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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:

Campaigners fighting Gatwick expansion issue “State of Emergency” for the Sussex countryside

CPRE Sussex has taken the unprecedented step of declaring a “Countryside State of Emergency” in response to Gatwick Airport’s new expansion ‘Master Plan’, published on October 18th.  The Master Plan details the airport’s proposal to expand from one to potentially three runways. A 2nd runway created from Gatwick’s existing emergency runway could result in an estimated 14 million extra passengers travelling through Sussex to/from the airport every year. A 3rd runway to the south - on the "safeguarded" land - would add millions more passengers and require “significant changes to the airport and surrounding roads”.  “This plan would have a devastating impact on our countryside,” says CPRE Sussex Chair, David Johnson. “It would change the landscape and rural character of Sussex forever - scaring our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and deeply damaging the tranquillity and ecology of our National Park.” He commented: "It would be unthinkable to allow Gatwick to urbanise Sussex in this way, so we will be joining with all other community and conservation groups to oppose these plans”. We need to give our National Parks and AONBs more, and better protection - not risk ruining them with the impacts of developing an airport about the size Heathrow is now. 

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CAGNE points out that Gatwick’s planned local consultation events ignore most areas worst impacted by noise

Local group CAGNE has written to Gatwick to express their concern that the consultation events for the Gatwick Master Plan, including adding over 30% more flights per year,  are being held in peripheral areas that are not constantly, if at all, affected by aircraft noise. The Gatwick "Master Plan", launched on 18th October, reveals plans to use the emergency runway and continue to safeguard the land for a 2nd runway, providing details of a three-runway airport eventually. CAGNE commented that the 5 consultation events planned are not in the areas where people will be experiencing the worst noise problems, or those getting noise for the first time. The events are in areas like Crawley, Brighton and Croydon - where there may be support for the expansion, and people are not affected negatively. Many people in areas to be affected in future are probably totally unaware of what is being proposed by the airport. By holding events in areas like Croydon, Gatwick hopes it can manipulate the responses to their loaded questionnaire whilst avoiding holding events in affected areas as Reigate, Redhill, Dorking, Alfold, Lingfield and Copthorne. Everyone in areas to be affected, including the elderly and those without internet access, should be given full information.

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Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is looking to buy part of GIP’s 42% stake in Gatwick

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is looking to buy part of a stake in Gatwick airport that could be worth more than 3 billion pounds $3.92 billion, Sky News on Friday. CPPIB is said to be part of a group of investors proposing to buy out Global Infrastructure Partner's (GIP) 42% stake in the second-busiest airport in Britain, the Sky News report said.  The Canadian pension fund would invest "hundreds of millions of pounds" in the airport, if the deal gets finalised, insiders told Sky News.

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“What we really need is a change of mentality. Let’s get ready for an era where flying is the new smoking.”

Professor Dorothea Hilhorst has done a blog on how essential it is for everyone, including development practitioners and academics, to cut the amount they fly. She asks whether flying should become the new smoking and how we can address our problematic flying behaviour. This is especially vital after the IPCC report that showed how humanity needs to keep global warming to 1.5C.  She says: "...governments should get their acts together and start taxing air travel, while investing in alternatives" ... "organisations and their employees should also take some level of responsibility." ... "What we really need, though, is a change of mentality. Let’s stop kidding ourselves. " There are alternatives.  Like other academics she has "found it normal or at best a necessary evil to hop on a plane for every piece of research, conference or seminar." This has to change. There are problems like the department saying: “Sorry, we are short on budget this year, would you mind taking the plane rather than the train?” There is a lot academia (and business etc) could do, such as organising international conferences "every three or four years rather than every year" or more use of Skype for seminars etc, or "investing more in identifying and fostering local experts to avoid international consultancies." Read the full blog.

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Gatwick’s subterfuge with its emergency runway – or a 2nd runway, by any other name

In response to Gatwick airport announcing they plan to use their emergency runway, as a 2nd runway, local campaign, Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) Chairman, Peter Barclay, said, "We strongly oppose any 2nd runway at Gatwick and it will fight this proposal tooth and nail." The Emergency Runway is located parallel to and only approximately 190m north of the main runway. Planning permission for the emergency runway was granted solely on the basis that - under no circumstances - could it be used in conjunction with the main runway. The CAA permission is that only one runway can be used at a time, and the emergency runway can only be used if the main runway is out of action. New planning consent (DCO) from Crawley council would be needed for the change of use, and also consent from the CAA and other safety bodies. Peter said: “The proposal, which may bring in excess of 80,000 additional flights a year, will simply increase the problems already being experienced by local communities - noise, air pollution and excessive road traffic. It would also put even greater pressure on the tottering road and rail infrastructure both locally and further afield. ... Gatwick is attempting to get a 2nd runway via the back door, as it were."

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Gatwick opens 12 week consultation on using its emergency runway, for some take-offs, adding 30% + more flights

Gatwick has announced its draft "Master Plan" which (quote) "sets out how Gatwick can grow and do more for Britain."  In order to cram more flights into a one-runway airport, they hope to make more use of their emergency runway, parallel but close to the main runway. It is too near to be used properly as a second runway, on safety grounds. There will now be a 12 week consultation period on the plans, and Gatwick hopes to finalise its plans some time into 2019. The plans also include how the airport hopes to "meet future aviation demand with sustainable growth" (sic) into the 2030s. Under its 40-year current planning agreement, Gatwick’s existing standby runway is only used when the main runway is closed for maintenance or emergencies. But Gatwick hopes it "could potentially bring its existing standby runway into routine use for departing flights, alongside its main runway, by the mid-2020s."  This could mean a maximum of 390,000 flights annually (P. 88) compared to 290,000 in 2016, (ie. about 34% more.). That could mean up to 70 million annual passengers, compared to 43 million now - and a current theoretical maximum of 61 million (ie. about 15% more). “We would be able to add between 10 and 15 additional hourly aircraft movements in the peak hours.” (P.10)   Oh .... and  with no extra noise .... obviously....

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Teddington TAG shows London Assembly data proves Heathrow NOx travels far, far away from the airport (not just Grayling’s “2km”)

The Airports Commission had, as its study area for the effects of Heathrow expansion, an area of just 2 kilometres from the boundary of the expanded airport. Chris Grayling wrote to the Chair of the Transport Committee on the 23rd February 2018 saying that this area "captures over 98% of additional emissions that could occur from expansion". Teddington TAG asks if this figure of 98% emissions captured within 2 km of the boundary is true. They located air pollution data from the London Assembly, available by Borough. It apportions how much of the NOx in different areas is from vehicles, aviation and other sources. This shows that in Richmond Old Deer Park, according to the Data Apportionment Tool, about 77% of the NOx is from aviation. In Kew / North Sheen, 11km from touch-down, about 57% is from aviation.  At Putney, which is under the flight path but is over 15 km from touch-down at Heathrow, about 33% of the NOx is from aviation. Putney is worse off than Kew as total emissions are greater. And all that is just from 2 runways! Aviation apportionment readings stretch back to Clapham Junction and beyond. So why did Grayling tell the Transport Committee that 98% was within 2km.  Ignorance of the facts? Failure to be properly informed?

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Prof Kevin Anderson blog: “Callous or calamitous? … the UK climate minister pulls the rug from under 1.5°C”

The UK government is meant to be signed up to the Paris Agreement on climate change. That aims to keep global warming to below 2 degrees C. It is now understood that we actually need to keep warming to below 1.5 degrees C. The UK is woefully lacking any real progress on this, with its claimed cut in emissions largely due to phasing out coal power stations. Now the "Minister of Energy and Clean Growth", Clare Perry, has said she is writing to the government's advisors on climate change, the CCC, to ask "their advice on the implications for the UK of the IPCC’s recent 1.5°C report." However, as Prof Kevin Anderson explains, the CCC is permitted only to comment on the implications of Paris for post 2032. Ms Perry says: "Carbon budgets already set in legislation (covering 2018-2032) are out of scope of this request.”  Nowhere does she acknowledge the IPCC’s recent call for drastic reductions in emissions by 2030 if we are to have any chance of meeting our 1.5°C commitment. There is little point for the CCC only to be able to consider carbon cuts years ahead, when most current Ministers will long have been out of post. The UK's emissions have not, in fact, decreased - but barely altered since 1990, when international aviation and shipping are included, as well as UK imports.  

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Heathrow electric plane greenwash – tiny subsidy for one plane …years ahead ….

Heathrow has made its latest greenwashing attempt. This time it is saying it is to let the first electric hybrid plane have a year's free landing slots, when in regular service. This is - quote - "designed to encourage airlines to pursue clean growth and deploy their cleanest, quietest aircraft at Heathrow." This is part of the oxymoron, "clean growth" which business is aiming for. (Clean - totally abused word with aviation sector - is probably meant to mean lower carbon, in this context.) So far there is - wait for it - a plane that can carry 2 passengers .... Heathrow is telling the government etc that it is helping to "drive sustainable change across the industry."  The aviation industry hopes there might be electric aircraft carrying passengers by 2030 (so the Heathrow offer is not exactly imminent...) Here is a Heathrow quote, showing just how much carbon greenwash this is:  "With global air passengers expected to double by 2035, these changes will play a critical role in driving a sustainable future for the aviation sector and will support goals outlined in Heathrow’s own sustainability strategy – Heathrow 2.0."  Aviation Minister, Liz Sugg, said: "Our Aviation Strategy [consultation soon] will also consider further ways to support the development of cleaner, greener technology in the sector.”

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WHO Europe publishes tough guidelines & recommendations for policymakers to cut aircraft noise

WHO Europe has now published its long-awaited environmental noise guidelines, (for aviation, road, rail, wind turbine and leisure noise) the first complete update of the guidelines launched in 1999. For aircraft noise, the relevant guidelines strongly recommend reducing noise levels to below 45 dB Lden during the day, as aircraft noise above this level is associated with adverse health effects.  For night noise exposure, they recommend reducing noise levels to below 40 dB Lnight, as aircraft noise above this level is associated with adverse effects on sleep. They say that to reduce health effects, policy-makers should "implement suitable measures to reduce noise exposure from aircraft in the population exposed to levels above the guideline values for average and night noise exposure.”  Groups concerned about aircraft noise have long asked that WHO health guidelines are included in UK aviation policy documents, but they are not. There is no mention of WHO in the Government’s Aviation Strategy documents so far. Tim Johnson, AEF Director, said:  "The Government has the perfect opportunity to respond positively in its draft Aviation Strategy due later this year. Rather than electing to ignore the WHO’s advice on the basis that it is too challenging, it should use set out appropriate measures to tackle this issue." 

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Norway proposes increased tax on long haul flights, (200 crowns from 80 now) and cut on short haul (75 crowns from 80 now)  – due to climate change

The Norwegian government proposed on Monday to raise the tax on airline tickets to non-European destinations to 200 Norwegian crowns ($24.13) from 80 crowns currently.   On travel in Europe, it proposed a cut to 75 crowns per ticket from 80 crowns.   “The passenger fee is given an environmental profile by introducing distance differentiation with higher rate from EEA/Europe,” the government said in its 2019 fiscal budget proposal.  Overall, the overall proceeds from airline ticket fees is expected to be neutral, it added.  If approved by the parliament the changes will take place from April 1st 2019.

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New station among big plans for Leeds Bradford airport

The public will have their say on proposals to improve transport connectivity to Leeds Bradford Airport, including plans for a new railway station nearby. Senior councillors on Leeds City Council’s executive board have agreed a recommendation to carry out public consultation and engagement on proposals to improve road and rail access to the airport to support its future growth, as well as job creation in the area and addressing current congestion issues in north west Leeds.  The council working with West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Leeds Bradford Airport and key stakeholders has put forward key investment proposals for a new airport parkway rail station, located on the existing Leeds-Harrogate Line, with a short connecting spur road to the airport to provide a shuttle bus connection similar to that at Luton Airport. This would also serve as a park and ride service for destinations on the Leeds-Harrogate Line and beyond. Also improving road access through one of three options. And releasing 36 hectares of land next to the airport for employment growth and job creation in north west Leeds. All of the key details on the proposals to be considered together will be available in the consultation, to take place early in 2019.

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NGOs urge EU to stand firm on aircraft emissions, keeping ETS and not letting ineffective CORSIA replace it

NGOs working on aviation’s climate impact have called on the European Commission (EC) to reject industry demands to hastily sign up to the controversial ‘Corsia’ carbon offsetting scheme for international aviation. T&E is warning that Corsia threatens the only effective measure currently in place to address aviation emissions, the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). In 2016, ICAO’s general assembly agreed a Corsia to come into effect in 2021. Its aim is to stabilise net emissions from aviation at 2020 levels – a low level of ambition. It also relies on offsetting – a mechanism which is increasingly discredited. T&E said: "Corsia is essentially an attempt by industry to dismantle the only effective measure in place to address aviation emissions – the ETS – and replace it with a weak and uncertain Corsia. The motivation is clear: emissions trading is working, but as the rules for Corsia get close to finalisation they are being weakened to the point where Corsia will have next to no environmental benefit."  That’s why industry is lobbying the EC to accept the Corsia rules without reservation.  Three NGOs working on aviation’s climate impact, T&E, AEF and Carbon Market Watch, have written to the EC, calling on it to keep aviation as part of the ETS, and object to Corsia's draft rules, that prevent the EU being able to regulate its aviation emissions.

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UN climate science body’s (IPCC) report highlights that aviation must accelerate emissions reductions

The IPCC’s Special Report on trying to keep global warming to 1.5C highlights that we are not on target to keep global warming to below 2 degrees C much less 1.5C as countries agreed to in the Paris Agreement in 2015. Most notably, the report shows that progress in the transportation sector is lagging behind and needs to start its own transformation immediately This includes the global aviation sector. Some downplay the extent of aviation’s climate impact – some 5% of global warming when accounting for both CO2 and climate effects at altitude. The international portion of aviation’s emissions was “excluded” from the Paris Agreement and is being addressed entirely inadequately by the UN's ICAO instead. But the IPCC report makes clear that cutting emissions from the fast growing aviation sector is essential. ICSA (the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation) says:  “The IPCC makes clear that, without action on this major and growing source of emissions, the goal of limiting a temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C cannot be achieved. The report's finding that efficiency improvements alone aren't enough is a wake-up call to governments to put aviation on a flightpath to decarbonization to ensure the sector plays its part in delivering a zero-carbon future."

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Stansted Airport expansion decision delayed again, (from 17th October) – no date set

Plans to expand Stansted have been grounded, for now. Uttlesford District Council (UDC) has postponed a meeting to determine the future of the plans, under pressure from expansion opposition. The airport wants to increase the annual passenger limit by 35 million, from 8 million now up to 43 million. Expansion plans include work to build new aircraft stands and taxiways for additional aircraft (not a runway). The meeting was originally due to be held in July, before being pushed back until October 17th. A rearranged date has yet to be set. Expansion opposition group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) successfully requested the latest delay so that technical issues can be discussed. Highways England also complicated matters with concerns about road traffic implications.  SSE said it is important that approval is not given before all the implications have been properly considered.  They say it is "astonishing" that UDC were preparing to approve the expansion "even when important issues were - and still are - unresolved.” UDC said:“As a consequence of accommodating this request, officers expect to need extra time to address any technical issues that may arise from these enhanced consultation arrangements”.

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EU rejects aviation regulator’s push for no-deal Brexit transition talks

The EU's aviation regulator, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), rejected British calls for a joint no-deal Brexit transition plan in July.  In June, the UK's CAA chief executive Richard Moriarty wrote to his EU counterpart Patrick Ky to say it would be in "both their interests" to agree to a joint transition plan. Ky responded to say that although EASA was "in principle" available to discuss practical co-operation with the CAA, it considered it necessary to have "sufficient clarity and certainty on the outcome of the ongoing withdrawal agreement negotiations" before engaging in talks. Ky said: "It remains the case that without sufficient clarity on both the outcome of the withdrawal process and the future UK legal framework such discussions would currently be premature."  The UK is set to leave the EU on 29 March 2019, with a deadline for reaching an agreement set for December at the latest. A CAA spokesman said:“We call upon the European Commission to allow EASA to hold discussions with us about the detailed technical arrangements that would apply in a no-deal scenario. We are ready to start these talks immediately.”

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Launch of “Stay Grounded” network – organisations around the world opposing unsustainable aviation/airport expansion

The Stay Grounded network has been officially launched. It now has over 130 signatories, (including the No 3rd Runway Coalition, and others in the UK) and more than 80 member organisations. Stay Grounded aims to reduce the environmentally and socially damaging impact of aviation, by stopping its fast rate of expansion across the world. The industry has privileged status in many ways, including its out-of-control increasing carbon emissions. The Stay Grounded network has published a position paper outlining 13 steps for a transition towards a transport system that is more socially just and ecologically sustainable. Many non-violent actions took place in countries around the world, in a recent week of action. These were directed against airport infrastructure projects, many of them leading not only to rising CO2 emissions, but also noise and health issues, loss of homes, biodiversity and fertile lands.  Around the world there are about 1200 airports planned to be built or being expanded. Stay grounded will also highlight the industry’s inadequate “greenwashing” strategies, which will lead to increasing pressure on ecosystems, local farming communities, and indigenous peoples, particularly in the Global South.

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The 5 legal challenges against a 3rd Heathrow runway will be heard over 2 weeks in March 2019

Five legal challenges against the Government’s plans to expand Heathrow have reached the next legal hurdle and will proceed to a full judicial review in March 2019. Justice Holgate today (October 4th) confirmed, in a hearing at the High Court, that the cases lodged by five different parties would be heard over 10 days in March 2019.  Due to the size of the cases, amount of paperwork involved, and the public interest in the case, the hearings in March will be heard by two judges and will be heard in the largest courtroom at the Royal Courts of Justice. It was also noted that a separate courtroom may have to be used as overspill, with a TV link to the main proceedings, also due to level of interest. Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “These legal challenges are of the Government’s own making. It is not insignificant that the judge has permitted all five claimants to proceed to judicial review. In addition to the claim from several councils and the London Mayor, the four other claims raise some serious points of law. If the government had not ignored available evidence in their blinkered enthusiasm to expand this already highly disruptive airport, parliament would not have supported the proposal, and these actions would not have been necessary."

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Environmental NGOs write to European Commission asking that they do not allow CORSIA to replace the ETS for aviation

AEF, along with Carbon Market Watch and Transport & Environment, recently wrote to the European Commission to warn against any decision taken to exclude aviation from the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) before details of ICAO’s offsetting scheme (known as CORSIA) have been firmly established. The EU ETS covers only intra-EU flights and requires airlines to surrender sufficient carbon permits to cover their CO2 emissions in the previous year.  CORSIA (Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation), a global market-based measure, was agreed in 2016 and its first phase is due to come into effect in 2021. Under CORSIA, operators will be expected to buy carbon credits equivalent to the additional carbon the sector emits above its 2020 level, for international flights globally. The aviation industry would like to see CORSIA take over from the ETS and replace it, as it is weaker and less effective in reducing CO2 emissions. The NGO's letter asks that the European Commission should not allow CORSIA to replace the ETS for aviation, as CORSIA has many unresolved issues and well as "environmental weakness and lack of alignment with European climate ambition”.

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Legal proceedings against Heathrow expansion begin – groups against the 3rd runway welcome “decisive action”

Plans for Heathrow expansion will meet their first legal test on Thursday 4th October, as claimants against the proposals seek to proceed their cases to full judicial review.  Five parties have lodged judicial review claims against the plans including a consortium of 5 local authorities with Greenpeace and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Also Heathrow Hub Limited (promoters of a rival scheme to expand Heathrow), and Friends of the Earth. Also Plan B and a Twickenham resident, Neil Spurrier. The claims are against the Government’s National Policy Statement (NPS) – which only included Heathrow expansion – which Parliament voted on in June 2018, despite many unanswered questions about the projects legality and wider environmental impact.  Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “Having ignored evidence, such as the report of parliament's Transport Select Committee, the decision to expand Heathrow was always going to end up in the courts, under judicial review ..."  Government lawyers have conceded that all applicants are likely to get permission to proceed with their applications for JR, they are unlikely to oppose the granting of permissions at this pre-trial hearing.

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Newcastle Airport expansion plans slammed by Green Party as ‘harmful’ to health in the North East

The Green Party say planned expansion of Newcastle International Airport flies in the face of efforts to tackle climate change and improve public health in the North East. The Greens have set out a stinging critique of the wide-ranging ‘Masterplan 2035’ set out earlier this year. The public consultation on the plans closed earlier this month. By 2035, the aim is to drive passenger numbers up by 74% to 9.4m a year and increase the amount of freight coming through the airport  - in order (in theory) to boost the region’s economy. Environmentalists  say it is in incompatible with national and local policy designed to improve air quality and cut CO2 emissions. A spokesman for the Greens said:  “More flights at Newcastle Airport would take us in the opposite direction to our national and international legal obligations, and the resulting increase in road traffic would worsen already-illegal levels of air pollution."   The airport claims that restricting its expansion "would undermine the competitiveness of our region and make it difficult for businesses to operate."  The airport wants more investment in public transport to the airport.

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AEF discusses how UK’s aviation strategy should effectively tackle climate change

The Government has promised that by the end of this year it will have laid out proposals to address one of the key policy gaps left by the Heathrow NPS, namely how UK plans to square its growth plans for aviation with its commitments on climate change.  In the second of their discussion papers on the key issues the AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) want to see addressed by the Aviation Strategy Green Paper. The AEF sets out – in some detail – why the current set of UK, regional and international policies fall short, why the Government’s carbon forecasts for aviation underplay the scale of the action needed, and just how big the challenge of fitting aviation into a net zero future is going to be.AEF argues that the strategy should:  1. Show as much ambition on climate change as on safety, technology and customer service.  2. Make an unambiguous commitment to limit aviation emissions to 37.5 Mt by 2050 as a maximum level.  3. Map out a policy plan for ensuring that emissions do not exceed this level.  4. Consider the implications of the Paris Agreement for domestic aviation policy.  5. Set out a clear UK position in relation to international efforts. 6. Propose policies to address aviation’s non-CO2 emissions.

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Heathrow pays towards peat bog restoration – but its contribution to offsetting Heathrow’s carbon is infinitesimal

Heathrow has invested in the restoration of UK peatlands, not just because it is a good thing to do, but to give the airport good PR, with an infinitesimal contribution to offsetting their CO2  emissions. Working with the Lancashire Wildlife Trust and DEFRA, Heathrow’s first restoration priority will be Little Woolden Moss, west of Manchester, which has been subject to commercial peat extraction for more than 15 years. Heathrow says [sic]: "The restoration of the UK’s peatland bogs forms part of Heathrow’s plans to be a carbon neutral airport by 2020. " ....and, worryingly "Heathrow hopes to show that projects like this will make a good option for airlines’ CORSIA commitments." Heathrow has (paid already probably?) about £94,000 towards the project. They omit to mention that Defra has already paid £334,000 for the project. Heathrow claims "the restoration of this project area could lead to savings of 22,427 tonnes of CO₂ over 30 years ..." As Heathrow departing flights emit over 18 million tonnes CO2 per year, that comes to 540 tonnes of CO2 over 30 years (ignoring a possible 3rd runway, with emissions perhaps 50% higher). The 22,427 tonnes comes to all of 0.004% of that carbon. So in reality, irrelevant. But greenwash.

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Air pollution by NOx linked to much greater risk of dementia

Research published in the BMJ indicates there is an increase in the chance of developing dementia. About 131,000 patients in London aged between 50 and 79 were followed for 7 years, with air pollution exposure estimated by post code. People over 50 in areas with the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air showed a 40% greater risk of developing dementia than those with the least NOx pollution, according to data from London. The observational study cannot establish that air pollution was a direct cause of the dementia cases, but the link between higher pollution and higher levels of dementia diagnosis could not be explained by other factors known to raise risks of the disease.  Air pollution has already been linked with cardiovascular and respiratory disease, but this is one of the first studies to examine links with neurodegenerative illness.  It is possible that perhaps 60,000 of the total 850,000 dementia cases in the UK may be made worse by air pollution.  This adds to the body of research on the wide-ranging effects of air pollution, including evidence that particles of pollutants can cross the placenta - an evidence from  China of a “huge” reduction in intelligence associated with breathing dirty air, equivalent to losing a year’s education.

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Monbiot: “It doesn’t matter how many good things we do: preventing climate breakdown means ceasing to do bad things” (eg. expanding aviation)

An excellent article by George Monbiot, includes these comments in relation to aviation: "There may be more electric vehicles on the world’s roads, but there are also more internal combustion engines. There be more bicycles, but there are also more planes. It doesn’t matter how many good things we do: preventing climate breakdown means ceasing to do bad things."... "When a low-carbon industry expands within a growing economy, the money it generates stimulates high-carbon industry. Anyone who works in this field knows environmental entrepreneurs, eco-consultants and green business managers who use their earnings to pay for holidays in distant parts of the world and the flights required to get there." ..."Labour guarantees that any airport expansion must adhere to its tests on climate change. But airport expansion is incompatible with its climate commitments. Even if aircraft emissions are capped at 2005 levels, by 2050 they will account for half the nation’s carbon budget if the UK is not to contribute to more than 1.5C of global warming. If airports grow, they will swallow even more of the budget' ...Airport expansion is highly regressive, offending the principles of justice and equity that Labour exists to uphold. Regardless of the availability and cost of flights, they are used disproportionately by the rich..."

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Heathrow fined £1.6m for anti-competitive car parking

Heathrow and hospitality group Arora have admitted hotel airport car parking charges broke competition law. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has fined Heathrow a £1.6m while Arora escaped a penalty after being granted immunity by the CMA for bringing the matter to its attention under a “leniency programme”. The breach relates to a 2005 lease between Heathrow and Arora, the operator of the Sofitel hotel at what is now Terminal 5.  The Sofitel has a car park that is open to hotel and non-hotel guests. The lease contained a provision that prevented Arora from charging non-hotel guests less than the charges Heathrow levied elsewhere at the airport. The CMA said such a provision was anti-competitive.  The CMA has also issued letters to other airports and hotel operators, warning against similar agreements. Heathrow got a 20% reduction on its fine, that would otherwise have been a £2 million, for having voluntarily entered into a settlement. There are at present mounting tensions between Heathrow and Arora, the largest landowner in and around the airport, as its boss, Surinder Arora, wants to be allowed to build the new runway etc.  

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Date set for Stansted Airport expansion planning decision

The passenger limit at Stansted could be lifted from 35 million a year to 43 million. Now the date of the special planning committee hearing at Uttlesford District Council, (UDC) to decide a planning application that would mean potentially millions more people going through Stansted, has been announced. UDC said the special planning committee is will be on October 17th, following 3 public speaking sessions the week before the decision will be made.  The decision on whether to allow the airport to increase its annual passenger numbers was due to be decided in July, but because of the lack of information on sections of the application the meeting was delayed.  There has been staunch opposition from residents fighting to stop any increase in passenger numbers. In August, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) filed legal papers to try and force the government to make the decision on the application, saying that UDC didn't have the experience or expertise to handle such a complicated application.  Currently the airport is operating with around 27 million passengers per year, eight million fewer than its current passenger limit. SSE will continue  with legal action to make central government decide the plans, irrespective of the decision taken by UDC's planning committee.

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Air pollution particles found in mothers’ placentas

Scientists have found the first evidence that particles of air pollution travel through pregnant women’s lungs and lodge in their placentas. Toxic air is already strongly linked to harm in foetuses but how the damage is done is unknown. The new study, involving mothers living in London, UK, revealed sooty particles in the placentas of each of their babies and researchers say it is quite possible the particles entered the foetuses too. A series of previous studies have shown that air pollution significantly increases the risk of premature birth and of low birth weight, leading to lifelong damage to health. A large study of more than 500,000 births in London, published in December, confirmed the link and led doctors to say that the implications for many millions of women in polluted cities around the world are “something approaching a public health catastrophe”. Scientists are increasingly finding that air pollution results in health problems far beyond the lungs. In August, research revealed that air pollution causes a “huge” reduction in intelligence, while in 2016 toxic nanoparticles from air pollution were discovered in human brains.

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Trade Unions sceptical about extravagant jobs claims for a Heathrow 3rd runway

The Trade Union movement appears split on the issue of Heathrow expansion, following a fringe meeting (organised by the No 3rd Runway Coalition and the PCS) held at the Trade Union Congress in Manchester. Unions such as Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) spoke at a fringe meeting on the issue of transport, climate and jobs, highlighting their continued opposition to a 3rd Heathrow runway, despite other trade unions supporting the hugely environmentally damaging project. Chris Baugh (Assistant General Secretary, PCS), said though workers would not support the agenda to transition away from fossil fuels if their jobs were put in jeopardy, claims of large numbers of high quality jobs were hard to believe.  Manuel Cortes (General Secretary, TSSA), raised concerns that the transport sector was heading backwards in addressing the challenge posed by climate change, while the UK urgently needs to address the crisis of CO2 emissions. Paul Beckford of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said the role played by trade unions in helping the transition to a low carbon economy will be crucial.  Unions have to be clear about the reality of future jobs, generated by the runway.

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Heathrow airport is battling debt pile of £13bn – enough to build the third runway

Heathrow has blown more than £6bn in interest on its debts over the past 12 years, a Mail investigation has found.  It spends more than £500m a year on interest payments alone, accounts for Heathrow Airport Holdings show.  Meanwhile its debt pile has risen to £13.4 billion – about the cost of aa possible 3rd runway. Heathrow is planning to spend around £14 billion on the project, but its mammoth debts reveal just how stretched the airport has become. Airline bosses fear Heathrow may not be able deliver the runway on budget, and want Heathrow to guarantee not to increase these to pay for the runway.  While it has paid more than £6 billion in debt interest over 12 years, shareholders have extracted £3.6 billion in dividends.  Heathrow makes money by charging landing fees to airlines, which are passed on to passengers – around £22 for each fare.  The airport is planning to spend £33 billion on infrastructure in coming decades – including the runway and terminals to serve an extra 52m passengers a year. Most of the work is due to be completed by 2035, and there is growing concern that the airport will have to raise charges significantly to pay the bills. 

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Manston airport has another possible chance to take cargo planes in future

Manston, once named as Kent International, was shut down four years ago. Plans to turn it into a cargo airport will be subjected to a public inquiry.  An application to upgrade the airfield and reopen it primarily as a cargo airport was accepted by the government’s Planning Inspectorate.  Its ambitions to be a cargo airport come from the days when it was touted as a viable alternative to Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted when, for a time, it traded under the name Kent International Airport. It was used by old, noisy and often clapped-out planes, that caused serious noise nuisance to residents of Ramsgate, where houses are situated on the approach path, almost up to the airport - and planes flew at night. The plans put forward by Riveroak Strategic Partners, Manston’s proposed operator, must first be subjected to a public inquiry in which local people can express their views. Cargo could perhaps be transferred onto the road system, from the airport. But its location, so far out to the north east of Kent, is far from ideal for any sort of airport.  In 2012, Flybe and KLM launched services from Manston in the mistaken belief that it could be a passenger airport. 

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Edinburgh Airport is set to press on with introducing a new controversial flight path route, despite widespread public objection.

Edinburgh Airport is set to press on with introducing a new controversial flight path route, despite widespread public objection. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) put the airport’s initial submission on pause in September last year and asked bosses to review part of the design. A fresh proposal has now been resubmitted to the CAA, with aircraft to fly towards the west of Cramond and along the Firth of Forth under the plan. The airport carried out a consultation on the changes to its initial proposal between May and June, with 89% of the 1,167 participating against the flight path. Airport chiefs say the route will allow the airport to be more flexible with flights while building increased capacity for future growth. Campaigners argue the airport has failed to consider other viable flight path alternatives, as well as the impact the new route will have on the environment and residents’ wellbeing. Helena Paul, from Edinburgh Airport Watch, has urged the CAA to reject the new proposals, insisting the airport needs to scrap the plans and start again, taking proper account of the responses to the consultation by people who will be seriously negatively affected.

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Data shows the NOx produced by Heathrow planes is over double that produced by road vehicles

There is a widely held belief that Heathrow's NO2 air pollution is largely due to road vehicles, and as long as measures can be taken to reduce these a bit, then a 3rd runway could be allowed. However, research indicates that the aircraft are producing even more NOx than the road vehicles, and there is far less that can be done to cut these emissions. Indeed, if there were to be almost 50% more Heathrow flights, the amount of NOx generated by the aircraft alone would mean a massive increase locally. That is not taking into account all the extra road traffic that would inevitably be generated by a larger Heathrow, including businesses etc that locate near the airport and all their traffic. The 2013 figures from a study for Heathrow, by Ricardo-AEA Ltd show the amount of NOx emitted from planes up to 1000 metres altitude was 2761 tonnes NOx/ year, and 1524 tonnes from aircraft on the ground (ie a total of 4285 tonnes/ year). Also 274 tonnes/year from other airport sources. Then 350 tonnes/year from Heathrow associated trips on main roads in a 11km x 11km area, and 1661 tonnes/ year from non-Heathrow associated traffic in that 11x11km area. (ie. a total of 2011 for all road traffic). So the amount from planes is way over twice the amount from road vehicles. And that ignores the NOx from planes in the wider area, over 1000 metres altitude.

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Farnborough Airport gets go ahead on airspace expansion despite inevitable ‘increase in noise’

Farnborough Airport has been given the green light to go ahead with a planned airspace expansion despite suggestions from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) that there could be an increase in noise. The aviation authority also suggested there could be an increase in noise for those who already experience noise pollution, but there would be no new people significantly affected by noise. TAG Farnborough Airport's application has been "largely" approved by the CAA, which provides guidance and regulation on all aspects of civil aviation in the UK. The CAA said that given the increase in business aviation at the site, there was a material safety case for introducing controlled airspace around the airport. However, TAG will have to concede some of the controlled space it applied for to collaborate on reasonable access arrangements for gliders in 3 airspace blocks in the vicinity of RAF Odiham and Lasham Airfield. Though the flight paths do not go directly over Guildford, Aldershot and Farnham, there is a lot of overflight of the southern limit of Farnham, causing noise intrusion. While in theory there are "no new people who will be significantly affected by noise as a result of this proposal" in reality many will experience an increase in noise, even if technically there is no theoretical increase.

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Climate Change charity Plan B begins legal action against Grayling over Government’s Heathrow expansion plans

Climate change campaign Plan B, has started legal action against Transport Secretary Chris Grayling over his plans for Heathrow expansion.  Plan B say the proposal breaches legal obligations in the Planning Act to alleviate the impact of climate change. Plan B join 4 other legal challenges against the runway plans (5 councils and Greenpeace UK, Heathrow Hub, a resident Neil Spurrier, and Friends of the Earth UK). Tim Crosland, Director of Plan B, said: ‘The Government has an express obligation under the Planning Act to promote sustainable development, with specific reference to the impacts of climate change. That means safeguarding the interests of current and future generations of UK citizens. Plan B says the NPS does not even consider the Government’s obligations under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change or that in April this year, the Government committed to a review of its climate targets in light of the Paris Agreement. Plan B’s legal action focuses exclusively on climate change impact.

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Friends of the Earth launches High Court legal challenge against Government decision on Heathrow runway NPS

Friends of the Earth (FoE) believes the Government's Airports National Policy Statement, (NPS) which backs building a Heathrow 3rd runway, fails to address the UK's climate change obligations. So they have started formal legal action at the High Court. The legal action challenges the legal basis of the government’s decision to designate the NPS, which gives the go-ahead to a 3rd runway.  Lawyers Leigh Day, on behalf of FoE, have filed papers with the High Court - asking for the Airports NPS published in June to be quashed. They argue the NPS  is illegal because  • it does not explain how it takes account of domestic targets for greenhouse gas emission reduction under the Climate Change Act 2008; • it does not factor in the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C; • it fails to factor in the non-CO2 climate impacts of a 3rd runway, such as the emission of nitrogen oxides, which generate warming effects of a similar magnitude to CO2 emissions; and • it does not lawfully and fully consider the likely impact on future generations. A decision on whether there will be a full hearing about these issues is expected to be made this autumn.

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Lawyers acting for a consortium of local authorities and others have issued JR proceedings in the High Court re. Heathrow runway

Lawyers acting for a consortium of local authorities and others have now issued judicial review proceedings in the High Court against the Secretary of State for Transport, on the basis that he has unlawfully designated the Airports National Policy Statement [NPS] under the Planning Act 2008. The proceedings challenging the expansion of Heathrow airport have been brought by the London Boroughs of Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith and Fulham, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Greenpeace and the Mayor of London.  The grounds of challenge are on air quality, inadequate environmental assessment, climate change, surface access, breach of the habitats directive and a flawed consultation process. Councillor Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: "Once again we have a government that is trying to avoid applying both the correct legal process and common sense to the question of airport expansion. The abject failure to address the far reaching consequences for both the environment and the health and wellbeing of tens of thousands of residents across London is simply not acceptable." The many flaws in the scheme need to be subjected to the rigorous scrutiny of the legal process, and its serious failings exposed.

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Lillian Greenwood, Chair of the Transport Committee, accuses Grayling of ignoring its Heathrow recommendations

The UK government has largely ignored recommendations from the Transport Select Committee, a key parliamentary body, about Heathrow's 3rd runway scheme. The committee's Chair, Lilian Greenwood, said this makes it more likely the courts will strike down the project. She said Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, “gave the impression that 24 of our 25 recommendations had been accepted”, but said his comments were just “rhetoric”. ... “The reality was that only two or three of our recommendations were actually accepted. ...“I suppose at best you could say that the government said they agreed with the spirit of our recommendations and would ensure those matters were dealt with in the [planning] process.” The committee’s recommendations, if the runway went ahead, included adopting stricter air-quality standards, setting a binding target to prevent more airport-related traffic and defining noise-pollution limits.  Now a Judicial Review of the government's Airports NPS (ie. the Heathrow runway) by 5 local councils and Greenpeace, with the backing of the Mayor of London, is starting. If the courts overturn the government's decision, it “make the economic case on which Heathrow expansion is predicated less favourable”.  ie. not good for investors.

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Birmingham Airport’s passenger numbers down every month this year so far

Birmingham Airport lost an average of 1,800 passengers per day in the first half of 2018.  The airport has seen a fall in like-for-like passenger numbers of about 5% in each of the past 8 months after its long run of growth reversed. Now budget airline Primera Air has announced it is to pull all 7 of its European routes just 11 weeks after its maiden flight from Birmingham. Primera Air said operations were no longer “commercially viable” from Birmingham, based on the demand it had seen for its winter schedule. In June it suspended its flights from Birmingham to New York and Toronto after less than a month. It had previously cancelled its Birmingham-Boston service before it launched. CAA data show 331,000 fewer passengers using Birmingham in the first half of 2018, continuing a trend that began late last year. June saw a fall of 63,000 passengers, with Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands worst affected. Birmingham-Tenerife had nearly 15,000 fewer passengers, Malaga was down by more than 13,000, Alicante fell 12,000 and Barcelona dropped by 11,000. But there were 15,000 more passengers to Turkey and 11,000 more to Greece.

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Stop Stansted Expansion wants Uttlesford District Council to allow more time (not 31st August deadline) for consultation on airport expansion plans

Campaigners against plans to expand passenger numbers and flights at Stansted  are calling for more time for the public to consider new information about the plans.  Airport owner MAG is seeking permission to raise the upper threshold for passenger numbers and flights.  Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) argues Uttlesford District Council’s (UDC) August 31 deadline for comments on an extra 900 pages of information is not enough. SSE says the council and the airport owners were seeking to “rush through” the application, and corners were being cut.  SSE chairman Peter Sanders said: “This is an impossible deadline to achieve, unless Uttlesford only wants to receive superficial responses. Parish and town councils don’t even meet during August, nor does UDC council or cabinet. August is a lost month so far as a public consultation is concerned.  It is especially galling because Uttlesford caused this problem in the first place. The council should not have accepted such a deficient planning application back in February. It is a case of more haste, less speed.” SSE is pursuing a high court challenge aimed at transferring responsibility for determining the planning application from UDC to the Secretary of State.

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Gatwick may have, on a technicality, reduced the size of its “noise footprint”, but thousands outside this area are badly affected

Gatwick airport reported - according to a new report by the CAA  - that its noise footprint had shrunk "following an initiative to modify noisy aircraft." However, people affected by Gatwick noise are not impressed. Local group CAGNE commented that “Those that sit outside of Gatwick’s shrinking noise footprint are those significantly impacted by Gatwick noise as well as those newly affected by the concentrated flight paths.” ...“The problem with the CAA report is that they worked on an average of noise (16 hour daytime and 8 hour night over 2017 summer).  Residents awoken at night or unable to use the garden during the day due to aircraft noise, do not hear noise in an average way, they hear noise as significant events whilst endeavouring to enjoy their desired tranquility.   Areas of Sussex, Kent and Surrey, outside of the footprint, report they are significantly affected by aircraft noise but are not included in the footprint as they reside outside of the LOAEL (Government noise metric of Lowest Observed Adverse Effect Level) and noise contours.... It is true that planes are quieter, but the frequency by which they are flown has dramatically increased ..."

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London City airport – Noise Action Plan Consultation (ends 5th Sept) for next 5 years, 2018 – 2023

London City airport is now updating its 2013 - 2018 Noise Action Plan (NAP). The new plan will cover the next 5 years, 2018 - 2023. The airport has a consultation that runs from 25th July to 5th September. People can comment on the current plan, and say what they think should be changed.  The draft plan is at Noise Action Plan 2018-2023.  "The main purpose of the NAP is to establish the noise impact of the airport in order to consider whether the current noise management measures are sufficient to protect the local community adequately, particularly those worst affected. In order to demonstrate this LCY’s noise impact has been assessed by qualified independent consultants and is documented in Appendix A." ...  The airport has a limit of 120,000 permitted aircraft movements per annum, based upon noise factored aircraft movements.  For 2013, London City Airport had a total of 77,377 noise factored movements (based on 73,642 aircraft movements).

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Heathrow runway rival – “Heathrow Hub” – launches legal challenge to DfT on its 3rd runway decision

The sponsor of a rival project to build a 3rd runway at Heathrow, Heathrow Hub, has started its challenge against the DfT for its decision to back the airport's north-west runway scheme. Sky News has obtained a letter sent on Friday 27th July by lawyers acting for Heathrow Hub, ‎which paves the way for it to seek a full judicial review of the Government's decision. They have engaged Martin Kingston QC, a planning expert at No5 Chambers, and Robert O'Donoghue, a prominent figure in cases of competition law from Brick Court, to fight its case. In the pre-action letter, the law firm DAC Beachcroft accused the DfT of failing to provide information about the Heathrow decision-making process sought under freedom of information (FoI) laws. It requested that the DfT's Airports National Policy Statement (NPS)  be quashed on 5 principal grounds. These include a flawed understanding by ministers of the capacity for new air traffic movements created by extending the airport's northern runway, to the west. Heathrow Hub also believes it was unlawful for the DfT to "effectively [give Heathrow] a veto" over their proposal (the airport always favoured their own scheme).  Heathrow Hub is a privately owned company, funded by a hedge fund manager.

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Bill for even partly effective noise insulation for all households affected by 3rd runway would be huge – far above £700 m?

Many thousands of homes could get up to £3,000 of sound insulation (windows, loft insulation etc) from Heathrow, due to more noise from a 3rd runway. A source has told the Times that the number of households eligible could be 400,000, in line for compensation. That figure is a serious under-estimate. If there are 2.3 people on average per household, that comes to about 920,000 people being affected by noise bad enough that Heathrow can see it is a problem. Many are already blighted by the noise, and the real number of households affected is not yet known, as there are no details of where flight paths will be. In reality the number of households is more like 970,000 homes (meaning 2.2 million residents) being expected to put up with extra aircraft noise. That number is a CAA figure, released recently in response to an FoI request.  By law, Heathrow has to write to any property owner who could be entitled to make a compensation claim after being adversely affected by the plan. Any application for the insulation and funding would be subject to an independent assessment. The cost of £3,000 just for 400,000 homes (let alone 970,000) would be £120 million. Heathrow has said it will spend around £700 million. For 970,000 homes that comes to just £722 per home ... (nowhere near "up to £3,000").

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Couple in Ringmer (NE of Brighton) hit out at ‘nightmare’ caused by noisy planes using Gatwick

A couple have claimed their lives are being made a misery by noisy aircraft flying directly over their home. The couple, in their seventies, in Ringmer say they are living in a “complete nightmare” and blame a change in flight patterns and holding stacks for planes approaching Gatwick. The problem seemed to begin on June 9, when they were woken at 6am by an aircraft flying overhead. They now start at 6am every day, and continue throughout the day until 11pm, often at intervals of one, two and three minutes. They find it hard to relax when they are waiting for the sound of the next aircraft. Their home is close to one of Gatwick’s aircraft holding stacks, and Gatwick has had a growing number of flights since 2014.  Before the current onslaught, the couple said they had little plane noise for 19 years. They could watch the planes flying over the South Downs, but not over them. The wife commented: “It feels like a dreadful injustice ... now they are flying over us, at the side of us and a short distance in front of us ...It is like living in a complete nightmare. ...It’s beginning to affect the health of my husband and myself. I was close to a nervous breakdown.” Neither the CAA nor Gatwick can, or would, do anything to help them.

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Heathrow and other airports want more driverless airport vehicles (ie. fewer jobs)

Aberdeen Standard Investment’s AIPUT fund (Airport Industrial and Property Unit Trust) has published a report detailing progress on autonomous transport and logistics technology. The technology of driverless vehicles is used throughout the UK’s airports, including Heathrow; AIPUT has 2 million sq ft of buildings at Heathrow, for freight and logistics. The report discusses how cargo-handling and logistics operations, as well as passenger transportation both to and within airports is made more "efficient" with the use of automated transport.The first trials of automated air-side vehicles have been completed at Heathrow in collaboration with IAG Cargo and Oxbotica. These vehicles do not need people to drive them. So this is another area in which there will be job cuts. Sadly, Heathrow and the trade union, Unite, were able to persuade a lot of MPs to vote in favour of the 3rd runway, through the Airports NPS, in late June. A letter co-signed by the Back Heathrow campaigner Parmjit Dhanda and Unite's Len McCluskey said the runway would create hundreds of thousands of new unionised jobs at Heathrow, regional airports and on transport networks.

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Heathrow plans for 25,000-space car park near Stanwell ‘wholly disproportionate’, says Spelthorne council leader

Spelthorne Borough Council has expressed concerns at proposals (not yet firm plans) that could see "the world's largest car park," with 25,000 spaces, built on the doorstep of one of its villages. The Council has, however, always backed the 3rd runway plans - but now perhaps they are waking up to its local impacts. The car park could be build just north west of Stanwell village, and would generate alarming levels of traffic impact (rat-running, noise and air pollution) across the borough and specifically for Stanwell's local population. Heathrow currently has no car parking spaces in Spelthorne borough, but if there is ever a 3rd runway, the demand for car parking would require more places. [Strange that, as Heathrow says there will be NO more road journeys with a 3 runway airport than now with two. So why are 25,000 more car parking spaces needed?]...  In a NIMBY manner, Spelthorne wants the carpark to be built at "sustainable transport interchanges" situated near motorways and as far away from built up neighbourhoods as possible. ie. just not near their residents (and remember, the council backs the 3rd runway ....). Plans for the carpark would be part of the Development Consent Order (DCO) that Heathrow has to have passed, rather than a conventional planning application that would be the case for a small development.

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Heathrow 2.5% rise in pax in 1st half of 2018, 5% rise in retail, 7% more on car parking cf. 2017

Though Heathrow always says it is almost full, in reality it has terminal capacity for many more. Its latest half year results, to the end of June, show the number of passengers increased by 2.5% to 38.1 million (half year). There are more larger planes, and the load factors are higher, now up 1% to 76.9% on average. Revenues for the 6 months were up 2.3% to £1.4 billion. Retail profits were up 5% to £206 million, far outstripping many high streets. Income from bars, restaurants and cafés was up by 11.5%. While trying to persuade politicians etc that it is not going to worsen already very bad air pollution with a new runway, Heathrow made 7% more from car parking in this first half, at £62 million. Car parking is very lucrative to the airport, while passengers arriving by public transport are not. Income from the Heathrow Express (owned by Heathrow) rail link (very expensive) from Paddington, fell by £2 million to £61 million. Spending more on security and the “passenger experience” cut pre-tax profits from £102 million to £95 million now. The payroll bill rose by nearly 2% to £183 million; operational & maintenance costs rose by nearly 9% to £223 million.

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Heathrow increases its debt by almost £1 billion (total net debt £13.7 bn) to protect it from a worst-case scenario Brexit

Heathrow's CEO John Holland-Kaye has raised nearly £1bn in debt to keep it going through a “worst-case scenario” following a hard Brexit. He said this was equivalent to 2 full years’ funding, to give the airport the level of financial resilience for a worst-case scenario. He said he expected “something close to continuity” through a Brexit agreement, but “our funding levels . . . mean we are protected. Even if we have no income for two months, we would be financially safe.”  The debt deals, primarily refinancing, total £981m and take Heathrow’s total net debt to £13.7bn. A financial commented that this was an attitude of “let’s raise it while we can”, and a hard Brexit might raise fears over access to financial markets. Heathrow's first half financial results showed a 2.3% increase in total revenue to £1.4bn compared with the 2017, but a 7% fall in pre-tax profit to £289m. Heathrow had spent money on more  operational investment, such as in facilities for disabled passengers and in keeping the airport going during snows this winter. Passenger numbers rose 2.5% to 38.1m, its busiest ever first half, by use of higher load factors. Heathrow expects to spend £160m this year on the expansion project.

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Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has served legal papers requiring the Government to take control of deciding the airport’s expansion plans

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has served legal papers requiring the Government to take control of deciding the latest Stansted Airport expansion proposals, or face proceedings in the High Court. This puts the Secretary of State for Transport on formal notice of a Judicial Review application if he fails to designate the airport's planning application as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) within 14 days. Such a designation would mean the application would be considered nationally (a longer, more detailed, more effective process) rather than by the local planning authority, Uttlesford District Council (UDC). The application for expansion at Stansted was submitted by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) on behalf of the airport last February. If approved it would mean a 44% increase in flights and a 66% increase in passengers compared to 2017 levels. From the outset, SSE fiercely opposed the attempt to rush through the application and has argued that the scale of the application - the threshold is 10 million more annual passengers - meant that it had to be determined nationally rather than by the local Council. Stansted is trying to put the increase at 8million (35m to 43m) to avoid the NSIP process.

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Hillingdon Council writes to residents to ensure they know the 3rd runway is not at all certain – despite HAL propaganda

Heathrow has been telling local residents that the 3rd runway is definitely going ahead, and people should act accordingly. However, now Hillingdon Council's Leader, Ray Puddifoot, has written to residents to let them know that is not at all true. He says: "I have been informed by a number of residents in the Heathrow Villages that Heathrow Airport Ltd. (HAL) are producing  highly misleading and disingenuous propaganda regarding airport expansion that is causing unnecessary distress and  anxiety.  HAL are unashamedly frightening residents by informing them that Heathrow expansion will definitely be taking place  now that the Secretary of State has taken the decision, on 26th June 2018, to designate the Airports National Policy  Statement (NPS). For the avoidance of doubt Heathrow expansion is very far from certain. The designation of the NPS is not in any way tantamount to the grant of planning permission for Heathrow expansion. Instead, it acts as an umbrella’ for an  application for a Development Consent Order to be made by HAL. I can confirm that no such application has been made. In the circumstances, I would urge you and your fellow residents not to believe anything that HAL is saying and  certainly, no steps should be taken to market any properties in Heathrow Villages."  And it continues ....

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DfT considering £10bn “HS4Air” proposal for high-speed rail linking HS1 and HS2 via Gatwick & Heathrow

A new high-speed railway route has been proposed from Folkestone, via HS1, via Gatwick and Heathrow, linking to HS2 and up north. The proposal is by London firm Expedition. It would link the existing HS1 with the planned HS2, via the two airports. Also included would be a connection to the Great Western Main Line railway (GWML). Along this planned route, passengers would be able to travel to either airport from cities such as Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Cardiff without the need to change trains; reducing road congestion, air pollution and travel times. It might take some freight.  The HS4Air rail link would bring direct international train services, from the Midlands and the North to Europe via the Channel Tunnel. The high-speed rail service to the city centre of Paris, from both Birmingham and Manchester, would be faster in comparison to flying.  The rail link would also suck potential air passengers from northern airports to Heathrow and Gatwick ... The proposers say 20% of the line would be tunnelled "to avoid impacting the landscape" and would re-use the existing straight railway running between Tonbridge and Ashford. The whole thing might cost £10 billion. It is apparently now being looked at by the DfT.

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Legal challenges against Heathrow runway plans – first chance for proper assessment of the NPS details – plans delay inevitable

Although MPs voted to back the Heathrow 3rd runway, lawyers say legal challenges are likely to substantially delay - by at least a year - the start of construction, even if they cannot prevent it.  As well as the legal challenge by 5 London councils, and the Mayor of London, that has now started, there will be one by "Heathrow Hub", the rival runway scheme. The challenges will go to the High Court and could take up to 6 months. The losing party could then appeal to the Court of Appeal, and even if they lose there, they could then appeal to the Supreme Court. The legal process is the first opportunity for Heathrow expansion opponents to take the proposal for a 3rd runway to the High Court, and have all the issues properly assessed - not merely depending on information provided by and for the Department for Transport. There will also be a second opportunity to challenge the plans after the development consent order (DCO) is completed. Under the current plans, Heathrow intends to lodge its development consent order with the secretary of state in 2021, ahead of a 2025 completion date - but that could be delayed due to the legal challenges. Then there must be a General Election by 2022, which Labour might win - with no guarantee they would not oppose the runway plans.

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Councils notify Secretary of State that they will seek Judicial Review of Government’s decision to approve Heathrow 3rd runway NPS

A group of local authorities has formally notified the Secretary of State for Transport that it intends to seek judicial review of the Government’s decision to give policy support in the Airports National Policy Statement ('NPS') for a 3rd Heathrow runway. The councils are challenging the Government on the grounds of air quality, climate change, and strategic environmental assessment (SEA) including failing properly to deal with the noise consequences and surface access impacts. On air quality they say, amongst other things, that the Government has misunderstood and misapplied the law on air quality. On surface access the councils say, amongst other things, that the NPS fails to recognise the scale of the challenge to accommodate additional trips without unacceptable effects on the transport network and unacceptable effects from traffic pollution. The Government must now respond to the councils’ formal letter before action. If the Transport Secretary does not agree to quash the NPS, the local authorities will bring judicial review proceedings.The Boroughs taking the legal action are Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond, Windsor & Maidenhead Council, and Hammersmith & Fulham.The group has also been joined by the Mayor of London and Greenpeace.

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Profits and number of passengers using London City Airport fell slightly in 2017 (not the expected growth)

Annual profits at London City Airport have fallen by more than 10% as the number of flights fell last year.  Accounts show a fall in turnover from £113.7m to £112.0m in the year to December 2017. Net profit before tax fell to £35.7m and, following a £2m increased tax charge, profit for the year decreased from £32.0m to £28.5m. The number of passengers fell by 0.3% to 4.5 million, and the number of flights fell by 5.8% to 75,781.  About 56% of its passengers are business travellers (compared with 33% at Heathrow), so almost half are on leisure trips. The airport is developing so it can handle up to 6.5 million passenger per year, with up to 111,000 annual flights - a massive increase on today's number, and inappropriate in such a built up area.  First proposed in 1981, commercial flights started at London City in 1987. It was sold to a consortium including insurance giant AIG and Global Infrastructure Partners in 2006. London City was then bought in 2016 by a quartet of infrastructure investors: OMERS, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Wren House Infrastructure Management and Alberta Investment Management Corporation.

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5 issues surrounding the expansion of Heathrow the Staines area still doesn’t have answers to

A local newspaper in the Staines area has set out 5 key areas on which there are no assurances that Heathrow expansion will not be bad for their area. Areas like Stanwell Moor and Stanwell would be seriously affected by the addition of a 3rd runway, and they are angry and frustrated at the lack of clarity on exactly what expansion will mean for them. One issue is the WPOZ (Wider Property Offer Zone) where people have the opportunity to sell their homes to Heathrow for 125% their market value. Heathrow has remained tight lipped about the possible inclusion of the villages in the WPOZ, but has insisted all options remain on the table. On air and noise pollution, there is no clarity at all, and Heathrow continues (unsuccessfully) to try to give the impression there would be no increase to current amounts. On the Immigration Centre, the existing one in Harmondsworth would have to be demolished, but there is no indication where it might be relocated. Spelthorne Borough Council has insisted it is not built in the borough. There are also huge problems with the M25 and protection of the valuable Staines Moor SSSI area, which is home to endangered species of birds, and the possible diversion of the River Colne, which runs through the moor. Local MP Kwasi Kwateng, and Spelthorne Council still, despite all the negative impacts, back the runway ...

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Windsor & Maidenhead Council sets aside further £100,000 (adding to £50,000 already) for Heathrow legal battle

A further £100,000 will be set aside to fund the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead’s [the Prime Minister's own constituency] legal challenge against a 3rd Heathrow runway.  Council Leader Cllr Simon Dudley said on Friday, following a meeting with legal counsel and a vote within the ruling Conservative Group, that councillors had overwhelmingly agreed to take a stand against the proposed expansion. The Royal Borough is taking part in the legal challenge, alongside Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth, and Hammersmith & Fulham local authorities and the Mayor of London to challenge the Government’s decision. Cllr Dudley said: “We’re putting another £100,000 in which is right at the top end of what we’ll need. We don’t put spending taxpayer’s money lightly and I have been clear that we won’t be caught up in frivolous legal action.” The additional money will be taken from the council’s cash reserves and will be added on to the £50,000 that has already been set aside for a potential legal challenge. The Government has left itself ‘wide open’ over its air quality obligations, and there is no clarity how adding the runway would comply with air quality limits. The DCO to build the runway would be derailed if the pending judicial review succeeds.

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Fears Liverpool airport future runway expansion could demolish beautiful beach loved by Paul McCartney

Plans for Liverpool John Lennon Airport to extend its runway for long haul flights have been slammed by residents who fear the expansion will demolish a popular Merseyside beach.  Furious residents from Hale and Speke are holding a protest picnic against the airport's expansion plans at Oglet Shore, the threatened location.  Oglet Shore is an agricultural coastal area between Speke and Hale Villiage and is well known for being one of Paul McCartney's favourite places to visit as a child. The fields that lie between the airport runway and Oglet are often described as the "last truly rural area" in Liverpool - but will lose their designated Green Belt land status as part of the proposed expansion plans. The Oglet lies south of the runway and is classified as Undeveloped Coast Land, which can be used for development if there is no other suitable location for the plans. The airport wants to expand, and have been led to believe they could have more business aviation, cargo and even links to Heathrow in future ...

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Heathrow trying to persuade doubters that it will not need public money to funds its plans and will not struggle to fund £14bn 3rd runway

Heathrow airport is denying it will struggle to fund its possible new £14bn runway, as there are concerns that taxpayers will have to help pay for one of Britain’s biggest infrastructure projects in decades. Paul Deighton, Heathrow’s chairman, has written to the CAA to “set the record straight” after noting “a continuing debate regarding the financials” of expansion. “We have an investment grade credit rating, and existing shareholders will invest equity to maintain this through the higher risk expansion period,” he said. “This is a very strong position from which to finance the expansion of Heathrow. There will be no cost to the taxpayer.” However, it is likely to need higher landing charges and that taxpayers have to foot much of the bill. Heathrow is already £13.4bn in debt — not far shy of the £15bn value of its regulatory asset base. Equity was just £703m.  Much of the £14bn price of the runway would be borrowed money, and financing costs of that could be £2bn-£3bn over a 6-year construction period — might stretch the balance sheet to breaking point. These sums don't include likely of cost overruns and legal claims.

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London City Airport may seek permission for more flights – up from its current cap of 111,000 per year

London City Airport is considering an application to raise limits on flights and passenger numbers, its boss has revealed. Chief executive Robert Sinclair believes the airport will approach existing caps on its operations in the next 3 - 4 years. London City Airport is trying to make out it is vital, in the years before Heathrow gets a 3rd runway (if it ever does, which is still fairly unlikely ...) Sinclair said: “In the fullness of the next year or two we will be reflecting on the future and life beyond our current planning caps... We will be considering the potential options, which could include raising the caps.” The current limit is 6.5 million passengers and 111,000 flights per year. Annual passenger numbers have grown by 50% since 2012 and might be over 5 million next year. Annual air traffic movements currently stand at around 80,000.  Any bid to increase operational caps would be made to Newham Council. John Stewart, chairman of campaign group Hacan East, said: “Local residents would fight tooth and nail any attempt by London City to raise its limits on flights and passengers.  Many of them feel their lives are already blighted by planes from the airport." The airport had no passenger increases in 2017 over 2016, and only 5% growth in 2016. 

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Opinion: We need a responsible attitude to flying, not another Heathrow runway

Responsible Travel customer director Tim Williamson asks:  "Do we really need another runway at Heathrow? At Responsible Travel we don’t think so."... "At some point we have to face the fact that the IATA predictions for the growth of air travel are not sustainable and will be very detrimental to the planet. The ability to jump on a plane at a very affordable price for most of the developed world and get to nearly all places on earth in less than a day is a wonderful privilege but it’s not a right and each flight has a consequence and that’s the increasing damage to our environment from aviation." ..."What we can start doing now is thinking about each flight we take and ask is it really necessary? We should all be thinking now about that short city break by air and looking at alternatives, especially if our choice is also fuelling the new concept of over-tourism where tourists and locals suffer as result of too many tourists. If we are travelling to a conference – is it really necessary that we are there in person?" ..."If we are travelling for work do we need to be there in person? I’m sure most meetings that include air travel would be far less attractive if the company that paid for the ticket collected the air miles and points rather than the individual."

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Committee on Climate Change says DfT must publish a plan, by summer 2019, to limit aviation CO2

The CCC's report says a key action needed from the UK government by the first half of 2019 is to: "Publish a plan to limit UK aviation emissions to the level assumed when the fifth carbon budget was set (i.e. around 2005 levels in 2050, implying around a 60% potential increase in demand), supported by strong international policies.". They say the UK's 2050 target requires an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions including the UK's share of international aviation and shipping (IAS) emissions. But if IAS is not included, all other sectors would have to cut their CO2 emissions by around 85% (cf. 1990)by 2050 - which the CCC do not believe is possible. The CCC say: "The Government have committed to publish a new Aviation Strategy in 2019. This will need to include a plan to limit UK aviation emissions to the level assumed when the 5th carbon budget was set (i.e. around 2005 levels by 2050, likely to imply around a 60% potential increase in demand), supported by strong international policies."  UK aviation CO2 emissions were already at 35.5 Mt CO2 in 2016, having risen by 1.2% in that year over 2015. Aviation emissions will continue to rise, and rapidly exceed the 37.5MtCO2 cap. Around spring 2019 the CCC will set out its thinking on whether the CORSIA is an appropriate mechanism for formally including international aviation CO2 in carbon budgets.

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Explanation by Prof Alice Larkin of why UK aviation must fit within UK climate commitments

Alice Larkin, Professor of Climate Science and Energy Policy at The University of Manchester, and Dr John Broderick say the proposed 3rd Heathrow runway jeopardises the UK's long term legal carbon commitments, including the 2015 Paris Agreement, given the absence of a policy framework for establishing long-term decarbonisation of the sector. They say rising aviation CO2 would need to be off-set by fuel-efficiency gains, the use of alternative carbon-neutral fuels or additional reductions in other sectors. But there are no mechanisms in place to guarantee this within the UK’s climate policy framework. For the UK to try to meet Paris targets, UK aviation emissions need to be greatly reduced, along with all other sectors. Even if there were effective carbon credits available for aviation, they would become scarce in coming decades as further CO2 cuts are ever more challenging for all sectors to achieve. There are substantial concerns about the wider effects of biofuel production  including their carbon balance; synthetic fuels are necessarily energetically costly to produce and requiring additional zero-carbon energy generation capacity - so neither can effectively cut aviation's CO2 emissions.

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Damning report by Transport Committee says North still being short-changed on Government rail spending, compared to London

A critical report by the Transport Select Committee says the Government’s intention to tackle the North-South divide is being undermined by the flawed methods it uses to decide which schemes to fund. The Rail Infrastructure Investment report says current appraisal methods will always favour London over northern regions as they are weighted heavily towards the reduction of congestion and journey time savings, meaning less successful areas will continue to be held back. Chair of the Committee, Lilian Greenwood said: "While we accept that annual snapshots of comparative regional investment can be problematic, and that investment in one area can lead to benefits in another, some regions have faced decades of under-investment in their parts of the rail network."  And of course, meanwhile much more is spent on London and the south, with the likelihood of huge taxpayer spending to pay for surface access improvements if there is a 3rd Heathrow runway.  The Leader of Leeds City Council said: “The Treasury’s own data shows that spending per head in London in 2016/17 was more than ten times that of the East Midlands. Regional economies will never be able to catch up with London while such inequalities exist."

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Heathrow boss says he can’t guarantee prices won’t rise to pay for runway – MPs voted for NPS saying fares would be lower

John Holland-Kaye said, on the BBC’s Today Programme, that he can’t guarantee prices [presumably referring to ticket prices, and not the cost of building the whole project] won’t go up to pay for the airport’s third runway. …”it’d be foolish to guarantee flat charges,” although he added it was “way to early to make commitments”. And he says “…We’re very good at this …it would be completed in budget (£14 billion) and on-time (open in 2026)” (well, he would, wouldn’t he?). He is chirpy about the “strong mandate” from the parliamentary vote of a 296 vote majority. Willie Walsh is not at all convinced that the runway would be built by 2026, or even by 2030. One of the reasons the Airports Commission backed the runway (Final Report July 2015) was so fares would become cheaper. Not more expensive. The government’s final NPS in June 2018 (that MPs have now voted for) says: “. Expansion at Heathrow Airport would increase the availability of services, and increase competition between airlines. This would lower fares that passengers can expect to face relative to no expansion, leading to significant benefits to business and leisure passengers and the wider economy”.

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IAG boss Willie Walsh says there is “zero” chance of Heathrow being able to build a 3rd runway by 2026 (or for £14bn)

Heathrow expects to have a 3rd runway built and operating by 2026 but the boss of IAG, Willie Walsh, believes there is "zero" chance of that happening.  He thinks there might be a 60% of it being built by 2028 - 2030.  He says the £14bn cost to build the runway is "perverse" and cast doubt on the airport's ability to deliver the project. "I don't believe that Heathrow Airport can build this in an efficient manner and a cost-effective manner. When you talk about an expected bill of £14bn sterling, it's a perverse amount of money. It's ridiculous. It's outrageous. It has always been incentivised to spend money. The airport has a bizarre, perverse incentive to spend more money than it needs to because it gets remunerated based on the money they spend. ...The airport hasn't figured out how it will build over the top of the M25 and that is a challenge." Mr Walsh, whose company holds the most coveted landing slots at Heathrow, wants a runway, but at a price that does not negatively impact his business. And he is not keen on a lot of new competition coming into Heathrow, to weaken his monopoly position.

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Heathrow runway after being voted for in Parliament. NEXT STOP: COURT

Campaigners vow to stop plans to expand Heathrow airport once and for all in court, following a parliamentary vote in favour of a 3rd runway. The vote was 415 in favour, 119 against, with a majority of 296. Despite claims that over 75% of MPs support the plans, the actual number was much lower, at 63%, with 3 out of the 4 main political parties adopted a position against expansion. Labour, whilst offering a free vote, adopted a recommendation to vote against expansion, saying the plans failed to meet the party’s 4 tests. The SNP decided to abstain in the vote, stating they were ‘unconvinced’ by the government’s case for Heathrow expansion, whilst the Liberal Democrats remained strongly opposed to the plans. From the Government benches, Greg Hands, Justine Greening and Theresa Villiers voted against their party whip for the first time in 13 years. The No 3rd Runway Coalition believe that large infrastructure projects, which stretch well beyond the lifetime of one parliament, require strong cross-party unity in order to actually be delivered. The runway does not have that, and Heathrow's shareholders will have noticed. There’s a long way to go before Heathrow can start knocking down villages or putting spades in the ground - the legal challenges can now begin ...

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No 10 ‘fixes’ Heathrow runway vote to deliberately get it before MPs can read damning report on CO2 by the CCC

Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, has scheduled the vote on a 3rd Heathrow runway just days before publication of a government report warning that surging aviation emissions would destroy Britain’s greenhouse gas reduction targets. It means MPs will have had no chance to read the report, from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) on Thursday, before voting. The report will warn that aviation and other emissions are growing so fast that homeowners and businesses may have to sacrifice gas cookers, central heating boilers and petrol cars for Britain to meet its climate change targets. Andy McDonald, the Labour transport shadow secretary said this deliberately duplicitous timing was disgraceful.  Last year UK aviation emissions hit 37m tonnes, close to the pre-recession peak of 37.5m tonnes in 2005. The CCC says this must not be exceeded if the UK is to meet its 80% carbon reduction target. However, a report published on Grayling’s department website last week says aviation emissions will hit 43m tonnes of CO2 by 2030 if Heathrow expands. Lord Deben, chairman of the CCC, has written to Grayling, saying CO2 levels higher than 37.5MtCO2 must not be planned for, since this would place an unreasonably large burden on other sectors.”

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Resident affected by Heathrow noise has given notice to seek Judicial Review against DfT re. runway

Neil Spurrier, a resident in Teddington, a member of the Teddington Action Group (TAG) has given notice that he is seeking a Judicial Review, in the event of Parliament voting in favour of the Airports NPS, to give consent to build a 3rd Heathrow runway. Teddington is already very badly affected by noise, when the airport is operating on easterlies. A 3rd runway would make the noise problem far worse. Neil's letter to Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, says:  "I am intending to bring a claim for Judicial Review should the National Policy Statement be put before Parliament and subsequently designated as a National Policy Statement in accordance with the provisions of the Planning Act 2008."  The Matter being challenged is:  "The Designation of the National Policy Statement of new runway capacity and infrastructure at airports in the South East of England and in particular the choice of Heathrow airport for expansion with a third runway. I would intend to ask the Court for an order declaring the National Policy Statement void through breaching existing laws and would ask for a prohibiting order prohibiting the continuation of the National Policy Statement or the granting of a Development Consent following the National Policy Statement." 

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Jonathan Ford (FT) on the serious financing doubts: “Who will pay for Heathrow airport’s £14bn 3rd runway?”

With the vote on a possible 3rd Heathrow runway expected on 25th June, Jonathan Ford and Gill Plimmer write, in the Financial Times, of the very serious doubts over how the runway could be funded. They say: "Most agree that this leveraged structure is wholly inappropriate to support a project as large as the 3rd runway. It offers no leeway for construction risk on what will be a highly complex engineering challenge. There is also the question of how Heathrow might meet the financing costs, which could run to £2bn-£3bn over the six-year construction period, assuming an interest rate of between 4 -7%." And ..."investors have been pulling out more in dividends than Heathrow has been earning. Last year they received a payout of £847m even though post tax profits were just £516m, implying that the corporate debt was used, in part, to fund these returns." ... And "A key question is how much debt the markets will lend against the £2bn of operating cash flow Heathrow expects to have by the time construction begins in 2019." ... The Airports Commission said it could saddle Heathrow with up to £27 billion of debt.  Ford also questions the opaque structure of Heathrow, with at least 10 corporate layers between Heathrow Airport Limited ....and shareholders."

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Calls for SNP to re-think support for Heathrow runway, ahead of crunch vote on 25th

The No 3rd Runway Coalition will be at the Scottish Parliament on 21st June, to urge the SNP to change their position on supporting the Heathrow third runway proposal and to send the UK Government a message to 'think again'. Campaigners will be joined by MSPs from Scottish Greens, Labour and Lib Dems, to highlight the environmental damage to Scotland and the rest of the UK that building a third runway would mean, as well as the fact that Scottish airports would suffer as a result.  Campaigners also believe that the SNP appear to be too trusting of UK Government promises – particularly in relation to the impact on Climate Change commitments - as revealed by Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, in response to a question from Patrick Harvie MSP in the Scottish Parliament last Thursday. A recent report by the New Economics Foundation seriously calls into question the economic case – using the Department for Transport’s own measures; and this is before taking into account the economic impact of Brexit.  Expansion at Heathrow will negatively impact Scottish airports, as any growth will be routed through London and not direct to international markets that could instead be served.

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Greg Hands (Chelsea & Fulham MP) quits government – on principle over May’s 3-line whip voting on Heathrow expansion

Junior trade minister Greg Hands (MP for Chelsea & Fulham)has resigned from the Conservative government to oppose expansion of Heathrow. The vote in Parliament on whether to build the runway  will be on Monday. Greg said he had pledged to his electorate to oppose a 3rd runway, at the 2017 election, and he would keep his word and honour his pledges.  The borough would be badly over-flown if Heathrow was allowed to expand.  It had been thought that ministers with constituencies directly affected could have been allowed to miss the vote. However, the Government will be whipping the vote. The highest profile opponent of Heathrow expansion in the cabinet is Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, who once pledged to lie down in front of bulldozers to stop it happening. However, in a cowardly and discreditable manner, he is shirking his responsibilities to stand up to his claims, by engineering an overseas appointment on Monday, to be out of the country. [Snout too firmly in trough, and enjoying his important high kudos job ....] Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson suggested on Twitter that Mr Hands' resignation should prompt the prime minister to allow her MPs a free vote. Greg has, in the past, held a range of other responsible ministerial roles.

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Mayor, Sadiq Khan, ready to join legal action by Councils against 3rd runway at Heathrow

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will join the legal action brought by local councils (Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor & Maidenhead)against Heathrow expansion if Parliament votes in favour of a 3rd runway on 25th June. (Hammersmith and Fulham Council has also recently indicated they would join.)  Sadiq has reiterated his opposition to the Government’s decision to back Heathrow expansion and emphasised the significant environmental and noise impacts that a third runway would have on Londoners’ lives, as well as concerns about funding necessary transport improvements. To date, TfL have provided valuable technical support to the local councils. The Government has failed to show any plans for how it will fund the billions of pounds needed to improve road and rail connections to the airport and prevent huge congestion across the transport network. TfL estimates approximately £15bn more investment will be needed when necessary new rail and road links are taken into account, and TfL (Londoners) would have to find the money. The comprehensive recommendations on the NPS by the Transport Select Committee have also not been accepted by Government.

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Labour says Heathrow runway does NOT meet the 4 vital tests – calls on all parties to have a free vote on the NPS

The Labour Party has announced that the Government’s final proposal for an Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), laid before Parliament earlier this month, fails to meet Labour’s Four Tests for Heathrow expansion.  Their support for a 3rd Heathrow runway has always been conditional on 4 well-established tests being met. These are (1). That increased capacity will be delivered. (2) That we can meet our CO2 reduction commitments. (3) Minimise noise and local environmental impact. (4). Benefits of expansion felt across the regions of the UK, not just the South East and London.  Labour’s analysis of the NPS finds that none of these tests have been met. Labour is therefore calling for a free vote for all parties on the issue (likely on 25th June).  Andy McDonald MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, said: “Heathrow expansion is incompatible with our environmental and climate change obligations and cannot be achieved without unacceptable impacts on local residents. The improved connectivity to the regions of the UK cannot be guaranteed and there are unanswered questions on the costs to the public purse and the deliverability of the project." Some Labour MPs back the runway, as do unions like Unite, that are always in hope of any prospect of jobs.

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Heathrow’s lobby group “Back Heathrow” PR material in local papers criticised – putting some facts straight

"Back Heathrow", the lobby group that is (massively) funded and staffed by Heathrow Airport, while pretending it is a "grassroots" campaign, has again paid for expensive newspaper wraps for papers around Slough, Windsor etc. The wraps claim all the usual benefits of a 3rd runway, ignoring the huge public costs and environmental damage. Local resident Paul Groves has written to his local paper, in an attempt to get some balance - against the huge spending power of "Back Heathrow" - and give readers some more factual information. He explains the fallacy of the numbers of jobs Heathrow persists in claiming (based on the maximum "up to" figure from the Airports Commission) its runway would generate, and warns that despite a promise of 6,000 jobs from Terminal 5, in reality the total number employed at Heathrow has declined from around 79,000 in 2008 to around 76,000 by 2014, a reduction of around 3,000. As for the real economic benefit of the runway to the UK, the Net Present Value is now shown, by DfT data, to be around zero - even over 60 years. The DfT have progressively revised this downwards to now from “+£2.9bn to - £2.5bn” in their latest National Policy Statement. This compares with the UK national GDP of £1,700 billion per annum.

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Scientists identify enzyme responsible for vascular damage caused by aircraft noise during night/sleep

A lot of different studies have shown there are negative health impacts on people exposed to aircraft noise at night, when people sleeping should be experiencing many hours of quiet. Now a study from Germany shows that this may be caused by an enzyme (phagocytic NADPH oxidase) they have identified.  Aircraft noise during the hours people are trying to sleep leads to an increased development of cardiovascular diseases in the long term. Studies have shown that simulated nocturnal noise increases the stress hormone epinephrine, reduces sleep quality, and damages the vascular system, causing endothelial dysfunction. There is increased oxidative stress, and inflammatory processes in the vessels as well as a marked change in the expression of genes in the vessel wall. This damage is not seen in the absence of the enzyme. The scientists now also examined the effects of aircraft noise on the brain, looking at neuronal nitric oxide (NO) synthase, the function of which is impaired when there is aircraft noise during the night period that should be quiet. The study shows it is important to protect the night's sleep from noise, with a period of 8 hours (10pm to 6am) protected from noise. Heathrow's airlines do NOT want a proper ban on night flights even for six and a half hours, let alone more.

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On what we are doing to the environment (eg. planning a Heathrow runway) Caroline Lucas says the apocalypse is happening already

In a recent interview with Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton, she said she was incredulous that in Chris Grayling’s Commons speech - saying the government supported a 3rd Heathrow runway - he did not even mention climate change. This omission attracted negligible attention from most journalists till Caroline tweeted about it.  She said: "We know aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of emissions; we know emissions at altitude are a lot more damaging to the climate than they are at ground level; we know that if Heathrow expands then it’s almost like an arms race between the different airports across Europe, because they’re all in a fight for passengers.” On the prediction that Boris Johnson, who is meant to be forcefully against the runway, conveniently absenting himself on the day of the NPS vote, she said: “I think it would be despicable. He’s promised to stand up for something; he’s gone to the polls and said: ‘This is what I stand for.’' Does she think she can defeat the Heathrow runway? “I think there’s a perfectly good chance we’ll defeat it.”  Would she bet £1,000 on it?  "Bet £1K on it? Because I’m a bit of a risk-taker, I’ll put my thousand pounds on it not happening.”

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DfT, always trying to make aviation growth look “green”, to pay £434,000 to fund waste-to-jetfuel project

A project to turn landfill waste into (quotes) "sustainable" jet fuel has received a major boost by securing almost £5m of funding from the government and industry backers. The DfT has committed £434,000 to fund the next stage of the project, which will involve engineering and site studies to scope potential for a waste-based jet fuel plant in the UK.  This will take hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste - otherwise destined for landfill - and convert it into jet fuel. The project is being led by biofuels firm Velocys, which has committed £1.5m to the next phase of development. The scheme has also secured a further £3m from industry partners, including Shell and British Airways. BA hopes to use the fuel, to claim it is cutting its carbon emissions (while continuing to grow, burning ever more fuel). The DfT is keen to give the impression that UK aviation expansion is fine, if some biofuels, or alternative fuels, are used. The funding for the Velocys project is part of £22m alternative fuels fund from the government, to advance development of "sustainable" fuels for aviation and freight transport. As of April 2018 renewable jet fuel also qualifies for credits under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO). 

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FT reports apparent DfT claims that Heathrow MIGHT face criminal charges if it fails on environmental targets while building runway

The Financial Times reports that it believes the DfT (Aviation Minister Baroness Liz Sugg) is saying that Heathrow could face criminal charges if it does not meet environmental targets when building its 3rd runway.  [This is NOT any DfT press release]  These might relate to noise, air pollution and compensation to local homeowners. The FT believes Liz Sugg is expected to say:  “Important measures to protect local people and comply with the legal requirements set by the government will be written into the development consent order, and Heathrow would face serious penalties if they do not stand by these commitments.”  She wants MPs to vote in favour of the runway (ie. the Airports NPS) without it containing the proper safeguards and details on these matters. The alleged promise to hit Heathrow hard on these is very flimsy indeed - few would want to place their trust in it. Anti-expansion campaigners are very critical of the announcement, saying penalties for Heathrow were yet to be decided. Paul McGuinness, chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said it seemed to be a panicked attempt by the DfT to shore up parliamentary support for the vote. He added: “If they were so keen to ensure these environmental commitments were met, why were legally binding measures [not] put forward in the National Policy Statement when it was published earlier this month?”

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Uttlesford District Council to delay decision on Stansted’s expansion application – details needed on noise, air pollution & surface access

Plans to increase the number of passengers Stansted Airport handles, along with other infrastructure, have been delayed after Uttlesford District Council (UDC) asked for more information.  Stansted's application to expand the number of passengers allowed per year from 35 million to 43 million was due to be heard by UDC on July 18th.  But it is unlikely to be heard before at least one more consultation and one more public meeting.  A spokesperson from the council said: "The council has been examining the robustness of the evidence supplied within the application, particularly in relation to surface access, noise and air quality.  Ongoing discussions are taking place with relevant stakeholders including Highways England, Essex and Hertfordshire County Councils, Natural England and engaged consultants, and further work is being undertaken."  Additional information is needed from the airport to ensure that the Planning Committee has all it needs in order to make an informed decision on the application.  UDC has also announced that the Planning Performance Agreement (PPA), an agreement that fast tracks the application in return for monetary payments to UDC's planning officers to cover the costs of processing the applications, will be re-negotiated.

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