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Interesting breakdown by T&E of the hidden subsidies of airlines in Europe, that allow flights to be SO cheap
An interesting inquiry by Transport & Environment looks at how flights within Europe can be so cheap. It emerges that there are many hidden subsidies, which enable a flight to be so much cheaper than the same trip by train. In their example, they consider the trip from Amsterdam to Toulouse. The cost of the air ticket by Air France-KLM would be €80, and €81.65 with some extra charges. The total of the subsidies came to €86.24 in subsidies, and then another €43 in state debt. That consists of: airline tickets being VAT exempt, a difference of €7.35 per person. €45 per person is invested in the infrastructure to keep Schiphol Airport accessible. Border control costs €3.50 per person. The pipelines to get kerosene to Schiphol cost €0.05 per person, and the tax exemption for kerosene is €25 per person. The total amount of small extra subsidies was estimated at €0.25 per person. The EU contributes €1 per person to the flight, in particular to reorganise the airspace. And KLM gets free emission rights worth €4.14 per person. The €86.29 in subsidies does not include the Dutch public debt, which increases by €43 per person because of state investment in Air France-KLM.
Heathrow wants the £4 bn APD revenue (paid because aviation pays no VAT or fuel duty) to boost ‘green’ aviation fuels
Heathrow's avarice and self-interest appear to know no bounds. Aside from the immense cost to public health from the increased noise and air pollution of its plans for a 3rd runway (equivalent to bolting another large UK airport onto the Heathrow site....) the huge cost to the taxpayer for the necessary improvements to surface access infrastructure, if it expands, and so many other costs - like destroying villages, Heathrow wants yet more. The Treasury has repeatedly said that the aviation industry in the UK pays Air Passenger Duty (APD) BECAUSE that makes up, to a small extent, for the income lost to the Treasury each year, because the aviation sector pays NO fuel duty and NO VAT. The money is NOT there to give the aviation industry a boost. But Heathrow wants the approximately £4 billion raised each year from APD to be given back to the industry, so it can try to find a way to produce jet fuels that are allegedly "sustainable" and "lower carbon" that convention jet fuel. The problem for the aviation industry is that, other than worthy-sounding pronouncements about "the ambition of a net-zero carbon aviation industry by 2050" etc, they have no actual plans of any means by which to do that. APD funds should NOT be given back to aviation.
Yet another “first” household & commercial waste to aviation fuel plant planning application – Velocys, Shell, BA
Altalto, a collaboration between Velocys, British Airways and Shell, has submitted a planning application for a plant that turns waste into so-called "sustainable" aviation fuel. The proposed plant near Grimsby would take hundreds of thousands of tonnes of household and commercial solid waste destined for landfill or incineration. That would be converted into fuel, to be used by the aviation industry (some could be used for road vehicle fuels...). The scheme is claiming it would "reduce reduce net greenhouse gases by 70% compared to the fossil fuel equivalent." The company says the fuel also improves air quality, with up to 90% reduction in particulate matter from aircraft engine exhausts and almost 100% reduction in sulphur oxides - but gives no explanation how. It also claims the process produces less air pollution that if the waste was incinerated or landfilled (but gives on details). Usual blurb from British Airways (desperate to try to make out that aviation will emit less CO2 in future, while continuing to grow) about "Sustainable fuels can be a game-changer for aviation..." blah blah... BA had proposed a similar plant in Essex which was cancelled due to lack of funding in 2016.
£125 million more UK public money going to fund aviation research to (possibly, eventually) minimally cut CO2 emissions
The aviation industry repeatedly gets money from the UK government, to help it try to find new technologies, or new fuels, that might slightly cut the carbon emissions of flights. Instead of the industry funding this research itself, it always wants public money to help - money from taxpayers that could be better used. If the aviation sector really wanted to cut its carbon emissions significantly, it would stop attempting to grow as fast as possible. If the government was serious about cutting aviation CO2, it would introduce measures to make flying more expensive and less attractive, in order to cut demand. But instead, money is spent on technologies that just - basically - involve continuing with "business as usual" and carrying on flying as much as possible. Hopes of magical future technologies, or fuels, just postpone the day when they have to "bite the bullet" and reduce aviation growth. Now the UK government is spending another "£125 million in the Future of Flight Challenge, supported by an industry co-investment of £175 million, to fund development of technologies including cargo drones, urban air taxis and larger electric passenger aircraft." Fiddling while Rome burns....
Local opposition growing to expansion plans by Southampton airport
A group within Southampton Friends of the Earth has set up a campaign to oppose Southampton Airport expansion. Despite the Government's recent commitment to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, there are many airport expansion applications across the UK. This expansion cannot enable the aviation sector to meet even its current, easy, carbon target - let alone the much more stringent one required for a zero-carbon Britain by 2050. The airport will probably submit its planning application to extend the runway by 170 metres to Eastleigh Borough Council in the next few weeks. The scoping report and Master Plan have received approval in principle from Southampton City Council. Twyford Parish Council has objected, due to a proposed increase of flights over the village. Eastleigh Greens are likely to be objecting as well. Friends of the Earth Southampton are currently putting together a petition to Southampton City Council to ask them to re-think their support for airport expansion, given that the Government is asking for net zero carbon by 2050. Campaigners started a group here to oppose the proposed expansion but it has not got a name yet. People interested can get in touch via the local FoE group firstname.lastname@example.org
Evan Davis “The Bottom Line” programme on aviation industry CO2 – basically “there is no plan”…
Evan Davis has done an edition of the BBC programme "The Bottom Line" on aviation and its claims about cutting its carbon emissions. His interview is revealing, in making clear how empty the industry's claims of reducing its CO2 in future really are. Sector representatives admit it has broken its own pledges to grow carbon neutrally and lacks firm plans to achieve it by 2050. They talk about changing the sort of planes that fly, though ignoring that any new plane model that could fundamentally cut CO2 emissions per passenger is decades away, and all planes remain in service for perhaps 30 years. There is foolish over-optimism that electric planes might eventually transport enough passengers to make a difference - but it is decades away. All the current changes they are mentioning cut CO2 by far smaller amounts than the anticipated annual growth of the industry. As Evan says, "But this is sort of hot air…we’re used to from the aviation industry: ‘we’re all taking this very seriously, we’re signing up to these targets, by the way we missed it the last time we did it, but we’re ever more ambitions in the target we’re going to sign up to… there’s no plan.’ "
What will be the impact of the UK ambition of “Net Zero” on the Airports NPS?
Lawyers, BDB Pitmans, for whom airport planning is an area of work, have commented on the change by the UK to a net zero carbon target by 2050 - and its effect on the aviation sector. They say the 1990 baseline was 778 million tonnes of CO2. With the 80% cut target, until 27th June, the UK had to cut CO2 emissions to 155.6 million tonnes by 2050. It now has to be reduced to 0 tonnes. The government understands that: "Achieving net-zero GHG emissions for the UK will rely on a range of Speculative options that currently have very low levels of technology readiness, very high costs, and/or significant barriers to public acceptability." One change that will be needed is for people to fly less. The legal challenges in March 2019 against the Airports NPS had grounds relating to carbon emissions, but these were dismissed, on the basis of developments like the Paris Agreement had not yet being translated into UK law. Now the Appeal Court will hear the legal challenges, and as the CO2 target has been changed, presumably the conclusions of the NPS are now vulnerable. The Sec of State for Transport will need to review the NPS, considering whether there has been a "significant change in any circumstances."
Mayor of Newham’s challenge to London City Airport’s expansion as “fundamentally flawed, due to lack of clarity & information”
Campaigners have welcomed a demand by the mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, to halt London City Airport's consultation on expansion with more daily flights - until it shows how it will tackling noise and CO2 emissions. City Airport's Consultation Master Plan suggests almost doubling the number of daily flights, with more early morning and late evening. The airport insists its consultation will continue till 20th September. The mayor called the consultation "fundamentally flawed because of lack of clarity and information" in a letter to the airport's chief executive. She calls on the airport to halt the public consultation immediately until it publishes the "omitted technical details". "The significance of the mayor's move cannot be overstated. Newham is the planning authority for the airport," said Hacan East chairman John Stewart. Newham Council which declared a "climate emergency" earlier this year, and is seeking more evidence about the airport's plans to tackle CO2 emissions and air pollution. A huge number of people are already badly affected by aircraft noise. Newham already has a large number of deaths, occurring prematurely, due to air pollution. London City airport growth - pollution from aircraft - would only add to that, as well as the noise assault.
Plan B Earth skeleton argument for Heathrow legal Appeal in October – that Grayling’s designation of the NPS was unlawful
The legal challenge by Plan B Earth is one of the four that will be heard at the Appeal Court from the 17th October. They have published their skeleton argument, which says, in summary that on 27th June 2019, the UK carbon target was amended by statutory instrument to read “at least 100%” cut by 2050 (ie. net zero) rather than the previous target of an 80% cut. Plan B say the "Secretary of State [Grayling] proceeded on the false premise that the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Government’s commitment to introducing a net zero carbon target in accordance with the Paris Agreement were “irrelevant” considerations for the purposes of s.5(8) of" the 2008 Climate Change Act. And the Secretary of State "chose to ignore these developments and proceeded as if there had been no material developments in government policy relating to climate change since 2008 and as if no change were in contemplation." And "The basis of the Appellant’s claim that the designation of the ANPS was unlawful, and that it should be quashed, is that the Secretary of State approach to these matters was fundamentally flawed."
Heathrow legal challenge Appeals to be live-streamed from the Court of Appeal (from 17th October)
On 23rd July 2019, the Court of Appeal ruled that there were grounds for appeal for all four of the legal judicial reviews, challenging the Governments support for the expansion of Heathrow. These will take place at the Court of Appeal, from 17th October, for 6 days, and will be live-streamed. On 1st May 2019, the High Court dismissed the judicial review claims made by five separate parties that the Government's Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), as approved by Parliament in June 2018, was unlawful. Paul Beckford, Policy Director of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, the leading campaign organisation opposing the expansion of Heathrow, said: "This is excellent news for transparency. It is vital that the public get the opportunity to hear that the Government chose to proceed with expansion at Heathrow because the former Secretary of State for Transport (Grayling) did not consider the Paris Agreement relevant. The fact that a net zero target has now been included in the Climate Change Act makes the climate case against expansion even stronger."
AEF explains why Gatwick expansion adds to UK’s aviation CO2 headache – at least 1 million tonnes more CO2 per year
If Gatwick was allowed to increase its number of flights and passengers, that would be a huge increase in its carbon emissions. Already the UK aviation sector is not on track to stay under even the outdated cap of 37.5MtCO2. That was when the UK was aiming for an 80% cut in carbon emissions, compared to 1990, by 2050. But now the UK has signed up to zero carbon - ie. 100% cut - by 2050. The corresponding carbon cap for aviation would then be more like below 30MtCO2 by 2050. As the ongoing growth, from incremental increases in flights and passengers from most UK airports, will take the UK aviation sector well over the 37.5MtCO2 limit, let alone the 30MtCO2 cap. So there is absolutely no room for a Heathrow 3rd runway, or the semi-new-runway at Gatwick - achieved by making use of its emergency runway for much of the time. The AEF has pointed out that Gatwick's Masterplan is for 390,000 flights per annum by 2032/33, around 39% more than in 2018. Gatwick carefully avoids giving any CO2 estimates in future, let alone to 2050. Extrapolating the carbon emissions from 2017 estimates by the DfT, it is likely that Gatwick's carbon emissions would rise by about 1Mt CO2 per year, to 3.6MtCO2 (or more, if Gatwick has a larger % of long-haul flights in future) if it uses its emergency runway as a second runway.
Heathrow gets £9M payout from DfT for HS2 work at Old Oak Common affecting Heathrow Express
In mid-July, before he left the job, Transport secretary Chris Grayling signed off on a £9M payout to be handed to Heathrow Airport to prepare for HS2. The pre-emptive payment from the DfT to Heathrow is compensation for knocking down a rail depot at Old Oak Common where Heathrow Express trains are kept. The £9M figure was reported in Heathrow Express’ annual accounts. It is understood that the sum will be paid irrespective of whether or not HS2 gets the go ahead, with the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson in charge. A DfT spokesperson said the compensation would be part of “a series of agreements to secure the future of the Heathrow Express service, while enabling the construction of a new HS2 station at Old Oak Common”. For the £9 million, Heathrow Express "agreed to vacate its train care depot at Old Oak Common to make way for the development of HS2.” In the Lords, on 24th July (the day Boris became PM), Lib Dem Baroness Elizabeth Randerson asked the DfT if the £9 million was still being paid, and the then Transport Minister Baroness Vere replied that "Work continues on HS2 and that £9 million was part of that work."
London Assembly – wholly opposed to Heathrow expansion – urges people to respond, rejecting 3rd runway plans
The London Assembly is totally opposed to a 3rd Heathrow runway. They have set out clearly 5 key reasons why it should be opposed, and are asking Londoners to reject the plans. They point out that the Heathrow consultation is confusing, and very difficult indeed for anyone who is not an expert to fill in. The Assembly says: "We are gravely concerned that Heathrow is prioritising the interests of the airline industry and passengers over and above the wellbeing of Londoners, who are going to be the most affected by the expansion." The plans would mean unacceptable levels of noise, air pollution, carbon emissions and amounts of road traffic. The extra noise is likely to harm health and well-being of thousands of people. As the consultation is too hard to respond to, using the online or paper forms, the Assembly suggests that people send a short message to the Heathrow email address email@example.com The text they suggest - vary it however you wish - is "Heathrow expansion fundamentally goes against the UK’s commitment to cut carbon emissions and improve air quality in the capital. It’s going to make air pollution worse, increase carbon emissions and increase noise, and we don’t support it. I stand with hundreds of others calling for it to be CANCELLED."
AEF produces extensive guide to understanding how the planning system can influence airport development
The AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) has published a guide explaining the role of the UK planning system in controlling development at airports and airfields, and how planning conditions have been used to limit the impact of operations. The guide, in plain English, outlines provisions and policies in the planning system that are relevant for airport development projects. The Town and Country Planning Act (TCPA) applies to smaller scale developments, whilst the Planning Act (2008) has introduced a new process applicable to larger infrastructure projects, like extending or adding runways. AEF says national policy imposes very few meaningful environmental limits on airport operations or expansion, and successive governments have been reluctant to intervene. That means it is largely up to local councils to negotiate controls or limits. An exception is that Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick airports have been “designated” for noise regulation by the Government. Some of the issues covered are those relating to smaller airports; permitted development rights; "established use" rights; conditions and planning agreements; Section 106 Agreements; the stages of the planning application process; the Airports National Policy Statement; and the Development Consent Order process for the largest developments.
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, hints at scrapping Heathrow expansion and “taking a really close look” at whether it stacks up
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has hinted that the Government could scrap Heathrow expansion, in his first public utterances on the topic in his new job. He told Sky News that “there are questions about whether the whole plan stacks up” and that Heathrow are going to need to “make sure they bring in enough income to justify the billions of pounds spent on it.” Mr Shapps also mentioned the upcoming legal challenge appeal, starting on Thursday 17 October. He said “there are of course court cases to do with emissions, that sort of thing so what we’ve said is we’ll watch that process very carefully and in the meantime I’ll be having a really close look at whether figures stack up or whether building more capacity, another runway there, would add to the charges to such an extent that it doesn’t.” Rob Barnstone, from the No 3rd Runway Coalition said: “Whether it is Heathrow’s overconfidence of being able to deliver the necessary funds for this project or the catastrophic environmental impacts, it is becoming clearer than ever that a third runway won’t be able to be delivered on time or budget and certainly does not fit within the Government’s environmental commitments of net zero emissions by 2050.”
IPCC report on Climate Change and Land; growing crops for biofuels just increases the problem
The IPCC report on Climate Change and Land has stressed the importance of humanity not continuing to do so much damage to the land, but growing crops on so much of it, or removing natural vegetation to provide grazing for animals. It emphasises that we need to reduce the amount of land that humanity is using, and let land store and sequester carbon. There is also the added point, made by George Monbiot, that a real calculation of the amount of carbon produced by agriculture - and destruction of the natural vegetation (eg. tropical forest) should look at the opportunity cost of that land; how much carbon would have been saved by leaving it in its natural state. So the carbon emissions are not just those from food production - but also the loss of the natural carbon sink. The emphasis on the extent to which humanity is increasing climate breakdown via agriculture shows how using land to produce biofuels is adding to this problem. Using land to grow biofuels competes with land for growing food crops. Biofuel plantations may lead to decreased food security through competition for land. In addition, BECCS will probably lead to significant trade-offs with food production.
Key facts about Heathrow 3rd runway: total EXTRA CO2 emissions would be about 183 MtCO2 between 2022 – 2050 (above staying with 2 runways)
Heathrow is attempting to make out that the carbon emissions to be caused by its 3rd runway would be insignificant. They would either not be counted in UK totals; or they would all be offset by airlines and so "vanish". They also ignore all non-CO2 impacts. Or they would in some other miraculous ways be offset by various untested, unproven technologies. These are the key facts people need to realise: Heathrow's own figures show a total of 173 MtCO2 MORE carbon emitted, over 2022-2050, with the 3rd runway than without building it. The emissions could reach 25MtCO2 per year from flights alone. The increased CO2 would be as much as 9MtCO2 per year more, in the peak year (2035) than with 2 runways. The total extra CO2 from more surface access transport would be 7MtCO2 over that time period. The extra CO2 from all the construction work would be 3.7MtCO2, to build it all. The total of all that would be 183MtCO2 MORE carbon produced in total (flights, surface access + construction) than if the runway was not built. The estimates may be on the low side, as Heathrow has factored in future carbon efficiencies. Heathrow has taken no account of the fact that we now have a net zero target for 2050. The CCC has now said the total cap for UK aviation CO2 should be no more than 31MtCO2. Not the earlier 37.5MtCO2 it had recommended earlier.
4.4 billion air trips taken world wide in 2018; number was 2.63 billion in 2010
IATA data show more Britons travelled abroad last year than any other nationality, when 126.2 million air trips were made by Brits - which is 8.6%, roughly one in 12, of all international air travellers. The UK was followed by the USA (111.5 million, or 7.6% of all passengers) and China (97 million, 6.6%). In total there were 4.4 billion air passenger journeys (that does not mean that number of people flew - many take multiple flights, and even in rich countries, many people do not fly at all, or not in any one year). The 4.4 billion is an increase of 6.9% compared to 2017. The number was 2.63 billion in 2010. There were 1.674 billion in 2000. The load factor on average across airlines was only 82%. IATA's Director General, Alexandre de Juniac, does admit there is "an environmental cost that airlines are committed to reducing." But any possible future cuts in aviation CO2 are tiny, dubious, and far ahead. In 2018, Asia had 1.6 billion passengers, (37% of market share), which grew by 9.2% over 2017. Europe had 1.1 billion passengers ( 26.2% of market share), up 6.6% over 2017.
FoI documents show Scottish airports would lose perhaps 220,000 passengers per year, if Heathrow got 3rd runway
Scottish airports could lose more than 220,000 passengers per year, if Heathrow got a 3rd runway. The regions have been led to believe the runway would benefit them, in terms of links to Heathrow and more jobs. The reality is different. The Scottish Government had backed the runway plans, hoping Scotland would benefit. But the DfT's own data - revealed in emails - shows they expect number of passengers using Scottish airports would reduce, with the 3rd runway, as Heathrow would increasingly have a monopoly of lucrative long-haul routes. There might be more domestic flights to Heathrow from Newcastle, cutting demand from Glasgow and Edinburgh airports. The Scottish government needs to consider their position on Heathrow very carefully. The figures on alleged jobs were based on very, very dodgy, out of date data, (assuming benefits of the runway to the UK over 60 years as £147 bn, when in reality they might at most be £3bn - or an actual cost) that cannot be believed. "Estimates of aviation emissions from an expanded Heathrow were redacted in the emails released."
Flight Free UK blog – “Train travel is a gem waiting for rediscovery”
People are signing up to the Flight Free UK website in good numbers. The campaign is asking people to commit to not fly at all in 2020. Many who have pledged not to fly have done blogs, about their experience. Now environmental scientist Alexandra Jellicoe report on her recent trip to Italy, by train. She loved the space in the train, the pull-down table for her laptop, the ability to walk down the train to the restaurant for a meal or snack. Alexandra worked out that her train trip probably cause the emission of about 480kg CO2 than if she had flown. By train, or even by road, you are reconnected with the place and the culture through which you are moving. You appreciate the huge distance travelled. You can stop off at places en route, for a few hours or a night, pleasantly and interestingly extending your holiday. Alexandra says: "I’ve completely reimagined how to explore the world. A holiday is no longer a jet to Mexico to lie by the beach for a week nor a quick weekend in Rome. I’ve rediscovered travel as something to be savoured rather than an inconvenience between home and holiday.... and a compulsion to discover new ways to live in a world so damaged by modern lifestyles. ...Choosing NOT to fly has a powerful impact."
United Nations realising that carbon offsets do not work to genuinely reduce atmospheric CO2
The United Nations is aware that parts of the organisation are not convinced about carbon offsets, a strategy the UN and its ICAO has supported for two decades. The UN has publicly struggled to reconcile its support for offsets with evidence that they are often ineffective. Rules on global carbon offsets remain contentious and often debated at UN climate talks. Offsets encourage the misapprehension that people can continue to lead high carbon lifestyles, and get away with a clear conscience, as long as some effort is made to "offset" the carbon. The organisation ProPublica published a study into how offsets related to forest preservation have not provided the promised carbon savings. Offsets just permit "business as usual" and postpone the date when any real action might be taken. If trees are planted in poor, hot countries which are suffering unpredictable impacts of climate breakdown, they are likely not to survive. How can the intact forest provide income and livelihoods for local people, if trees are not cut down? Even if the trees do survive for decades, the carbon they have stored is later released back to the atmosphere. Perhaps in time of our grandchildren. Forests are not permanent removal of CO2 from the atmosphere.
CLIMATE CHANGE: Deeds must now match words, by Uttlesford Council, on Stansted expansion
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has strongly welcomed the resolution by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) to declare a climate and ecological emergency and to commit to achieving net zero carbon status by 2030. The resolution was approved by an overwhelming majority of local councillors on 30 July 2019. SSE says the challenge now is for Uttlesford Council to convert words into deeds; its biggest challenge is Stansted's insatiable appetite for expansion. Unless the Council acts on its climate resolution, it is just hollow words, an empty gesture. Allowing Stansted to expand from 35mppa to 43mppa would mean the airport becoming almost as large as Gatwick. Stansted's emissions in 2019 will be about 2.1 MtCO2. That would rise to about 2.7 MtCO2 per year, with the planned expansion. Other sectors of the economy have to cut carbon; aviation should not be allowed unrestricted growth. SSE Chairman Peter Sanders said that, on an issue as important as this for future generations, councillors should do the right thing. "History will remember those who fight for what they believe to be right long after it has forgotten those who gave way on such a vital issue."
The elephant in the newsroom – despite nice words on climate, the media promote high carbon travel and holidays
Brits fly a lot - even more than people in most other rich countries. The campaign group Flight Free UK has challenged the British media to confront the awkward reality, that they are complicit in supporting, promoting and benefiting from carbon-heavy travel promotion. The media likes to consider itself independent, and that its journalism speaks truth to power and holds it to account. But in reality, they get a lot of funding from companies that increase CO2 emissions. Flight Free UK says it is time we and the media properly faced up to the toll that flying has on our planet and future generations. Why is flying still being promoted so widely across all the media, without restrictions or health warnings to accompany advertisements and travel features? Unfortunately for the economics of journalism, adverts for long distance travel and flights partly funds it. Too often, travel journalists have nice trips paid for, by the companies they are promoting. The media have a big influence on the holiday decisions of millions. The carbon from flights can easily double an individual's annual carbon footprint. Or worse. It is time the media stopped promoting high carbon travel, and started to act responsibly on climate.
Willie Walsh (IAG) warns again of excessive, out-of-control, unknown Heathrow 3rd runway costs
Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG, has always been against the very high costs of expanding Heathrow. He has again said he does not trust Heathrow to keep costs reasonable, and he is opposed to expansion - for which costs would escalate. He said Heathrow has "understated" the costs of expanding and the project is "out of control", and there was "absolutely no way" Heathrow could build everything planned on budget. He thinks that while Heathrow continues to quote a figure of £14 billion for the investment required, the "true costs" would be over £32 billion. He believes building the 3rd runway and associated works alone will require £14 billion. And then a further £14.5 billion would be required to add terminal capacity and other infrastructure on the existing site. Walsh thinks just extending Terminal 5 could cost a further £3.5 billion. Heathrow now claim their costs even before building anything, are £3.3 billion for planning and preparation. Far higher than earlier estimates. It is a risk that the runway would be under-utilised, as costs would have to be too high - to pay for the excessive spending - to tempt airlines to use it. That would also make any net economic benefit to the UK very negative.
ICCAN to consider if it needs [indispensable!] powers by Sept 2020, rather than April 2021 ….
ICCAN (the Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise) consulted on its Corporate Strategy earlier in the year, and it has now published the final version. This sets out ICCAN's aims and objectives for 2019 - 2021. A key issue of great concern to anyone hoping the Commission might be able to make any real difference on aviation noise, is whether it will have any powers for regulation and enforcement. The consultation document said: "...as we near our two-year review we won’t hesitate to recommend to the Government that enforcement powers should be introduced, should we consider at that point that the industry and decision-makers are not acting in the best interests of their communities, or not taking their concerns seriously." Now the final version says "... ICCAN will make independent, evidence-based recommendations which it will expect the government and others to take seriously and act on. ... we will bring forward our opinion on the future of regulation and enforcement of noise issues in the UK, to September 2020 (from our intended April 2021 two year review point). This is the earliest that we believe we can realistically and achievably take a view on the regulation."
Rethinking Decarbonisation Incentives: those for aviation are ineffective and too low
A recent paper called "Rethinking Decarbonisation Incentives: Future Carbon Policy for Clean Growth" looks at the UK’s current economic framework for encouraging decarbonisation. It finds it is uneven and incomplete. ‘Effective carbon prices’ are a measure of how much a firm or an individual is paid or rewarded per tonne of carbon (or CO₂e) saved when they make a choice that lowers emissions. These are too low in the UK to be effective in cutting carbon. For aviation, they are particularly weak. APD would need to be reformed to align aviation taxation with a target level, and make it more reflective of the actual emission impacts of journey/flight choices. APD is unrelated to the quantity of emissions and outweighed by the lack of VAT and fuel duty. In the short-term, air passenger duty could be increased to cover the gap. The duty could also be reformed to be more reflective of actual emissions. The report says if aviation proves impossible to fully decarbonise by 2050, then the cost of flying (or frequent flying) could include the costs of offsetting GGRs (greenhouse gas removal).
Farnborough airspace Judicial Review by Lasham Gliding Society fails to overturn CAA decision
Mrs. Justice Thornton has delivered her judgement on the CAA's grant of airspace to TAG Farnborough following the Judicial Review actioned by Lasham Gliding Society (LGS). She did not find sufficient grounds to overturn the CAA's airspace decision and concluded that the CAA acted within its powers and the limits of its discretion. This is in spite of the arguments presented by LGS - and roundly supported by the wider general aviation community - on its adverse impact on aviation safety, the consequential inefficient use of airspace, and the potential detrimental operational and financial impacts on LGS. As things stand, it is expected that the new Farnborough airspace will come into effect by early 2020 . This will have serious impacts on general aviation activity in central southern England. It is a hard blow to gliding enthusiasts, whose available airspace will be seriously curtailed. It follows several years of intense opposition to what is widely considered to be a completely unjustified and ill-considered move by TAG Farnborough to secure a large swathe of controlled airspace, to facilitate its operations for private jets.
HACAN East new major campaign against London City’s expansion plans, asking people to fill in postcard responses to the consultation.
HACAN East has launched a major campaign against London City's expansion plans. It is encouraging people to fill in postcards opposing the expansion plans, and send them in to Freepost LCY MASTER PLAN CONSULTATION. People can also download and display posters. The postcards call on residents to back the existing 24 hour weekend ban on aircraft using London City. HACAN East wants the airport drop its proposals to end the 24 hour break as well as its plans to almost double flight numbers from today’s levels and to increase flights in the early morning and late evening. The postcards say: I SUPPORT the 24 hour London City Airport weekend flight ban. I DO NOT want up to 40,00 more flights. I DO NOT want more early morning or late evening flights. I DO NOT want more climate damaging airport expansion. Overall, I DO NOT support the plans in the draft master plan.
Back to the drawing board for Marseille airport expansion plan, due to climate and environmental impacts
In a few months, Marseille airport must start work on its extension. However, before submitting a building permit, it must obtain an opinion from the environmental authority on the impact of the construction site on the environment. It recommends airport authorities should resume their studies from scratch. So the airport expansion plan has been blocked (for now) by the French environment agency on two grounds of wrongly estimating economic benefits and environmental harm, and on carbon emissions. The press release from the L’Autorité environnementale says the airport airport should rewrite its expansion plans given that the current project has “major methodological flaws” that make it “underestimate the environmental impacts and overestimate its socio-economic benefits.” The authority also said the airport needs to convince the government of how the expansion project is compatible with France’s plan to become climate neutral by 2050. Marseille airport wants to start expanding a terminal and “straightening” its runways in 2023.
Heathrow plans to increase 3rd runway costs – to £2.9 bn – before approval, hoping it will be too costly to scrap its plans
Heathrow plans to triple the amount it spends on its third runway proposal, to £2.9bn - well before getting final approval. This either means air passengers using Heathrow would be charged more (something the industry and the government do not want), or else the taxpayer will be charged. Even if the runway never goes ahead. The CAA has a consultation about the costs and how Heathrow has been speeding up the process, spending ever more money. (The legal challenges are now going to appeal in October, but Heathrow is pressing ahead with its DCO consultations). Especially on carbon emissions, air pollution and noise grounds, it is entirely possible the runway will be blocked and the DCO will not be granted. The CAA says it has asked Heathrow "to consider different options for this spending and the implications of this spending for the overall programme timetable and the interests of consumers.” [Not to mention the taxpayer, who may end up paying ...] Heathrow is increasing the amount of its "Category B" costs and "early Category C" costs. They want to increase the amount spent already to be so large, that it effectively cannot be cancelled. Detailed costs still have to be outlined, but Heathrow is expected to submit its initial business plan to the CAA for review towards the end of this year.
Caroline Russell: Action is needed on aircraft noise
Caroline writes in a blog that in parts of London, people are now living with severe levels of noise disruption. This is not acceptable, and urgent, decisive action is needed across the board to alleviate it. For some, the onslaught from Heathrow planes is made worse by the addition of London City planes using narrow, concentrated routes. The noise has significant health impacts for many. A report by the London Assembly’s Environment Committee, which Caroline chairs, concluded that the Government and CAA should regulate noise disturbance more stringently. They should use lower thresholds for noise disturbance (taking into account WHO guidelines and the need for residents to keep windows open) and mapping the combined effect of all London’s airports, especially Heathrow and City. The WHO guidance is that 45dB is the threshold for health impacts, but the UK government persists with 54dB as the ‘disturbance’ threshold. Also that flight paths should be rotated, to give relief to those under concentrated flight paths - and flight paths should be designed to minimise noise impacts, including avoiding overlapping flight paths. Increasing exposure to aircraft noise is unacceptable, and must be challenged
Boris may follow Heathrow legal case “with lively interest” – while business lobby insists 3rd runway must go ahead
The Sun reports that Boris hinted, in a reply to a question by Caroline Lucas, that he might change government policy on Heathrow. The Sun says Mr Johnson told MPs he will “study the outcome of the court cases” on the Heathrow 3rd runway plans, with a “lively interest.” This is especially relevant now that the Appeal Court has permitted appeals by all the legal challenges, which were rejected on 1st May. Green Party MP Caroline Lucas (Brighton Pavilion) asked if the Prime Minister would scrap the third runway given his opposition to the scheme as London mayor. She said: “Few will forget his pledge to lie down in front of the bulldozers to stop the construction of a third runway at Heathrow Airport. Luckily for him, luckily for us all, he is now at the steering wheel and can turn those bulldozers around.” Boris replied: “Of course, the bulldozers are some way off but I am following with lively interest the court cases." Business groups will shortly be writing to Boris, to put pressure on him not to cancel the runway, pushing the line that failing to support a third runway will "prevent us all from successfully building a global Britain".
Bristol Airport expansion plans – to grow from 8m to 12m annual passengers – ‘can’t be at any cost’
Bath and North East Somerset Council (Banes), which has declared a climate emergency, said tourism "cannot be at any cost". The Canadian owners of Bristol Airport want to increase passenger numbers by 50%, from 8 million to 12 million passengers per annum. Further growth to 20 million passengers is in the pipeline. This is just to allow people to take ever more leisure flights. Bristol's cabinet member for climate emergency, welcomed news the airport will reduce its direct emissions on the airport itself, but said "...it doesn't alter the fact that expansion of air travel is inconsistent with having declared a climate emergency." The main carbon emissions from airport expansion are due to the flights if facilitates, not the airport itself. The environmental impacts of tourism, including those on Bath and Bristol, cannot be allowed to continue, and growth "cannot be at any cost." More than 2,000 people have objected to the airport's proposals, including Stop Bristol Airport Expansion, and Bath's Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse. North Somerset Council will make a decision on the plans later this year.
What is driving London City Airport’s expansion plans? John Stewart comment
John Stewart, from Hacan East, has looked at why London City Airport is planning huge expansion. The airport Master Plan wants to lift the current cap of 111,000 flights allowed each year to 137,000 by 2030 and to 151,000 by 2035. He says the airport is aiming to promote itself as a major player on the aviation scene, and a key driver of the regional economy, not just a niche business airport. It now often holds receptions at the party conferences, and is raising its profile to get backing for its growth plans. The current owners bought the airport for £2 billion in 2016, and want to make a good return. Business passengers used to be about 60% of the total, but now 50% - with the plans suggesting 36% by 2035. Most business passengers fly in the morning and evening, so leisure flights use the hours in the middle of the day. It can’t offer budget flights because Ryanair and EasyJet planes are too big to use the airport. London City has set out to change to portray itself as a key driver, maybe even the key driver, of the economic development of East, NE and SE London. It is pushing this to MPs and also local authorities in its regions in order to convince them it is in their interest to back expansion.
Hammersmith Society gives its advice on Heathrow consultation – to respond, just say “NO”
The Hammersmith Society aims to ensure the borough is a "safer, more convenient and better place in which to live, work and enjoy ourselves." They have been looking at Heathrow's consultation on its expansion plans - equivalent to adding on a new airport the size of Gatwick. They warn that if people fill in the response document, giving a preference for one or other option in the questions, this may (quite illegitimately) be taken by Heathrow as "support" for their plans. So the Society's advice is that people do not engage with the questions; the whole plan is bad for Hammersmith, so JUST SAY NO. The Society says on Heathrow plans to burn biomass and plant some trees "that’s hardly the point considering the carbon footprint of the industry it facilitates – it’s not even a drop in the ocean – this amounts to lip-service greenwash, rather insulting to our intelligence". On the consultation, the Society comments: "the weight of documents is tremendous, and more than a little excessive. The reader eventually concludes this is an attempt to bamboozle and wear down those trying to interpret them, to make them give up in the belief that the project must have been well thought-through, because of the weight of documentation alone."
New 10:10 campaign: “Climate Perks” – to help employers cut employees’ CO2 from holiday trips – by offering paid “journey days” if they don’t fly
An interesting new scheme - Climate Perks - has been created, for employers - to help cut the carbon of their staff's holiday arrangements. It has been started at a time when more and more people are becoming aware of the real danger the climate emergency we are now in, and many want to cut their own carbon emissions. Climate Perks is encouraging employers to offer paid ‘journey days’ so staff can travel on holiday, by means other than by air. Globally, flying is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases. Flying less is one of the most powerful actions we, as individuals, can take to cut our carbon footprint. Many people want to cut their carbon, but with only a short holiday period, cannot (or do not wish to) eat into that in order to get to and from their holiday by surface transport - not by plane. The 10:10 campaign, behind the Climate Perks scheme, estimates that avoiding two flights to a Mediterranean destination would save around as much carbon per year as avoiding having a car. Employers who will give staff paid days, for land-based travel on holiday, would get Climate Perks accreditation in recognition of their climate leadership.
All the claimants, whose challenges against the DfT on Heathrow expansion were rejected, now given leave to appeal
The Court of Appeal has granted the claimants against the Government’s plans to expand Heathrow permission to appeal their claims in a hearing beginning on 21 October 2019. The Government had argued permission should be refused. Lord Justice Lindblom stated: "The importance of the issues raised in these and related proceedings is obvious." Four Councils (Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith & Fulham, Windsor & Maidenhead) with Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Plan B Earth and the Mayor London sought the appeal, after judges at the High Court ruled against the legal challenges on 1st May. Rob Barnstone, of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, commented: “Boris Johnson knows that Heathrow expansion cannot meet environmental targets, including on noise and air pollution. Mr Johnson has indicated he will be following the legal and planning processes very carefully. Then at the appropriate time, the project can be cancelled. We don’t expect any gimmicks but remain confident that Mr Johnson will stop this disastrous project, albeit at the correct time in the process. The decision by the Court of Appeal today may make that time a little sooner than previously thought.” Heathrow Hub has also been given permission to appeal.
DfT launches call for evidence on carbon offsetting on travel, including plane
The DfT (under Grayling) has launched a call for evidence into whether more consumers could be given the option of buying carbon offsets to reduce the carbon footprint of their travel (plane, ferry, train, coach etc). The DfT also asks if transport operators should provide information on carbon emissions. And it will explore the public’s understanding of carbon emissions from the journeys they make and the options to offset them. The transport sector contributes about a third of the UK total CO2 emissions, and these are not falling. Aviation CO2 is increasing. Presumably Grayling hopes that getting some passengers offsetting will somehow cancel out the horrific increases in transport carbon from infrastructure he has pushed through. The DfT seems aware that many people are not persuaded of the effectiveness of carbon offsetting. It seems aware that offsets should be from domestic schemes, not from abroad. But the main problem is offsetting does not reduce carbon. All it does is slightly absolve someone's conscience, while effectively cancelling out the carbon savings made by others. Offsetting is essentially a con. Offsets are damaging, as they help to continue with "business as usual" behind the greenwashing. See "Cheat Neutral"
Michael Gove admits that government action on climate change has not been good enough
Michael Gove, the current Environment Secretary, while speaking at a Green Alliance event, has said the next Prime Minister's 'single greatest responsibility' will be addressing the climate and environment emergency. He has conceded that action by the UK government to tackle the climate emergency has to date not been good enough. And he felt greater affinity on the issue with Greta Thunberg, who spoke more sense on the need to act now to deal with the climate emergency, than "many of the people I sit alongside in the House of Commons". Gove said the School Strikes for Climate activists and Extinction Rebellion protestors, had helped to turn climate change into a mainstream political issue over the past year - reproaching his generation "for not having done enough". And there has not been enough done by this government. Gove said he was "under few illusions about how big a change we need to make", acknowledging calls to eat less meat, fly less and plant more trees. And he compared the required transformation of the economy and society with that achieved during and immediately after World War Two.
Environmental Audit Cttee inquiry into environmental damage of tourism (in UK and by Brits abroad)
Holidaymakers’ responsibility for foul beaches, overcrowding, traffic, plane carbon emissions, harm done by cruises and other environmental impacts will come under parliamentary scrutiny. The Commons Environmental Audit Committee (chaired by the remarkable Mary Creagh) has an inquiry to address problems caused by tourism, including aviation emissions, pollution, habitat damage etc in UK and abroad. Deadline for comments 13th September. It will look at whether the UK government should play a greater role in offsetting the waste and damage caused by the tens of millions of Britons who go on holiday overseas each year - and of the impact on domestic tourism in the UK. The Committee says global tourism is responsible for 5% of greenhouse gas emissions. People do not often consider the environmental, and climate, impacts of their holidays. “While there are some sustainable practices, we want to look closely at the government’s actions to ensure the economic, social and environmental impacts of tourism are minimised.” Due to ever cheaper flights, and zero tax on aviation fuel, the holiday business is one of the world’s fastest-growing industries and accounts for more than 10% of global GDP. Many countries have had to take strict measure to prevent serious damage done by excessive tourism, eg in Philippines, or Venice or Thailand. Or US hiking trails.
Letter by Gatwick area MPs opposing Gatwick 2nd runway expansion plans
MP’s from the Gatwick Co-ordination Group have expressed concerns about the rapid growth plans for Gatwick, in their "master plan". The MPs say more people are negatively impacted by Gatwick’s noise operations than 10 years ago, both close to the airport and many miles away under flightpaths, creating health issues and congestion locally through inadequate infrastructure. They say: “Over the past few years Gatwick Airport has continually under invested in the local amenities and social infrastructure that would be required to support a project of this size and scale. We cannot support expansion of the airport without a comprehensive investment in the local area which would ease pressure on the over-stretched road and rail systems serving the airport. At a time of increasing concern about the environmental impact of global aviation growth, the proposed expansion plans would see a marked increase in carbon emissions, with clearer environmental consequences for us all. ... The safeguarding of land for a new full runway is a clear indication that Gatwick has future plans to build a 3rd runway, as well as converting the current standby runway into a second runway."
Gatwick plans to use emergency runway as 2nd runway, to increase passengers by 50% and increase flights by 36% by 2030
Gatwick has published its Final Master Plan which confirms its plans to use its emergency runway as a second runway, by widening and re-aligning it. Gatwick says it is not considering building another runway to the south of the existing main runway, but wants to keep that land "safeguarded" for up to 25 years, in case it wants another runway in due course. It hopes to have the emergency runway brought into use for departures by the mid-2020s. They will start to prepare a planning application for this, which will have to go through the Development Consent Order (DCO) process. Local group GACC commented that Gatwick's new owners, the Vinci Group, have shown immediate disregard for their local community neighbours. The plans will damage and blight the lives of thousands of residents surrounding the airport, due to the noise and severe effects on a local infrastructure that is already overburdened. The extra flights, including those at night, will have serious impacts on those further away living under flight paths. The proposals to grow the airport's capacity by between 20% and 50% over the next 10 - 12 years involve not only the 2nd runway, but also use of new technology on the main runway.
Caroline Lucas: aviation expansion plans make a mockery of the net zero target – our expectation of cheap flights cannot continue
Green MP Caroline Lucas, who knows a thing or two about aviation carbon emissions, says the government's aspiration for "sustainable" aviation expansion is simply unachievable. Heathrow's plans to increase flights by about 50% (700 more per day) took "dissembling to new levels." The airport is already the largest single source of carbon emissions in the UK. Its plans show the scale and range of negative impacts - noise, air pollution, surface access congestion, social disruption etc - it would have on hundreds of thousands of people. But just looking at carbon, Heathrow tries to make out that all the CO2 from the extra flights, enabled by the 3rd runway, will (amazingly...) be offset, and thus discounted. So when Heathrow claim their expansion "will not significantly alter the UK’s emissions", they can only do this by excluding the CO2 from international flights. Caroline says: "That suggests they missed another memo, this time from the CCC which has said emissions from international aviation should be formally included in the UK’s climate targets." The DfT's policy on expanding aviation raises the question of whether the government is serious about reducing the UK’s carbon emissions, let alone reaching net zero. "The truth is that aviation growth and our expectation of cheap flights cannot continue."
Used cooking oil imports for use as biodiesel may, in fact, fuel palm oil deforestation
It had been assumed and hoped that used cooking oil (UCO) might be a genuinely low carbon fuel, causing a lot less environmental damage that other liquid fuels. Because UCO is classed as a waste product within the EU, UK fuel producers are given double carbon credits for using it in their fuels. This has sparked a boom in demand for used cooking oil that is so great it is being met in part with imports from Asia. A new NNFCC study found that in fact rising demand is increasing deforestation, for more palm oil plantations. The price they can get selling used cooking oil to makers of biodiesel is far higher than the price of new palm oil - so they pocket the difference. This provides the perverse incentive to make money by selling more used oil, just replacing it with (cheap) palm oil. Between 2011 and 2016 there was a 360% increase in use of used cooking oil as the basis for biodiesel. The available evidence indicates that palm oil imports into China are increasing, in line with their increasing exports of used cooking oils. The NNFCC authors want the government to review the practice and perhaps end the EU's double credit for imported oil.
Government sleep guidance advises at least 7 hours’ sleep a night – while it allows plane noise that prevents this
Official guidance on how many hours people should sleep each night is set to be introduced by government, to improve public health. They say people should regularly get 7 - 9 hours sleep per night, most nights. If people often sleep for less than 7 hours, there are numerous health impacts (eg, diabetes, dementia risk, depression, obesity, cardiovascular disease, other mental illness). Making up sleep on some nights, after not getting enough on others, is not as good as enough sleep most of the time. Ensuring people get enough sleep is important and could save the NHS money, by being "the tide that rises all other health boats." Lack of sleep can have a “negative impact” on recovery from illness and surgery. The need for over 7 hours of sleep per night for adults (younger people need even more sleep) is particularly relevant in the context of proposals to expand airports. The UK government policies and targets on noise at night are inadequate and out of date, and new targets must be incorporated into national policies. The cost and long-term consequences of damage to the health of millions due to government inaction will be considerable. The Department of Health should take a stronger lead on this.
France to impose small tax on tickets (just €1.5 or €3) on departing flights due to carbon
France is set to introduce an "eco-tax" for all flights from French airports, the government has said. From 2020 economy class tickets on flights within France or within the EU will have a tax of €1.50, and €9 for business class tickets within Europe. It would be just €3 for flights (leaving French airports) outside Europe in economy class, and €18 for these flights for business class tickets. The tax might raise about €180m per year from 2020, which will apparently be invested in greener transport infrastructure, notably rail. But flights to the French Mediterranean island of Corsica and also the French overseas departments – which are hugely dependent on air links for their existence – will be exempt. A similar tax was introduced in Sweden in April 2018, which imposed an added charge of up to €40 on every ticket in a bid to lessen the impact of air travel on the climate. Several other EU countries also have small taxes. The industry has been under fire over its carbon emissions, which at of the order of 280 grams of CO2 emitted per kilometre travelled by a passenger (depending on type of plane, how full it is, length of flight etc) far exceed all other modes of transport.
“Is flight shaming the next climate change conversation?”
Legendary British documentary film-maker and conservationist Sir David Attenborough says air travel should be more expensive to help tackle climate change. It is extraordinarily cheap now. While most of us will not feel major effects for several years, he says "the problems in 20, 30 years are really major problems that are going to cause great social unrest and great changes in the way we eat and how we live.” How we currently live in the developed world is very much dependent on cheap air travel, which people have come to expect almost as of right. IATA expects a 4.6% increase in the number of air tickets sold this year, compared to last. Campaigners say it’s time we thought more about how often we fly. Tim Johnson, director of AEF, said “[People] may start recycling plastics and try and turn down the thermostats in their homes, but actually, all those savings could be wiped out in one go by taking even one short-haul flight.” Johnson says the air travel industry is starting to realise it needs to act if it is to be part of the solution in reducing emissions, and its awareness (and worry) that public opinion may slowly start changing, as realisation of the extent of aviation's climate impact grows. People need to start making informed choices about their travel carbon impact.
Stanwell Moor residents demand better compensation from Heathrow over negative expansion impacts
Heathrow has rejected pleas from Stanwell Moor residents to be included in a compensation package designed for those who will experience more noise. The residents now appreciate that the negative impact will be far greater than they were previously led to believe, from effects of more noise, pollution, HGV traffic, more car parking, more taxis etc. A campaign has been launched to ask for better compensation, with those involved labelling Heathrow's current offer as "derisory compensation and precious little else". Heathrow has not included the area in its Wider Property Offer Zone (WPOZ) which would make them eligible for compensation. On 7th July there was a protest march, and public meetings have been held. Stanwell Moor Residents' Association (SMRA) said villagers feel they have been "kept in the dark" about the plans; in their talks with Heathrow till now, they had been led to believe they would receive a "world-class compensation package befitting the impact". The residents "call upon the future Prime Minister (whoever that may be) and the new Secretary of State for Transport, to uphold and safeguard the interests of Stanwell Moor residents."
CCC report shows up government failure to do anything to tackle UK aviation carbon emissions
The latest annual Committee on Climate Change (CCC) progress report, submitted to parliament and government, says the UK is not making much progress on cutting CO2 and the time to strengthen climate policy is “now”. The UK government only has 12-18 months left to raise its game on climate policy, or not risk “embarrassment” as the likely host of the COP26 UN summit late next year, but risk failing to get anywhere near "net-zero" before 2050. On aviation, there has been no progress on a limit for aviation emissions in line with carbon budgets. The CCC's chief executive, Chris Stark, says the government “has not set out the implications of limiting emissions for aviation demand”. Nor has it formally included those emissions within the UK’s carbon budgets, despite stating its intention to do so. This was a missed opportunity that should be remedied within the year. The CCC will write to the (new?) secretary of state for transport to set out the scale of the net-zero challenge for international aviation and shipping. Just having a net-zero target "will not magically fix this problem" - it needs positive and effective action, from right now. Not just nice words.
Local residents launch new “HEATHROW’S PREFERRED DISASTERPLAN” campaign
The group, Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE), has launched a new campaign entitled “Heathrow’s Preferred Disasterplan”. The title of the campaign is a reference to the current Heathrow consultation on its “Preferred Masterplan” for expansion. Residents and campaigners against a third runway are strongly supported by Hillingdon Council, and John McDonnell MP. The impacts of building a 3rd runway would be horrendous for those in areas facing compulsory purchase, or living close to the airport. SHE has sent a booklet to all those living nearest to the airport. It is called "How a Third Runway Will Affect You and Your Family," and details some of the main impacts the expansion proposals would have in West Drayton, Hayes and the Heathrow Villages, without the gloss and spin of Heathrow consultation documents. SHE has organised 3 public meetings locally, so residents can learn more about traffic congestion, noise, pollution, the plan to relocate Harmondsworth Primary school to the Stockley by-pass. SHE chair, Jackie Clark said: “The current Heathrow consultation is a Disasterplan for our area. It is left to us to provide the true scale of Heathrow’s monumental expansion proposals ...without Heathrow’s usual gloss and spin. Expansion is far from certain and the key message to residents is that it is can be stopped."
£150 million (at least £100 million from the taxpayer) to fund improvements to Gatwick railway station – to deal with more passengers
The government has announced it will spend £100 million to upgrade Gatwick train station's facilities (total cost £150 million) including a larger concourse, 5 new lifts and 8 new escalators. It says "holidaymakers and commuters to benefit" and "improvements set to reduce train delays and provide easier connections across the south-east." Chris Grayling said: "We want to see Gatwick Airport’s success continue to flourish and ensure that it is ready for even more passengers in the future. Through this £150 million investment, we will deliver vital upgrades to boost the station’s capacity and provide better, seamless journeys for all." The aim is to get more passengers using Gatwick. But to get more of them using rail to get to and fro. The DfT says "The number of people using Gatwick Airport station each year has grown by 6 million since 2010. Currently the station is not designed for the high volume of daily passengers, often carrying bulky luggage." Gatwick will pay £37 million out of the £150, and Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership will pay £10 million. The £150 million budget is £30 million higher than originally estimated back in 2014.
You have to laugh – Heathrow’s unwitting, foolish irony… climate change will make their runway harder to use!
Heathrow proposes increasing the number of flights, and hence its carbon emissions, by about 50% (though it tries to make out there will be no net increase, as all will magically be "disappeared" using novel technologies, which are not yet proven). But in its consultation, it worries about how climate change [that same problem its expansion is massively contributing to!] might affect its operations. Heart bleeds ...Some of the problems they express concern about, and which might make it harder to get maximum use out of their new runway, are: higher average temperatures and more heatwave events, reduced summer rainfall, more frequent intense rainfall events; potentially increased extreme wind and storm events; and fewer extreme cold events. These could cause increased flooding, construction sites being flooded, overheating in buildings and public spaces, failure of equipment in extreme temperatures or high winds, water shortages, operational disruption from storm events. More rain could affect the runway and underground foundations, structures etc. Increased summer temperature and increased winter temperature variability could cause damage to the tarmac and asphalt and affect operations. Oh dear, oh dear ...
Heathrow’s ‘forgotten people’ – Those who rent stand to lose the most if the 3rd runway gets built
Many who live in the villages around Heathrow will be forced to sell their homes and businesses and relocate away from the lives they have known, if the 3rd runway is built. People who currently rent homes and businesses, rather than own them, face a particularly uncertain future. They will get far less compensation than those who own their own property. Homeowners are set to receive 125% of the unaffected market price for their property, along with the coverage of legal bills and stamp duty on a new home. Those who rent would receive only statutory compensation, set at £6,300 per household, though Heathrow will add reimbursement of reasonable legal fees, removal and other disturbance costs. Those who lease their business property face harsh criteria to qualify for enhanced compensation - including the length of their lease, and their location. Heathrow estimates 300 commercial properties will need to be acquired, for its expansion plans - plus about 760 homes in their Compulsory Purchase Zone (CPZ). People are warned, by the local campaign, SHE, not to sell up until they knew whether expansion plans would go ahead. That happened in 2008 in Sipson, last time around - and it had left those who remained in a “ghost town” that was “devoid of community” and packed with short term rentals. Often those who rent do so because they could not afford to buy.
Study highlights the non-CO2 climate warming impact of aircraft contrails, that is currently ignored by governments
The issue of how much global warming is caused by the contrails from aircraft is complicated, and there is no firm agreement about how it should be added to the climate impact of aviation - in addition to the CO2 itself. Contrails are ice crystals that form high altitudes, in certain conditions, around sooty particles from burnt fuel - they then often become large areas of cirrus cloud, that can last for hours - trapping heat, (like a blanket) which does not radiate back out into space. A new study sheds more light on this issue, and says the contrails are having a bigger impact on global warming than usually recognised. While the CO2 from flights will stay in the atmosphere for decades or centuries, the impact of the increased cloud cover from contrails is quite short term. With the huge expansion of the aviation industry, that it is hoping for in future decades, this will only get worse. Its effects might triple by 2050. That is the year in which Britain is committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions, though that includes only CO2 from domestic but not international flights. The UK currently takes NO account of the impact of contrails, which conveniently makes the overall climate breakdown impact of aviation appear smaller than it is, in reality.
Crowdfunding appeal: Bristol Airport is Big Enough – Help Stop Further Expansion
Bristol Airport plans to significantly increase its passenger numbers, to grow eventually to 20 million passengers per year from a current level of 8.6 million. A group of environmental campaigners and local residents are raising money - through crowdfunding - to fund an important legal challenge to the airport's planning application, that is being dealt with by North Somerset Council. The group hopes to employ a well respected barrister, Estelle Dehon, who is expert in environment and planning law (with particular expertise in climate change matters). She would be able to legally analyse the 400 plus planning documents on the application, on the Council's planning website, and offer campaigners and the committee expert evidence for refusal. Estelle has previously worked on the Plan B fight against Heathrow’s third runway. The coming decade is absolutely critical in averting the climate crisis that is upon us. Yet, that same decade is to be used by Bristol Airport to increase the carbon emissions of flights using the airport, by over 500,000 tonnes per year. In addition to the carbon issue, many people in Bristol would be exposed to a range of air pollution substances, including NO2 and black carbon - as well as increased noise nuisance.
Frozen body of Kenya Airways flight stowaway lands feet from man sunbathing in Clapham garden mid-afternoon
The frozen body of a suspected stowaway fell from a jet approaching Heathrow, into a garden in Offerton Road, Clapham - close to a man sunbathing in his back garden, in the afternoon. The man is understood to have fallen from the landing gear of a Kenya Airways flight to Heathrow. A plane spotter, who had been following the flight on a tracking app from Clapham Common, had seen the body fall, so knew it was from a Kenyan Airways flight. A witness said the body was largely intact as it was frozen solid. It had fallen with enough impact to dent the grass. The problem lies with in adequate airport security, at airports like Nairobi, so stowaways get get themselves into the wheel arch. The question was raised whether, with the lax security, someone could equally insert a bomb, to be dropped later (eg. over London). There have been other cases of bodies falling from planes, as they approach Heathrow. Stowaways are generally dead before hitting the ground, due either to being crushed by the wheels when they are retracted on take-off, or lack of oxygen on the flight, or extreme cold (as cold as -50 C or more) at high altitude. Many are potential migrants, misguidedly hoping for a better life in the UK - unaware of the dangers of stowing away.
Over £500,000 needed to properly soundproof Megan and Harry’s house – not an option of ordinary people suffering the din
The bill to renovate Harry and Meghan’s home has been hugely increased by their wish to have the very best, most effective soundproofing - to block out the noise of planes using Heathrow. Their house, Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, is about 5 miles from Heathrow, under a main flight path. Experts claim specialist insulation work could have cost between £500,000 and £1 million. This money comes from the Sovereign Grant, valued at £82.2 million this year and is profits from the Queen’s property portfolio (the Crown Estate), which are paid to the Government. 25% of these profits are paid to the monarchy to fund the upkeep of its property, travel, security and staff. While the Sovereign Grant isn’t taxpayer money, it is considered to be public funds. The work done on Frogmore Cottage includes extra layers above the ceilings, plus on about 12,000 sq ft of external walls. Also all exterior doors would need to be soundproofed and 68 windows upgraded to triple-glazing, at up to £1,000 each. Then there would be a new air-conditioning system, as the house would be so sealed up. Ordinary people living over 3 miles from Heathrow have to pay for all the sound insulation work themselves. Those nearer get basic payment only.
Stansted planning application going back to the Uttlesford Planning Committee – SSE says it’s the right decision, legally, procedurally and democratically
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has welcomed the decision by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) on Friday 28 June to refer the 2018 Stansted Airport planning application - to increase passengers from 35m to 43 mppa- back to the Planning Committee for further consideration. Local campaign SSE (Stop Stansted Expansion) said this is vital due to all the outstanding issues. The proposal to refer the application back to the Planning Committee was tabled by 2 councillors from the Residents for Uttlesford ('R4U') party which took control of the Council in May. R4U Leader John Lodge also supported the proposal as did the leader of the Liberal Democrats. The proposal received overwhelming cross-party support with 31 councillors voting in favour, only one against and one abstention. There was loud applause from the packed public gallery when the result of the vote was announced in the Council chamber. Many of those present had signed the residents' petition calling for the application to be referred back to the Planning Committee for further consideration - signed by 1,700 people. The application was initially approved, (only by the Chairman's casting vote) in a very unsatisfactory and flawed decision, in October 2018
Research shows ultrafine particles from aircraft in the vicinity of Schiphol Airport negatively affect health
A thorough study of 191 primary school children who live near Schiphol Airport, in the Netherlands, shows that high concentrations of ultra-fine particles from aircraft can affect health seriously. The research showed that when the wind blows in the ‘wrong’ direction children with respiratory complaints suffer more and use more medication. Complaints include shortness of breath and wheezing. These are the conclusions of new research by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), in collaboration with Utrecht University and the Academic Medical Centre (AMC). There were 3 sub-studies: a study of 191 primary school children in residential areas near Schiphol, a study of 21 healthy adults immediately adjacent to Schiphol, and a laboratory study with lung cells. Such extensive research on ultrafine particles and health has never been carried out around airports before. The findings should alarm everybody responsible for the tremendous worldwide growth of aviation. There are no indications that the health effects of air traffic are different from those of road traffic. The study is part of a long-term study of the RIVM. In 2020 and 2021 they will research the effects of long-term exposure to ultra-fine particles from air traffic.
RESIDENTS DISMAYED BY LONDON CITY AIRPORT EXPANSION PLANS TO DOUBLE FLIGHT NUMBERS
London City's Master Plan has been released, for consultation, and it is very bad news for local residents who suffer from the noise of its planes. It is proposing to double the number of flights by 2035; to end the break when currently there are no flights between 12:30pm on Saturday and 12.30pm on Sunday; and to bring in more planes in the early morning and late evening. Residents are dismayed by the London City expansion revealed in its Master Plan published today. The airport wants to lift the current cap of 111,000 flights allowed each year to 137,000 by 2030 and to 151,000 by 2035. Last year there were just over 75,000 flights. John Stewart, chair of HACAN East, which gives a voice to residents under the airport’s flight paths, said, “For all its green talk, this plan would be disastrous for residents. Flight numbers could double from today’s levels." Increasingly the airport caters for leisure passengers, not business. The consultation ends on 20th September. The airport would need to go to a Planning Inquiry to get permission for any proposals it intends to take forward, after applying to Newham Council for its plans. Newham borough has pledged to make the borough "carbon neutral by 2030 and carbon zero by 2050". The airport will not be helping with that.
Research shows planned growth of Heathrow and other airports ‘will stop UK hitting climate change targets’
The planned growth of Heathrow and other airports is likely to stop the UK hitting its 2050 net-zero climate goals, researchers have warned. UK airports are set to increase capacity by some 59% by 2050 - that does not fit with the government-backed carbon target. It’s more than double the increase accounted for in a report outlining the net-zero target by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), according to researchers (Dr Declan Finney from Leeds University and Dr Giulio Mattioli from the Technical University of Dortmund). Heathrow has now published its consultation, aiming to increase its number of flights by about 50% with a 3rd runway. Even Heathrow expansion itself could breach the carbon limit there should be for aviation, but all the other airports plan expansion too (Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Bristol etc). "These airport expansion projects need to be urgently reconsidered if the government is to follow the carbon reduction plan set out by the CCC report.” The CCC has accounted for some growth in aviation, but said it cannot be “unfettered”. The researchers pointed out that adding runway capacity is not just a response to higher demand - it would make flying easier and cheaper - so increasing the numbers of air passengers. The opposite to what is needed, to cut aviation CO2.
“Pledge to Fly Less” campaign launched at the House of Commons – asking people to reduce their flying
Campaigners from the Gatwick group, CAGNE (Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions) are launching a new campaign, at the House of Commons to encourage people to “Fly Less”. This is part of the national climate change MP lobby day #thetimeisnow at which thousands of people will be talking to their MPs about climate breakdown, and the role the UK should be playing. “Pledge to fly less” has a website www.pledgetoflyless.co.uk where anyone, individuals, groups, businesses, can sign up to this campaign and “pledge to fly less”. A running total will show how many have signed and the website goes live on the 26th. The campaign says: “In an ideal world we would all stop flying until aviation truly found a way not to be such a major threat to our planet, but as a start we are asking residents and businesses to think before they fly; pledge to fly less to reduce their own carbon footprint as we must ...” Sally Pavey, Chair of CAGNE said it is about what future generations will have to deal in terms of climate breakdown. We need to concept of "flying shame" that originated in Sweden, to catch on in the UK. There is also the Flight Free UK campaign, which is asking people to cut down on flying and pledge not to fly in 2020, and is associated with the new "Pledge to fly less campaign.
Areas like Chiswick: Residents affected ‘will find out too late’ about new Heathrow noise only after final consent
The current Heathrow consultation on its plans for a 3rd runway does not give details of flight paths. Conveniently (for Heathrow) the information on those will only come after about 2023, well after (Heathrow hopes) it will have got planning consent for its scheme. Wickedly, that means people do not know now, and will not for several years, whether they are due to have a narrow, concentrated route above them, or nearby. That will only become obvious too late for them to do anything about it. It could mean a noisy plane, below - say - 4,000 feet - over head many times per minute. Hour after hour - most of the day. Day after day - most days. Local group Chiswick Against The Third Runway (CHATR) has said it is "unacceptable" that the details of the proposed new flight paths are not part of the Heathrow consultation. "The scale of environmental degradation and destruction is monumental." The absence of flight path information - which for many people is THE most important aspect of the expansion - is "clearly unacceptable. We believe this is fundamentally dishonest, since the hundreds of thousands of people affected will not discover until after planning consent".
Leo Murray: Why a third runway at Heathrow is a litmus test for environmental breakdown
If Heathrow's 3rd runway plan goes ahead, it will be a sure sign that the UK is incapable of effectively responding to the climate crisis. "Common sense might suggest that massive expansion at the UK’s single largest source of carbon emissions cannot possibly be consistent with plans to eradicate Britain’s net contribution to climate change. But the consultation documents assure us that there will be no increase in carbon emissions from the airport’s operations after 2022 – although there will be a 50% increase in flights." ... On how the emissions are to be dealt with by offsetting: "Offsetting is problematic in principle – it actively defers structural change in high carbon sectors. It’s also demonstrably ineffective in practice. Less than 15% of offsets under the UN's CDM were found to have actually reduced emissions ... which is why the CCC explicitly advised the Government against using offsets to meet the UK’s Net Zero target." Due to devious policy manipulations, it will not be possible to challenge planning permission for the new runway on climate change grounds - they will not be considered a legitimate complaint. "Our collective ability to reflect on the wisdom of this project is a litmus test of our ability to rise to the epic challenge of environmental breakdown."
The harms to health caused by aviation noise require urgent action
In October 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) published its long awaited new guidelines for environmental noise. These make source-specific recommendations for noise from aviation, as well as road, rail, wind turbines, and leisure. They include tough new lower thresholds set for aviation noise, reflecting the growing body of evidence about the harmful effects of noise on health - that fall disproportionately on the vulnerable, particularly children, and the infirm and older people. Writing in a blog in the British Medical Journal, the writers say health impact assessments of aircraft noise, if they were carried out, lacked transparency as they were often undertaken by airport operators. Seemingly there has been a reluctance to protect the health of the population in the face of commercial pressures pursuing economic benefits. Unless urgent action is taken using the new WHO recommendations for lower thresholds, the health of communities residing near airports will continue to show marked deterioration. We need policies and actions to ensure there is an equitable balance between economic benefit and the health and wellbeing of communities. The cost and long-term consequences of inaction will be considerable.
Heathrow plans mean schoolchildren face illegal pollution levels as schools moved to polluted areas
A primary school near Heathrow is to be demolished and rebuilt in an area with poor air quality - in order to build the third runway. This is revealed in the Heathrow consultation documents. These say: "Harmondsworth primary school will be displaced by the new runway. Land to the north of the M4 highway on Stockley Road in West Drayton, has been identified as a suitable replacement site for the school as it is within the catchment area and has appropriate road access and connections to green areas for recreational purposes. This site also has the benefit of being able to accommodate early delivery to enable vacation of the existing facility in time for the commencement of construction of the new runway.” Three other primary schools would be left just metres from the new runway; the playground of one of the schools would border the new runway fence - if the plans were ever allowed. Campaigners say the relocation of Harmondsworth primary from the village of Harmondsworth, where it is surrounded by fields and farmland, to an area on the Stockley bypass , where air pollution monitors regularly breach legal limits, will harm children’s health.
AvGen’s concerns mount over Heathrow’s “Fly Quiet” statistics – very opaque how they are arrived at
Heathrow produced figures, intended to show how well airlines that use the airport are performing in terms of noise. The criteria include noise quota/seat, plane Chapter number (noise certification), the NOx emissions/seat, the CAEP standard (engine emissions certification), the Continuous Descent Approach (CDA) violations, the airline's Track keeping (TK) violations, and early or late movements between 23:30 and 04:30. The group, AvGen, assesses the numbers put out by Heathrow, and finds - every time - that the numbers do not make much sense, and do not even match the stated methodology by Heathrow. Airlines get given numbers of points (it is far from clear how these are measured), and rankings for how "quiet" they are. It appears airlines are bumped up and down the rankings in a fairly random way. Perhaps to make some airlines look good, and gloss over the amount of noise they make? For the Quarter 1 (Q1) results this year, AvGen calculates the figures, using the stated Heathrow methodology, British Airways short haul comes out 4th best (Heathrow put them first); British Airways long haul comes out 14th (Heathrow puts them 6th). Aer Lingus comes out at 10th best (Heathrow has them 4th). And so on. Contact AvGen for the full data.
Heathrow 3rd runway plans reveal the monster airport proposed – how uniquely expensive, harmful and damaging it would be
With the publication of the Heathrow consultation documents comes realisation of what a massive, uniquely damaging and harmful plan it is. A few comments from Alistair Osborne in the Times: "The project is the equivalent of dropping Gatwick airport on to one of the world’s busiest motorways: 12 zippy lanes, no less, of the M25"... and "It can all be done without any “significant” disruption, while maintaining the traffic flow of 220,000 vehicles a day. Who says so? Heathrow, of course — despite the small matter of “realigning the M25 carriageway”, sinking it by 4.5m in a tunnel and having planes land on top. Not only that. Heathrow will be adding at least 260,000 flights a year and 50 million more passengers" ... " But, apparently, they won’t lead to a single extra car on the roads. Or any more trucks, despite the doubling of cargo capacity to “at least three million tonnes” a year. No, it’s all coming by bicycle or some green equivalent. And don’t worry about the costs because “Heathrow expansion will be privately financed and costs will not fall on the taxpayer”.... "It’s pure fantasy. Indeed, ask Heathrow how much of the £14 billion is for diverting the M25 and the company has no answer.... Apparently, a cost breakdown will be delivered to the CAA by the end of the year."
Heathrow’s 3rd runway is equivalent to bolting an extra airport onto one that is already the world’s most disruptive
The Heathrow consultation sets out Heathrow’s assessment of the impacts of expansion on local communities and the environment, and their plans (such as they are ...) to mitigate these impacts. Speaking for the No 3rd Runway Coalition, Paul Beckford commented that: “Our communities will be destroyed by these expansion proposals, with 783 homes demolished and another 3,000 homes rendered unliveable owing to the construction and pollution. 2 million more people will be exposed to aircraft noise at levels that have a detrimental impact on health and millions will be exposed to significant increases in air pollution from vehicles accessing the airport as well as the 700 additional planes in the skies every single day. Every community across London and the Home Counties will experience the impacts of these proposals..." Paul McGuinness, Chair of the Coalition said: "Statistically, Heathrow is already the world’s most disruptive airport. It lies at the heart of the UK’s most densely populated region and has a hopeless environmental record, regularly breaching air quality targets. And all of that comes with just two runways. Heathrow’s plan equates to bolting another major airport on top of its current, disruptive operation."
Heathrow claims there will be NO NET INCREASE IN CO2 EMISSIONS, with 50% more flights….
The expansion of Heathrow, with a 3rd runway, would - logically and in the absence of any real means of reducing the carbon emissions per plane in any significant way - be likely to increase the CO2 from flights by something like 40%. But the consultation by Heathrow, published on 18th June, gives NO figures for the amount of extra carbon that would be emitted by the extra planes. They say the current amount of carbon emitted by flights, the airport, surface access is about 20.83 million tonnes of CO2 per year. But they consider the extra fights not to add any carbon at all (except domestic flights) because all will be offset using the UN CORSIA scheme. So it is entirely cancelled out and ignored. Heathrow say: "Current baseline GHG emissions have been estimated at 20.8 million tonnes of CO2e (MtCO2e). Air transport accounts for over 95% of Heathrow’s GHG emissions followed by surface access transport at 3%." And ""Heathrow’s carbon neutral growth aspiration means that growth in CO2 emissions from additional flights after expansion would be offset through carbon credits, resulting in no net growth in emissions. " Caroline Lucas MP commented: "Heathrow is taking economy with truth to new levels`'
Heathrow consultation starts – trying to cover up the devastating impacts the 3rd runway would have, in so many ways…
The main Heathrow consultation - before the DCO consultation - on its proposed 3rd runway has opened. It closes on 13th September. It is a massive consultation, with dozens and dozens of long documents - making it impossible, in reality, for a layperson to read. Below are links to the key documents. Heathrow says it is proposing "tough new measures to reduce emissions". It proposes a slight increase in the amount of time when scheduled flights are not allowed at night - just 6.5 hours (that does NOT include planes that take off late....) so little change there. This is a statutory consultation (the earlier ones were not) and Heathrow says it "will inform the airport’s Development Consent Order (DCO) application, which is expected to be submitted next year." There will be 43 consultation events to be held during the 12-week consultation period. Heathrow says its "expansion will be privately financed and costs will not fall on the taxpayer." It will be interesting to see how they pay for the work to bridge the M25, paying for it all themselves. There is no information on flight paths, as those will not be decided upon until perhaps 2023. They use only indicative flight paths. There expected to be more flights, even before the runway is built, by 2022.
Heathrow’s planes over Richmond Park would ‘damage mental health’
Millions of people who use Richmond Park, for peace, quiet and tranquillity, face up to 93 low-flying aircraft an hour if there is a 3rd Heathrow runway. The noise from the planes, so people cannot escape from the stresses of life and enjoy nature, is likely to have negative impacts on the mental well being of thousands of people. Richmond Park is surrounded by housing and urban development, but it is precious island and refuge, so close to London. With the expansion, there will be more planes, and lower, over the Park. Under the Heathrow expansion plans, hundreds of planes would produce noise levels of up to 80dB – many times over the WHO guidelines for good health – flying at 1,500 feet over the park. It seems that high, and rising, numbers of people living in the London area (and other cities) suffer from anxiety and mood disorders. To help them, the government might want to ensure there are quiet, tranquil areas that people can spent time in, to relax and de-stress. But instead, the government is happy to allow Heathrow to hugely increase plane noise over this treasured, ancient park. Is nothing worth saving, from the ravages of economic growth etc?
Maybe night trains will return, for middle distance trips around Europe…
Unfortunately, overnight train routes have long been in decline, due mainly to the growing popularity of cheap flights. German rail operator Deutsche Bahn ended all of its night routes, selling off the entirety of its sleeping carriages, while in France, the last Paris-to-Nice sleeping train service was discontinued in 2017. There has been a lot of campaigning to keep the night trains, which offer a far lower-carbon travel alternative to flying, for distances that take too long for a daytime trip. The Back on Track group has been lobbying rail operators and governments, and organizing protests. There seems to be a slight improvement, with Austria’s ÖBB buying Deutsche Bahn’s unwanted sleeping carriages, and even ordering more new ones for 2023. The Swedish government has announced plans to expand overnight trains to many European destinations. The Swiss rail operator SBB has said it is considering renewed night routes, citing market demand. In France, activists saved a popular sleeping-car route between Paris, Perpignan and the Spanish border town of Portbou. In the UK we have the recently upgraded Caledonian Sleeper, from London to Scotland. More people need to ask for night routes.
Extinction Rebellion delays protest at Heathrow – disrupting the airport likely to only create opposition to the campaign
Climate activism group Extinction Rebellion has postponed until later this year a plan to shut down Heathrow, using drones. It had said, on 1st June, that it had plans to cause a lot of disruption during June and July, to highlight the problem the UK has with the CO2 emissions from aviation - and the huge increase a 3rd runway would generate. There had never been any risk of lives being endangered, as drones would not have been flown near planes. XR had consulted widely among supporters, who feared a furore over safety concerns would eclipse Extinction Rebellion's broader message over the need to take radical action to tackle the climate crisis. It could end up with overall very negative publicity, and hinder the message getting out effectively to a wider audience. XR says any protests would take place within an exclusion zone in a 5km radius around the airport, avoiding flight paths, and the notice period for any drone action would be at least two months. The intention is to push for the systemic change needed to cut Britain’s emissions as quickly as possible, by causing economic disruption - but trying to minimise disruption to passengers.
Heathrow plans its 3rd runway to bridge the M25 in 3 sections – one runway and two separate taxiways
The Times has published images from Heathrow, showing their plans for expansion (consultation due to start of 18th) including what they do to get the runway over the 12 lane M25 (the busiest section of motorway in the UK, and probably in Europe). Heathrow has only ever said it would be just over £1 billion for the work, though it would cost much more. The plan appears to be for the M25 to be lowered a bit, into a tunnel. There would be two separate taxiways over the motorway, with the planes probably visible to drivers travelling below. Also a wider section on which would be the runway itself. Distracting for drivers? Heathrow claims having two openings in the tunnel between the taxiways and runway would "improve stability, ventilation and visibility on the road." Might it also be cheaper? The Times says: "Plans to cross the M25 have been revised after talks with Highways England, which had raised concerns about the risk of damage to the tunnel by landing aircraft. It was also feared that drivers may be distracted by planes overhead." Nowhere else in the world is a road a busy as the M25 crossed by a runway or taxiways. Heathrow will seek to soften the impact of expansion by spreading the work over as long as 30 years - easier to pay for.
Prof Kevin Anderson: With the aviation growth anticipated by the UK government, “any claim made of the UK being zero carbon by 2050, is simply not true”
In response to the UK government saying it will raise its ambition to cut CO2 emissions, by 2050, to 100% (up from the current 80%) compared to 1990, Professor Kevin Anderson has a lot of caveats. He says: “Whilst in many respects I welcome the headline framing of the Government’s ‘net-zero’ proposal, sift amongst the […]
Flying may go from glamorous to scandalous, with the highest level of awareness about climate and carbon
"Flying has gone from glamorous to scandalous, and the industry is scrambling to prop up its fading popularity." Might aviation soon become something that people are slightly embarrassed about, and mildly ashamed? The level of public anxiety is increasing, about rising CO2 emissions, and the highly damaging impact on people's lives (even in rich countries like the UK), within the next few decades. That is in the lifetimes of those alive now. Not at some far off future date. Across Europe, campaigns to reduce air travel emissions are gaining traction. Violeta Bulc, European commissioner for transport, said: “In the future, I expect the aviation industry’s license for growth to be linked directly to perceptions of sustainability”. There is little sign of awareness reducing the numbers flying, in the UK - but there is a perceptible change in attitude, by a lot of people. "Politico" says: "A succession of European governments — left and right alike — are mulling aviation taxes, an end to traditionally heavy subsidies, and are reconsidering airport expansion plans. Airlines are on the defensive. Even as they look forward to transporting ever more passengers — carriers worry that the protests could prompt government intervention and jeopardize those projections."
UN Environment article critical of carbon offsetting taken down, then republished – but criticism watered down
"UN Environment" published, then retracted, an article criticising the use of carbon credits to make up for carbon-emitting activities. It published an unusually stark critique of carbon offsetting on 10th June (been archived); on 11th the article was taken down, following queries by Climate Home News. In the original article a climate specialist at the UN organisation warned against considering carbon offsets as “our get-out-jail-free card”. He said: “The era of carbon offsets is drawing to a close. Buying carbon credits in exchange for a clean conscience while you carry on flying, buying diesel cars and powering your home with fossil fuels is no longer acceptable or widely accepted.” Asked about this he said it was a web story not an official position paper, and that UN Environment does see offsets as an intermediate solution. The revised article on the 12th removed the comment above, saying instead that buying carbon credits is "being challenged by people concerned about climate change." The paragraph in the earlier version saying: "Carbon credits are increasingly coming under fire for essentially allowing some to continue on their polluting ways while the rest of us are left scrambling to contain the climate crisis" was removed in the later version. Carbon offsets are the way the aviation sector intends to carry on increasing its carbon emissions. The earlier article showed how inadequate that would be.
Theresa May commits to net zero UK carbon emissions by 2050 – but aviation not properly included in that
Theresa May has sought to cement some legacy in the weeks before she steps down as prime minister by enshrining in law a commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, making Britain the first major economy to do so. This is an increase from the current target of an 80% cut on the 1990 level, by 2050. However, it is a far cry from a net zero target by 2025, that Extinction Rebellion has called for. The change is in an amendment to the Climate Change Act (2008) that was laid in parliament today. The wording just makes the change from 80% to 100%. This does make the UK the first member of the G7 nations to legislate for net zero emissions. It is a step in the right direction. However, it is a NET target, not a gross one, so it will depend on buying carbon offsets (often ineffective) from other countries (usually poorer countries), rather than the UK actually cutting CO2 emissions that much. It excludes the embodied carbon in imports. AND it does not properly include international aviation and shipping. The government just says: "For now, therefore, we will continue to leave headroom for emissions from international aviation and shipping in carbon budgets..."
SSE tells Uttlesford Council to end the secrecy and intrigue about its handing of Stansted’s planning application
The Chairman of Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE), Peter Sanders, has written to the Chief Executive of Uttlesford District Council (UDC), urging her to bring an end to the veil of secrecy which has surrounded UDC's handling of the 2018 Stansted Airport planning application (to increase the passenger maximum from 35 to 43 million) over the past two months. UDC granted conditional approval on 14th November 2018. But it is now clear that the conditions laid down by the Planning Committee have not been met. The Committee also has a legal duty to consider any new material factors and changes (SSE has 6 examples) in circumstances that have arisen since November. But UDC officers continue to refuse to discuss any of the above matters with SSE. Instead, secret meetings have been held, with no minutes or other formal records. There is to be a council meeting on 28th June, including the legal advice the council has been given. SSE says it is hard to avoid drawing the conclusion that officers are trying to avoid any further public discussion of the outstanding issues in relation to the airport planning application, and issue final approval regardless of the outstanding concerns.