be overflown for around 75% of the day, rather than around 50% of the time now. The leaflet makes no mention of noise, other than a carefully worded offer of 6.5 hours with no SCHEDULED flights at night. It is not made easy for members of the public to find data on noise changes, with a 3rd runway. There will be no details of flight paths for several years - so the whole NPS consultation is being done, deliberately by the DfT, in the absence of noise information needed by residents.

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Ice block (presumably off plane approaching Heathrow) damages roof just west of Windsor

There have been a number of incidents, at many airports, of lumps of ice falling off planes overhead, coming in to land. Ice can form naturally on aircraft flying at high altitudes, and this can break away and fall off when the plane comes down through warmer air. There is another recent incident of this, to someone under the approach path into Heathrow, just west of Windsor. On 10th February (some time between 7 am and 8.30am) some ice crashed through the roof of a house in Oakley Green Road near Windsor. The owners of the house were not hurt, though there is substantial damage to the roof. This is another incident where it is fortunate the ice fell onto a roof, and not onto people. Such a large object falling onto someone would kill or seriously injure them. Builders secured the property before the weekend and repairs were set to begin the next week. The CAA says this sort of incident is "‘relatively rare" and the CAA website says: “As the safety regulator for UK civil aviation, the CAA requires UK aircraft operators to minimise the risk of ice falls by performing regular maintenance to prevent leaks and take prompt corrective action if a defect is found. The CAA is unable to investigate the potential origin of an ice fall, but does record reports of this nature."

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Critique of 11 claims by DfT, in its 1.5 million pro-Heathrow runway leaflets, for NPS consultation

The DfT has sent out 1.5 million leaflets to households in areas not too far from Heathrow. The leaflets make no attempt whatsoever of balance, and are merely advertising the runway plans and promoting them. Many of the claims are misleading, or so abbreviated as to be unclear. Below there is a critique of the claims, point by point, and links to evidence backing up the criticisms. If anyone has received a leaflet, and wonders about the facts, this webpage may give some useful information. Just a few examples of the dubious statements in the leaflet: the figure of £61 billion economic benefit is given, leaving out the proviso that this is over 60 years. There is much made of the generosity of the compensation to be given for compulsory purchase, but in reality anything much below 125% would be derisory, and way below world standards. The claim about six and a half hours of no scheduled night flights omits to mention how many flights, scheduled before 11pm, often take off almost to midnight. And though there may be 6 more domestic links from Heathrow, these are likely to be unprofitable and may not last for long. The loss of long haul routes from other UK airports, due to a larger Heathrow, is conveniently ignored.

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DfT hold 20 consultation events in areas near Heathrow, plus 13 around the UK promoting Heathrow 3rd runway

The DfT is holding a large number of consultation events in the coming two months, both in areas affected by Heathrow, and after that, across the UK. The first event locally was on 13th February and the final one is 20th April in London. The DfT backs the runway, and so the information given out is very much in support of the runway. The DfT has sent out 1.5 million leaflets about the consultations, with simplified text backing the runway (and ignoring any negative impacts) - which look like Heathrow's own PR about their expansion plans. The events locally are from 11am to 8pm on weekdays (10 - 5pm on Saturdays). People have to register to attend events outside London. Due to the very short notice between the announcement of the NPS consultation (2nd February) and the first event on 13th February, it is difficult for local campaigners against the runway to attend all of them. The DfT has paid staff to man them all. People are encouraged to attend the events, and ask the DfT staff questions. Some suggested questions are shown below. People are also advised not to make their responses in the consultation events, but do them in a considered manner, from home, when they have had time to assess all the information, both for and against the 3rd runway.

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Rise in complaints in St Albans district about Luton plane noise – residents are angry

Three campaign groups, representing St Albans, Harpenden and wider-Hertfordshire have banded together to call upon local politicians to do more on the problem of increasing aircraft noise, than merely call for a review or consultation on the problem. Campaigners from the alliance of HarpendenSky, Save our Skies (SoS) and Herts-based LADACAN say St Albans is at risk of ‘turning into Heathrow’ unless the rise in noise pollution is stopped. Luton had more passengers than ever in 2016, at about 14.5 million. But there was also a 150% increase in complaints about noise. Residents in Hertfordshire want Bedfordshire, which owns the airport, to suffer more of its noise. Luton airport is owned by Luton council, and people in Hertfordshire say as Bedfordshire gets the profit, they should take more of the pain. Planes are getting bigger, heavier and noisier, and are flying even earlier in the morning and later at night. There is more noise affecting Flamstead, Redbourn, Harpenden, St Albans, and on to Sandridge and Stevenage. People overflown by increasingly narrow flight paths want politicians to do something and challenge the airport. However, politicians are always nervous of saying anything that might do perceived damage to economic growth, such as demand a ban on night flights.

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Tax experts criticise lack of detail in Scottish Government’s plan for new Air Departure Tax (ADT)

The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) is calling for independent analysis into the impact of cutting and axing Air Passenger Duty (APD) in Scotland. The CIOT says there is not enough detail about plans to replace APD with Air Departure Tax (ADT) from April 2018 and says a special report could “strengthen” the rationale behind the change. APD earned Scotland £275 million in 2015-16 and the CIOT, a trade body representing tax professionals, says the Scottish Government’s Air Departure Tax Bill is short on information about proposed rates, bands and exemptions for the replacement. There are also no fiscal forecasts on how halving duty from next April or eventual abolition will be achieved. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said the change will benefit families and other holidaymakers who “may well welcome a reduction in the cost” of going abroad. They may therefore go abroad more often, spending money they would otherwise have spent in Scotland. Moira Kelly of CIOT said: “There is a case to be made for using this legislation to outline who will pay what, when they will pay it and who will be exempt .... In the absence of information such as this, it is very difficult to say with any degree of certainty what benefits, if any, this change will make.”

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Flight paths of Heathrow 3rd runway travel over, and parallel to, M4. Safety and distraction issue?

The planned north-west runway at Heathrow, that the UK government is very keen to push through, runs close to the M4 motorway. This is a very busy stretch of road, with much of the traffic associated with Heathrow, in one way or another. The arrival flight path from the east, onto the 3rd runway, would run over parts of it, and very close to other parts, for some distance close to the airport. This is where the planes are at their lowest and most noisy. Currently along the boundary roads of the airport there are barriers, to prevent drivers seeing the planes - at ground level - and being distracted. However, with planes flying low overhead or parallel to the road for some distance, no barriers would be able to obscure the view.possible. It is not clear whether any consideration has been given by the DfT to the problem of driver distraction (or even driver nervousness) to have planes quite so low, flying parallel and in view. There are around 130,000 vehicles per day on that stretch of the M4 - meaning over 6,000 per hour - it is a very busy section of road, and due to become yet busier with a new runway. No other major airport has busy motorway with approximately the same alignment as the flight path - there is something comparable for one Tokyo runway. Will the government take into account the safety problems of this motorway / flight path clash?

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Particulate emissions from electric cars as bad as conventional – due to more tyre and brake wear

While electric vehicles are a welcome technology, enabling a cut in local air pollution from diesel and petrol cars and vans, (as long as the electricity they use has been sustainably produced) they are not wholly a "silver bullet" solution. A new study shows that much of the particulate air pollution in cities comes from from vehicle tyres and brakes, and road surface wear and resuspension of road dust. There is a positive relationship between vehicle weight and these non-exhaust emissions - the heavier the vehicle, the more wear on tyres and brakes. As electric vehicles tend to be around a quarter heavier, for the equivalent size, than their conventional equivalent internal combustion engine counterparts they produce more of this pollution. Therefore electric vehicle PM emissions - overall - are comparable to those of conventional vehicles. The study found that these non-exhaust sources account for around 90% of PM10 and 85% of PM2.5 from traffic. They conclude: "Future policy should consequently focus on setting standards for non-exhaust emissions and encouraging weight reduction of all vehicles to significantly reduce PM emissions from traffic." Heathrow is pinning its hopes for cutting air pollution on more use of electric vehicles.

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“Virtual ecotourism” means people do not have to fly to see endangered wildlife

Many of us would love to go to exotic destinations and see wildlife. It will never be quite as good a glimpse as the remarkable programmes on wildlife on TV, where film makers can take months to get the shots. Ecotourism is beneficial to some areas, from money it brings in to the local economy, and demonstrating to local people that there is more commercial value in keeping wildlife alive than in killing it. However, it has its downsides, and even when ecotourism done sensitively it has drawbacks. These include the high carbon footprint, from flights; wildlife disturbance, potential for disease introduction, and development of roads and infrastructure which have a detrimental effect on wildlife. Also many people are unable to afford the high price of ecotourism, or are too old, young, or otherwise unable, or unwilling, to travel. Virtual Ecotourism (vEcotourism) can contribute to overcoming these problems by providing a way to experience a conservation site virtually, using many on-line technologies combined with a live, on-location tour guide. The Virtual Ecotourism website offers a number of "tours" which are 360 degree panoramas, from where the actual tourists go, showing what they see. This is a positive development meaning people do not have to fly across the world, just to see rare populations of animals.

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Court in Austria blocks 3rd runway at Vienna airport, as climate harm outweighs a few more jobs

A court in Austria has ruled that Vienna Schwechat Airport cannot be expanded with a 3rd runway, on climate change grounds. It said the increased greenhouse gas emissions for Austria would cause harm and climate protection is more important than creating other jobs. The court said the ability of the airport to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by its own measures were not sufficient, and emissions would rise too much. It also said it was important to conserve valuable arable land for future generations to provide food supplies. The airport will appeal. It is using the same false arguments that the DfT and Heathrow are using here - that building a 3rd runway would (allegedly) reduce the amount of carbon emissions and noise because they claim (against common logic) that "fuel consumption and the noise are reduced, because the waiting times of the aircraft would be avoided at peak times." The airport hopes the runway would bring more tourists into Austria to spend their money, and would be needed by 2025. The airport had 22.8 million passengers in 2015.  It is a mystery how such a low number of passengers could require 3 runways, when there is barely enough to fill one, let alone two, runway.

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Heathrow airport workers might get financial payout to encourage those with diesel cars to scrap them, to cut NO2

It is rumoured that workers at Heathrow may be offered around £2,000 each, to replace their diesel cars with less polluting electric or petrol models, to try to overcome the problem of NO2 air pollution. Staff at Heathrow are estimated to drive around 27,000 diesel vehicles. Detailed proposals are still being worked up, with talks due to take place with airlines, retailers, cargo operators and other airport employers. Discussions are understood to have taken place about the possibility of a pilot diesel scrappage scheme, by the DfT, in various areas of the UK with the worst pollution (perhaps Heathrow is one) before a nationwide rollout. An earlier Government scrappage scheme to get older, more polluting vehicles off the roads involved motorists being offered £2,000. Half of this came from the government, and half from the motor industry which benefited from more new car sales. Heathrow wants the M4 out to the M25 to be included in the Low Emission Zone to clamp down on polluting lorries and vans. It hopes that by cutting this pollution (much of which is from vehicle trips associated with Heathrow) it can be allowed a 3rd runway, keeping air pollution just within legal levels. Meanwhile, the EC is expected to soon take the next step in legal action against Britain for failing to cut illegal NO2 levels.

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Pope: CO₂ compensation for air travel is hypocrisy

Pope Francis has denounced the CO₂ compensation for air travel as hypocritical. He said: "The planes pollute the atmosphere, but with a fraction of the sum of the ticket price trees are planted to compensate for the damage inflicted." If this logic were extended, one day it would come to a point where armaments companies set up hospitals for those children who fell victim to their bombs. "This is hypocrisy." He said this was one of the greatest ethical problems of today's capitalism, that industries were producing waste and then trying to conceal it or treat it to make it invisible. He demanded an economic system that would not only reduce the number of victims, but also require no sacrifices or offsets at all. He was speaking to about 1000 entrepreneurs from around the world who are committed to the social economy. With offset schemes for air travel, passengers can transfer money to so-called compensation agencies. The amount of the sum is generally determined by the distance, consumption and seating class. The agencies then invest the money in climate protection projects in developing countries. Critics see in this practice a modern form of indulgences, which leads to increased flights.

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GACC welcomes the proposal in the DfT airspace consultation to give more consideration to problems of narrow routes

GACC has welcomed the Government decision to allow flight paths to be dispersed instead of concentrated on a single track. GACC said the policy of concentrated flight paths, which was introduced in 2012 based on the use of aircraft “Satnavs”, has caused great distress and misery to those people unfortunate to be underneath. For the past four years GACC, along with many local protest groups, has urged the Government to permit fair dispersal. The new policy is included in a new consultation on UK Airspace Policy, which states: “We propose that decisions on how aircraft noise is best distributed should be informed by local circumstances and consideration of different options. Consideration should include the pros and cons of concentrating traffic on single routes, which normally reduce the number of people overflown, versus the use of multiple routes which can provide greater relief or respite from noise.” Dispersal – spreading aircraft across the sky – would be best according to GACC, and respite – one route on Mondays and a different route on Tuesdays, for example - would be second best. Overall, however, GACC finds the consultation paper disappointing. There is a forecast for a 50% increase in the number of aircraft in the sky but no target for a reduction in noise and no action to reduce noise.

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AEF comments on DfT airspace “modernisation” consultation: it provides little future noise reduction

The DfT has a consultation on managment and modernisation of UK airspace. It ends on 25th May. The Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) has now had the chance to read it in detail. AEF comments that though proposed new powers - in a very limited way - for the Secretary of State to "call in" plans for some planned flight are welcome, there is little ele to give real benefits to people overflown. On proposals for more consultation and engagement etc, the AEF says: "Improvements to the process in terms of transparency and communication won’t tackle the underlying need to reduce noise." They comment: "...the introduction of quieter aircraft and a reduction in stacking ... will only have a marginal impact given the likely increase in the number of aircraft." And the SoNA study (2014) now published shows people are more annoyed by aircraft noise than they were in the past, despite technological improvements. That means noise must be taken seriously. On the plans to set up an Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN) AEF says while this will provide advice, verify noise data etc, with "no requirement to deliver a noise reduction strategy, and without enforcement powers, or the teeth to make binding recommendations, the Commission’s effectiveness may be limited." Anyone affected by aircraft noise should read the whole AEF comment.

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CAA publishes SoNA study, showing high levels of annoyance from aircraft noise well below 57dB

On 2nd February the CAA published a report on a survey about attitudes to aircraft noise, done in 2014. It is called SoNA (Survey of Noise Attitudes). This follows the ANASE study done several years earlier, that was shelved by government, as its methodology was questioned, and it showed high levels of annoyance in response to plane noise. The SoNA study findings are that some adverse effects of plane noise annoyance can be seen to occur down to 51dB LAeq 16hr. The conventional level of averaged noise considered a problem is 57 dB LAeq, and noise is measured on a logarithmic scale. The SoNA report also found sensitivity to aircraft noise has increased, with the same percentage of people being highly annoyed at 54dB LAeq 16hr in SoNA as there was at 57dB LAeq 16hr in the ANIS study that was done in 1985. This gives further evidence to the demand that the government no longer uses the 57dB LAeq metric as its main noise measure. The debate continues about the merits of averaged noise over 16 hours in summer, with metrics measuring the number of plane noise events in a given time. The study says "there is insufficient evidence to link chronic health outcomes with event-based noise metrics, and SoNA 2014 found these performed less well than LAeq 16hr as a predictor of annoyance." But the findings may show "it may be appropriate to use N65 as supplementary measure for daytime noise..."

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Are GPS jamming incidents a growing problem for aviation?

In recent years, the number of reports filed by pilots to NASA’s aviation safety reporting system regarding incidents of GPS signal loss or disruption for private and commercial aircraft have increased. It is not yet clear how big a problem this is, or might be. Over the last decade, aircraft have been increasingly using Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) technology, as more operators use PBN (Performance Based Navigation). The problem is if the signal used by GPS satellites gets jammed either deliberately by a military exercise or maliciously by a person with ill-intent or even inadvertently by something like a lorry driver trying to scramble the signals of his employer’s GPS-based vehicle-tracking technology. There have been a number of incidents, including commercial airliners, and these involve either a total loss of signal or — more alarmingly — misreporting the aircraft’s position, for no apparent reason. Small jammers can easily be bought online. In the UK it is illegal to use one, but legal to buy one. Much of the jamming is harmless, but with a lot accidental low-level jamming, it "could interfere with GPS systems.” In the US, the FAA is very aware of the vulnerabilities of GPS, and "actions are being taken to address them proactively."

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Government allows ending of Cranford Agreement, so Heathrow planes can take off to the east from north runway

On 2nd February, later in the day after the announcements on the NPS and the airspace consultation, the DfT added news that the government has agreed to end the Cranford Agreement. This would have been a major announcement in itself, but craftily buried with the other news. The Cranford Agreement was an undertaking, set up about 60 years ago, that planes taking off towards the east would only use the southern runway, not the northern runway. This protects people in Cranford from appalling noise. The ending of the agreement means less noise from arrivals (when the airport is on easterlies - about 30% of the year) from the west - so places like Windsor, Datchet, Colnbrook and Poyle - under the northern runway approach path - could have half as many arrivals per day (around 330 rather than 630). But areas like Old Windsor, Wraysbury and Stanwell Moor could see the number of arrivals on easterlies from 26 to 328 a day (on the southern runway). For take offs, areas south west of the southern runway will see fewer planes, but areas north east of the northern runway will have more planes. It is likely some people in the very noisiest areas might be able to get some insulation from Heathrow, but not a lot. There are also implications for the distribution of air pollution from the planes. A condition of the planning permission gives Heathrow three years to enact the new infrastructure to implement the changes.

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Heathrow villages set for destruction get no consultation event from DfT

Residents, community representatives and local MP John McDonnell are outraged that the public consultation on the DfT's draft National Policy Statement on expanding Heathrow does not have a public exhibition event in any of the Heathrow Villages. The villages face the prospect of being demolished to make way for the runway. Though 20 local events are planned by the DfT, in areas not far from Heathrow and affected by it, the nearest one to the Heathrow villages is in West Drayton, not easy to reach by public transport from many of the villages. Previous public consultations on Heathrow expansion have always included exhibition events for those who would lose their homes. Local MP John McDonnell commented: “Quite frankly the Government are having a laugh by not holding a consultation event in the Heathrow villages. My constituents face losing their homes, schools, community centre and village life if this runway goes ahead." ...“I will be organising a further series of public meetings across the constituency over the coming weeks to ensure that local people and community organisations are fully informed and are able to fully participate in the Governments consultation process. I am confident that yet again we will defeat these disastrous proposals.”

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Irish Finance Minister raises prospect of reintroducing air travel tax, as industry is under-taxed

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said the air travel industry may be considered to be under-taxed and the ability to apply the tax should remain in order to raise revenue. He has said the some form of air travel tax should be reintroduced, as air travel pays no VAT and no fuel duty. There is currently in Ireland a report by the National Civil Aviation Development Forum, that is recommending that Air Passenger Duty (APD) is formally abolished. APD was reduced in Ireland from €3 per passenger to zero in 2014. It had been €2 for short haul trips and €10 for long haul trips until 2010, and then a flat rate €3 for all trips from 2010 to 2014. Mr Noonan strongly rejected the proposal to remove APD, insisting the levy - at just €3 has no impact on the aviation industry, or passenger demand. He said the tax was a “useful tool for raising revenue and paying for externalities associated with air tax such as emissions, noise pollution, etc”. APD was only cut due to very heavy lobbying by the aviation industry. There is now aviation development forum in Ireland, set up since the Brexit vote. It comprises senior representatives in Irish aviation, is chaired by the Department of Transport, and aims to help the aviation industry to grow.

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European aviation CO2: there should be no free ride for the aviation sector – Peter Liese

Peter Liese, who has been the rapporteur on aviation carbon legislation in the European Commission, has commented that the aviation sector should be doing more to cut carbon. He said the proposal by the European Commission to at least keep intra-European flights in the ETS is a basis for negotiations but the sector should contribute as much to emission reductions as other industries do. He said the Parliament will continue to exert pressure for ambitious climate protection measures in intercontinental flights. He welcomed the proposal to have a reducing cap on the carbon of intra-European flights, as this imposed the same linear reduction factor to aviation as for other industries. "The previous treatment was unfair to other sectors, like the steel industry, where many people are worried about their jobs. How can you tell a steelworker that his company has to meet high climate protection requirements, while other economic sectors do practically nothing?” However, the deal planned by ICAO “is by no means ambitious.” He proposes that the EU "should continue to exempt intercontinental flights until 2021, but then reinstate them if the ICAO rules are not clear. We should also include flights to countries which, like Russia, refuse to join the ICAO agreement.” Trump and Putin should not dictate what we do in Europe.

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EU to continue with only intra-EU flights in the ETS, and all long haul excluded – at least for several years

The European Commission has published its proposal for aviation in the EU ETS, covering both the remainder of the 3rd trading period and the 4th trading period (that was left out of last year's proposal). This says that flights to and from Europe will remain excluded from ETS, this time indefinitely. But flights within Europe remain in the ETS, and from 2021 onwards they'll be subject to a declining cap (until now this cap was static). That is welcome, as it is the means by which emissions are reduced. However, this hugely diminished version of aviation inclusion in the ETS has meant, since 2013, excluding flights to and from Europe, which represent about 75% of the sector’s CO2. The Commission will review things in a few years to see how ICAO's global market based measure [offsetting] is getting on. The review might even decide to apply ETS to all flights, or it could abolish aviation ETS entirely. Commenting on the EC proposal, Bill Hemmings from Transport & Environment (T&E) said: “The Commission has chosen to again suspend the only effective measure to regulate aviation emissions, all for a voluntary deal which is years from coming into operation and which may never actually reduce the climate impact of flying. By letting aviation off the hook again, other sectors will now have to do more on cutting their climate emissions even while air travel demand soars.”

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How will people who would ultimately be – newly – intensely overflown by new Heathrow flight paths know they need to make their voice heard?

There is a considerable problem with the DfT consultations on the National Policy Statement on Heathrow, and their Airspace modernisation consultation. If there is a 3rd Heathrow runway, tens or hundreds of thousands of people - who are not currently overflown - would be. They would also be likely to be overflown intensively - as the intention of the airspace management industry is to use narrow routes, and have planes directed down these accurately. That means the same people would get plane after plane overhead, often most of the day, perhaps on most days or on many days per year. However, many of these people have no idea yet that this threat may await them. They will neither be aware there is a consultation to which they should respond, nor of the severity of the noise burden to which they may be subjected. No flight path details are yet known, and probably will not be know for another couple of years. There is a considerable risk (as at Frankfurt with their 4th runway) that people could find themselves, once a runway opens, with a level of noise they had been warned of, and for which they were not prepared. The DfT is sending out 1.5 million leaflets for its NPS consultation. But how will the relevant households know that this might be a matter of real significance for them in the future? Unless people are fully informed, with proper information, the consultation is not adequate.

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Wandsworth Council raises concerns about absence of flight path details for Heathrow runway

The DfT published its draft National Policy Statement (NPS) on a Heathrow 3rd runway on 2nd February. This was announced alongside a consultation on "modernising" airspace, to use it more intensively, so more flights can be accommodated. There is no detail in the NPS of flight paths for an expanded Heathrow, and it was confirmed at the Heathrow Community Noise Forum that there would be no details of flight paths until the end of the airport's Development Consent Order process - several years away. For tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people living within perhaps 30 miles of Heathrow, the flight path details are vital - otherwise they have no idea how they will be affected by noise. Wandsworth councillors have expressed concern about the secrecy. Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council, said: "What millions of Londoners want to know above anything else is whether the new flight paths will go over their homes, schools or communities. There is no justification for keeping this vital information a secret. The Government seems to be consulting on the benefits of expanding this airport but not the drawbacks. This renders the whole exercise meaningless. This is more like marketing than consultation and the transport secretary is damaging already fragile trust in politics."

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Government starts consultation on UK Airspace Policy, to manage increasing use of airspace

Alongside the draft NPS, the Government is publishing separate proposals to "modernise" the way UK airspace is managed. This consultation; “UK Airspace Policy: A framework for balanced decisions on the design and use of airspace” is (quote): ..."seeking views on how aircraft noise is managed effectively while updating airspace policies. Proposals will look at how the number of aircraft entering and leaving our airspace can be managed effectively – using the latest technology to make airspace more efficient, reducing the need for stacking and making journeys faster and more environmentally friendly. They will also include draft guidance on how noise impacts should be assessed and used to inform decisions on airspace. The consultation also includes proposals on the role of an Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise, which we will establish. The Commission would build relationships between industry and communities and ensure an even fairer process for making changes to the use of airspace and flight paths." Cynics might enjoy the craft in the wording: "... more environmentally friendly" and "even fairer". If only. The government is aware that the current policy of trying to "minimise the number significantly affected by aircraft noise" does not work, with P-RAV technology, and highly concentrated narrow routes. That has not proved to be"fair" at all.

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Heathrow NPS – summary of the main (probably) insuperable obstacles the runway faces

The government hopes to get a 3rd Heathrow runway approved, but it realises there are a large number of massive obstacles. The purpose of the NPS (National Policy Statement) consultation is to attempt to persuade the country, and particularly the MPs who must ultimately vote on it, that these obstacles can be successfully overcome. At present, there are no apparent solutions to many of the problems. Below are some very brief outlines of what some of the insuperable hurdles are - and why the government is a very long way from resolving the difficulties. The issues listed here are the three main environmental issues - noise, carbon emissions, and air pollution. The economics is complicated, but there is a note on that too. When Chris Grayling makes bland PR statements about the runway, or the papers regurgitate undigested blurb from the DfT, it may be useful to remember how very thin some of these statement are, and how far the government would have to go, in order to find even partial solutions.

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Government publishes draft Airports National Policy Statement consultation, to pave the way for Heathrow runway

The government has announced the start of the DfT's consultation on the draft “Airports National Policy Statement: new runway capacity and infrastructure at airports in the South East of England”. It is the necessary first stage in the process of getting consent for a Heathrow 3rd runway. The consultation will last for 16 weeks, and end on 25th May. The text associated with the draft NPS says little new, that we had not heard before. It is rich in statements like: "..proposals show this Government is not only making the big decisions but getting on with delivering them" and "...will ensure Britain seizes the opportunity to forge a new role in the world after Brexit ...." No real practical, enforceable constraints appear to be placed upon Heathrow, other than it will have to put in place "measures to mitigate the impacts of noise including legally binding noise targets, periods of predictable respite and a ban of six and a half hours on scheduled [note, scheduled only] night flights" ... and "implementing measures to deliver on its commitments of no increase in airport related road traffic..." And that: "Planning consent will only be granted if the new runway can be delivered within existing air quality limits and climate change obligations." The only noise body offered is the "Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise" - ie. a Commission, with no powers, not an Authority with powers.

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GACC response to night flights consultation: “Ban all night flights by 2030, and cut the noise at night”

GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) has produced its response to the DfT's night flights consultation. The response has been put together after discussion with GACC's committee members, so that others who want to submit a reply can make use of it, if they wish. Some of the points are copied below, but there is more detail with references in the full response which anyone interested is advised to read. Some of the points made by GACC are that the claims of the economic benefits of night flights at Gatwick are flimsy and not substantiated; there should be a thorough analysis within the next 2 years of the balance between the economic benefits and the health impacts/widespread disturbance of night flights, leading to a reduction in both the number of flights and noise quotas; there should not be an increase in the number of night flights in winter; GACC supports the reduction in noise quotas to match (and go below) existing usage, encouraging purchase by airlines of less noisy planes; many GACC members feel strongly that there should be a total ban on all night flights; GACC agrees with Stop Stansted Expansion that government should announce that night flights will be phased out by 2030; GACC strongly supports the suggestion that the noise quotas may be reduced by 5% a year so as to be 20% lower by 2022.

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Consultation by Transport Committee on “modernisation” of airspace, especially to add a new runway

Government consultations on the Heathrow National Policy Statement and airspace change start on 2nd February. In addition there is an inquiry by the Commons Transport Committee, on management and "modernisation" of airspace. What modernisation means is more narrow flight paths, intensively used, in order to free up airspace so more planes can be accommodated. The south east of England is already (perhaps equal to the area round New York) the most intensely used area of airspace in the world. To fit in another fully used Heathrow runway, space must be found to deal with the extra planes. It is considered as given that expanding air travel is good, and whatever is needed to do this must happen. The effect for those on the ground is likely to mean more narrow flight paths, with high levels of traffic down each. That means potentially very high noise levels for those affected, often for most of each day, on most days. The Committee say without "modernisation" the economy suffers, due to flight delays and business is lost. This ignores the fact that about 70% of Heathrow is leisure passengers. The excuse is also made that fuel is saved by aircraft, in taking the shortest route - which is good, but this cost saving to the airline should be balanced by the social cost of the added plane noise. The Transport Committee consultation ends on 31st March.

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Some local air pollution so bad that new homes may have to be airtight, to keep dirty air out

There is speculation that a new government white paper on housing, due to be published soon, is considering making it compulsory for new homes in areas of poor air quality to be fitted with whole-house ventilation systems. That would mean airtight doors and sealed windows to protect families from smog and pollution in the air outside. (The government refuted the claim adding that it could not disclose what was in the White Paper.) Local authorities would be required to make airtight homes a condition when granting planning permission to a development in an air quality management area. There are about 700 such zones - including near Heathrow. Local authorities already have powers to order a developer to incorporate a whole-house ventilation system in a housing development in such an area but this is not compulsory at present. Simon Birkett, of Clean Air in London, said: "...we either build houses in polluted areas and dump people in them and wait 15 or so years, or we put in measures to help. That’s the choice.” Much air pollution actually comes from within the home, from activities such as burning candles, use of aerosols and cleaning products. The impact on mental well-being of living in a sealed home, unable to open windows, is not known.

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About 1,200 people pack Frankfurt airport Terminal 1 for the 200th Monday protest against noise

At least 1,200 noise protesters gathered at Terminal 1 of Frankfurt airport on 30th January for the 200th of their Monday protests. These have been going on, most Monday evenings, since the 4th runway opened in October 2011. Thousands of people living around the airport find the noise burden to which they are subjected intolerable. One problem was that there was no proper information about flight paths before the runway opened, and the imposition of the noise took many by surprise. On most Mondays at least 300 people attend. Some Mondays there are more. Their demands are that there must be a night flight ban between 10pm and 6am. The noise ceiling should not only be on the paper, but a noticeable reduction in noise. They would like to see the runway closed, but that is not likely to happen. Campaigners say the airport had been built for 40 years, but none of the growth forecasts so far had been fulfilled, and it is now taking low-cost carriers to fill the capacity. They say all trips of under 1,000 kilometres should be made by train, not by air. They say they want an aviation industry that is environmentally responsible, and without subsidies. One speaker at the 200th rally described the current noise as a "terror against the people of the region". Resistance will continue.

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Noise groups consider night flights consultation inadequate, as it fails to balance society costs against economic benefits

Campaigners against unacceptable levels of aircraft noise believe the current night flights consultation is unacceptable, because it prioritises the economic benefits of night flights over the costs to society of noise at night. The groups say people responding to the consultation should point out that the government’s role as regulator is to assess carefully the benefits and costs of night flights and strike an appropriate balance. Setting an objective of “maintaining the existing benefits of night flights” precludes such an assessment: the Government cannot start its options appraisal process by assuming what the answer should be, they say. The groups acknowledge that some of the Government’s proposals are helpful, such as the inclusion of currently exempt aircraft in the limits, and the potential reduction in the total amount of noise that can be generated at night. They believe the Government should implement its proposals for a two-year period only, and commit to carrying out a full assessment of the costs and benefits of night flights in that period. In the longer term the groups believe night flights should be eliminated entirely, as they may be at Heathrow, recognising the increasing evidence that they can have serious health consequences for people overflown. Some advice on how to respond to the consultation – more to follow soon.

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Court rules that legal challenge by 4 councils cannot be heard until final Heathrow NPS published

Four councils that a negatively affected by Heathrow, plus Greenpeace and a local resident, applied for a legal challenge against the DfT because of its plans for a Heathrow 3rd runway. The case has now been struck out, at the High Court, by Mr Justice Cranston, on the grounds that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the claim, because of the provision in the Planning Act 2008 which said that proceedings may only be brought in a six-week period that followed once the NPS was adopted, or if later, published. The claim is "precluded" until the NPS is published, and that might be the end of 2017 or early 2018. The court can then consider the challenge. The legal claim is because there was a failure by government to consult residents before going back on promises made repeatedly that a 3rd runway would not be built. John Sauven (Greenpeace) said: 'Today's ruling was about the timing of our legal challenge, not its merit. It doesn't change the fact that ministers have no solution to the huge air and noise pollution problems caused by a third runway." Ravi Govindia (Wandsworth) said "The country is now going to waste more time developing a scheme that will never pass a simple legal test on air quality. Nothing is going to change between now and 2018 to make this scheme any less polluting."

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Brexit and Trump mean ‘dangerous new phase’ for Airbus in the UK – future unclear?

Airbus has warned of a “dangerous new phase” as it faces the twin threat of Brexit and the policies of the Trump administration. Airbus's chief operating officer and president of commercial aircraft,Tom Williams, told MPs on the Treasury select committee that it would be “pretty scary” if Airbus were no longer able to operate a successful UK business with the ability to seamlessly move goods and people around the EU. Airbus employs about 15,000 people in the UK and makes wings at its factory in Broughton, north Wales. It would be likely that Airbus's main rival, Boeing based north of Seattle, would want to take advantage of the situation. Trump's policies of putting America first would not hesitate to help Boeing, to the disadvantage of Airbus. With Brexit looming, the British part of Airbus may be affected - and this may in due course influence or put at risk decisions to invest in the UK over the longer term. In the next few years, Airbus might be looking at its longer term product policy, and next investments, and might be unwilling to commit to the UK. MPs also heard that multinational car manufacturers were already putting off investment plans in the UK while there is so much Brexit uncertainty.

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CAGNE listens to residents of West Sussex and Surrey and joins the call for a night ban at Gatwick

The long awaited Department for Transport (DfT) night flight consultation was finally released on 12th January. It is intended the new regime will last for 5 years, and there will be no cut in the number of night flights in this time. There will be minimal, and theoretical, cuts in the quota count (a scoring system based on how noisy planes are). Commenting on the consultation, Sally Pavey, Chair of CAGNE said the deadline for comment of 28th February leaves too little time for residents to respond. The consultation continues to ignore the impact night flights have on people's health. The government should, instead of just looking at economic benefits (largely to airlines) consider the health implications of high levels of noise at night, not allowing enough quiet hours for healthy sleep. Ideally CAGNE, along with other groups, would like to see the consultation halted, and revised to contain measures to genuinely reduce the burden of night flight noise. Instead, the consultation proposes allowing many more flights in the night period, in winter, at Gatwick. Gatwick already has the most night flights. In summer 2016, Heathrow had 2,949 (3,250 allowed), Gatwick had 11,303 (11,200 allowed) and Stansted 7,370 (7,000 allowed). This number of night flights is "simply unacceptable to residents around Gatwick.” They should be phased out, not increased.

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In the 4 councils’ legal challenge, lawyers say Government plan for Heathrow runway is ‘unlawful’ because people believed repeated promises

Four Conservative councils affected by Heathrow (with Greenpeace, and a local resident) are bringing a legal challenge against the government, because of the plans for a third runway. They say the plan is “unlawful” because locals bought houses and sent children to schools due to repeated Tory promises it would not happen. The councils argue that their residents had a “legitimate” expectation” the project would not be approved, due to assurances received. They have identified 19 “broken promises” made by David Cameron, Theresa May and other political figures saying the 3rd runway would be scrapped. One is by Theresa May in 2009, telling her constituents she will fight the 3rd runway. The lawyers, Harrison Grant, say such promises are not in law to be treated as mere "empty gestures" but legally significant promises. People had, reasonably enough, believed them. There was a hearing at the High Court on 19th and 20th January, and a ruling may be given this coming week. This will decide whether the councils can bring forward their judicial review claims. The DfT has tried to get the case thrown out or delayed till after there is a parliamentary vote on the National Policy Statement on Heathrow - probably around the end of this year.

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Government facing legal action by Client Earth over progress failure towards carbon targets

Lawyers from Client Earth say ministers have been in breach of legal requirements to come up with a plan to make major cuts to the UK’s fossil fuel emissions. The Government is facing legal action due to its failure to come up with a plan to adequately cut UK CO2 emissions, to meet the UK’s international commitments on climate change. Britain has agreed to cut emissions by 57% by 2032. However it is currently nowhere near meeting that goal, and it is likely to miss the target by 100 million tonnes of CO2 [out of around 1,700 MtCO2] . The UK's Emissions Reduction Plan should have been ready at the end of 2016, but this was first put off until February and then again to the end of March. It now seems even the March date is in doubt, though it is thought the climate minister, Nick Hurd, is keen to get it done. The delay is by officials at BEIS and other departments, including Transport. Client Earth has said if the Plan is not published by end of March, they could go to court. Barry Gardiner, Shadow climate minster, believes neither the officials nor the minister know when the Plan will be produced, or how to meet the targets. One of the difficult sectors is transport emissions. [The fact the government is trying to get a Heathrow runway through, with no strategy on aviation CO2, is presumably part of their difficulties].

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Government likely to ignore climate advice by CCC, turning just to carbon trading, to try to push Heathrow runway through

Chris Grayling and the government plan to ignore the assessment of the government’s own independent climate advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, on how to manage the CO2 emissions from a 3 runway Heathrow. The Environmental Audit Committee wrote to Grayling on 19th December, asking how he planned to square the CO2 emissions and the CCC advice with DfT plans. His response shows there is no way it can be done, and building the 3rd runway means not meeting the UK aviation cap - recommended by the CCC - of 37.5MtCO2 by 2050, meaning about 60% passenger growth above 2005 level. Grayling says ministers “have not taken a view on whether to accept the CCC’s planning assumption,” ie. rejecting the advice. He goes on to note that “a future global carbon market would allow emissions reductions to be made where they are most efficient across the global economy”. Then he says “measures are available” even if the aviation sector grows by more than 60%. This goes against the CCC’s own calculation that these levels of growth would mean "all other sectors will have to prepare for correspondingly higher emissions reductions in 2050.” Grayling hopes carbon trading will cut emissions - but in reality there are no effective carbon trading mechanisms that would do this well enough.

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Lobby group Airlines UK publishes report with its hopes of reducing aviation CO2

The problem of UK aviation carbon emissions is a very real one, for which the UK has no real solution. The lobbying body for the airline industry, Airlines UK, has produced a report, with the intention of persuading the government etc that it can keep carbon emissions low, while growing the numbers of planes, and a passengers, fast and for years to come. They pin their hopes on slight changes to airspace management, making routes a few miles shorter; also newer models of planes that burn slightly less fuel per passenger kilometre; higher load factors - and the inevitable white elephant of "sustainable" biofuels. The report looked at the emissions from 2006 to 2014, which covered the recession. It also covered the period of high fuel prices, when airlines had a huge incentive on cost to achieve higher load factors. Intense competition keeps load factors up. But these gains are the "low hanging fruit" of carbon savings, and once used up, will not persist into continuous savings. If number of flights and passengers increase, once the effects airspace changes, load factor improvements and new planes have worked through, carbon emissions from aviation will continue to rise. See the comment by AEF. A short term stabilisation is welcome, but it would be ill-advised to presume this will continue for long. Ultimately the only "solution" will be off-setting, from other sectors (and/or unlikely biofuels).

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Text of speech by Chris Grayling to Airlines UK expressing total support for aviation growth for decades

Chris Grayling gave a speech to Airlines UK (used to be called BATA), giving the industry his strongest support for its growth. Some of his comments: (on Brexit) "... positive expression of our desire as a country to raise our ambitions and look beyond the EU. To strengthen our position as a global country. With the global connections and gateways to make that possible." ... "We already have the largest aviation network in Europe. Direct services to over 370 destinations abroad. ... (bit on routes added) ... And demand for flights continues to grow. ... though we’re awaiting the final figures, the signs are that 2016 will break [the 2015] record once more. ... Over the next 20 years, the industry estimates a doubling of the world’s aircraft fleet. That’s another 33,000 aircraft – quieter, cleaner, more efficient aircraft that can actually deliver a fall in carbon emissions. ( sic ! ) ... And as the world increasingly embraces aviation in the coming decades, in return, aviation will increasingly drive the globalisation of trade and commerce. .... We are currently working on our new aviation strategy. It’s a long-term framework covering airports, safety, security, competitiveness, consumers, regulation and capacity. [Note, no mention of environment at all !] ...It’s part of our plan to build on the momentum of the Heathrow decision - so the whole of Britain can benefit from new aviation capacity." ... and so on ...

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While BA passengers may travel to the airport by public transport, bags can go on ahead – by van

Heathrow has a problem with the number of car journeys associated with the airport, the emissions of NO2 etc from these trips, and the added road congestion. It is keen to state how there will be no more vehicles on the roads with a 3rd runway than with two, though this appears implausible - the numbers just do not stack up. British Airways has a service that they call AirPortr, by which passengers can check in their luggage from their home, and then have it delivered by a van (diesel?) to the airport for them to collect at their convenience. It is all very handy for the passenger, but it is absolutely not helping Heathrow to cut the number of vehicle journeys, even if one vehicle carries a good number of cases. AirPortr sells it scheme saying, having had your bags checked and sealed for security etc: "You’re now free to make the most of your time before you fly, either head to work without the evil glares on the tube or enjoy the day sight seeing without dragging your bags around historic monuments. Or simply avoid the balancing act of managing multiple bags and small children en route." The government and Heathrow hope that even with a new runway and 50% more passengers, there would be no more road vehicles than now – and by around 2031 about 55% of passengers would use public transport. In 2012 only about 41% of Heathrow passengers travelled to or from the airport on public transport.

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Climate change will lead to more turbulence, more fuel use and more insurance cost

Climate change will lead to bumpier flights caused by increased mid-air turbulence, according to an analysis by scientists, at the University of Reading. This could hit insurers by making plane journeys bumpier, It could also make flights longer, as planes need to fly round areas of turbulence - itself causing higher fuel use and carbon emissions (helping to increase climate change). Research has shown that planes travelling from Europe to North America could face an increased chance of hitting turbulence by as much as 170% later this century. This is because climate change will strengthen instabilities within the jet stream – a high-altitude wind blowing from west to east across the Atlantic Ocean. The turbulence could also be up to 40% stronger. The work is part of a wider body of research by University of Reading into the interaction of aviation and atmospheric physics. This includes the extra non-CO2 impacts of aviation due to contrails, formed behind aircraft flying at high altitude, which also adds to global warming by adding to cloud cover, preventing heat from escaping Earth’s atmosphere. The extra problems from turbulence might lead to more passenger injuries, and more damage to planes, affecting the insurance industry. Longer journeys could increase flight times and delays, an increase ticket prices.

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Heathrow Black Lives Matter protest: Nine people who blocked major airport route found guilty of wilful obstruction

On 5th August 2016 a group from "Black Lives Matter" blocked the M4 southbound spur road from junction 8 from around 8am. The road did not fully reopen until 12.30pm, causing a lot of traffic delays. At the road block, four of the protesters held a large black banner which said 'This is a Crisis' while six others formed a human chain on the ground, linking arms together using hollowed fire extinguishers filled with wire mesh and concrete. The activists were at Willesden Magistrates' Court for their trial, at which 9 out of the 10 protesters were found guilty of wilful obstruction and ordered to pay fines. They were all ordered to pay between £261 and £523 in fines, according to Hodge Jones & Allen, the law firm representing them. Another protester had already accepted a caution. The protesters hoped that their protest got media attention and raised awareness of the issues - Heathrow's 3rd runway will contribute to causing damage to health through both air pollution and carbon emissions. One defendant commented: "If people want to challenge us for causing a one-hour inconvenience, surely they'll want to challenge a system that sees families wait over 20 years for justice?" Black Lives Matter is an international movement set up in the US.

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At councils’ Heathrow runway hearing in High Court, DfT wants to get case struck out

Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils together with Greenpeace UK have bought a judicial review against the DfT to the High Courts of Justice. At the hearing the councils said the government's decision to back plans for the 3rd runway "frustrates the expectations of councils and residents" who have received "clear, unequivocal and repeated promises" over the years that it would never be built. The councils also challenge the decision on the basis that the government has failed to recognise the project's air quality impacts, which would raise pollution to unlawful levels. Lawyers for the DfT have asked the judge, Mr Justice Cranston, to strike out the case now. The DfT argument (by James Maurici QC) is the case should not be heard until after the consultation on the National Policy Statement (NPS) on aviation is published - which could be anything from this year to 2018. The DfT is hoping to make the case that this is a "preliminary and insuperable obstacle" to the claim proceeding. The councils and their lawyers say that instead of trying to get the case delayed, it is vital that the issues need to be dealt with before, not after, the NPS consultation. That would otherwise be "flawed at the outset and a huge waste of time, energy and public money." A decision given at an unknown later date.

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Government’s plans on Heathrow night flights have been slammed by campaigners in Berkshire

Campaigners against Heathrow noise, in Berkshire, have sharply criticised the proposals by the DfT (published on 12th January) to make no effective cuts in the airport's night noise. Local group RAAN (Residents Against Aircraft Noise) say members of the public will be extremely disappointed with the plans. Murray Barter, chairman of RAAN said: “If the government are serious on ending night flights, this is the first test of their sincerity in doing so. The elephants in the room are the many 'unscheduled' night departures that overrun past their scheduled departures which are allowed to continue seemingly unabated and unrestricted throughout the night. ... the 'night' period is curtailed to six and a half hours, which is against the World Health Organisation guidelines of eight hours. ... Nothing within this consultation or regarding Heathrow expansion will alter this for the better.” A carefully worded statement by the minister, Lord Ahmad, attempts to conceal the fact that the plans will do almost nothing to reduce the noise. There are no proposals for anything other than "business as usual". There are no improvements planned for future years - other than changes that might, or might not, happen with a new runway.

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Gatwick’s carbon neutral commitment using renewable electricity excludes 99% of emissions

Gatwick Airport says it has joined more than 80 global companies in a programme to generate a “massive increase” in the demand for renewable electricity. It says it has been buying 100% renewable electricity since 2013, and it has plans for its airport operations to become ‘carbon neutral’ by the spring. That is all good - better if the airport's buildings etc are as low carbon as possible. But this entirely ignores the massive carbon emissions of the flights using the airport - which Gatwick wants to increase as much as it can. AEF (the Aviation Environment Federation) commented that while welcoming the use of renewable electricity, Gatwick's use is just for airport infrastructure and vehicles. "The planes that fly out of Gatwick are still powered by fossil fuels and will remain so for decades to come. Around 99% of the emissions associated with Gatwick are not from the airport itself but from the aircraft that use it. If you take into account emissions from departing planes, Gatwick has the second highest level of CO2 emissions of any airport in the UK, and this level is set to grow even though the airport was not the Government’s preferred choice for a new runway in the South East.”

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SHE has found another area of housing (in Heston) to be demolished, to cater for Heathrow 3rd runway

As many as 100 homes in Heston, around 4.5 miles from Heathrow, would have to be destroyed if the M4 motorway is widened to accommodate traffic generated by a new third runway. Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) has found the admission deep in a technical analysis, by Highways England, of upgrades to the road network that would be required with a new runway. This is a document published by the DfT when it announced Heathrow was its preferred location for a runway. SHE is shocked that this potential loss of homes has not been included in the figures of properties under threat. It also means that people in those homes are unlikely to know the threat, or have enough information to respond fully to the forthcoming consultations. The Highways England document has information on the stretch of the M4 that would need to be widened, with an additional lane to meet extra demand. It states that M4 J2 to J3 widening would result in “substantial acquisition of land including residential and commercial properties in the vicinity of Winchester Avenue”. That is a residential road. Location. SHE visited the residents to see if they were aware of these proposals, but none to whom they spoke were. Heathrow is unlikely to accept that all changes to roads are due to a 3rd runway because that admission would make them liable to pay for that infrastructure. The taxpayer will therefore have to pay the cost.

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Data from monitors installed by Heathrow confirms A380s are noisier than supposedly “noisier” planes they are replacing

The Teddington Action Group (TAG) has been adamant for several years that they are experiencing excessive noise from A380s overhead, especially take-offs towards the east, and especially late evening and night. TAG has now found that these supposedly "quieter aircraft" are in fact noisier than the planes they are replacing. The data from noise monitors, installed by Heathrow, at the National Physical Laboratory and Strawberry Hill House. The data, (Mar-Sept 2016), shows that "quieter" A380s departing directly over the monitors achieved an average noise of 76.5 decibels, compared to an average of 73.8 dB for "noisier" Boeing 747s. Moreover, TAG has discovered that the CAA and DfT have used "double counting" to manipulate elements of the very same data, so to to create an artificially low noise average for the A380s. Noise has been measured by two monitors and somehow this has been computed together to given an allegedly lower noise reading. TAG says: "The DfT argues that Heathrow expansion is made possible by a new generation of quieter aircraft. It's one thing to learn that this platitude is as fallacious as overflown residents have long known. But quite another to learn that data has been self evidently manipulated by the authorities to shore up the fallacy."

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One noise sufferer’s struggle to cope with the noise burden of Heathrow flights under 3,000 feet overhead

Someone who is now dealing with depression has contacted AirportWatch about the difficulties they have with high levels of Heathrow aircraft noise - living 7-8 miles from the airport. There are flights nearby or overhead at under 3,000 ft, on easterlies. Some extracts from the letter are copied below (with their permission): "We are on Easterly Winds until Sat, meaning we have so much noise to come. I am doing my best to cope, but the thought of this much noise is hard to take. ... It is not fair. ... The thing I loved doing the most has been taking away from me - to be able to sit and read a book or study something new in peace, in my own home. I can't do this anymore. It is so sad, as with the noise, I never will be able to sit in my garden and have dinner in the summer months. I brought my house and it was so lovely and quiet - now this has happened. ... The noise is just getting too much for me. ... Why this the government allowing this to happen? I have no support, no protection. My MP is in favour of a 3rd runway at Heathrow, and is unhelpful. ... I didn't choose to live under this. This government, and earlier governments, have brought this to me. I just can't understand why it is allowed to continue. ... When will it stop?" A letter received from the Dept of Health was unhelpful - just advising visiting the GP ....

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Zac’s back: Goldsmith to lead four-borough campaign against Heathrow runway

Former Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith has been appointed spokesman and organiser of the anti-third runway campaign by Richmond, Wandsworth, Hillingdon and Windsor and Maidenhead councils. The appointment was announced at Richmond Council's full council meeting on 17th January. A revised motion put forward by leader Lord True read: "(This council) endorses the appointment of Zac Goldsmith as spokesman and organiser for the public and legal campaign being waged by Richmond, Wandsworth, Windsor & Maidenhead and Hillingdon councils against the expansion of Heathrow and calls upon all elected representatives to give full assistance to Mr Goldsmith in this campaign." Richmond's Liberal Democrat opposition leader Gareth Roberts said he would support Mr Goldsmith's appointment. Mr Goldsmith's role is an unpaid one. Lord True's motion also rejected the government's recommendation to build a third runway, and reaffirmed the council's commitment of £50,000 to an "initial fighting fund" against Heathrow expansion. Zac Goldsmith lost the local election, which he had called because the government backed the runway, on 1st December - to LibDem Sarah Olney, who fought the election on Brexit, rather than on Heathrow. Sarah Olney is also deeply opposed to the runway.

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Stop Stansted Expansion says DfT plans on night flights do not go nearly far enough

Following the publication of the DfT's night flight regulation consultation, SSE is urging urging local district, parish and town councils and individual local residents to respond, to try to get the noise impacts of Stansted night-time flights reduced. Stansted currently has permission for 12,000 night flights a year, more than twice as many as are permitted at Heathrow. The 12,000 annual limit applies only to the 6½ hours from 11.30pm to 6.00am whereas the normal definition of 'night' is the 8 hours from 11.00pm to 7.00am. Moreover, a large number of Stansted’s night flights are large, noisy cargo aircraft, many of which are very old. Unsurprisingly, these give rise to a disproportionately high level of noise complaints. SSE welcomes the DfT intention to remove the current exemption for less noisy aircraft and adjust the movements limit accordingly - but the DfT proposes to maintain the present night limit on Stansted aircraft movements. The number of exempt aircraft has been increasing, and they need to be included in totals. SSE wants an unequivocal Government commitment to phase out all night flights at Stansted by 2030, except in the case of genuine emergencies. SSE also wants the annual flight limit to apply, not just from 11.30pm to 6.00am, but from 11.00pm to 7.00am, so that ‘night’ truly means ‘night’.

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Letter by Chair of Richmond Heathrow Campaign sets out important key arguments against 3rd runway

In a letter to the Richmond & Twickenham Times, Chairman of the Richmond Heathrow Campaign, Peter Willan, sets out succinctly some of the main reasons why there does NOT need to be a 3rd Heathrow runway. Just a few of the points are: any gain in connectivity due to the runway comes at the cost from another UK airport; international-to-international transfer passengers use over 30% of Heathrow’s capacity and are estimated to use 50% of a 3rd runway; these transfer passengers provide little economic value to the UK, and do not leave the airport; rather than transfer passengers making "thin" (ie low passenger volume) routes more viable, in reality most are on the "thick" routes that are very profitable, eg. to the USA, largely fro leisure; just 2% of transfers are on "thin" long-haul routes and less than 10 "thin" routes have any transfers; the Chancellor should remove the tax exemption (they pay no APD) on international-to-international transfers and free up over 20% of Heathrow’s capacity for UK passengers to benefit the UK economy without environmental cost. Peter says the aviation sector is one of the least taxed sectors of the UK economy., paying no fuel duty and no VAT - a massive subsidy; in addition, Heathrow receives tax relief on its large debt to the benefit of the equity, 90% owned overseas.

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New anti-3rd runway group forms in Hammersmith & Fulham, concerned about worse Heathrow impacts

A new campaign group fighting plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway has been formed in Hammersmith and Fulham. The "H&fnothirdrunway" group was formed by concerned local residents Victoria Timberlake and Christina Smyth. Christina was chairman of Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s resident-led commission on airport expansion, which submitted a 56-page report on the 3rd runway proposals to the Airports Commission. The group is urging residents to attend its first public meeting on January 30th, an anyone is welcome to come along, whether they are members or not."It’s time to get involved.” [At Holy Innocents Church, Paddenswick Road, Hammersmith and begins at 7.30pm] Hammersmith and Fulham Council has repeatedly opposed a 3rd Heathrow runway. In July 2015 the Council Leader, Steve Curran said the runway would have an adverse impact overall on the borough. Many local residents already have their sleep shattered by aircraft noise, which could only get worse. There would be extra pressure on our roads and more air pollution. "No amount of mitigation could make this acceptable. “We are urging the government not to support proposals which would be a nightmare for residents and make no financial sense.”

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Chris Grayling’s evidence to the Environmental Audit Cttee on noise – in relation to Heathrow runway

Chris Grayling was questioned by the Environmental Audit Committee on 30th November 2016. Below are the parts of the questions, and answers by Chris Grayling and Caroline Low (DfT) on the subject of noise. Mr Grayling reveals only a very partial understanding of the problems, and of the noise levels - and a somewhat trusting belief in how "quiet" new aircraft are going to be. He says the UK should not impose restrictions on noisy aircraft of developing countries, as it would be unfair on them. He admits that people who currently get "respite" from Heathrow noise will get less, and there will have to be new flight paths - means unknown numbers of people will get noise for the first time, and not a lot of "respite". His aspiration is for no scheduled flights for six and a half hours per night. He believes (mistakenly) that slightly steeper landings would help. He manages to repeat the mantra that despite 50% more flights "noise levels will be lower than they are at the moment." He places unjustified trust in an "independent noise authority (or commission)" sorting out a lot of insoluble noise problems in future. Much that he could not give proper replied to depends on consultations in 2017. He will "look at" the issue of when insulation of affected homes is done - over up to 20 years, rather than right away. A worrying performance, for those affected by Heathrow noise.

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Two girls get return flights to Malaga to meet (cost £75) rather than one Birmingham to Newcastle rail ticket (£105)

This story illustrates how the cost of flying does not reflect the environmental cost, and its price is far too low. Two women decided to save themselves a small amount of money, by travelling to Malaga to meet up, rather than one making train journey between Birmingham and Newcastle. The cost of a flight on 7th January by Ryanair from Newcastle to Malaga was £9.99 each way. Total £19.98. [The APD would be £13, so Ryanair made just £7 from transporting this passenger 2,700 miles]. (2,700 miles round trip). The cost of a return flight by Vueling from Birmingham to Malaga was £55.29 (2,200 miles round trip). By contrast the cost of a return train trip from Newcastle to Birmingham was £105. The two girls therefore spent about £75 on travel, (plus another £60 on hostels in Malaga for 3 nights, so they were actually out of pocket ... compared to the rail trip and one staying at the house of the other ...) The cost of staying in Malaga, off season, is also very cheap, encouraging Brits to take yet more trips very, very cheaply - regardless of their person carbon footprint, and the environmental impact. Newcastle and Birmingham are not really that far apart. How is the price for one return ticket as high as £105? And how can airlines be allowed to sell a ticket for a journey of 1,300 miles for just £10? There is something (well, many things) deeply rotten with the current system.

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‘Miracle on the Hudson’ 2009 legacy: 70,000 birds killed around New York airports since then

On 15th January 2009 a US Airways Flight took off from New York's LaGuardia, soon hit a flock of big Canada geese, lost both engines - but almost miraculously landed safely on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board survived. Birds took the blame for the incident, and have been paying for it with their lives ever since. An Associated Press analysis of bird-killing programs at the New York City area's 3 major airports found that nearly 70,000 gulls, starling, geese and other birds have been slaughtered, mostly by shooting and trapping, since the 2009 accident, and it is not clear whether those killings have made the skies safer. Advocates for the birds say officials should find other, more effective ways to protect aircraft. Between January 2009 and October 2016, of the 70,000 birds killed, there were 28,000 seagulls, followed by about 16,800 European starlings, nearly 6,000 brown-headed cowbirds and about 4,500 mourning doves, and 1,830 Canada geese. The FAA say of the known birds that caused damage to planes, in 249 incidents, 2009 - 2016, 54 were seagulls, 12 were osprey, 11 were double-crested cormorants and 30 were geese; 69 unknown. Airport officials try to keep birds out of a 5-mile radius around the airports' runways.

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Transport Secretary to discuss 2nd Brighton mainline BML2 linking south coast to Canary Wharf

The Brighton Mainline 2 (BML2) consortium has long campaigned for a 2nd railway line between the south coast and London. The idea is for a have a line running from Brighton east of the current main line, going via Uckfield and Crowborough and Oxted, to Croydon, and then on to Canary Wharf and ultimately to Stansted. The campaign says tht the BML2 line would "link into Thameslink 2 between Stratford and Lewisham, providing a rail link between Gatwick and Stansted airports (“StanWick”) and opening up a rail corridor between East Anglia and Sussex, Surrey and Kent ..." And "More services could be run between London and the South Coast, whilst Gatwick airport could have its rail connections speeded-up and increased by means of the Stanwick Express dedicated shuttle services operating between Gatwick and Stansted through Canary Wharf and Stratford International." Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Transport, has agreed to meet with the BML2 campaigners to discuss the plans, a second Brighton mainline. The group has recently revealed a group of heavyweight overseas investors had stated their intention to fund the scheme, and had a particular interest in linking the rail line from Brighton to Canary Wharf. The consortium is now prepared to undertake its design and construction and will put its case to the government.

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Study shows sleep deprivation ‘costs UK £40bn a year’ through lost working days

A study by Rand Europe, published in November 2016, shows that sleep-deprived workers are costing the UK economy £40 billion per year and face a higher risk of death. The calculation is based on tired employees being less productive or absent from work altogether. Rand Europe, which used data from 62,000 people, said the loss equated to 1.86% of economic growth. The main impact was on health, with those sleeping less than 6 hours a night 13% more likely to die earlier than those getting the "healthy daily sleep range" of 7 - 9 hours. The study evaluated the economic cost of insufficient sleep in the UK, US, Canada, Germany and Japan. UK loses 200,000 working days a year, costing £40bn, or 1.86% of GDP. Germany loses 200,000 working days a year, costing $60bn, or 1.56% of GDP. Marco Hafner, a research leader at Rand Europe and the report's main author said small changes could make a big difference. If those in the UK currently sleeping under 6 hours a night increased this to between 6 - 7 hours it would add £24 billion to the UK's economy. Large numbers of people living near UK airports, Heathrow and Gatwick in particular, are subjected to aircraft noise at night, between 11pm and 7am, and many suffer chronic sleep interference or sleep loss as a result.

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Comment from Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign on night flights plan – same number but less noise

New rules for night flights for the next five years have been announced by the Government. Chairman of GACC, Brendon Sewill, said: "Gatwick has more night flights than any other London airport. We are disappointed that there is to be virtually no reduction in the number of flights. People across Britain are kept awake by aircraft and there is growing evidence that this has a serious impact on health, so GACC’s aim is to see a ban on all night flights." GACC, however, welcomes and supports the suggestion by the DfT that the permitted level of noise at night (the noise quota) at Gatwick may be cut by 20% over the next five years. That will not only have an obvious advantage but it will force airlines to buy and to use quieter aircraft – and that will also have a benefit during the day. But we need to ensure the aviation industry does not try to weaken this restriction. GACC welcomes the proposal to reduce the noise quotas to the current level of use: that will not make any difference to the current situation but will prevent a potential sizeable increase in future years. It is something that GACC has argued for in the past. GACC will be consulting its members on its detailed response to the consultation and welcomes their views.

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Gatwick has more night flights than Heathrow or Stansted – and that will continue for next 5 years

The Government Department for Transport (DfT) has released the long awaited night flight consultation documents (ends 28th February). The number of flights between 23:00 and 07.00 would not be reduced. The current number, and the one proposed for the next 5 years, is 3,250 in the winter and 11,200 in the summer, making an annual total of 14,450 which averages as 40 per night through the year. There will be a slight reduction in the quota count, as it is not being used - so the new figure will not change anything. This will be a reduction of at least 345 in the winter to 1655 [from 2000] and 1,330 in the summer to 4870 [from 6200]. Local campaign group CAGNE has commented about how unsatisfactory the proposals for Gatwick are. Sally Pavey, Chair of CAGNE said: “We would like to see a total ban on Gatwick night flights as this is a major cause of complaints we receive from communities. Summer nights especially when residents want to enjoy their gardens and have windows open on hot evenings.” CAGNE says it is regrettable that the government seems to "accept the economic case over the health implications of allowing night flights to continue.” Gatwick plans to continue to grow at perhaps 10% per year, meaning continually increasing noise.

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DfT publishes disappointing consultation on night flight regime at Heathrow, Gatwick & Stansted

The long awaited consultation on Night flying restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted has now finally been published, for the 5 years to October 2022 (well before any new runway). It has been delayed for 3 years. Many people whose sleep is disturbed by night flights had been hoping for real prospects of the number of night flights being reduced. However, the consultation (that ends on 28th February) merely suggests keeping the numbers of flights between 23:30 and 06:00 the same at Heathrow and Gatwick, but increasing the number at Stansted. ["Night" is defined as 2300-0700 local time]. At Heathrow the number would remain at 2,550 in the winter and 3,250 in the summer (seasons based on dates the clocks change to/from summer time). That is an annual total of 5,800 which averages as 16 per night through the year. The figure at Gatwick is 3,250 in the winter and 11,200 in the summer, making an annual total of 14,450 which averages as 40 per night through the year. However, the DfT proposes reducing the total noise quota (points based on the noise of planes at night) at Heathrow Airport by at least 43% in the winter and 50% in the summer, ie. a reduction of at least 1,740 in the winter to 2,340 (from 4080) and 2,560 in the summer to 2,540 (from 5100). The cut in quota count at Gatwick would be 17% in winter and 21% in summer., ie. a reduction of at least 345 in the winter to 1655 (from 2000) and 1,330 in the summer to 4870 (from 6200).

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Chris Grayling’s evidence to the Environmental Audit Cttee on climate – in relation to Heathrow runway

Chris Grayling, and Caroline Low from the DfT, gave oral evidence to the Environmental Audit Cttee on 30th November. Chris Grayling was not able to give the committee satisfactory assurances on how much UK aviation emissions would rise, due to a new runway. Nor was he able to comment on the CO2 cuts needed by other sectors, to accommodate aviation CO2 rise. He said: "Of course in the case of carbon emissions, there is no law of the land that requires us to meet any particular target." When asked by Mary Creagh when we could see the aviation emissions strategy, Grayling could give no answer other than an evasive: "documentation on that expansion will be published in the new year." Grayling's responses indicate only an incomplete grasp of the facts on carbon, avoiding specific answers to questions, but with the intention of allowing aviation expansion (and perhaps later trying to sort out the problem). He hides behind the CCC as much as possible. On the issue of non-CO2 impacts, he says "there is no international evidence at the moment"for this" - and then some half-digested waffle about cutting CO2 by more direct routing of flights. He also hopes biofuels will make a difference in future, despite this being unlikely to provide more than a tiny % of fuel. Grayling makes it clear he has no intention of letting aviation CO2 get in the way of a 3rd Heathrow runway.

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NATS realise the importance of good sleep for their controllers’ alertness – but not for those overflown at night?

In an article on the importance of sleep (and of taking naps in the day, if people need them) the BBC happens to have focused on NATS (he UK's national air traffic control service). They say how important it is for their air traffic controllers to not be tired, and get enough shut-eye. NATS says staying alert for them "can be a matter of life or death" and they have an "entire department dedicated to this question" because they are "responsible for one of the busiest stretches of airspace in the world, over London." At their centre at Swanwick there is a "dormitory room where those on night duty are encouraged to get two hours' kip in the early hours."We want them to be at the very top of their game at 5-6am, when the arrivals are starting to come into Heathrow." And that is all great. Except it ignores the inconvenient fact that the work NATS does is routing planes late at night (sometimes until 11.30pm or midnight) at Heathrow, and again from 5am (with a few even before 5am. That is sleeping time for most people living under flight paths, whose sleep is being disturbed. By the activities of NATS. The negative impacts of not getting enough sleep are many, including poor concentration, depression, reduced alertness, less good memory - and many other impacts. Ironic?

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Australia: Western Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek signed off by Federal Government

Sydney already has a large airport, near the coast, but in April 2014 the Australian Federal Government designated Badgerys Creek as the site for the Second Sydney Airport. It is being called Western Sydney airport, and it is inland and is within 7 kilometres of the Blue Mountains National Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site). It is be a one runway airport with no night time curfew - flights 24 hours. In November 2014 a set of 40 environmental conditions, looking at issues such as biodiversity, noise and heritage, were set out. The government thinks they can be achieved, and the airport can proceed. The government has approved the airport plan, with the minister giving determination on 12th December. The next step in the process was for the federal government to issue the Notice of Intention, and this was announced on 20th December 2016. "Under the contract, Sydney Airport Group would be required to build the airport to the required standard—including a 3,700 metre runway and a terminal with capacity for 10 million passengers a year. It sets out key milestones—with earth moving works to commence by late 2018 and airport operations to commence by 2026." Some parts of the work have now started. The airport might be complete by around 2025 to 2027.

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