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

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Latest news stories:

In 2019 almost 50% of flights by men, and 33% by women, aged 20-45, were for stag and hen dos abroad

An environmental campaigning organisation, called Hubbub - who say they are helping people with "inspiration and practical actions that are good for you and the environment" has done some research on the flying behaviour associated with hen and stag parties. They found that about half of all flights taken by men aged 20-45 in 2019 were for stag dos, while just over a third of flights taken by women in the same age group were for hen dos. These hen and stag dos have become a booming industry, with people no longer content to remain in the UK, as flights are so cheap. But the Hubbub research showed about 60% of those asked felt that the jaunts were too long, expensive and involved excessive travel.  About 30% felt resentful about the cost, and the time that sometimes had to be taken off annual holiday.  About 60% of those surveyed preferred a UK-based hen or stag, because it was cheaper, easier to get to and a more flexible option. The expense of the foreign hen and stag dos were often considerable, and often higher than a comparable event in the UK. And do places like Prague and Gdansk really want hoards of drunken Brits?  Another reason why millennials often have higher environmental footprints than the baby boomer generation.

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Heathrow expansion removed from DfT list of ministerial responsibilities for Aviation Minister, Kelly Tolhurst

Kelly Tolhurst has been appointed  Aviation Minister (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State) at the DfT.  She is the 6th Aviation minister in 3 years - they do not last long.  In the DfT reshuffle, the specific mention of Heathrow has now been removed from the list of ministerial responsibilities.  When the last Aviation Minister, Paul Maynard, had the job, his list of responsibilities included "Aviation (including Heathrow expansion). Now the equivalent list for Kelly Tolhurst just says "Aviation."  This might imply the DfT now sees Heathrow as less important. The DfT were swift to say it was just a matter of wording, and a "stylistic difference".... 

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Heathrow Hub asks Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps to order a Section 6 Review of the Heathrow 3rd runway NPS

Heathrow Hub, the rival Heathrow runway scheme that wants to effectively build a third runway, onto the western end of the northern runway, has now called on Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps to implement a "Section 6 review" of Heathrow 3rd runway. They say this is due to spiralling costs and also, bizarrely (as their plan also greatly increases CO2)  "the incompatibility of the 3rd runway with the Government’s net zero carbon emissions by 2050." Heathrow Hub are very critical of many aspects of Heathrow's planning for its runway, including failure to provide information. They are particularly critical of the lack of details about Heathrow's surface access plans. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has now deemed Heathrow to be a Public Authority and has ordered it to comply with its obligations under the EIR - so it has to respond to FoI requests, such as on surface access plans. Heathrow Hub says Heathrow's latest consultation reveals a scheme that continues to change from the designated ANPS. The Government decision to approve the NPS and "designate" it is being challenged legally, with a judgement by the Court of Appeal expected on 28th February. 

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Major airlines say they’re acting on climate change – research reveals how little they’ve achieved

Research by Griffith University, New Zealand, has shown that the climate claims of most airlines are pretty thin. Several airlines have announced plans to become “carbon neutral”, or trial new aviation fuels. But looking at the world's 58 largest airlines, when what is being done is compared to the continued growth in emissions, it is nowhere near enough. There have been improvements in the amount of carbon per seat kilometre - the "carbon efficiency." But that is eclipsed by growth in number of flights and passengers. The study found the improved efficiency (fleet renewal, engine efficiency, weight reductions and flight path optimisation) amounted to a 1% cut in emissions, while the industry aims to cut by 1.5%. That was totally outweighed by annual growth of 5.2% in the carbon emitted by the industry globally. Industry figures show global airlines produced 733 million tonnes of CO₂ emissions in 2014. Falling fares and more people wanting to fly saw airline emissions rise 23% in just five years, 2014 -19.  Higher-income travellers from around the world have had disproportionately large aviation CO2 emissions; they form a total of 16% of global population, but 62% of global aviation CO2. People need to cut the amount they fly ...

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Non-CO2 climate impact of flying could be cut significantly with small altitude changes to avoid contrail formation

Some research by Imperial College, London, indicates that climate impact of aviation could be significantly reduced by making small changes to the altitudes at which planes fly. And more complete fuel burn. Contrails increase warming, due to a blanket effect, especially at night, preventing heat escaping out into space. This causes "radiative forcing." Contrails form as water condenses around the tiny black carbon particles in the jet exhaust.  They form more, and last for longer, in some weather conditions than others. While most contrails disappear within minutes, some spread and mix with other contrails and clouds, forming ‘contrail cirrus’ which can linger for as long as 18 hours. The study by Imperial indicated that flying around 2,000 feet lower or higher - avoiding the more humid air - can reduce contrail formation. Reducing the contrails of the planes having the most climate warming impact would help slightly. Unlike contrails, the impact of the CO2 produced lasts for hundreds of years. Flying higher or lower than normal cruise height could increase jet fuel burn and CO2 emissions. Aviation expects to grow fast between now and 2050, with contrail warming a big problem. However, CORSIA ignores this additional non-CO2 warming impact of aviation.

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Teesside Airport flight subsidy – an unknown amount of public money – divides mayoral contenders

New flights from Teeside airport (used to be called Durham Tees Valley airport) are being subsidised by taxpayers. Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) has contributed funds to support six routes from the airport. The amount has not been released due to "commercial sensitivity" but it was believed in 2018 that there would be subsidies of £1 million over 3 years.  Now Tees Valley mayoral candidate Jessie Joe Jacobs said the figure should be made public. She said:  "If subsidies are going to flights, are we going to see subsidies for buses for places like Port Clarence, where people cannot get to their local hospital without getting a taxi?"  With more awareness of climate breakdown, flying shame and increased rail usage, is helping people to take domestic flights sensible use of scarce public funds?  The airport was brought back into public hands at the start of last year for £40m as part of a £588.2m investment plan agreed by Labour council leaders and Tees Valley Mayor Houchen.  It is owned in a 75/25 split between the TVCA and Stobart Aviation.  Its business plan forecasts losses until 2025 after which it just might make a small profit.  But who knows, so far ahead. Voting in the mayoral elections will take place in May.

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Heathrow ruled to be a “public authority” for information-access, so FoI requests can be made on environmental issues

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has issued a decision, holding that Heathrow is a "public authority" for the purposes of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR). This opens up the potential for anyone to ask HAL for information it holds relating to the environment, through a Freedom of Information (FoI) question. This could be on development applications, emissions, buildings, energy consumption, waste and noise.  The EIR operate alongside the Freedom of Information Act (FOI Act), and oblige public authorities to disclose environmental information upon request (unless an exemption to disclosure applies).  This has arisen because rival builder of Heathrow's runway etc, Arora, asked Heathrow for information. It was withheld. Arora then appealed to the Information Commissioner. They decided that as Heathrow "carries out functions of public administration" it is indeed a public authority, not just a company.  This is justified "given the importance of the efficient provision of services at Heathrow Airport to the economy and citizens of the UK".  Heathrow may appeal. Other airports might also be considered as public authorities in future...?

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Campaigners criticise CAA’s PIR report on Luton flight path changes and noise increase

The CAA have published the results of a post-implementation review (PIR), which analysed the impact of RNAV between its introduction in 2015 and 2017. RNAV means concentration of planes down a narrow flight path, intensifying noise for those over-flown. The CAA concluded that the airspace change "achieved the objectives set out in the original proposal".The introduction of RNAV has meant the majority of departures have moved closer to Harpenden, south Harpenden and the less densely-populated areas of Redbourn, while still not to flying directly over those areas.  The number of flights increased by 30% between 2015 and 2017, but the PIR says the flight paths was not an "enabler" for an increase in airport capacity, or for an increase in flights during the early morning and late evenings. The CAA says the increase in noise complaints 2015 - 2017 was due to there being more plane - not the narrowing of the flight paths. Local campaigners are angry and disagree with the CAA, saying much of the noise nuisance is due to RNAV, not just more flights.  Andrew Lambourne (LADACAN) commented: "The whole thing feels like a rubber-stamping exercise, and was not worth waiting three years for."

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Has Boris Johnson used approval for HS2 to kill Heathrow Expansion?

In announcing that the government is approving HS2, the Prime Minister spoke of the importance of delivering prosperity to every part of the country. Boris said: “Passengers arriving at Birmingham Airport will be able to get to central London by train in 38 minutes, which compares favourably with the time it takes to get from Heathrow by taxi .... [and is] considerably faster than the Piccadilly line”.  Was this a subtle alert to the negative economic impacts on every part of the country (save the South East) of expanding Heathrow? The DfT has known for a long time that a 3rd Heathrow runway would mean most regional airports would lose significant volumes of flights. Asked about Heathrow, Boris said he sees no "immediate prospect" of bulldozers, or any start to work to expand Heathrow.  If £106 billion of public money will be spent on HS2, (much of that on the London to Birmingham section) this will increase anger about the disparity of spending on the regions and the south-east.  With more fast rail travel between London and Birmingham, air passenger demand from the south-east could move to Birmingham, reducing any logic there was   for a larger Heathrow.

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Bristol Airport expansion plans rejected by North Somerset council by 18-7

North Somerset Council’s Planning & Regulatory Committee has gone against the advice of their own planning officers and have refused permission for Bristol Airport to expand. It has been a "David versus Goliath" battle of local campaigners against the airport, (owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan). The airport wanted to expand from 10 million to 12 million passengers per year, with huge carpark and other building. The opposition to the plans was huge, on ground of carbon emissions, as well as noise and general local damage. There were almost 9,000 objections sent in by members of the public, against 2,400 in favour.  Councillors voted 18-7 against the plans, with one abstention. Councillors were persuaded that paltry economic benefits to the airport and airlines were far outweighed by the environmental harm. There would be large land take for the parking, and the extra carbon emissions would make targets of carbon neutrality for the area unachievable. Because the councillors went against the officers’ recommendations, the decision will return to the same committee to be ratified. If the decision is ratified, the applicant has six months to lodge an appeal, which would be heard at a public inquiry.

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Kirklees council urged not to back Leeds Bradford expansion plans – due to climate impact

Kirklees Council leader has been urged not to back the use of public money to help the £41 million expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport.  The call came from Kirklees Greens leader, Cllr Cooper, who says pumping £5 million into a proposed new rail interchange - the Leeds Bradford Airport Parkway scheme - would inevitably increase international flights and could undermine regional carbon emissions targets. Such a commitment of public money, increasing carbon emissions at a time of climate crisis, was foolhardy. The airport's expansion plans are being considered by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), a group of leading councillors and officers from West Yorkshire councils, plus York, that works on major infrastructure projects. The rail interchange would include a new railway station on the Harrogate railway line and associated access works, assisting access to the airport. The scheme is being promoted with claims it will improve air quality ... slightly dubious reasoning there ... Cllr Cooper: "Kirklees Council cannot ignore the impact of air travel and the threat it poses to all the actions that we need to be taking to reduce global emissions."

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High Court won’t intervene on Stansted planning application being regarded as an NSIP

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has expressed disappointment at the High Court decision, announced that the Secretary of State for Transport does not have a statutory duty to treat the current Stansted's planning application as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP).​  SSE challenged the decision that the plans were not considered to be an NSIP in mid November. Though Uttlesford District Council originally approved the expansion plan in November 2018, the council then rejected the plans (new councillors after council elections) on 24th January 2020. It is likely that Manchester Airports Group, the owners of Stansted airport, will appeal against the Uttlesford decision, so the issues would be examined at a Public Inquiry, with the Secretary of State making the final decision.  That means that whether the airport's expansion plans are regarded as an NSIP, or if the airport appeals, the final decision would be by the Secretary of State. And SSE says the NSIP route would be cheaper for all concerned. 

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“Absolute Zero” report by UK academics: the only way to hit net zero by 2050 is to stop flying

In probably the best, more sensible (and most radical) comments on the future of aviation to date, Professor Julian Allwood (Cambridge University) and a group of academics from 6 UK universities, say there is no alternative but to cut aviation drastically. It is futile for the industry to hope for electric planes (which just might be a possibility by 2050, but only IF there is spare low-carbon electricity available). It is futile for airlines to pretend they can use low-carbon fuels, (these could only be made IF there is spare low-carbon electricity available). And it is unacceptable to pretend CO2 emitted is going to be captured, removed from the atmosphere, and stored. Not without vast use of energy. Tree planting only goes so far: we must increase the total area of forest in perpetuity to produce a one-off reduction in atmospheric CO2.  The academics suggest closing most UK airports by around 2030, and closing just about all by 2050, to genuinely have no carbon emissions (offsets do not count). Only if there is spare low-carbon electricity available after 2050, could flying re-commence using electric planes or genuinely low carbon fuels. They say: "Bold announcements of “net-zero” targets by sunset industries such as fossil-fuel aviation cause confusion and delay the policies required to phase them out." 

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ASA rule against Ryanair ad (greenwash) claim to have the lowest airline CO2 emissions

Ryanair has been accused of greenwashing after the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned an ad campaign, that tried to make out  the airline has the lowest CO2 emissions of any major airline in Europe. It has been ordered to withdraw the misleading claims about its “green” credentials. Ryanair is in fact one of the top 10 carbon emitters in the EU, due to the number of flights.  Ryanair probably has lower CO2 per passenger kilometre than many other airlines, as it has newer planes, and crams its planes full. But its rapid growth has meant its CO2 increased by 50% between 2013 and 2019. The ASA pointed out failings in the way Ryanair compared itself to other airlines, to make its carbon claims; it did not include all airlines or seating density; it did not substantiate its claims.  The growth of Ryanair, and of air travel in general, in Europe has been due to the sector paying no jet fuel tax, making flying artificially cheap. The CO2 emissions of all flights departing from EU airports have grown from being 1.4% of total EU emissions in 1990 to 3.7% today.

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Letter countering the deliberately misleading BackHeathrow leaflet on Heathrow and carbon emissions

Back Heathrow has again put out one of its deliberately misleading leaflets, "How Heathrow can expand and tackle climate change," aimed at getting local people to support its expansion plans for a 3rd runway. This time it is claiming to be low carbon, and reassure people that the carbon emissions from its flights will not be an issue. It goes on about electric planes (not remotely feasible for large scale transport for decades, if ever). A local resident has written to counter the greenwash nonsense.  He says: "The Government's own Committee for Climate Change has said “there are likely to be no commercially available zero-carbon planes by 2050, particularly for long-haul flights”, and this “will require breakthroughs in battery energy density to become a commercially viable proposition.” " ... and Heathrow "say that despite 700 more flights per day, they will reduce the number of cars to and from the airport but they have not made any progress doing so, because they can charge high amounts for parking, and their plans include 2 new 25,000 space car parks."  And many other great points, to demolish the self-serving nonsense in the Back Heathrow leaflet.

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Aviation industry body (oxymoron) “Sustainable Aviation” hoping its new greenwash will persuade folk aviation growth is fine ….

The aviation industry is nervous of the growing awareness of the looming climate crisis and the need for personal responsibility for air travel CO2. So they are working to try to persuade the public that aviation is fine, and the the carbon emitted is really not a problem. They have it sorted. This is, of course, just greenwash. They are assuming the public is very stupid, or wilfully wanting to be deluded, to believe there will be no extra CO2 in the atmosphere, with 70% more flights. The aviation industry body calling itself (oxymoron!) "Sustainable Aviation" is trying to say UK aviation will be, quotes, "net carbon zero by 2050". The industry can certainly make some little changes in engines, flight paths, operations etc, to cut a bit of carbon. That is far outweighed by the growth in passengers and flights. They have crazy hopes for low carbon fuels, which themselves would cause huge environmental problems. The rest is offsets. All that means is carbon reductions being made elsewhere are bought by the aviation sector, and are effectively cancelled out by the growth in air travel.  It is not a solution. Aviation knows it. Greenpeace said: “This whole strategy is a flight of fancy. Carbon offsetting is simply an excuse to carry on with business as usual while shifting the responsibility to cut emissions to someone else, somewhere else, and some other time. It’s greenwash pure and simple and ministers should be wary of lending it any credibility.”

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Ferrovial threatens to pull out of Heathrow if CAA does not let it make large enough returns

Heathrow’s biggest shareholder, Ferrovial, has warned that it could sell its 25% stake if returns are squeezed by the aviation watchdog. This casts doubt about the 3rd runway. Ferrovial says it would not put money into the runway, (costing between £14 and £32 billion) unless the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) grants it “attractive returns”. The CAA ruled in December that Heathrow could not spend more on early construction in order to ensure the runway was built by the end of 2026 as planned. That means that the 3rd runway will now not be completed until 2028 – 2029, at the earliest, and not 2026 as Heathrow and its investors had hoped.  The CAA currently has a consultation, that ends on 5th March, on Economic regulation of Heathrow, on the "regulatory framework and financial issues".  The CAA effectively decides how much money Heathrow can make through a complex tariff. This is usually updated every 5 years, although this has been extended by 2 years.  A controversial regulatory scheme incentivises the airport’s owners to build, spend more, as then they earn more in returns - the passenger flight charges, now about £20 per passenger.  If Ferrovial decides to pull out, it would invest in schemes elsewhere. 

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Heathrow runway would increase Scotland’s aviation CO2 by more flights Heathrow to Scotland

If Heathrow got a 3rd runway, it is very likely to increase the amount of carbon produced by more flights from Edinburgh and Glasgow, to Heathrow. The extra flights and destinations at Heathrow would entice more Scottish people to fly south, to make the connections.  It is estimated this might be an extra 5,000 flights per year (ie. about 14 more per day), with several hundred thousand extra tonnes of CO2.  If travellers from Scotland, wanting to fly from Heathrow, took the train, there would be less carbon emitted.  Increasing flying, whether from Scottish airports, or from Heathrow, is entirely at odds with Scotland's aim of cutting carbon emissions and becoming a net-zero country by 2045, which is 5 years earlier than the current (inadequate) UK target of 2050. Colin Howden, director of the sustainable transport alliance, Transform Scotland, said the Scottish government's plans to cut a tiny bit of aviation carbon by looking at electric planes for some short trips in the Highlands and islands, would be entirely eclipsed by the increase in flights to Heathrow.  

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‘Lives will be blighted’ by £150M Leeds Bradford Airport plans say protesters after ‘die-in’ at meeting

Leeds Bradford is planning to expand, spending £150 million on a new terminal that would allow more annual flights and passengers.  Local residents object to the plans as an 'abdication of responsibility' and claimed an eco-friendly terminal would be pointless if the numbers of flights increased, as this would massively increase CO2 emissions. The Council meeting had been suspended for 20 minutes due to protests from climate campaigners, locking themselves to railings and holding a die-in. As well as the terminal, the airport wants to reduce the night period with no flights by 90 minutes, so instead of the current 8 hours of quiet at night, there would just be  6 and a half hours.  The airport wants to start work in winter 2020, with an opening in 2023. "If we have to go to carbon offsetting, that is what we will do."  The airport is terrified of not growing. The extra noise will blight the lives of thousands of residents under the flight paths. The decision by the Leeds Council City Plans Panel was to take no view on the pre-application and ask the Airport for further information.  

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Client Earth taking the UK government to court over Europe’s largest gas plant at Drax, despite advice against it

ClientEarth have launched a High Court challenge against the UK government for its decision to approve plans for Europe’s largest gas plant, 4 new gas turbines, at Drax. The Secretary of State, Andrea Leadsom, approved the application despite the Planning Inspectorate recommending the plans be rejected on climate grounds, as the project’s climate impacts outweighed any benefits. Leadsom's decision undermines the UK’s path to cutting CO2 and building a more sustainable energy sector.  With our global climate emergency, we can’t afford the UK to be locked into heavily polluting gas power for decades to come. The Government’s own climate body, the Committee on Climate Change, has warned there should be no more gas on the UK grid by the mid-2030s without carbon capture and storage.  ClientEarth argues that the UK will need just 6GW of new gas generation to 2035 and they have already approved 15GW worth of large-scale gas plants. This does not fit in the UK's carbon targets. (Neither does allowing extra runways and aviation expansion). 

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Government’s independent noise advisors ICCAN confirm that the impact of aircraft noise has been underestimated

It is highly significant that the government's independent body looking into the problem of aircraft noise has said the previous study, SoNA, was inadequate. ICCAN declared the DfT’s evidential basis for assessing the noise impact of Heathrow expansion to have been “inappropriate” and did not properly reflect the numbers affected by plane noise, or the impacts. The Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition said:  "And were expansion to proceed at Heathrow ... a scandal would be in the making. When the DfT claimed that merely 97,300 more residents would be exposed to adverse aircraft noise, the Transport Select Committee concluded that the DfT’s methodology was “not of the real world”. Indeed, under a freedom of information request, we then learned that an internal DfT study had implied 2.2 million people would be affected – if the department had only applied the more realistic noise thresholds used elsewhere."..."We remain startled that a government department, purportedly responsible for protecting communities from aviation noise, should plough on in this reckless – and perhaps deceitful – manner."

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Leeds Bradford Airport wants to cut night-time period by 90 minutes to just 11.30pm to 6am

Leeds Bradford Airport wants rules that impose a range of night-time flying restrictions to be relaxed, so it can operate more flights. The  current restrictions, since 1993, are that the airport can only operate 4,000 flights a year during the night-time period, which is 11pm to 7am.  Now the airport wants the night-time period reduced from 8 hours to 6.5 hours, so it is from 11.30pm to 6am - an hour and a half less.  The WHO says people should have a quiet period for sleep for 8 hours per night. Most adults need between 7-8 hours of good sleep per night. That is not possible, if the night period is only 6.5 hours. That also does not include planes arriving later than 11.30pm, for delays etc.  The change the airport wants means lots of flights in the "shoulder periods". ie. between 6am and 7am, and  between 11pm and 11.30pm. This enables airlines to fit in more "rotations" so they can make more return trips to European holiday destination airports, making more money the airlines. The plans will be discussed by Leeds City Council's on January 30; the airport may submit a planning application in the coming months.

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Stop Stansted Expansion calls upon Manchester Airports Group to respect Uttlesford DC decision

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has called upon the Manchester Airports Group (MAG) - owners of Stansted airport - to respect the Uttlesford District Council (UDC)’s decision to refuse the airport's latest expansion proposals - and has urged MAG not to appeal against the decision.​ Welcoming the Council’s decision to refuse permission, SSE Chairman Peter Sanders said: "I would firstly like to express appreciation and gratitude to the Uttlesford councillors on the Planning Committee not only for reaching this decision today but also for the very thorough and professional manner in which they have dealt with this Planning Application.  I believe that I speak not only for Stop Stansted Expansion in this regard but for almost the entire local community."​  If MAG lodges an appeal against UDC’s refusal to the Secretary of State, the consequence could be a lengthy public inquiry and continued uncertainty for the local community for another year or more.​  If there is an appeal, SSE has pledged itself to support UDC in presenting the case at public inquiry.  This should assist in minimising costs whilst also sharing technical expertise.​

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CPRE report shows UK monitoring of aircraft noise ‘seriously underestimates’ disturbance to people’s quality of life and health

CPRE is calling on the Government to improve the way it monitors aircraft noise after new research shows current maps seriously underestimate the problem.  This comes at a time when there are proposals for airport expansion across the country, and as the Government prepares a new aviation strategy. The research, commissioned by CPRE, was carried out by Aviation Consultants, To70.  It looked at the impact of noise pollution at lower levels than those usually mapped in the UK now. These lower levels, already used for monitoring noise pollution in other European countries, are believed to be a better indicator of the true impact of noise pollution below and near flight paths.  The report uses Gatwick airport as an example, but the findings would apply at any airport.  Currently the standard measure above which plane noise is regarded to "annoy" people if 55dBALden (a noise average),but this is far too high. A noise contour is produced for this noise level. But the WHO recommends reducing aircraft noise levels to 45 decibels in the day. The noise contour for 45dB is hugely larger than that for 55dB. CPRE says the government should commission independent research into the impact of aviation noise on health. Also that the ICCAN should be given statutory powers on noise.

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Stansted Airport expansion definitively rejected by Uttlesford council

Stansted expansion plans have been rejected by Uttlesford District councillors at a special planning committee meeting.  The decision was made with 10 councillors voting to overturn the previous approval, and two councillors, who were also members of SSE, abstaining. Officers had recommended approval of proposals to increase the airport's passenger cap from 35 million to 43 million per year.  The expansion had included 2 new taxiways and 9 new hangars, expanding the number of flights it can handle from 227,000 up to 274,000. There are about 28 million passengers now per year.  Originally the council approved the plan, giving it conditional permission, but after the Residents for Uttlesford group took control from the Conservatives in May, the decision was referred back to the committee. The councillors who voted for expansion in 2018 lost their seats last year. Council officers said there were no new material considerations to justify a different decision from the one made in November 2018 when the plans were approved. It was a 7 hour meeting, "in which the chairman had to tell members of the public to stop applauding those opposing the plans." It is possible MAG, which owns Stansted, may appeal. 

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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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Noise body ICCAN recognises problems with the SoNA noise survey, and recommends new, better, regular noise surveys

One of the key surveys on attitudes to aircraft noise was the SoNA study, Survey of Noise Attitudes 2014, carried out by the CAA.  The SoNA study found people were more annoyed by noise, and more sensitive to it, than another study in 1985.  Some degree of annoyance and adverse effects were found down to 51dB LAeq 16hr. The conventional level of averaged noise considered a problem is 57 dB LAeq. But critics have said the study was flawed, as it only considered populations that had already experienced high levels of aviation noise, rather than communities that had been impacted for the first time, or had newly been exposed to a greater intensification of noise. With the expansion of aviation in the UK, there are many areas and hundreds of thousands of people, who are being newly exposed to plane noise. The noise body ICCAN has realised there is a problem with SoNA. It recommends that a new, regular attitudinal survey is begun before the end of 2021, and repeated frequently. And that "the new surveys should be commissioned, run and analysed independent of Government, regulators and industry. We consider it appropriate for ICCAN to take on this role, working closely with relevant stakeholders."

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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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