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

For a daily compilation of UK articles on national and regional transport issues, see  Transportinfo.org.uk  

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Latest news stories:

Major Italian oil company fined €5 million for adverts greenwashing diesel made from palm oil

Italian oil giant Eni has been fined €5 million over its greenwashing of palm-oil based diesel as ‘green’.  It ran a major marketing campaign to con consumers into mistakenly believing its ‘Eni Diesel+’ had a positive impact on the environment. T&E and an Italian environmental organisation had complained about the adverts.  The ruling and fine deliver a blow to attempts by fossil fuel companies to portray biofuels to politicians as a way to decarbonise transport. In practice, diesel made from any sort of food crop causes deforestation due to indirect land use change (ILUC) impacts. Use of palm oil drives destruction of rainforests and wildlife, and EC data shows biodiesel from palm oil is 3 times worse for the climate than regular diesel when ILUC is accounted for. In March 2019 the EU ruled that the use of palm oil in diesel will be gradually reduced from 2023 and should reach zero in 2030, with some exemptions. But palm oil producing countries like Malaysia and Indonesia are pushing hard for palm oil to be used to produce jet fuel, with the pretence that it is lower carbon than conventional fuel.

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Alistair Osborne in the Times, on how Virgin/ Branson have made fools of the government over Flybe bailout

Alistair Osborne, in the Times, writes about Flybe and the con that has been perpetrated, to get it given government finance. Flybe is 30% owned by Delta and Virgin Atlantic, with 30% owned by Stobart and 40% by New York hedge fund Cyrus Capital. Last February, the trio bought Flybe’s assets for just £2.8 million. Flybe has the contract to operate 4 daily flights from London to Newquay, partly paid for by Public Service Obligation (PSO) by government and Cornwall Council.  This is paid in the belief that the flights are "essential" for "connectivity" but are not commercially viable. (Most passengers in fact are on leisure trips). Those Heathrow slots are very valuable to an airline, and could be used for flights that bring in more profit for the owners. A slot pair at Heathrow can fetch $75 million.  Flybe has got the flights moved from Heathrow to Gatwick. Newquay-Gatwick offers far fewer international connections than Heathrow.  The Heathrow slots will be used for other more profitable Flybe flights, feeding Virgin services. "And now Flybe’s owners have made fools of the rest of the nation by convincing ministers they need some sort of taxpayer bailout."

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Scientists appalled at government’s support for high-carbon airline industry, and Matt Hancock ill-informed comments

A letter from a group of leading scientists, in the Independent, criticises the support of this government for the high-carbon emissions airline industry, and the grossly misleading statements made by Matt Hancock (Sec of State for Health) to justify this bailout. On 15 January, he gave his unqualified support for the airline industry on BBC Radio 5 live. He claimed that dealing with the climate emergency does not require any change in our demand for flying, and (mistakenly) thinks electric planes will be a future solution. He said aviation has been decarbonised, which is categorically wrong. Small improvements in aircraft fuel efficiency are far outstripped by the industry's rate of growth. These positions are at odds with the scientific evidence and the need for deep and immediate reductions in the UK’s emissions. Matt Hancock clearly has no grasp of the huge technical challenges in decarbonising aviation. It is of concern that a Secretary of State can be so misinformed. Flying already constitutes 10% of the UK’s carbon emissions and is predicted to rise by 300% by 2050 unless urgent action is taken.

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Sadiq Khan announces green new deal for London if re-elected in May, and says Heathrow 3rd runway would be “catastrophic”

Sadiq Khan has announced that he would introduce a green new deal for London and make the city carbon-neutral by 2030 if re-elected in May this year.  He also outlined the steps that he would take in the future to combat the climate crisis, and air pollution. He said his plans "will help to address the inequality that exists in our city and create the green jobs and industry that can sustain our communities in the future.” Asked about Heathrow expansion, Sadiq Khan said: “A new runway at Heathrow would be catastrophic… I think that a new runway at Heathrow won’t happen for the foreseeable future because of the legal challenges going ahead.”  The election for Mayor will be on 7th May, and is a two-horse race between Sadiq and the Tory candidate, Shaun Bailey.  Other cities such as Copenhagen and Oslo have made similar commitments to become carbon-neutral.

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Delay till May for Shapps to decide whether to allow Manston Development Consent Order (“DCO”)

The decision by the DfT on whether to re-open Manston as an airport again for air cargo has been delayed for four months. It had been expected on 18th January.  The airport has been closed since 2014. RiverOak Strategic Partners, the consortium behind the scheme, had applied for the airport to be considered as a nationally significant infrastructure project. Having had 3 months to digest the Planning Inspectorates' report, the DfT now want more information from RiverOak by 31 January. The Secretary of State (SoS) Grant Shapps has set a new deadline of 18 May 2020 for the decision to be made. The Aviation Strategy is expected before summer recess, with the DfT consultation on climate imminent, so the DfT are giving themselves until May to avoid shooting themselves in the foot on carbon, as they did with Flybe.  RiverOak are trying to argue that Manston could be successful on cargo, as "the air freight market is ripe for an alternative to the overcrowded London airports system". Some people in the area are hoping Manston could provide jobs; others are deeply concerned about the noise from old freighter aircraft during the night, flying over residential areas (the approach path is right over Ramsgate).

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Why the government’s plan to use public money to bail out Flybe is wrong, and the airline is doomed to fail

There are many reasons (ignoring CO2)  why spending public money to bail out Flybe is wrong. In the Times, Alistair Osborne criticises the plan to effectively pay Virgin Atlantic and Delta, that now own Flybe. They are rich companies, well able to fund Flybe, which they only bought a year ago. It is a blatant misuse of taxpayer money to pay companies like Virgin, and billionaire Branson. Flybe has a lot of its own problems, which is why it is in debt and cannot make money. These include that Flybe has too many planes, 68 aircraft still flying.  An airline analyst said Flybe struggles to compete with low fare carriers, like Ryanair and EasyJet, as their cost per seat is higher. They have been a victim of circumstance: rising fuel prices, an economic slowdown brought on by Brexit and a depreciation of the pound against the dollar. Maybe also the increase in "flight shame" and more carbon awareness.  Flybe does not have a hub airport base, which increases costs, and its network is fragmented low frequency routes. The focus on APD is misleading as the reason for its decline.

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Airline offsetting is a distraction from policies that can actually reduce aviation CO2 emissions

Andrew Murphy, aviation expert at T&E, explains why offsetting does not work to remove the carbon flights emit. He gets asked about this a lot. He says:  "It's a reality that people fly more and more regularly ...for some it is unavoidable ...What’s equally unavoidable is the climate impact of those flights ... There is no “green option” for flying ... Offsetting is just paying someone else to reduce your emissions, rather than reduce your own. For example, investing in renewable energy or tree-planting in some other part of the globe. ... Do carbon offsets work? ... Many have called them modern day papal indulgences ... offsetting most certainly will not wipe your carbon slate clean ... they won't work in practice, and they won't work in theory ... [trees planted may not survive, a solar farm might have been built anyway] ... there is the problem of "additionality" ... some offsets are when parties set weak targets for themselves, and sell you any overachievement as an offset. No extra emissions are reduced ... While offsetting by individuals is, at worst, ineffective, Governments implementing offsetting schemes worse (eg. Corsia) - a distraction from effective policies that can actually reduce aviation emissions."  Read the whole blog.

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Flybe saved after ministers agree a government loan + deferral of APD, and review of APD on domestic flights

The immediate future of Flybe was secured on 14th January evening, after ministers agreed a rescue deal with shareholders to keep the loss making regional airline flying.  The package of measures includes a potential loan in the region of £100m and/or a possible short-term deferral of a £106m air passenger duty (APD) bill to the Treasury, to help it sort out its debts. Also a pledge to review APD on domestic flights before the March budget. Flybe’s owners Connect Airways – a consortium led by Virgin Atlantic – were persuaded to commit millions more to cover ongoing losses. The government is still in negotiations to finalise any loan to Flybe.  The deal was condemned by IAG as “a blatant misuse of public funds” and Virgin “wanting the taxpayer to pick up the tab for their mismanagement of the airline”. Moves to cut APD on domestic flights are totally at odds with any serious attempt to cut CO2 emissions from aviation, as most UK domestic trips can be made on (lower CO2) rail routes. Air travel is already subsidised, by paying no VAT or fuel duty. Some routes deemed socially necessary could be subsidised under EU rules – Flybe’s Newquay to London route is already funded from taxpayers.

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Any plans by UK government to remove APD on domestic flights would be unhelpful on CO2 emissions

Responding to the news that Boris Johnson's Tory government is considering dropping all APD on domestic flights (just cutting it for Flybe would not be legal, for competition reasons) groups that understand about the need for cuts in carbon emissions reacted with dismay (to put it politely). Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace, commented: "This is a poorly thought out policy that should be immediately grounded.  The Government cannot claim to be a global leader on tackling the climate emergency one day, then making the most carbon-intensive kind of travel – flying – cheaper the next. Cutting the cost of domestic flights while allowing train fares to rise is the exact opposite of what we need if we’re to cut climate-wrecking emissions from transport. The aviation sector has got away for years with increasing its carbon footprint. The last thing we need is another incentive for them to pollute more.”  Caroline Lucas commented on Twitter: "Addressing #Flybe problems by reducing #APD on all domestic flights is utterly inconsistent with any serious commitment to tackle #ClimateCrisis. Aviation already subsidised - no tax on fuel. Domestic flights need to be reduced, not made cheaper."  Jenny Bates at Friends of the Earth said on Twitter: "APD cut on domestic flights would be "unacceptable & reckless” ⁦we at  @friends_earth ⁩ say-we must cut aviation emissions not encourage them."

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Government considering UK APD cut to save loss-making airline Flybe

Flybe is one of the main airlines that fly domestic routes in the UK - 38% of them. Currently air passengers pay £26 APD on a return domestic flight (and £13 on a return flight to a European airport). Flybe has been struggling for years, as many of its routes are not profitable. It said in October that it recognised, with growing awareness of the higher CO2 emissions from a flight that using the train or coach, (and "flight shame") that some of the domestic routes should be scrapped. Now Flybe cannot pay its APD bill to the government - about £100 million over three years. So the government, which talked up the importance of regional connectivity before the election, is considering removing APD from all domestic flights. That would be entirely the opposite of what is needed, to tackle UK carbon emissions, and those from UK aviation in particular. Aviation is already subsidised by not paying VAT. The loss to the Treasury from cutting domestic APD would have to be made up by  taxation from other sources. It is not as if all domestic flights are vital to the economy. Most are leisure passengers, making trips to visit places or people, friends or family. 

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Heathrow timetable – it will not submit its DCO till end of 2020 at earliest; final decision might be early 2022

The earliest the Transport Secretary (currently Grant Shapps) could make a decision on the 3rd runway would be the end of 2021, or perhaps early 2022. The Standard said it might be the end of 2020. That is not possible.  Heathrow hopes to submit its DCO (Development Consent Order) to the Planning Inspectorate at the end of 2020, or it could be delayed into 2021 if they run into problems meeting the requirements of the Airports National Policy Statement.  The Planning Inspectorate will launch an inquiry which takes 9 months and then the Inspector will take 3 months to make a recommendation to the Secretary of State - who then gets to make a decision. There is no mechanism for the Secretary of State to make a decision before the conclusion of the planning inquiry unless the government enacts a review under section 6 of the Planning Act 2008 if it feels "there has been a significant change in any circumstances on the basis of which any of the policies set out in the statement was decided."

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Nicola Sturgeon defends just “reviewing” support for Heathrow 3rd runway, not yet opposing it

The Scottish Government signed a memorandum of understanding with London Heathrow Airport in 2016, backing a 3rd runway in exchange for commitments to Scotland, including creating up to 16,000 new jobs in England. [That figure was always absolute nonsense, based on incorrect extrapolations from incorrect data showing inflated alleged financial benefits of the runway]. Now Nicola Sturgeon has defended the Scottish Government's stance on the runway, to just review its decision to support it - hoping Scotland would get some economic benefits, eventually. But in view of climate concerns, and the huge increase in aviation CO2 the 3rd runway would generate, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie raised the matter, and asked why Nicola Sturgeon is continuing to review the issue, instead of ending the SNP's support. He said:  "Climate change has brought Zambia to the brink of famine, Australia has been burning since September, the ice caps continue to melt. Yet the First Minister continues to support Heathrow expansion." The Scottish Government will bring forward an updated draft climate change plan by the end of April.

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Heathrow application to Planning Inspectorate for DCO now delayed from summer 2020 to “towards the end of the year”

Heathrow had originally intended to start its DCO (Development Consent Order) application by the middle of 2020. Now that the CAA has restricted the amount Heathrow can spend on early development costs, the timetable has slipped. Instead of hoping a 3rd runway might be read for use by 2026, that date is now more like 2029.  Heathrow says it plans to hold another consultation from April to June, and then feed responses from that into its DCO, which might be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate towards the end of 2020. That is perhaps a 6 month delay.  Some time after the middle of January, the Appeal Court ruling on the legal challenges, against the government's approval of the Airports NPS, are expected. The DfT was intending to publish its Aviation Strategy in the first half of 2019. This is now delayed due to changes on carbon emissions, with the UK changing from an 80% cut on 1990 levels by 2050, to a 100% cut (ie. "net zero") and advice on aviation carbon from the Committee on Climate Change.

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New calls by CAGNE on Grant Shapps and MPs to curb Gatwick expansion plans

Campaign group, CAGNE, against the expansion of Gatwick, are appealing to newly-elected MPs to help curb the airport’s growth plans. They are also urging local residents, along with the MPs, to protest to the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps.  CAGNE says Gatwick’s expansion proposals will lead to an extra 55,000 flights per year by 2033 - and that there is insufficient infrastructure to cope with the growth. It will also lead to large increases in noise levels and CO2 emissions, which are environmentally unsustainable. Air quality will also deteriorate. CAGNE is calling on transport secretary Grant Shapps to subject Gatwick's expansion proposals to more scrutiny by declaring the proposals a ‘National Significant Infrastructure Project’ (NSIP), which requires it to be subject to a different process than a smaller expansion, of under 10 million more annual passengers. A project that qualifies as an NSIP has to go through the Development Consent Order process.  CAGNE  said in their letter to Shapps that Gatwick's growth plans "are neither compatible with the current climate emergency, nor with achieving the Government‘s net zero carbon target."

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New Heathrow consultation in spring highlights inadequacies of earlier consultations and lack of clarity

Heathrow have announced another new consultation, to start perhaps in April. Its purpose is to “finalise its proposals for airport expansion”, following the decision by the CAA in December to cap early spending on the project. This CAA action has had the effect of prolonging the construction period of a 3rd runway by 3 years. The airport says it "will need to undertake refreshed modelling of key aspects of the plan – including public transport to and from the airport" – to evidence that Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) targets can be met" (sic). The No 3rd Runway Coalition says that it is due to the inadequacies of the previous consultation(s) that Heathrow needs this fresh consulting in 2020. Chair of the Coalition, Paul McGuinness said the decision to hold yet another consultation is tantamount to a recognition that they have already failed to meet the consultation standards expressly required of it in the ANPS. Their statutory consultation in 2019 lacked vital environmental and health assessment and was wholly inadequate. The entire reasoning behind the project may well now require review, as due to the delay, the tiny net benefits of the runway have become a large negative figure. Serious reassessment is now needed of the project.

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EEA data show EU aviation greenhouse gas emissions rose 129% between 1990 and 2017 – huge future increases expected

Data from the European Environment Agency shows that transport greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 were 27% of the EU total (excluding land uses, land-use change and forestry). Within transport, international aviation was 3.42% of the EU total, and domestic aviation 0.35%. Shipping was 3.61% of the EU total. Road transport was 19.35%. Greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation have more than doubled over the past two decades. The increase was 129% between 1990 and 2017.  Although international aviation and shipping each account for less than 3.5% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions, they have been the fastest growing sources of emissions that contribute to climate change. Despite small improvements in fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions from planes in 2050 are expected to be 7 to 10 times higher (ie. 700% to 1,000% higher) than 1990 levels, while emissions from ships are projected to increase by 50% to 250%. The emissions from aviation is largely driven by traffic growth. The number of air passengers in the EU has tripled since 1993.  The numbers of air passengers in the EU were: 1993 - 360 million; 2008 - 800 million; and 2018 - 1,106 million. 

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New King’s College study on Heathrow ultrafine particle air pollution shows it spreads far into London

In a new study, researchers from King’s College London have measured ultrafine particles (UFP) in European cities and detected emissions from airports. Many studies have examined and quantified the levels of larger particles (e.g.PM2.5 - <2.5μm or PM10 - <10μm), but very few have studied UFP (< 0.1 μm).  The researchers identified, characterised and quantified the sources UFPs in Barcelona, Helsinki, London, and Zurich between 2007 and 2017. They measured particle and gaseous pollutants at different sites and used a statistical model to identify and quantify the contribution of the different sources of ultrafine particles.  They found that London had the highest concentration of UFP compared to other cities. The greatest concentrations of the smallest particles (called nucleation particles) when the wind was blowing from the airport in all cities. This indicates that airports are a major UFP source and that these small particles can travel many kilometres. Traffic emissions contributed the most.  So it is confirmed that Heathrow pollution - with very negative health impacts - spreads far into London, many miles away.

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Germany cuts fares for long-distance rail travel, to attract more passengers away from cars/planes, in response to climate crisis

Fares for long-distance rail travel in Germany have dropped for the first time in 17 years, as climate protection measures aimed at making train travel more attractive came into effect in 2020. Travellers taking trips of more than 50km (31 miles) on Deutsche Bahn’s Intercity Express trains will have fare decreases of 10%.  The company is also cutting prices on special offers and additional services, such as transporting bicycles.  The trend in Germany stands in contrast to the situation in the UK, where millions of commuters face a 2.7% rise in ticket prices from 2nd January.  The cheaper rail tickets are due to Deutsche Bahn passing on to customers the German government’s cut in VAT on rail travel, from 19% to 7%. The UK does not charge VAT on rail fares. Deutsche Bahn said it hoped the price drop would bring in another 5 million passengers per year. Not all commuters in Germany will get cheaper fares in 2020. Fares for short-distance travel and public transport in regions such as Berlin, Hamburg, Bremen, Brandenburg and the Rhineland are set to increase. In the UK there are calls for a simpler ticketing system, encouraging more people to get lower fares and use trains more, and cars less.

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Natural England and the licences it gives airports to kill birds 13km from airport boundary

The law in the UK allows airports to get licences to kill a range of bird species, within an area 13 kilometres from the airport boundary. The licences are issued by Natural England, the body whose description is: "We're the government’s adviser for the natural environment in England, helping to protect England’s nature and landscapes for people to enjoy and for the services they provide". A large number of species are listed, by Natural England, including Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Mallard, Feral Pigeon, Rook, Starling and Woodpigeon.  Other birds can be killed within 250 metres of the airport boundary, such as Magpie, Carrion Crow, Lapwing and Jackdaw. The killing is meant to be if there is danger to the safety of plane flights. Birds can be trapped, shot, or have their eggs oiled (which kills the chick before it can hatch). According to Natural England, 12,956 birds were culled in 2015-16, with rooks, crows and pigeons making up the largest number.  A FoI request has been submitted to ascertain the number of airports issued with licences recently, the number of birds killed, and the ways in which they were killed.

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Failure of Madrid climate talks to decide on carbon credits bad news for getting ICAO to use more ambitious ones

The failure of global climate talks in Madrid last week to decide the fate of billions of old carbon credits raises the stakes for ICAO which must choose in March which offsets can be used for its carbon market for aviation carbon emissions.  ICAO plans to launch a scheme to offset its net growth in emissions, called CORSIA, from 2021 and will decide in March which offsets to use. This would have been easier if the Madrid talks had agreed what carbon markets should be accepted under the Paris climate agreement. Probably in January  ICAO’s Technical Advisory Board will make final recommendations to its governing Council on which offset programs to use. An option is the UN's CDM, set up under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol which has issued more than 2 billion credits. These are very cheap - as little as €0.22.  But the EU and smaller economies like Costa Rica are expected to push for limits on credits from those projects, which  would undermine the integrity of CORSIA. They would not work to curb CO2 emissions.  The EU says there has to be a higher level of ambition.   There is concern that ICAO will give in to the countries with the cheap credits, like Brazil, in order to keep them involved.

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Boris Johnson unveils plan to increase number of flights, despite global climate emergency: ‘A total disregard for the planet’

As part of the Queen's Speech on 20th December, there is to be an "Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill". This will have the effect of squeezing more flights into same airspace and grow the airline sector.   The details in the Speech documents say the aim of the Bill  is to: "Maintain the UK’s position as a world-leader in aviation, ensuring that regulations keep pace with new technology to support sustainable growth in a sector which directly provides over 230,000 jobs and contributes at least £22 billion to the UK economy every year."  Its alleged benefits would be:  "Making journeys quicker, quieter and cleaner through the modernisation of our airspace". [Note greenwashing language].  The Bill will give government powers to "direct an airport or other relevant body to prepare and submit a proposal to the Civil Aviation Authority to modernise their airspace..." And "Modernising the licensing framework for air traffic control". The government says the aim is to remove obstacles to growth in the number of flights airspace can accommodate. The CAA last year published an Airspace Modernisation Strategy, setting out general principles and methods.

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Heathrow runway completion date now 2029, NOT 2026. That means maximum economic benefit cut from +£3.3 bn to a loss of -£13 bn to the UK

Heathrow’s timetable for its 3rd runway faces further delay after CAA said it would only approve £1.6 billion of spending before the DCO is approved. Not the £3 billion Heathrow wants.  In a new CAA consultation document released on Thursday, they say  this would mean a delay of about a year to the 2026 scheduled opening of Heathrow’s runway, based on Heathrow’s estimates. However, Heathrow said the CAA’s proposal would delay the completion of the runway by up to 3 years. ie. it would not open till 2029 (Heathrow says "between early 2028 and late 2029....).  The delayed opening date means the alleged economic benefit to the UK is far lower than currently estimated. The Transport Select Cttee report in March 2018 on the Airports NPS said the maximum benefit of the runway to the whole of the UK over 60 years would be +£3.3 billion. They said that a delay of two years, from opening in 2026 to 2028 would mean a loss of £16.3 in economic benefit to the uK. That means the runway would now cause a considerable economic loss to the country.  On this basis alone there should be a review of the Airports NPS, and rethink by government on Heathrow.

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Aviation regulator, the CAA, losing patience with Heathrow expansion – approve only £1.6bn before DCO granted

The CAA has rejected Heathrow’s desire to spend nearly £3bn on its new runway despite the plans not having received final approval, in a sign that it is losing confidence in Heathrow’s ability to fund the project on budget.  The CAA has a new consultation on this. The CAA approved just under half Heathrow’s request; £1.6bn (at 2018 prices) before the DCO is granted, saying that “passengers cannot be expected to bear the risk" of Heathrow "spending too much in the early phase of development, should planning permission not be granted”. This is yet another hurdle for Heathrow.  Heathrow now says that instead of opening its new runway in 2026, that has now been put back to 2028/ 2029. That delay makes a large difference to the supposed economic benefit to the UK, which was at best marginal even with a 2026 opening date.  Both Heathrow and the Government claim that the project will be privately financed yet there are concerns about Heathrow’s ability to afford expansion as costs continue to rise and the markets begin to question the viability of the investment. Standard and Poor said there is significant concern about the design, funding and construction costs of a 3rd runway which would make it unviable.

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IATA figures show expect global airline pax growth to 4.58 billion in 2019, with 97 billion gallons of jet fuel burned

IATA produces Fact Sheets, for a range of measures, once per month. Looking at the sheet for June 2019, it compare the figures from 2013 to forecast figures for 2019.  The number of scheduled air passengers rose from 3,145,000,000 in 2013 to 4,579,000,000 anticipated in 2019. ie. a rise of 46%. The number of tonnes of air cargo rose from 51,700,000 in 2013 to 63.1 tonnes anticipated for 2019. The amount of jet fuel consumed was 74 billion gallons in 2013 and 97 billion gallons anticipated in 2019.  ie. it rose by 31%. The CO2 emissions were were 710 million tonnes in 2013, and 927 million tonnes anticipated in 2019.  ie. they rose by 30.6% The net profit per departing passenger was $3.4 in 2013 and $6.1 anticipated in 2019. Global revenues for the airline industry were $720 billion in 2013, and anticipated to be $865 billion in 2019. [EPA says 1 gallon of jet fuel emits 9.75 kg of CO2.   Link   So burning 97 billion gallons of jet fuel causes the emission of 9.75 x 970,000,000 tonnes of CO2 - =  946 million tonnes CO2]

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German domestic air travel slump points to increase in “flight shame” and carbon awareness

Mounting concern about carbon emissions may be altering travel habits in Germany, as figures from German airports show a steady decline in passengers taking domestic flights. The number was down 12% in November from a year earlier, according to the ADV industry group. That was a fourth straight monthly drop and mirroring a pattern emerging in Sweden, where teenage activist Greta Thunberg has spearheaded a campaign against air transport. Rail firm Deutsche Bahn AG has meanwhile reported record passenger numbers. More people are aware of the carbon impact of their flying behaviour, and have a sense of so-called flying shame -- flygskam in Swedish. This may have increased this year in Germany, as they experienced very unusually extreme weather with thunderstorms and the River Rhine almost running dry. The figures come as Germany’s parliament votes on a climate package including a tax cut aimed at reducing train ticket prices by around 10%, Unfortunately there has not yet been a fall in the number of inter-continental air journeys. IATA is concerned that "anti-flying sentiment" will "grow and spread.”

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New research shows no safe limit for PM2.5 which would hugely increase with expansion of airports, like Stansted

New research published in the British Medical Journal on 30 November has shown that airborne emissions of fine carbon particles – known as PM2.5 – can have serious health impacts even when the level of concentration is below the World Health Organisation’s guideline limits for air pollution. PM2.5 emanates especially from fuel combustion and transport sources and is one of the major issues associated with airport expansion, not only because of the additional air pollution caused by the increased number of flights but also from the additional road traffic generated by the increase in passenger numbers travelling to and from the airport.  There are links between PM2.5 and respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, as well as Parkinson’s and diabetes, and there are now others. The expansion of Stansted Airport is expected to hugely increase air pollution. Its own figures indicate the expansion to 43 mppa would lead to perhaps an extra 25% - 13.6 tonnes - of PM2.5 into the air that local residents, have to breathe.  That is wholly unacceptable, knowing the severe health impacts upon the local population.

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Effective anti Bristol Airport Expansion Jamboree held in Weston-super-Mare, by Extinction Rebellion and other groups

On 7th December, a protest Jamboree was organised by a number of groups oppose to the expansion of Bristol Airport - including several local Extinction Rebellion groups. The protest took place in the busiest part of the High Street shopping area of Weston-super-Mare, where thousands of local people pass through. There were a number of gazebos decorated with banners, flags and other XR branding. There were three large boards containing factual information about the airport’s plans, a table of flyers, pre-addressed postcards for objections and posters galore. There was also a questionnaire. Ninety-six postcards of objection were completed on the spot with many more taken away to be completed later. Approximately 3,000  leaflets giving ‘Reasons to say No to airport expansion’ were given out. The town had been chosen because it is the largest town council in North Somerset and has 11 councillors on the planning committee, considering whether the airport should expand or not. It is therefore a place of considerable influence in this vitally important decision. Talking to people, it emerged that too few were aware of the problems, and the likely local impacts of the planned airport expansion, showing how local engagement on the issue had been inadequate.

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Large Greenpeace protest, Protestival, in Schiphol airport, about its rising CO2 emissions

Over the weekend, 14 and 15th December, there was a huge protest at Schiphol Amsterdam Airport, called Protestival organised by Greenpeace.  Hundreds of activists gathered at the airport to demand a climate action plan for Schiphol. Protesters waved banners saying “Tax the plane, take the train” and chanted slogans of “climate justice”, while Greenpeace activists told the crowd: “Schiphol is one the biggest airports in Europe and yet they still want to expand it. That’s not normal!"  In its call for people to attend the protest, Greenpeace said on its website: “We’re in the middle of a climate crisis, but the big polluter Schiphol is being allowed to keep growing and polluting even more.” The group had been allowed to protest outside the building only, but they broke that restriction, arguing that citizens’ rights to peaceful protest should not be restricted. Dozens of police from the force that guards Dutch borders began removing the protesters one at a time, dragging or carrying those who resisted, after they refused to leave the airport building.  No flights were disrupted by the demonstration. Schiphol has no real plan to cut the CO2 emissions of planes using the airport. 

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Stansted likely to publish revised expansion plans in first half of 2020

Stansted has announced plans to submit a revised expansion proposal during the first half of 2020.  MAG's new design proposals will replace plans launched in 2016.  The revised proposal is understood to contain plans for a new arrivals building. Under the original proposal, expansion was estimated to have been completed by next year.  A statement by the airport cited “fluctuating travel, social and economic trends” as a reason for the change in plans, and the "political landscape at a national and local level.”   The airport confirmed enabling works are still underway. The arrivals building is one of a number of developments planned at Stansted, including a 3,000 space carpark and baggage system update. Stansted plans to increase its passenger number from 35 million per year, to 43 million. But this is on hold at present, due to a legal challenge by Stop Stansted Expansion. They have evidence that the airport was planning to expand to 50 mppa and intended to do so in two stages: first, by seeking an 8 mppa uplift in the cap, to 43 mppa; and then later seeking a 7 mppa increase to 50 mppa.  A  court judgement is expected early in the new year. 

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Who will pay for Heathrow’s 3rd runway? There is no simple answer. Can Heathrow afford it?

Both the airport and Government claim that the project will be privately financed yet there are concerns about Heathrow’s ability to afford expansion as costs continue to rise and the markets begin to question the viability of the investment. Heathrow is already spending over £3 billion on enabling work, before even starting to build. The total cost could be £31 billion, not the alleged £14 billion.  In its latest analysis of Heathrow’s business case, Standard and Poor revealed that there is significant concern about construction costs of a 3rd runway. This raises specific concerns - which could result in a downgrading of Heathrow’s investment grade credit rating which would make the 3rd runway unviable. The airport and its holding company, FGP Topco, are losing money.  A huge sum is needed for the planned development, especially if more passengers are to travel to/from the airport on public transport.  The Conservative Election Manifesto said “no new public money” will be available to support the third runway and that the onus is on Heathrow to demonstrate that the business case is viable. The CAA has decided that Heathrow will be penalised if costs spiral out of control, amid concerns that the project will not be built on budget.

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European Green Deal – measures aiming to make Europe carbon neutral by 2050 – now including increased costs and taxes for aviation

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has presented her European Green Deal, a comprehensive climate and nature package of measures to make Europe climate neutral by 2050. The package includes: a 50-55% emissions reduction target for 2030; a climate law to reach net zero emissions by 2050; a fund worth €100 billion to finance the transition; a carbon border tax; and a series of initiatives for sectors such as transport, agriculture, chemicals, buildings and more. NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) said the Deal, aiming to move to completely zero-emission cars and vans, is going in the right direction.  For airlines, Von der Leyen proposes to reduce free allowances in the European carbon market (the ETS) – increasing the cost of their pollution – and ending the kerosene tax exemption. The Commission also proposes to include shipping in the ETS, for the first time. T&E says it is reassuring that ICAO and IMO, the UN agencies that have been sabotaging climate progress in these two sectors for at least two decades, are only mentioned in passing.  But it is only a statement of intent, not something in law. 

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Environmentalists protest outside Luton Airport expansion consultation event in Stevenage

Environmental campaigners gathered to protest against the proposed expansion of Luton Airport outside a consultation event. Protesters from Extinction Rebellion, Friends of the Earth, LADACAN and SLAE joined forces for the peaceful demonstration. The airport plans to build a new terminal and increase passenger numbers from the current 18 million per year to 32 million a year. Former Herts county councillor Amanda King is now an active member of Extinction Rebellion which she set up locally in Stevenage; the airport expansion demo was its first action.  She said: "Flying has the highest carbon footprint of all forms of transport. Taking one return flight generates more carbon than people in some countries produce in an entire year. ...[aviation] is expected to account for 25% of CO2 emission by 2050."  As well as CO2, the protesters emphasised the airport expansion will also increase noise, traffic congestion and air pollution. The airport knows there will be hugely increased carbon impact from the expansion, as well as the other negative consequences, but falls back on the old chestnut of there being more jobs and more local prosperity.  In reality, most passengers using Luton are British people taking leisure trips abroad (spending their money there).

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Boris Johnson casts doubt over Heathrow expansion and HS2 – would “find a way to honour” the bulldozer promise…

In an interview with Nick Ferrari on LBC, Boris Johnson said he would still consider lying down in front of bulldozers, if work started on a Heathrow 3rd runway.  Boris said: "Heathrow is a private sector project which is yet to satisfy its strict legal obligations on air quality and noise pollution."  NF Question:  If the bulldozers were to appear, would you lie down in front of them?  Boris reply:  "I would have to find some way of honouring that promise.  It might be technically difficult to achieve."   NF Question:  You will find a technical way to lie down in front of the bulldozers, if the work starts on the 3rd runway?  Boris reply: "Let's wait and see when the bulldozer arrives. The issue with Heathrow, as you know, is that there is still substantial doubt about the ability of the promoters to meet their obligations on air quality and noise pollution.  But as you know, Parliament has voted very substantially in favour of that project, so that is where we are on Heathrow."

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Huge sums of money have been paid to political parties by donors associated with aviation industry, most to Brexit Party and Conservatives

"DeSmog" has found that British political parties and individual politicians have received more than £9 million worth of donations from the aviation industry, since 2001, with the vast majority going to the Brexit Party (now) and the Conservatives. The individual politician to get the most was Conservative Liam Fox. DeSmog got the information from the Electoral Commission’s political finance database, using aviation-related terms such as “airport” and “airline” as well as specific aviation company names and directors.  Official records show how airports, airlines and aircraft manufacturers have made hundreds of contributions, either in cash or to cover the cost of politicians’ travel, since the Electoral Commission’s online political finance database listings begin in 2001. Significant amounts came from well-known companies eg.  Airbus and Virgin Atlantic, more than half of the donations come from Christopher Harborne, CEO of AML Global, an aviation fuel supplier. He gave the Brexit Party £5.2 million since July this year, and earlier gave the Conservative Party £279,000. It is “perhaps not entirely coincidental” that politicians have collectively received so many donations given their support for aviation growth across the UK, including at Heathrow.

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Extinction Rebellion protestors say mass ‘lie-in’ at Heathrow is ‘warning shot’ and vow to get arrested at future protests if 3rd runway goes ahead

Extinction Rebellion have blocked a road outside Heathrow Airport by lying in front of a bulldozer.  Protesters descended on the airport en masse, cycling in convoy down the M4 from Hyde Park Corner, with cyclists joining along the route, halting several lanes of traffic. Dozens of environmental activists lay down on the tarmac outside the roundabout where the Emirates plane model is located.  Part of Bath Road, above Tunnel Road roundabout, was closed as the protesters got a full-size pink tractor with a “bulldozer” shovel at the front, adorned with newspaper headlines on air pollution. They lay in front of it, as a reminder to Boris Johnson, that he had said he "would lie down in front of the bulldozers" to block the building of a 3rd Heathrow runway (and has since gone very quiet on the matter...) The protest was part of Extinction Rebellion's Christmas "12 Days of Crisis" campaign pressuring party leaders to take effective action on climate, in the run up to the election on 12th December. The Metropolitan Police said a Section 14 order was imposed allowing the protest until 3.30pm, after which time activists "run the risk of being arrested and prosecuted." 

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Leeds Citizens’ Jury on climate change recommends NOT expanding Leeds Bradford airport

Leeds recently held a "Climate Change Citizens' Jury" on climate change, with 21 "jurors". It was put together by the Leeds Climate Commission, with jurors selected through a process to make it representative of a “mini-public” of Leeds, with varying different views. The Jury was tasked with examining the Leeds' response to the emergency of climate change and with producing recommendations that will be used to guide the future work of the Commission and a range of organisations across Leeds. The jury started in September, and ran for a total of 30 hours over 9 sessions, ending in early November.  The findings, in the form of recommendations written by the jurors, have been presented at a launch event on 25 November 2019 and will be presented formally to Leeds City Council’s Climate Emergency Advisory Committee in January 2019, which can make formal recommendations to Leeds City Council's executive board. One of the recommendations was that Leeds Bradford Airport should not be expanded, with a vote for that by 86% of the jury. They said residents should be informed about the impact of expansion on carbon emissions, and flying should be discouraged, for example by higher taxation through the Frequent Flyer tax.

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Communities around Sea-Tac Airport exposed to a unique mix of air pollution associated with aircraft

Seattle-Tacoma Airport, USA had about 438,000 flights in 2018.  Communities under flight paths and downwind of the airport are exposed to air pollution from the aircraft. Now research from the University of Washington shows that this includes a type of ultra-fine particle pollution, less than 0.1 micron in diameter, distinctly associated with aircraft.  A 2-year study  "MOV-UP") looked at air pollution within 10 miles of the airport, and collected air samples at numerous locations between 2018 and 2019. The researchers developed a new method to distinguish between ultra-fine particle pollution from jet traffic and pollution from other sources such as road vehicles, in the particle size and mixture of particles emitted. They found that communities under the flight paths near the airport are exposed to higher proportions of smaller-sized, ‘ultra-ultrafine’ pollution particles, between 0.01 to 0.02 microns in diameter,  and over a larger area compared to pollution particles associated with roads. The tiny particles get deep into the lungs, and can penetrate tissues around the body, potentially causing illness, including cancers. Knowing the different signature of ultra-fine particles from aviation will enable local authorities to detect the pollution from aircraft themselves.

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Hertfordshire County Council objects to Luton Airport expansion, due to negative environmental impacts

Proposals to expand Luton Airport have been described as "madness" by a Hertfordshire county councillor.  The council unanimously voted to oppose further expansion of Luton airport at a meeting on 26th November, as they realised the expansion plans to increase to 32 million passengers a year by 2039 (from almost 17m now) would harm the environment. The airport's proposals - to be decided by Luton Borough Council - include a second terminal north of the runway, an extensive new airfield infrastructure and a third station. There is a huge conflict of interest, as Luton Council both owns the airport, and decides on its planning applications.  At a time of growing realisation of the climate crises the planet faces, and with no realistic ways to reduce the carbon emissions from aviation, the industry should NOT be given permission to expand. The growth plans of airports across the country add up to a massive expansion in the number of flights and passengers, way above what could be compatible even with aiming for net-zero carbon by 2050 (and that is at least 20 years too late). The motion also called for Luton's plans to be deferred until the new government has set out the Aviation Strategy, for the UK aviation sector, taking into account the advice of the CCC. 

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Local campaigners, AXO, encourage local residents to respond to the Southampton airport expansion consultation

There is a planning application consultation by Southampton Airport, that closes on 23rd December. The airport has published plans for a 164-metre runway extension.  The planning application, lodged with Eastleigh Borough Council, is the first phase of its growth set out in its "masterplan" which it charmingly calls (oxymoron) "A Vision For Sustainable Growth."  The application is likely to be considered by the council on 21st January 2020. Local opposition group, AXO (Airport Expansion Opposition) Southampton is urging people to read the application, and submit their comments. There are serious concerns about road congestion, and increases in air pollution - as well as the inevitable increase in noise. The longer runway would mean larger aircraft could use it. AXO warns that the application should not be decided before the CAA's Airspace Change consultation process is completed, as this may change significantly the impact on residents under or near the flight path. It also should not be decided until the government has finalised its Aviation Strategy, for all UK aviation, expected in early-mid 2020, when it has taken into account the new legal situation for aviation carbon emissions, with a net-zero target for 2050.

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The Gatwick’s Big Enough Campaign writes to local authorities to ask that all Gatwick expansion plans should be properly scrutinised

The newly formed coalition of community groups, opposing the expansion of Gatwick airport and the noise made by its flights, has written to all the Leaders and CEOs of all Gatwick's Host and Neighbouring local authorities. The letter proposes actions that Councils could take to ensure that all Gatwick's proposed growth is properly scrutinised, as is the case at every other major UK airport. In particular it urges Councils to ask the Secretary of State for Transport to direct that Gatwick's main runway development should be considered a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) requiring development consent (a DCO) using his powers under section 35 of the Planning Act 2008. This would ensure that there was proper scrutiny of all proposed growth, of more flights on the existing runway - as well as more flights by using the current emergency runway as a full runway.  As things stand at present, the approximately 60% increase in flights that Gatwick plans would not require any particular planning scrutiny, while the use of the emergency runway (about 40% of the growth) would.  This is an anomaly. The groups are also keen to discuss the issues with the affected councils.

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Heathrow ordered by CAA to rein in 3rd runway costs – to ensure it is built economically and efficiently

The CAA has inserted a significant new clause into Heathrow's licence, starting in January 2020, amid concerns that costs on the vast 3rd runway project will spiral out of control. Heathrow will be penalised if it fails to build its £14bn expansion scheme efficiently — the first time such a condition has been imposed on the airport. Airlines, especially British Airways, are nervous that Heathrow will try to get them to pay up-front for construction costs, which would put up the price of air tickets, deterring passengers. The CAA polices the fees the airport charges passengers. It said the new licence clause was needed to “set clear expectations for Heathrow to conduct its business economically and efficiently”. Heathrow says this is disproportionate and could put off investors. IAG boss Willie Walsh has repeatedly complained that Heathrow's runway scheme is a “gold-plated”, and that there is little incentive for Heathrow to keep costs down. Under a complex incentive system, the more Heathrow spends, the more its owners can earn. Heathrow has already spent £3.3 billion on its plans, which have not even yet passed through legal challenges, let alone the DCO process. 

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Heathrow growth – election briefing (one page) from the No 3rd Runway Coalition – check your candidates’ views

The No 3rd Runway Coalition has put together a simple one-page briefing on Heathrow and its proposed new runway, to help people quiz their parliamentary candidates, and check they know the real facts. The Coalition says: "Supporting Heathrow Expansion comes at the expense of the regions and to the UK as a whole.  Here’ s why it should be opposed." The briefing deals with the Economic costs, the carbon implications, noise, air pollution, transport impacts, and connectivity. Lots of key points, including on economics:  " The Government’ s own economic analysis found that once all negative impacts are monetised, a third runway could bring net NEGATIVE economic benefits to the UK overall in the long term.  There is no explicit job model and no clear job creation analysis included in the Airports National Policy Statement. Many of the few jobs created will be low-skilled and short term.  The costs of the project are now expected to rise to over £31bn, increasing Heathrow’s debt from £11bn (2014) to over £40bn in 2028. This could still increase further." On noise: "Data from the CAA reveals that 2.2 MILLION people would experience an increase in noise from an expanded Heathrow."

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300th Frankfurt Monday demo against aircraft noise – 1,000 people -.  “Only when no one comes, is it over!”

Back in October 2011 the Frankfurt airport 3rd runway opened. It was greeted with huge anger, because residents had not been informed how much new noise there would be, and that there would be noise where there previously was none. Huge protests started on Monday evenings (airports are public property in Germany, so protests can happen). These carried on with often as many as 1,000 people each week. People were devastated by the noise battering they were being subjected to. Now, 8 years later, the protesters have had their 300th protest, again with perhaps almost 1,000 people present. They say they will not give up, until there are no more protesters. "Only when no one comes, is it over." Their complaints have not been addressed, about noise or particulate air pollution, or the health issues people are suffering - including depression. The airport is continuing to expand, with a new terminal. Its opponents now hope the increasing awareness of carbon emissions from aviation, with campaigns like Fridays for Future, will help put pressure on Frankfurt airport. There is a new campaign against domestic flights. 

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Greenpeace bring bulldozer to Uxbridge – reminding Boris of his 2015 “lying in front of a bulldozer” comment

On 26th November, Greenpeace brought a big yellow bulldozer to Uxbridge tube station, on the High Street, together with a very comfortable chaise longue, to give the Prime Minister the opportunity to make good on his 2015 promise to ‘lie down in front of those bulldozers and stop the construction of that 3rd runway’. Rival local candidates were invited to do likewise; the LibDem and Labour candidates came to show their opposition to Heathrow’s plans. Boris, of course, did not.  Greenpeace activists delivered leaflets around the constituency, suggesting that they ask all election candidates what they would do about the runway, and vote accordingly.  Boris is thought to be be generally against the runway, but has been notable by his absence of comment on the issue lately.  Greenpeace said: “Since Boris Johnson pledged to lie in front of bulldozers to stop Heathrow’s third runway, a lot has changed. The Amazon is burning, Greenland is melting, Yorkshire has flooded and people have been spotted sunbathing in the UK in February.... we are in a climate emergency". The 3rd runway is so obviously the sort of development the UK should NOT be building now.

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Flight link between Newquay and Heathrow in doubt, after just one year

A flight link between Heathrow and Newquay, Cornwall, started at the end of March 2019, with 4 round trips per day using Q400 propeller turboprops, is said to have done well, in terms of the number of passengers. But now Flybe is not selling tickets for flights on the route beyond 28 March 2020. The "booking horizon" for scheduled flights is commonly 11 months. The only route from Cornwall to London now on sale after March 2020 is a 4-times weekly link with Southend airport. Earlier this year, a consortium comprising Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and a US hedge fund, Cyrus Capital, bought Flybe for £2.8m. They have pumped in tens of millions of pounds to keep Flybe, which is heavily loss-making,  afloat. It is to be rebranded as Virgin Connect in 2020.  Before the Heathrow route opened, there were 3 daily flights between Newquay and Gatwick.  Flybe's slots at Heathrow are valuable, if they want to sell them to sort out debts, as slots can change hands for over £50m a pair. From March 2018, the agreement was that for 4 years, the DfT and Cornwall Council would each pay up to £1.7m, per year, representing a subsidy of £5 per passenger – or £10 for a round-trip (with 170,000 passengers per year).

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Should consumers be advised on their carbon footprint when they buy an air ticket?

Now that awareness is slowly rising, about the extent and severity of the climate crisis - and the impact of air travel, it is important that people become more responsible about their person carbon footprint.  People need to know how much carbon their flight will emit, and then make a conscious choice whether they want to do that. People are advised to write to the CAA to ask them to do a proper survey on consumer awareness.  Then we need the government to make it compulsory for airlines to include an (accurate) assessment of the carbon emissions, before the booking process is complete.  The suggestion is that the amount of carbon is related to, and compared to, some household, or daytime activity - such as the day of heating for a standard 3 bedroom house it might equate to. That would make the numbers, in terms of kilos or tonnes of CO2 more concrete and comprehensible.  The CAA has a duty to the consumer but it also has a duty to the environment.  They need to ensure that air passengers are informed of the amount of carbon they add to the atmosphere by flying.

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“Can we have net zero emissions and still fly?” … probably not …

In a long, interesting article, the Observer looks at the issues of future airline CO2 emissions, and whether it will be possible for more people to keep on taking more flights, into the future - when there is a goal of being "net zero".  Tim Johnson, Director of the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) says even if the industry could make "sustainable" jet fuel out of rubbish, it is unlikely it would make a real difference. First, these fuels are only used in a 50/50 mix, as chemicals in conventional jet fuel are needed swell the rubber seals on a jet engine making them tight.  There were only 7 million litres of the new fuels used by planes in 2018, which was enough to power the global aviation industry for 10 minutes. And the fuels are twice the price of regular kerosine. The airlines make money through volume, making little profit per passenger - for a huge output of CO2 per passenger. The industry has to keep passenger numbers up and growing to keep profitable. Electric planes are not going to be of use for mass air passenger trips, especially long haul. Carbon offsets of paying for forest in developing countries are not going to be available, once these countries use them for their own offsetting. Cutting the demand for flying will be the only effective way to cut its CO2.

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The Labour, LibDem, Conservative, Green party and SNP manifestos – bits on aviation

The election manifestos for the LibDems, Labour, and the Green Party are not available. They all have short sections on aviation. Labour comments (disappointing) include:  "Any expansion of airports must pass our tests on air quality, noise pollution, climate change obligations and countrywide benefits. We will examine fiscal and regulatory options to ensure a response to the climate crisis in a way that is fair to consumers and protects the economy." LibDem comments include: "Reduce the climate impact of flying by reforming the taxation of international fights to focus on those who fly the most, while reducing costs for those who take one or two international return fights per year, placing a moratorium on the development of new runways (net) in the UK, opposing any expansion of Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted ". The Greens include: "We will lobby against the international rules that prevent action being taken to tax international aviation fuel. ... Ban advertising for flights, and introduce a Frequent Flyer Levy (FFL)to reduce the impact of the 15% of people who take 70% of flights. This FFL only applies to people who take more than one (return) flight a year, discouraging excessive flying...  Stop the building of new runways." Conservatives say nothing of any consequence, avoiding mention of carbon.

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Emirates boss says he took too long to accept climate crisis

It took Sir Tim Clark a long time to face up to the climate crisis. He was pretty sceptical about some of the climate claims.  He seems to have woken up a bit: "The stark reality of climate change is with us. I'm a climate change believer. I have to say, it took me a long time to get there.   "And we [in the aviation industry] aren't doing ourselves any favours by chucking billions of tons of carbon into the air. It's got to be dealt with."  It's a frank admission from one of the most powerful people in an industry that has many commercial reasons to bury its head in the sand.  He has little faith that electric battery alternatives will ever be capable of powering a big airliner. And while biofuels are an option, they won't be scalable to meet demand. Synthetic fuels offer the best alternative, but these are years from being fit for purpose.  But he and the rest of the industry have no solutions to the problem of aviation CO2 emissions, and intend the industry to go on growing - even though realising it is a massive carbon headache. Just keep on polluting, but pretend to care a bit.

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Almost 2,000 people sign petition against Southampton Airport expansion plans

About 1,900 people have signed a petition opposing the expansion of Southampton Airport. The local opposition campaign, Airport eXpansion Opposition (AXO), will be asking Southampton Councillors not to back plans to extend the airport’s runway by 164 metres.  AXO members will present the petition to councillors at a full council meeting. The plans to extend the runway and increase the number of flights will increase carbon emissions, and are contrary to the council's plans to cut CO2 locally.  The airport will submit its expansion planning application to Eastleigh Borough Council. AXO said that if Southampton is serious about declaring a climate emergency, the airport expansion should not be permitted. Airports and their backers try to use the argument that it is better for people to fly (as they assume people will continue to do, in growing numbers....) from a local airport, citing the carbon emissions of their trip to/from another larger airport. Those emissions are generally small compared to those of the flight itself. And the aim of having a local airport is to get people to fly more, as it is more convenient.  Net effect - more flights, more carbon. And more noise and local impacts around the airport.

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Scientists say rules on noise pollution, including aircraft noise, should be tightened to protect wildlife

Road traffic, aircraft, ships, factories and oil drilling are all human activities that produce noise, much at frequencies at which many animals communicate. Studies have found noise pollution can affect wildlife, from disrupting their communication to affecting where they live and the efficiency with which they forage for food. For example in bats, they try to locate their prey via acoustic cues, so with noise in the background they can’t really so well and have to fly longer and invest more time and energy to find food. Studies have looked at various aspects of animal behaviour and biology, including changes in hormone levels. Bird communication is affected by noise, making life harder. Some prey species benefit, if the noise makes it harder for predators, but all impacts can affect ecosystems.  A lot more research is needed into the impact of noise on biodiversity, with most studies so far being done on birds. Some birds near airports have been studied, but not specifically those under noisy flight paths. Some birds may become habituated. Some birds may move away if they can. There is little research on these aspects.

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Licence to pollute: the sham of carbon offsetting. It does not remove/negate your carbon

People seem to be waking up to the reality of their carbon emissions. Some people anyway. And some are buying “carbon offsets” to supposedly balance out their carbon emissions -especially those from flights - by investing in projects such as forest planting. But the problem is that most offsetting is near worthless.  It has been riddled with scams and failures. Planting trees is a great idea, but the trees only reabsorb the carbon over decades, not immediately, and only if they are cared for and survive to become fully grown trees. Just planting saplings, that don't get watered and die in a few years is useless.  Offsetting is often paying some organisation/company to do something to reduce CO2 emissions, so they are a bit lower than they might have been. That does NOT remove the carbon that the flight has emitted. That is now in the atmosphere and will remain there for decades or centuries. Offsetting that removes the amount of carbon your flight has emitted needs to do that permanently.  Trees are great, but when they die in ? 60 -80 years time, that  carbon goes back into the atmosphere. Many offsets are paying for actions that would have been done anyway, as they save the company money. They are not additional savings. Offsetting helps people keep flying, hoping they have salved their conscience with a small donation.  That is unhelpful.

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Stansted Airport denies plans to expand to 50 million passengers a year

Stansted Airport has denied that it is planning to expand the airport to a throughput of 50 million passengers a year (mppa), well beyond the 43mppa limit applied for in its 2018 planning application, which continues to be under consideration. Local campaign, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE), says this denial came from Thomas Hill QC, representing Stansted, on 13th November in the High Court in connection with SSE’s legal challenge over the handling of the current 43 mppa application.  However, earlier SSE’s barrister, Paul Stinchcombe QC, had provided the Judge with multiple sources of evidence demonstrating that the airport was planning to expand to 50 mppa and intended to do so in two stages: first, by seeking an 8 mppa uplift in the cap, to 43 mppa; and then later seeking a 7 mppa increase to 50 mppa.  The DfT was aware of all this and knew also that the existing runway was capable of handling 50 mppa. Any airport expansion project, or combination of projects, for an increase of over 10 mppa must, by law, be dealt with at national level by the Secretary of State rather than by the Local Planning Authority – i.e. Uttlesford District Council. The verdict of the court is awaited.

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‘Failure on pretty much every aspect’: Government condemned as UK set to miss key environmental goals

Despite promises to tackle green issues, the UK is failing to make progress on crucial targets such as cutting CO2 emissions. An investigation by Greenpeace and the FT shows that the UK government is set to miss legally binding environment targets in 2020 and had failed on “pretty much every aspect” of protecting wildlife and the environment. Despite promises to prioritise green issues, the UK has made little progress on tackling CO2 emissions, air and water pollution, waste and overfishing, and had now increased tree planting or protected biodiversity. One reason for the failure to meet many targets was budget cuts in DEFRA.  A Greenpeace spokesman said: “As rivers and air become more toxic, emissions and waste piles continue to rise, our oceans emptied of fish and countryside becomes devoid of wildlife, the government must be held to account for its failure to protect people’s health and nature.”  On energy, only 11% of the UK’s energy was produced through renewables in 2018. This figure has grown by around 1% every year since 2014 (meant to be 15%). UK is on track to miss its carbon budget for 2023-27, and 2028-32. UK aviation emissions continue to rise.

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Plans to expand Bristol Airport accused of being flawed; decision put off till early 2020

A decision on Bristol Airport's major expansion bid will not be made this year. They submitted proposals to boost passenger numbers from 10 million to 12 million a year by the mid-2020s, and to expand the airport's on-site infrastructure.  A decision had been due over the summer but people are continuing to comment - there are currently about 3,780 objections and 1,800 letters of support.  Reasons for opposing the expansion include climate change, traffic levels, air pollution and noise.  When they declared a "climate emergency", Bath and North East Somerset Council members also voted to oppose the airport's expansion, amid concerns about increased congestion on rural roads in their area. There is also doubt about alleged economic benefit.  The airport and its supporters always talk up the possibility of more jobs, and improved "access international export markets." In reality, the majority of air passengers are on leisure journeys.  The application will be considered by North Somerset Council's planning and regulatory committee meeting in 2020, with possible dates the 22 January, 19 February and 18 March.

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Air pollution nanoparticles (from road vehicles and aircraft) now linked to higher risk of brain cancer

New research has now linked air pollution nanoparticles to brain cancer. The ultra-fine particles (UFPs) are produced by fuel burning, particularly in diesel vehicles, and higher exposures significantly increase people’s chances of getting the cancer. Previous work has shown that nanoparticles can get into the brain and that they can carry carcinogenic chemicals.  Aircraft also produce nanoparticles that spread downwind of airports, and are also emitted into the atmosphere during flight - especially take-off and landing. Higher levels of the air pollution are related to slightly higher rates of brain cancer. The numbers per 100,000 are not huge, but add up when large populations are exposed to road traffic etc. Brain cancers are hard to treat and often fatal. As nanoparticles are so tiny, they can get into almost every organ. Air pollution has also been linked to other effects on the brain, including reductions in intelligence, more dementia and mental health problems in both adults and children. The WHO says air pollution is a “silent public health emergency”. Airport expansion does not help - due to road transport, plus the planes themselves, and airport vehicles.

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Airlines accused of hypocrisy over ‘fuel-tankering’ that hugely increases airline CO2 emissions, to save a few £s

"Fuel tankering" means airlines fill up with a lot of fuel, at an airport where fuel is cheap, and then fly around  carrying a huge extra load, to avoid spending slightly more for fuel at a destination airport. This means a small financial saving, but hugely higher carbon emissions - from carrying extra tonnes of fuel sof hundreds of miles (and the energy needed to lift it to 35,000 ft ...). This is a common practice within the industry, even while they are doing greenwashing about minimal weight savings on flights, to cut energy use.  BBC Panorama found BA's planes generated an extra 18,000 tonnes of CO2 in 2018 through fuel tankering. And cost savings made on a single flight can be as small as just over £10 - though savings can run to hundreds of £s. Researchers have estimated that one in five of all European flights involve some element of fuel tankering. Critics say the widespread use of tankering undermines the industry's (hollow) claims that it is committed to reducing its CO2 emissions. Eurocontrol has calculated that tankering in Europe resulted in 286,000 tonnes of extra fuel being burnt every year, and the emission of an additional 901,000 tonnes of CO2.

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Ten celebrities cause 10,000 times more CO2 emissions from flying than the average person

Professor Stefan Gössling, from Lund University, has written about the immense carbon emissions of a range of high profile celebrities - and the damaging effect this has on the perceptions of society on the desirability of this hyper-mobility, by jet.  He says: "The jet-setting habits of Bill Gates and Paris Hilton mean that they produce an astonishing 10,000 times more carbon emissions from flying than the average person." ...  "This highlights the insane disparity in carbon emissions between the rich and the poor." ... "Recently published figures reveal that 1% of English residents are responsible for nearly 20% of all flights abroad". ... "major clash about the social and moral norms surrounding air travel. For decades, frequent fliers have been seen as living desirable lifestyles. To be a global traveller automatically infers a high social standing." ... "But more and more people are beginning to question what is desirable, justifiable and indeed “normal” to consume. In the case of flying, this has come to be known as “flight shame”." ...  We need to "stem the growing class of very affluent people who contribute very significantly to emissions and encourage everyone else to aspire to such damaging lifestyles."

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Councils tell government to review Heathrow expansion following climate change developments

Local authorities opposed to Heathrow expansion say that changes in Government policy on climate change mean the case for a 3rd runway should be reviewed urgently. The national policy statement (ANPS) which included support for Heathrow expansion was designated in June 2018 - at a time when the UK was committed to an 80% cut in CO2 emissions, from the 1990 level, by 2050. But in June 2019 following the advice of the Climate Change Committee (CCC) the Government amended the commitment to a 100% cut  – with the strengthening based on ‘significant developments in climate change knowledge’.  This same logic needs to be applied to the ANPS. Under planning legislation a national policy statement must be reviewed if there has been a ‘significant change in any circumstances on the basis of which any of the policy set out in the statement was decided.’  And there has been. In September 2019 the CCC told the Government that the planning assumption for aviation should be to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 - and measures should be put in place that ‘limit growth in demand to at most 25% above current levels by 2050.’   The Heathrow case needs urgent review in relation to climate policy, and also noise. The councils say that Heathrow expansion is never going to happen - the obstacles are insurmountable.

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John McDonnell says Labour could scrap Heathrow expansion, as it does not meet key criteria

John McDonnell has suggested that Labour would cancel the expansion of Heathrow if it wins power, and it might even also block other airport projects.  John said climate change would dominate the party’s agenda in government. Labour have said for some time that the current 3rd runway plans “very clearly” do not meet Labour’s key criteria - its 4 tests - on protecting the environment. On climate grounds alone, plans to increase capacity at Manchester, Leeds Bradford, Bristol, Gatwick, Stansted and East Midlands airports would need to be assessed by the same criteria.  He said that ensuring the “survival of our planet” would be Labour’s “number one priority” in government, with climate change becoming a “key” factor in all policy and investment decisions. Labour have the problem that some unions hope airport expansion will provide more jobs, and therefore back it, while knowing there is a carbon problem.  John McDonnell's constituency, Hayes & Harlington, would be the worst affected by a Heathrow runway, in terms of homes destroyed and area covered in airport infrastructure. The 3rd runway fails not only on environmental grounds (carbon, noise, air pollution) but also on economic and social impacts.

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Call for ban on UK private jets by 2025 with their climate impact as much as x10 that of a regular economy seat

Private jets are a total anachronism, in an age of climate emergency and climate crisis.  First Class or business class seats cause far more CO2 to be emitted than economy seats. But private jet CO2 emissions per passenger - usually less than 5 passengers per plane - are an order of magnitude higher than of an average economy class seat. Now research by the Common Wealth thinktank indicates that private jet flights to and from UK airports in a year may contribute as much to the climate crisis as 450,000 cars. It suggests they should be banned as soon as 2025, with possible research into partly electric planes (small private jets are the only ones for which electric flight is feasible).  There were some 128,000 private jet flights between UK and EU airports in 2018 and 14,000 trips were also made to destinations outside Europe.  Industry estimates suggest that about 40% of private jet movements are empty leg journeys, in which aircraft are repositioned for the convenience of the super-rich and corporate customers who use them. Almost half of all private jet traffic in Britain passes through five airports around London, given its status as the home to the most billionaires in Europe. 

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Groups write to Government asking for a moratorium on airport expansion planning applications

Representatives of groups at some of the largest UK airports have written to both the Secretaries of State for Transport, and Housing, Communities and Local Government, to request a halt to airport expansion.  The letter asks them to suspend the determination by all planning authorities of applications to increase the physical capacity of UK airports, or their approved operating caps, until there is a settled UK policy position against which such applications can be judged.  Many UK airports are seeking - or have announced their intention to seek - planning approval to increase their capacity and/or their operating caps. In aggregate it has been estimated that proposals announced by UK airports would increase the country’s airport capacity by over 70% compared to 2017.  There is no settled UK policy on aircraft noise, or  policy on aviation carbon and how the sector will, as the CCC advises,  "limit growth in demand to at most 25% above current levels by 2050”.The letter says: "Until a settled policy with set limits is established for greenhouse gas emissions and noise there should be a moratorium on all airport expansion planning applications."

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One student stands up against flights for unnecessary, high carbon, field trips for university courses

Many universities and academics are trying to find ways in which they can reduce the amount they fly. This is difficult, as universities have been developed to be dependant on international students, international academics and numerous international conferences - to which everyone flies. And then there are also the field trips, for many student degrees. Now, writing in a blog for "FlightFree 2020" a courageous student, studying for an MSc in Environmental Protection and Management at Edinburgh University, has refused to go on a field trip - even though it was a compulsory part of her course - because she did not feel she could justify the huge carbon emissions the flight would create.  Field trips are promoted as a chance to gain real-life, real-world experience, undertake research outside of the academic bubble, and interact with local communities. But as flying is so cheap, the destinations have moved further afield, continents away. Institutions entice potential students by offering study in ever more exotic locations. These trips play a large part in normalising flying as a form of transport.  Fortunately the student's department were understanding, and arranged separate individual study for her in the UK. So that was quite possible.  Food for thought for unis....?

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Comment: Would banning frequent flyer programs do much to cut in air travel?

Might making frequent flier benefits, and airline loyalty programmes, illegal be effective, in reducing the amount some people fly?  It has been suggested that it might, as so many flights are taking by the same people flying often.  It is likely that frequent flyer programs stimulate demand by encouraging members to take extra flights to earn rewards or maintain a privileged status.  The writer of a report for the UK Committee on Climate Change said: “The norm of unlimited flying being acceptable needs to be challenged.”  Interestingly, Norway banned frequent flyer incentives from 2002 to 2013, although the aim was to break up airline monopolies.  It could be complicated, if airlines have international partnerships with other airlines, so if an airline could no longer offer a loyalty program, customers could instead sign up with one of its partners.  But the value might be more symbolic, indicating that flying for the hell of it is not something to be rewarded.  However, ending the schemes might have the effect of increasing competition among airlines that can no longer buy customer loyalty with the promise of an upgrade or a free flight, with lowered fares (or lowered airline profits).

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Welsh Assembly Member questions £21m Cardiff Airport loan from taxpayer – on top of an earlier £38m loan, not yet repaid

Monmouth AM Nick Ramsay has criticised the Welsh Government for its ‘blank cheque’ approach to funding for Cardiff Airport. Mr Ramsay said: “The Welsh Government has committed to this new loan without providing any detail on what the money is for or when it will be paid back. This comes on top of a previous loan of £38 million in 2015 which has also yet to be paid back. Transport minister Ken Skates said the funding – in the form of a loan the airport will pay back – would support “ambitious plans for the future” including a target of two million passengers a year.  Mr Ramsay questioned the fairness of the loan, saying: “Businesses in my constituency do not receive this level of support from the Welsh Government and will understandably be questioning the fairness of these funding priorities.  We need far more clarity on what this money is being provided for and when we will see an end to what effectively amounts to a “blank cheque” for the Airport. ... the public have the right to expect a coherent and rigid timetable for this money to be recovered.” But following the transport minister’s announcement, the Welsh Conservatives said Cardiff Airport would do better if it were re-privatised, where it would not need Welsh taxpayers to shoulder the financial burden.

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Southampton Airport soon to submit runway extension (164m) proposals, hoping to more than double passengers in 10 years

Southampton Airport is soon going to submit plans to extend its runway, perhaps by the end of October. The airport proposes to extend the runway by 164 metres and if approved by Eastleigh Borough Council, work will start in early 2020 for completion by the end of the year. There are the usual claims about more jobs being generated.  Friends of the Earth, the Green Party and Extinction Rebellion have joined together to fight the plans. Calling themselves Airport eXpansion Opposition (AXO) they accept the need for a small regional airport, however, because of the climate crisis believes people must fly less. AXO is urging residents to sign a petition calling on the council to reject the plans. The airport wants some of the people who travel to London airports, for their European flights, to travel instead from Southampton. They want more economic benefit from flights by local people.  There is the usual greenwash of wanting "sustainable growth", which makes little sense for growing carbon emissions. There will be public drop-in sessions, where the plans can be seen.  Winchester City Council wants to be fully involved, as the airport's expansion would affect its residents. 

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Sadiq Khan attacks London City Airport expansion plans – “unfettered growth is not an option”

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has warned London City Airport that “unfettered growth is not an option” as he criticised its plans for expansion. He said residents must have a break from plane noise, and the airport should take its air pollution and environmental responsibilities more seriously.  The airport, in a densely populated area of east London, is increasingly used for holiday travel - not business - and it wants to increase the current cap of 111,000 flights/year to 137,000 by 2030 and to 151,000 by 2035.  It hopes for 5 million passengers this year, but wants up to 6.5 million per year.  The Mayor said the current plans “would not be in the interest of Londoners”. He said noise from planes was a “fundamental issue” as changes to flight paths three years ago meant some areas were being flown over too often. Also that breaks from flights – overnight, and for 24 hours from lunchtime on Saturday – “must not be eroded” and the airport should use new technology to give residents more relief, not just to maximise profits. He said the airport must consider CO2 emissions from flights in its carbon reduction plans, as its current target of "net zero emissions by 2050 "does not include flights – only airport terminals, vehicles, and other ground operations.

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Tower Hamlets Mayor’s letter to London City Airport consultation, opposing changes that will negatively impact residents

The Mayor Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, has sent a letter to the London City Airport consultation, to express his concerns about the airport's expansion plans. This is in addition to the more detailed response sent by the council itself. Mr Biggs says: ..."the negative impacts of increasing flights at LCA would be unacceptable in terms of increasing noise levels and exacerbating climate change. The level of noise coming from aircraft needs to be tightly regulated and we believe lower thresholds for disturbance need to put in place. ...  To protect residents from noise disruption LCA must retain the current 24 hour closure of the airport at weekends between 12.30pm Saturday - 12.30pm Sunday to provide respite for our residents from the noise. To limit the level of disturbance caused to our residents the restrictions on early morning, late night and weekend flights should also be retained,  ...In Tower Hamlets we have declared a climate emergency and 40% of our residents live in areas with unacceptable levels of air quality. I would like to see further commitments by the airport on its plans to limit the amount of emissions from airport operations."  See the full letter.

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Heathrow tries to make out that its 3rd runway is vital, as it will lower fares (so increasing yet further the number flying)

Heathrow has accused British Airways of acting against “the consumer and national interest” by attempting to slow down its expansion and "depriving passengers of lower fares." They would say that, wouldn't they?  BA’s parent company, IAG, has complained to the CAA about the approximately £3.3bn Heathrow will spend on preparations for the third runway, accusing the airport of covering up costs that will affect airlines.  BA is of course not pure in this; it wants to prevent other airlines at Heathrow, competing with it. It has no qualms about its CO2 emissions rising. Heathrow wants airlines (IAG is the main airline company using Heathrow) to pay towards its 3rd runway plans, before the expansion is complete. IAG is not at all keen on that. Rather pathetically, Heathrow is terrified of being overtaken by any other European airport. Holland-Kaye said: "In two years’ time Charles de Gaulle [in Paris] will overtake Heathrow as the biggest airport in Europe.”  They like to make out that would be a terrible thing for Britain (which it would not be).

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Global air freight tonnage has been falling for the past year – IATA expect no growth in 2019

Heathrow hopes, if it ever got its 3rd runway (looking increasingly unlikely for a range of reasons ...) to get a 50% or so increase in air freight.  Manston hopes to re-open as a freight airport.  But the increase in tonnage of air freight over the past few years has not been large.  In the UK over the past 10 years, CAA data show an increase in tonnage of 11.6% between 2008 and 2018. Global data from IATA, which produces a report on air freight for most months, indicates tonnages have been falling for the past year.  The comments from August 2019 state:  "• Industry-wide air freight tonne kilometres fell by 3.9% year-on-year in August – a faster speed of decline compared to the previous month. ... the industry continues to face headwinds from weakening global trade and softness in a number of key economic indicators. • The deterioration in air freight has been broad-based across the regions in August .. . [as in the] past nine months, Asia Pacific was the main contributor to the industry decline. • Industry-wide air freight capacity increased by 2% compared to a year ago. With capacity rising against contracting demand, the industry-wide air freight load factor dropped by 2.7% compared to a year ago". IATA says growth is anticipated to be flat in 2019.

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Manston airport decision before long, after Planning Inspectorate sends recommendation to Grant Shapps

Government planners, the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) , have made their decision on whether a bid to reopen Manston Airport as a cargo hub should be backed. The recommendations have been sent to Transport Secretary of State (SoS) Grant Shapps, who  has 3 months to decide whether to grant planning permission to site owners RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) in the form of a Development Consent Order (DCO). The decision is made the SoS because the airport re-opening is considered a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) which is not decided by a local authority. If the SoS approves the plans, the owners RSP will probably use the airport primarily for air cargo.  In July Stone Hill, the site's previous owners, agreed to sell the land to RSP for £16.5m, instead of their plan to build up to 3,700 homes on it.  The tonnage of air freight has risen by only 11% in the UK in the past 10 years, with most going through Heathrow. But RSP says "there has been continuing growth in the air freight cargo market, driven chiefly by the increase in e-commerce and ... e-fulfillment..."  Manston re-opening will be strenuously opposed by local people, largely to noise over Ramsgate, from old, noisy freighters, often at night.

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SSE will be in the High Court from 12-14 November for a Judicial Review challenge of the decision of the Secretary of State for Transport (SST)

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) will be in the High Court from 12-14 November for a Judicial Review challenge of the decision of the Secretary of State for Transport (SST) to allow Uttlesford District Council (UDC) to determine the 2018 Stansted Airport planning application for 43 mppa.  The essence of the SSE challenge is that the application should be treated as a nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP) under the Planning Act 2008 - because it is nearly 10 million extra annual passengers - and therefore determined by the Secretary of State for Transport, rather than UDC.  Part of the challenge relates to the CO2 emissions impact of the proposed development. It is not satisfactory for the DfT to say the limiting of aviation carbon emissions is not an issue for Local Planning Authorities (LPAAs). The SST cannot just sit back and allow LPAs to sanction major airport expansion projects all over the UK, and at the same time tell them to disregard aviation CO2 emissions of these airport expansion projects.  Many airports plan expansion, and the combined carbon emissions way exceed even lax future cap targets.  SSE will be trying to pin down the SST on this key issue.

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Environment minister Zac Goldsmith says ‘bonkers’ Heathrow expansion ‘unlikely’ to go ahead, and would not survive a proper review

Zac Goldsmith, the environment minister, said he did not believe the plans for a Heathrow 3rd runway would survive a government-commissioned review - despite the Commons backing it last year. In mid August, the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the project could still be scrapped after questioning whether it “stacks up” financially.  Zac said of the runway plan: “I think it’s a bonkers scheme, and all the arguments that I’ve been using for the last ten years and repeating ad nauseam are true, in my view, and I see nothing to persuade me that they’re wrong… It’s currently out of government hands because it’s been through parliament.... Unfortunately, Parliament voted for it overwhelmingly – I’m still surprised by some of the MPs who voted for it, who nevertheless campaign heavily on things like climate change and air quality, but they did.”  He added that the airport will “struggle to come up with the cash”, so needing the Government to stomp up “really vast sums of money”, which the public would oppose. An “entirely objective” review into the plans would find that it was “a bad project”, and it may not survive the detailed planning and policy processes.

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Sutton Council reconfirmed its determination to fight 3rd Heathrow runway plan, and that it has joined the No 3rd Runway Coalition

Sutton Council has been opposed to a 3rd runway at Heathrow Airport for many years, due to the negative impact on noise, air pollution, the local environment and roads and public transport. Cllr Ruth Dombey, Leader of Sutton Council, said: “We’ve been campaigning against Heathrow expansion for over a decade but given this government's support of the plans, it is important to reconfirm our clear position against Heathrow expansion. We want our residents to know that we share their concerns, that the expansion is not a done deal and that they can count on the Sutton Liberal Democrats to work tirelessly with the “No 3rd Runway coalition” and others partners to continue this fight. The Conservative government is wrong to press ahead with this highly contentious, damaging policy and we will oppose them all the way.” The Council document said Heathrow plans took "no account of the recent announcements on climate change, in particular the declarations of a climate emergency by boroughs across London and the key issue of achieving carbon neutrality that these declarations raise."  On 22 July 2019, Sutton council declared a climate emergency. 

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Lower Stansted passenger numbers recently shows there is no urgency for agreement to allow expansion

After 63 consecutive months of year-on-year growth, Stansted Airport has posted a reduction in passenger numbers in each of the past three months (July, August, September).  Passenger numbers were down 0.5% in July, down 3.7% in August and down 2.7% in September, compared to a year earlier.  The overall reduction over the 3 month period was some 200,000 passengers, equivalent to a year on year decline of 2.3%.  Luton posted a 7.3% increase for three months to 31 August with 5.3 million passengers.  (Luton and other airport numbers from the CAA for September are not yet available).  One reason for the fall in numbers at Stansted is the late arrival of Boeing 737 Max planes to Ryanair. Stansted's passenger numbers are also expected to be down in October, partly due to the collapse of Thomas Cook at the end of September.  Stansted's cargo tonnage was down with a loss of 28,000 tonnes (11%) on a year-on-year basis, with the number of cargo aircraft using Stansted is down 6% compared to 2018. All that shows there is NO urgency to allow Stansted higher annual passenger numbers. SSE said: "At the very least, Uttlesford District Council should do nothing until we all know the outcome of SSE's legal challenge in the High Court, which takes place from 12th-14th November."   

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Flybe (now “Virgin Connect”) could drop unprofitable flight routes that are better done by road or rail

The new boss of Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline, says it could axe some routes, if they are being out-competed by rail.  Flybe has been renamed "Virgin Connect" after being taken over by the Connect Airways consortium of operators featuring Virgin Atlantic.  "Virgin Connect" may stop flying between airports where the journey can be made easily by train or car - and the airline needs to cut costs.  Its CEO said  "maybe in the future we’ll get behind that as well.” The routes in the UK that should not be served by air routes, but by rail, include Manchester-Glasgow, Birmingham-Edinburgh, Exeter-Manchester and Exeter-London City. The flight-shaming movement, which has grown in recent months, encourages people to stop travelling by air, and this will hit these short haul trips, making them unprofitable for airlines like "Virgin Connect". So this is face-saving.  It is often faster and more convenient to travel direct to a city centre, by train, rather than to an airport outside the city. Dutch airline KLM will reduce the number of flights it operates between Amsterdam and Brussels from 5 to 4 each day, from March 2020 by offering customers a seat on a high-speed train. 

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At Heathrow legal appeal hearings, lawyers for WWF UK say 3rd runway would violate climate rights of children

The High Court is hearing appeals, against the decision by the government to designate the Airports NPS, despite strong arguments - including those on carbon emissions, why it should be refused. The appeals (also one by "Heathrow Hub") are due to last 5 days, and are by the Mayor of London, four councils, and Greenpeace; also by Friends of the Earth; and Plan B Earth.  Lawyers are arguing that the rights of children were not taken into account by the government when it approved the third runway. The Court has allowed the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to submit documents arguing the planned expansion violates the rights of children and future generations under the UN convention on the rights of the child. Our children and grandchildren will face the greatest impact of the climate crisis. The High Court ruled in spring that the government’s decision to allow a 3rd runway was lawful. Since then, it has signed into law a commitment for the UK to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The intervention by WWF comes after young people spearheaded the biggest climate change protest in history last month, and follows Greta Thunberg’s challenge to world leaders that their inaction was letting down a generation.

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Climate activists slam ‘shameful’ backing by Norwich City Council of Norwich Airport growth (and increased CO2) plans

Environmental campaigners have blasted the city council's endorsement of a plan for the future of Norwich Airport as "shameful" and "a fantasy".  An aspiration to treble annual air passenger numbers at Norwich Airport to more than 1.4m by 2045 was backed by Norwich city council's cabinet at a meeting on 17th October. [Norwich airport had 538,578 passengers in 2018]. The plans were met with scepticism from Green Party councillors and people aware of the climate emergency, who attended the debate. The committee voted against a full council debate on the issue, which led Extinction Rebellion Norwich (XR) members criticise councillors for a lack of action. One XR member commented: "They won't allow a democratic debate - it's shameful." Another said: "They're living in a fantasy."  The decision was called in, to the Scrutiny Committee, which which questioned why the environmental impact of the plan was deemed neutral, when it was obvious it would increase the carbon footprint of the airport. Regarding the expansion as providing economic benefit, but no environmental impact, was a "fundamental misunderstanding". The airport has been asked to provide evidence at the next masterplan review of what steps they will take to reduce the airport's carbon impact.

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Outside Court for legal appeals, John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor, says fight against Heathrow 3rd runway on verge of victory

Speaking to the protest gathering outside the High Court, before the start of the legal appeals against Heathrow expansion, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell considered that the campaigns against the runway plans were on the verge of victory; the situation had moved on from when the legal challenges started, as the UK has now both declared a climate emergency and legislated for a net-zero emissions target.  He praised campaigners outside court for their persistent actions over many years, and said: “I think legislatively things have moved and politically, with the current campaigning by Extinction Rebellion, the pressure is on all politicians to recognise this is a project that cannot stand.”  Five legal challenges were brought against the Secretary of State for Transport, in March. Two were entirely on grounds of climate change (Friends of the Earth and Plan B Earth). The court dismissed the challenges on 1st May, and appeals have been allowed for four of them. Opening the appeal, Lord Justice Lindblom said the hearing would raise matters of obvious importance, which would be of interest to a national and international audience. Much hinges on whether the correct UK carbon targets, and commitments under the 2015 Paris agreement were properly taken into account when approving the 3rd runway.

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Willie Walsh says Heathrow runway unlikely to go ahead, due to rising environmental concerns

Willie Walsh, boss of BA's owner IAG believes the £14bn (or is it £32?) 3rd runway at Heathrow is unlikely to go ahead due to a growing backlash over the environment. He said the huge project is likely to fall flat despite finally winning approval from Parliament last year. He said: "I think it is a bigger challenge today than it was a year ago. And I can’t see it getting any easier.  Two years ago I would have said it was probably 60/40 that it would go ahead. I’m probably 60/40 against it going ahead at this stage. I wouldn’t rule it out completely."  Mr Walsh said that the huge costs involved, coupled with the carbon emissions from an extra 700 plans in the air every day after the new runway opens in 2026, will make it increasingly difficult to pull off. “They are really going to struggle to justify the environmental impact, when the economic argument to expand the airport gets undermined by the cost of the expansion.  I think the next six to 12 months are going to be critical."

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