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Latest news stories:
“Stop Northolt” concerned Hillingdon Council not giving residents enough information on Northolt expansion
Local group, "Stop Northolt", aiming to end commercial flights at RAF Northolt, is furious with Hillingdon Council for what it considers one-sided coverage of the issue. Stop Northolt say the council’s own magazine, Hillingdon People (delivered 6 times per year to every home in the borough) featured an article about a Parliamentary debate on the Government's plans to spend £45m renovating RAF Northolt. In the debate, Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood said the Government had considered increasing commercial flights and indicated that expansion would benefit taxpayers. But the Hillingdon People article fails to include the minister’s concession that RAF Northolt would remain under-used by the military. ie. why is so much money being spent on renovations of the airfield? Stop Northolt is very concerned that the 10,000 commercial flights per year using Northolt are about to increase. They say the Government has admitted there is no military demand, "so this can only be to improve facilities for commercial flights, and they wouldn't spend that much money without wanting to get it back.” Hillingdon had not pointed this out, or the problem of increasing numbers of commercial flights. Stop Northolt was set up in April 2017, following an announcement that the MoD plans to close the airport for 8 months in 2018 to upgrade and strengthen the runway.
Shadow Transport team visits Stansted Airport to hear about growth plans and hopes of improved rail
Shadow Transport Secretary, Andy McDonald MP, and Shadow Aviation Minister, Karl Turner MP, visited Stansted, to see how the airport is planning to make best use of its existing runway capacity and improve the UK’s global connectivity over the next decade. The airport wants shorter journey times and better reliability on rail services between London Liverpool Street and Stansted, to get in more passengers - to make use of its huge amount of spare capacity. The two shadow ministers were told about Stansted’s new employment plans through its MAG Connect initiative, to help areas of high unemployment. Stansted management have high hopes for making the airport more profitable. Its CEO said: “Stansted can make a huge contribution to improving the UK’s connectivity with the rest of the world over the next decade, this will be vital as the country prepares to leave the EU and at a time when airport capacity is at a premium.” Karl Turner said: “The national conversation on aviation centres on the issue of building a third runway at Heathrow but we face capacity challenges here and now. More needs to be done to support connectivity into and out of our other international gateway airports across the UK to unlock existing unused capacity, and develop the huge potential they have.”
Rival Heathrow expansion consortium, Arora, upbeat as Government opens door to competition
The Telegraph reports that the government has said it welcomes competition in the construction of the nation’s airports. Hotel owner Surinder Arora had earlier this year proposed a cheaper way to build a Heathrow 3rd runway, cutting about £5 billion off the price. Government documents related to the expansion had previously assumed Heathrow would be in charge of the construction project and choose which contractors it wanted to help it fulfil the scheme. But the DfT says in the revised consultation on its Airports NPS (National Policy Statement) that it would welcome competing bids for the work. The NPS consultation says: “For the avoidance of doubt, the Airports NPS does not identify any statutory undertaker as the appropriate person or appropriate persons to carry out the preferred scheme.” And there could be “more than one application for development consent, dealing with different components individually”. The Telegraph believes a key difference, if a body other than Heathrow did the building, would be that the party behind the construction would receive the associated income it generates from passenger and airline charges, as well as retail rental payments. But there could be more risks, more costs etc.
Blog by Canadian IRPP political studies academic: Rising air travel emissions “the policy options are limited”
"Unlike the shift towards electrification of automobiles and the growth of renewables, there are no good policy options on the table for adequately reducing emissions from aviation. Sadly, the only genuine way to reduce our collective carbon footprint from long-distance transport – given available technologies – is to significantly cut down on passenger and cargo flights. ... Cut out air travel or continue contributing to the ongoing climate emergency faced by our home planet — this is the inconvenient juncture at which we have arrived. ... The number of air travellers globally has more than doubled in the last two decades, and forecasts expect demand for air travel to double again in the next two decades. The same story is true of world air cargo ... Not only are global regulatory “solutions” like CORSIA a non-starter, but new technologies are also impractical or unlikely to work at the level of the jumbo plane. ...In the end, the only practical way to reduce our society’s emissions from long-distance air transport (while admittedly giving rise to social costs elsewhere) is to restrict the growth in demand for air transport. ... It’s going to take some political guts" [with any effective measure - like higher tax or capping growth in flight numbers- unpopular] so politicians are unlikely to try. But "Relying on technological innovation, other market forces, and a global system of carbon offsets will not solve the serious problem of growing GHG emissions from aviation"
Poland approves plans for a huge central airport to take 100 million annual passengers (x3 current number for the country)
The New Central Polish Airport is a proposed airport to be developed on a site between Lodz and Warsaw. The project has been subject of debate since 2006. However, the Polish government is expected to commence construction in 2017. The airport is expected become the hub of LOT Polish Airlines. Preparatory works are scheduled for completion by the end of 2019, while the airport is scheduled to open in 2027 and aims to cater for 100 million passengers per year (there are about 34 million Polish air passengers now). The government hopes the nation’s air traffic will reach 94 million by 2035. The decision to build this airport reverses a strategy based on expanding smaller regional ports with the help of funds provided by the European Union. Poland is also seeking to strengthen trade links with China, marketing itself as a port of entry into the EU’s single market for Chinese producers. The plan poses risks for the 14 regional airports built or refurbished over the last decade with EU funds, of which a majority is already struggling to be profitable amid passenger traffic intensity that reached only a third of the bloc’s average last year. Under the government plan, the Warsaw Okecie airport would eventually be shut. No potential dates for the closing were given.
Leaders of 4 main councils opposed to Heathrow favour a Gatwick runway, and tell residents to respond to NPS consultation
Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils have been campaigning against Heathrow expansion for more than a decade. They argue that expanding the airport will have a major impact on West London. The expansion will cause irreconcilable damage to the environment and people's health. It will cost tax payers as much as £20bn. The four councils are encouraging their residents to respond to the 2nd NPS consultation, about a possible 3rd Heathrow runway (deadline 19th December). This consultation is happening partly due to complaints from the councils that the DfT had withheld important new information from the public. Cllr Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: "A third runway at Heathrow would be disastrous for Londoners...." Cllr Paul Hodgins, Leader of Richmond Council, said: "This is all about having a single trophy airport, instead of a network of airports that brings greater benefit. Over the past ten years people in Richmond upon Thames have voiced their concerns about the possible expansion of Heathrow in their thousands. We must not stop telling the government that Heathrow expansion is the wrong choice." The leaders of the four councils back a runway at Gatwick instead, preferring to transfer the misery onto others, whose interests they do not represent.
Transport for the North to become statutory body
Legislation to turn the Transport for the North (TfN) partnership into a statutory sub-national transport body - with legal powers and duties - was laid in Parliament on November 16. TfN consists of 19 local authorities, business leaders and 11 local enterprise partnership areas. Once approved, TfN would become a statutory body with effect from April 1 2018, with powers which would include producing a statutory transport strategy for northern England which the government must formally consider when taking funding decisions. It may be given more powers in future. The Rail North association of local authorities will become part of TfN, and work with the DfT to co-manage the Northern and TransPennine Express franchises. The DfT has confirmed £150m is being given to TfN for smart ticketing, £60m for Northern Powerhouse Rail and £50m to run TfN. It is hoped that new powers for TfN will give it greater influence over national infrastructure decisions. TfN Chair John Cridland. ‘This is a 30-year transport strategy for the North that will help drive economic growth in the region and help to rebalance the UK economy." There has been a lot of anger about the imbalance in spending on transport in the UK, with London and the south east getting a huge proportion. Manchester airport sees itself as key, rather than just Heathrow.
Obscure aviation climate deal – ICAO’s CORSIA – could undermine the Paris Agreement
A new Columbia Law School report reveals major shortcomings in how the UN aviation agency (ICAO) interprets transparency and public participation requirements. The 36 member countries of ICAO met for closed talks in Montreal to discuss rules on its carbon offsetting scheme - known as CORSIA. Established in October 2016, the new carbon market is intended to compensate for the industry’s emissions growth above 2020 levels. But in addition tot he Columbia Law School report, new Carbon Market Watch analysis warns that a careful design of the rules is necessary to avoid undermining the goals of the Paris Agreement. The ICAO process needs to allow proper public scrutiny, to avoid being of low quality and trying to use illegitimate offsets. So far a lack of public scrutiny has allowed ICAO to develop climate policy in isolation, and this has serious and direct implications for the Paris Agreement. Unless there are clear rules for how CO2 reductions purchased by airline operators are accounted for, it is likely that there will be double counting of these cuts - risking the Paris goals. So far ICAO has kept the outcome of political meetings and important documents relating to the development of the CORSIA locked away from the public domain. By contrast, the IMP and UNFCCC generally provide engagement opportunities to the public
Michael Gove announces plans to consult on a new, independent body for post-Brexit UK environmental standards
Plans to consult on the creation of a new, independent body that would hold Government to account for upholding environmental standards in England after the UK leaves the EU have been set out by Environment Secretary Michael Gove. He says Brexit gives the UK the opportunity to put the environment at the heart of policy making, while ensuring vital protections for our landscapes, wildlife and natural assets are not only maintained but enhanced. To help deliver a "Green Brexit", ministers will consult on a new independent, statutory body to advise and challenge government and potentially other public bodies on environmental legislation – stepping in when needed to hold these bodies to account and enforce standards. A consultation on the specific powers and scope of the new body will be launched early in 2018. Gove said: "We will deliver a Green Brexit, where environmental standards are not only maintained but enhanced. ... we are setting out our plans to ensure the powerful are held to account." Currently environmental decisions made in the UK – from improving air and water quality to protecting endangered species – are overseen by the European Commission, which monitors targets, scrutinises new legislation and takes action against illegal behaviour. The UK must ensure that key environmental principles such as the polluter pays underpin policy making.
Clear message from residents at the Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) AGM: NO 3rd Runway
At a packed meeting in Harmondsworth, there were great contributions by local MP John McDonnell and Cait Hewitt, Deputy Director of the AEF (Aviation Environment Federation). John reiterated his certainty that the runway will not go ahead. He went through the many reasons, including air pollution, noise, carbon emissions and economics. And he emphasised the difficulties the government has with the politics, as so many constituencies are now marginal and so local issues (such as Heathrow airport impacts) would be key in a future election. John McDonnell said: “I’m into Parliamentary democracy, but I cannot allow this to happen to this area. The Government has responsibility to protect people and this project cannot happen”. Cait Hewitt spoke about the insuperable problem of air pollution that a 3rd Heathrow runway would cause: “Government’s own recent forecasts show there is a high risk of a breach to air quality targets” ... “The Government is prepared to gamble on air quality to build a third runway." The AGM also heard about problems of Heathrow withholding payments to those who have already sold up, and not paying all estate agent and moving costs. Residents do not trust Heathrow's pledges on compensation payments, in the event that they were forced from their homes.
Protest at Lelystad airport (Netherlands) about its expansion, to take holiday flight pressure off Schiphol
Several hundred activists demonstrated at Lelystad Airport in the Netherlands, against the planned expansion of the airport. They had placards, banners and horns to blast noise. Lelystad is scheduled to take over flights from Schiphol as of April 2019, when its runway extension opens. It will be taking some of the pressure off Schiphol, acting as an extra runway for holiday flights to European destinations. Local people are very worried that the 25,000 flights per year will cause a significant noise burden, and many people are horrified about the noise threat which they could not have anticipated years ago when they bought their homes. The protesters want the weather and environmental impacts re-calculated. There are due to be discussions with government agencies on flight path routes. In October 2017 the government admitted there had been errors in calculating the amount of noise, or how much noise each plane makes, but did not expect the errors to affect the chosen flight path routes or the airport opening in 2019. A petition in September got 68,000 signatures, and while a huge number of people oppose the plans, some welcome the more convenient holiday flights the move to Lelystad would allow.
Likely that ICAO aims to drastically weaken “sustainability” standards for aviation biofuel, under CORSIA
The European Commission and EU member states look set to agree to almost entirely remove sustainability criteria for bio jet fuel at the UN’s aviation agency (ICAO) Council meeting in Montreal. ICAO hopes that extensive use of biofuels in future will enable aviation CO2 emissions to be reduced, so the industry's continuous growth will not be hampered. Biofuels could only be properly environmentally sustainable in tiny quantities, if stringent standards are adhered to. But now the countries gathered at the ICAO meeting plan to trash 10 sustainability points out of 12, which will mean that highly unsustainable biofuels would qualify for the aviation’s global carbon offsetting scheme, CORSIA. These sustainability rules have implications beyond CORSIA because they will become the de facto global standard for biofuel use in the aviation sector. The 10 points would mean removal of rules on land rights, food security, labour rights and biodiversity protection. It is likely the 2 remaining are for a 10% greenhouse gas reduction target for biofuels compared to regular jet fuel, and a ban on crops grown on land that was deforested after 2009. The NGO Transport & Environment says this shows how the CORSIA scheme is a shambles, and the EU should withdraw from it.
Carbon Market Watch recommendations for COP23 – CORSIA for aviation needs better transparency and clarity
"Carbon Market Watch" has made recommendations for COP23 (the UN global climate talks in Bonn). They say on aviation: "Don’t let aviation undermine the Paris Agreement. In writing the Paris rulebook, it is essential to address the role of aviation and shipping, two sectors projected to take up to 40% of the carbon budget by 2050. This includes assessing both sectors’ ambition towards Paris goals in the Facilitative Dialogue and Global Stocktake and compatibility with the Paris Agreement on the Transparency Framework and accounting rules. The CORSIA is clearly not along term solution for aviation emissions in a world where all sectors must quickly reduce their own emissions. Without transparent, compatible rules, the CORSIA could end up increasing the overall emissions in the Paris Agreement by an equivalent of those from 817 coal fired power plants in a year." And they say aviation and shipping should be integrated into the preparation and review of mitigation action of states. There should be formalised cooperation between ICAO and the UNFCCC on avoiding double counting, and information on offsets going to CORSIA participants in reports and updates under the Transparency Framework. Information on ICAO and IMO activities should be included in the global stocktake.
No 3rd Runway Coalition letter to Chris Grayling, asking him to ensure adherence to Civil Service Code, correcting factual errors
The No 3rd Runway Coalition have written the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, to point out that civil servants and Ministers need to adhere to the Civil Service and Ministerial Codes of behaviour. These require correction of factual errors. The Coalition understand that, at Heathrow's recent Business Summits, the airport's publicity material about the estimated economic benefits of a 3rd runway has been misleading, claiming benefits far higher than the official Government figures published by the DfT. Heathrow claims benefits, generated by the runway, of £211 billion for the UK over 60 years. However, the figures from the DfT indicated that the maximum gross benefit could be £74 billion, over 60 years, with a Net Present Valuation (i.e. after all costs have been accounted for) of somewhere between £3 bn and a LOSS of £2.2bn, over 60 years. The Coalition understands that civil servants have attended the Heathrow summits, and failed to point out this inaccuracy. Also that DfT civil servants (and possibly Ministers) will be attending the Heathrow Business Summits of 8th November (at Heathrow) and 23rd November (in Derby). The Coalition is asking for assurance from Mr Grayling that any civil servants and Ministers attending will identify Heathrow's erroneous claims and correct them, by spelling out to summit attendees the Government's own figures.
IATA head warns deadline for post-Brexit aviation deal is just 11 months away – October 2018
IATA director general, Alexandre de Juniac, has warned that Britain had no choice but to reach an air service deal with the rest of Europe, and fast. He said: "When the UK leaves the European Single Market, it will also leave the European Common Aviation Area. And when it breaks from the European Union, all traffic rights to the rest of the world associated with Europe will also be thrown into question. ... The basis of international aviation is bilateral air services agreements. There is no World Trade Organisation agreement to fall back on. For that reason, I don't see any alternative to a negotiated agreement. ... Time is precious. The Brexit clock is ticking towards a deadline of March 2019. But the aviation deadline is earlier. ... At a minimum, the flight schedules and seat and cargo inventories must be available at least six months in advance. So that puts the airlines' deadline at October 2018—just 11 months from now ... Get started. Don't step backward—people will not accept anything that turns back the clock on the achievements of the EU Common Aviation Area. And, lastly, don't underestimate the amount of work ahead as there are intense political and commercial interests at stake." (He also wants Heathrow expanded fast ...)
Stop Stansted Expansion say Government’s Aviation Forecast figures undermine Stansted’s claims on need for expansion
Claims by Stansted's management that the airport's growth potential over the next decade is being severely limited by the present cap on numbers at 35 mppa are being called into question by local campaign, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) following the publication of new Government figures. These numbers are in the DfT's forecasts, published as part of the 2nd consultation on the Airports NPS (ie. Heathrow runway). Stansted's owners, MAG, predict that it will be completely full by 2023 - and it therefore needs an increase in permitted numbers to be able to accommodate 43 million passengers in 2028. But SSE show that in the new DfT UK Aviation Forecasts, reveal this is wrong. The DfT central forecast for Stansted is that it should expect to handle just 31 million passengers annually by 2030, and 35 million by 2033. Not by 2023. Stansted airport has been talking up the need for further growth - in anticipation of its application for planning permission from Uttlesford District Council in early 2018. And if there was a 3rd Heathrow runway, the DfT projects a decline in the number of Stansted passengers - from 24mppa in 2016 to 22mppa in 2030, and just 32 mppa by 2040. SSE say: "MAG's overstatement of potential demand to secure support for expansion is nothing more than an opportunistic ploy."
ClientEarth launches new air pollution legal action against UK government
ClientEarth is taking legal action against the UK Government for a 3rd time, over its persistent failure to deal with illegal air pollution across the country. This comes just a year after ClientEarth’s High Court victory forcing ministers to develop plans to tackle the problem. The environmental lawyers said the Defra plans still fell far short of what was needed to bring air pollution to within legal limits as soon as possible. ClientEarth CEO James Thornton said they had no choice but to take legal action, to get clarity from government. ClientEarth names the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Transport Secretary and the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs in the Welsh Government as defendants. ClientEarth’s grounds for judicial review are: The latest plan backtracks on previous commitments to order 5 cities to introduce clean air zones by 2020; 2. The plan does not require any action in 45 local authorities in England, despite them having illegal levels of air pollution. 3. The plan does not require any action by Wales to bring down air pollution as quickly as possible. In order to avoid any further delay to ongoing work by Defra, DfT and local authorities, ClientEarth is not calling for the current plan to be overturned, but instead to be supplemented.
For the love of Earth, stop travelling by plane – one of the best ways to cut our carbon footprint
Author Jack Miles, writing in the Washington Post, says we should cut down the amount we fly. He is writing as an American, and Americans fly a great deal - the country is huge, so many flights are domestic. Jack says: "According to ... Christiana Figueres, we have only three years left in which to “bend the emissions curve downward” and forestall a terrifying cascade of climate-related catastrophes." ... "Staying home, in fact, is the essence of making a big difference in a big hurry. That’s because nothing that we do pumps carbon dioxide into the atmosphere faster than air travel." ... "There are 7 billion people on our planet, but the billion with the largest carbon footprint includes the most frequent fliers. I belong to the top billion. So do many of you." ... "So for the love of the Earth, our common home, our only home, start conducting more remote work meetings and training sessions virtually. Inform those jet-setting friends that you won’t attend their destination wedding in the tropics — you’ll send a gift in the mail. Tell that conference organizer that while you’re honored to be invited, you would prefer to participate in live online sessions instead. Start taking vacations by train or car, rather than flying to Paris or beyond. Explain to your ecological public interest group that the Galápagos will be much better off without you. "
Leader of Hounslow Council, Councillor Steve Curran: “We’d like to see a better not bigger Heathrow”
Hounslow residents are being reminded they have just 6 weeks left to submit their views on the expansion of Heathrow to the DfT, through the government's revised draft Airports National Policy Statement which includes information on long-term aviation forecasts. The 2nd consultation on the draft NPS also provides some information on the impact of changes arising from updated noise analysis, a new air quality plan, government policy changes and responses to the first consultation. The deadline for the consultation is December 19th. A 3rd Heathrow runway, with up to 50% more flights, would have a huge impact on Hounslow - and not only by the noise of flight paths over the borough. The Leader of Hounslow Council, Councillor Steve Curran, said: "Our position on Heathrow Airport remains, as it has always been, that we’d like to see a better not bigger airport. The government’s recommended expansion at Heathrow will have a huge impact on the residents and businesses of Hounslow. The council wants to ensure that issues of noise, pollution and additional congestion are properly addressed. ... I strongly urge all Hounslow residents and businesses to make sure they have their say online."
Andy McDonald (Shadow Transport Sec) speech – more clarity needed from government on aviation policy
Some comments by Andy McDonnell, to the AOA conference: "None of the Brexit policy papers covered transport - which doesn't reflect well on the government's priorities. ... Labour's view is that any new agreements for aviation following Brexit should replicate the status quo as far as possible including retention of access to the Single European Skies system and full membership of the European Aviation Safety Agency. ... Last month's revised public consultation into proposals for a third runway at Heathrow once again highlighted the urgent need for clarity on the future of airport capacity. ... Labour supports expansion provided our tests on capacity, emissions and regional benefits are met. In addition, expansion must be premised upon making better use of our existing capacity and developing a strategy to support smaller airports. ... we regret that aviation is not more prominent in either the air quality plan or clean growth strategy. Labour believes the Department for Transport needs to set out in more detail how it will deliver the provisions of the Climate Change Act within aviation. ... We believe that any changes [to airspace] should be made on the basis of noise impact and in full consultation with affected communities."
Desirability of Ryanair’s £650,000 Scottish Government subsidy questioned
The independent paper, the "Ferret" in Scotland reports that the Scottish government agency Scottish Enterprise gave more than £650,000 to Ryanair, the airline at the centre of a staffing dispute that has resulted in thousands of flights from Scottish airports being cancelled this winter. The grants were given to Ryanair in three parts, over the past 5 years. All three grants were to support Ryanair’s work at Prestwick, which is a struggling airport bought for almost nothing by the Scottish government. Environmental groups have questioned whether the grants were compatible with the Scottish Government’s “world leading” climate change targets. Despite the subsidy Ryanair is choosing to cut many routes this winter until March 2018. Neil Bibby MSP, Scottish Labour’s transport spokesperson, said: “As Ryanair is also in receipt of taxpayer support from the Scottish Government, the SNP has a particular responsibility to ensure that basic legal requirements are met and that the airline is held to the right standards. John Finnie MSP said: “Apart from lifeline routes to the islands, it’s hard to see how subsidising the aviation sector is compatible with the need to reduce CO2 emissions.”
Heathrow 3rd runway ‘could delay’ the UK’s air quality compliance
Heathrow’s 3rd runway could harm efforts to stay under EU air pollution limits, a report published by the government has warned. An assessment by engineering consultancy WSP of the government’s 2017 Air Quality Plan, which was published in July following several legal battles with lawyers ClientEarth, said the proposed runway affect UK compliance with the EU’s Ambient Air Quality Directive. If the runway opened between 2026 and 2030 it is unlikely that concentrations of NO2 in central London would have fallen sufficiently to remove the risk of Heathrow negatively impacting EU limit value compliance. With government forecasts on air passenger numbers, and a lot of new evidence on air pollution, the DfT had to publish a fresh consultation on the revised Airports National Policy Statement on the 3rd runway scheme. The government said it was on track to publish final proposals for expansion at Heathrow in the first half of 2018, before they are voted on in Parliament. Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat Leader, said the fact the NPS consultation has had to be reopened shows the Government’s case remains deeply flawed. “It is difficult to see how a third runway can be delivered without breaching legal air pollution limits.
Stansted will hold 3 “community feedback” events on its plans to rise annual passenger number to 43m
Stansted Airport is to host three community feedback events, about its revised proposals for future growth over the next decade. There was an earlier consultation in July about growth plans. The 3 events will provide people with a further opportunity to raise questions about how Stansted intends to grow, the impacts of that growth, and how it could make best use of its existing capacity. Currently Stansted has a planning cap on the annual number of passengers, of 35 million. It initially proposed this being raised to 44.5 million (just under the 10 million rise, that would require it to be dealt with an Nationally Significant Infrastructure project, but a different process) and has now reduced this to 43 million. Stansted claims this could be achieved without increasing the number of aircraft movements (= flights) that are currently permitted to operate each year or the size of the airport’s approved noise ‘footprint’. A key issue for local people who would be affected by the expansion is noise, and just how much that would get, if an extra 8 million passengers per year were permitted. That would require planes being fuller, and also larger planes - which inevitably are noisier than smaller ones, even with new technologies to reduce noise. Stansted will next submit the final planning application to Uttlesford District Council in early 2018.
Airports NPS (Heathrow runway) – new inquiry launched by Parliament’s Transport Committee
The Transport Committee is to carry out an inquiry into the DfT's revised proposal for an Airports National Policy Statement (NPS) - tabled by the Government on 24 October. The DfT consultation is to end on 19th December, after just 8 weeks. The NPS must receive Parliamentary approval before Heathrow Airport can submit a development consent application to the Planning Inspectorate, which then makes a recommendation to the Secretary of State on whether planning consent should be granted. The Transport Committee (Chair is Lilian Greenwood) will run this second inquiry, as the work of the previous committee was cut short by the general election in June. Some members of the committee have changed since before the election - and the previous Chair was Louise Ellman. This inquiry will specifically look at, and want submissions on, "whether the DfT's revised passenger demand forecasts and air quality assessments have been satisfactorily completed and are represented accurately in the final version of the NPS and Appraisal of Sustainability" - and on "whether any other changes to the NPS based on clarity intention and/or Government policy since February 2017 are suitable." The deadline for submissions to the Transport committee is Thursday 30 November 2017.
Leader of Richmond Council: Government aviation strategy ignores Heathrow health impacts
The Leader of Richmond Council, commenting on the DfT's consultation on the draft aviation strategy (closed 13th October), says it tries to shut down any discussion on expansion at Heathrow and puts the demand for additional flights ahead of the health impact on communities affected by increased noise and worsening air quality. Leader Paul Hodgins, speaking on behalf of Wandsworth, Richmond, Hillingdon and Windsor and Maidenhead councils, said: “It is difficult to see what purpose the draft aviation strategy serves when, in it, the government is ignoring the problem of Heathrow. First we had a pro-Heathrow airport draft national policy statement with no details on flightpaths, out of date passenger demand figures, an economic case which doesn’t stand up and unattainable pollution limits. Now we have a national strategy that leaves out Heathrow. Any serious attempt at a UK-wide policy must come before any policy on individual airports, including Heathrow." He also said: “The Government should withdraw this partial and disingenuous strategy document, abandon its unjustified policy support for Heathrow and begin again with an approach that people can trust.”
Insensitive Ad by “Back Heathrow” outside Sipson business (that 3rd runway would destroy) now removed
Heathrow lobby group, "Back Heathrow" were forced to remove an advert after it was placed outside a local business which would be destroyed if a 3rd runway were ever built. The advertisement, which appeared on Friday 27 October, proclaimed the number jobs that would be created if the airport was expanded – a highly controversial figure which even new evidence by the DfT is wildly over-estimated. [The DfT said in October 2016 that the 77,000 figure was wrong, and they recalculated the number of local jobs using a more plausible method. The number they came up with is up to 37,700 jobs. However, they continue to use the phrase "up to 77,000", which could be considered to be highly misleading. See link ] The poster was placed right outside the local hairdressing salon, "Hair by Jackie". Ironically this business, like everything else in that part of Sipson, would be destroyed (Jackie would also lose her homes, as well as her business) if Heathrow was allowed to expand. So much for the jobs claims. Local campaign Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) believe the placing of the ad, at best, demonstrated a lack of understanding on the part of "Back Heathrow", or else total disregard for the community and small business owners.
MPs on BBC “Sunday Politics” on huge Heathrow uncertainties – including on economic benefit
Zac Goldsmith, speaking on the BBC's 'Sunday Politics': “A lot has changed since the Airports Commission produced its report and that, don’t forget, was the bedrock of the government’s decision and the reason supposedly why the government made the decision that it made. But most of the assumptions made in that report have been undermined since by data on passenger numbers, on economic benefits and most of all, on pollution.” and “In the free vote we could have had up to 60 MPs voting against Heathrow expansion. That’s the number that’s normally used and I think it’s right. In the circumstances where it requires an active rebellion, the numbers would be fewer. I can’t tell you what the number would be but I can tell you that there are people right the way through the party, from the back-benches to the heart of government, who will vote against Heathrow expansion.” And Theresa Villiers said: “At the heart of that private at private finance is passengers in the future but also the cost of the surface access is phenomenal. I mean, TfL estimates vary between £10 and 15 billion and there is no suggestion that those private backers are going to meet those costs, so this is a hugely expensive project and one that will create significant economic damage.”
Airports’ climate programme relies on offsets excluded under EU laws – CORSIA must exclude “dodgy” offsets
Transport & Environment has found that airports are relying on offsets excluded under EU climate laws to help achieve their voluntary target of "carbon neutrality." Airports’ efforts to reduce their CO2 emissions are welcome, but not worth much if the offset project types being used are highly unlikely to deliver promised emission reductions - and don't qualify for the EU’s emissions trading system (EU ETS). The claims of carbon neutrality therefore cannot be credibly maintained without serious reforms to this programme. Many of the offset types being used (cheap) were long ago ruled inadmissible by the EU due to concerns over their environmental integrity. Airports are not required to publicly disclose which offsets they purchase. Athens airport relied on wind farm offsets originating in China – offsets which are unlikely to deliver additional emissions reductions (a necessary criterion) and are banned from the EU ETS. Andrew Murphy said: “Flawed programmes such as this are giving a green light to airport expansion and the resulting surge in aircraft emissions." The ICAO CORSIA programme will approve its offset rules later in November. These must exclude aviation use of the dodgy offset projects.
Heathrow expansion plan is reckless & shows shocking disregard for government health obligations
"The Government’s revised proposals for the expansion of Heathrow highlight how much damage would be caused by this reckless project. They reveal that Heathrow is already having a more detrimental impact on our air than we realised, with an estimated 86% of the toxic air in the surrounding area related to the airport — rather than the previously estimated 70%. It has also emerged that building a 3rd runway will increase toxic air pollution even more than originally predicted. As a result, the Government must rule out the possibility of a 3rd runway at Heathrow. But before the Gatwick PR machine leaps into action, it is worth pointing out that there is simply no need for a new runway in London. Every airport but one is operating under capacity, and the cases put forward by Gatwick and Heathrow to solve the manufactured “crisis” rely on vastly inflated job creation predictions. By continuing to pursue this strategy, the Government is displaying a shocking disregard for the UK’s moral obligation to tackle a genuine air pollution public health emergency." Say the Green Party. And add in the Government’s inexplicable denial of information relating to the new flight paths that the new runway will create.
Supersonic, super-rich (1% of the 1%), super-polluting: the next generation of business jets
Hundreds of supersonic jets could be flying businesspeople over Europe within ten years, but documents show the EU is preparing to cede oversight of their huge CO2 emissions. This CO2 must be regulated. Concorde, the world’s last commercial supersonic aircraft, generated x3 more noise, NOx and CO2 than today’s subsonic planes and contributed x5 more to global warming, due to the high altitudes at which it released its emissions. No CO2 regulations, either international or European, have so far been put in place for the next generation of supersonic aircraft, which ICAO expects to begin certifying by as early as 2020. The first planes could come to market by 2025, and new company Aerion making these jets hopes there is a market for about 600 supersonic business jets. One analyst called this market “the 1% of the 1%” of business travellers who can afford it. It is likely that these jets would be twice – or even more – carbon intensive than a modern subsonic aircraft. The current lack of standards for supersonic jets is creating “a chicken and egg situation”, according to Tim Johnson, the director of the AEF. Planes before proper standards are agreed, or proper standards first....
HACAN East presents London City Airport with a 30th Birthday cake – it’s time for it to clean up its act
Campaigners at local group HACAN East want London City airport to stop growing, cap the number of annual flights & end concentrated flight paths, to protect residents from the noise and the pollution. Today was London City Airport's 30th birthday. Campaigners - dressed up as bakers - presented the airport will a beautiful cake. They say that now it is 30 years old, it should CLEAN UP ITS ACT. The campaign wants London City to be a better neighbour - the airport is in a totally inappropriate location, surrounded by such densely populated areas that are home to so many people. The airport should NOT be allowed to grow further, as it affects too many people. There is a moving film, with people affected by the airport speaking out. One lady says: "We have lived in our house in Mottingham, SE 9, for over 35 years, Then last year without any consultation or warning we suddenly found we had low flying, noisy planes coming over our house from early morning till late at nights. These flights are devastating to me. I sometimes hate living in my house and I want to move. But the thought of moving away from family and friends at this stage in our life is just too hard to do." A sad reflection on how aviation impacts people's lives.
Residents across many areas negatively affected by Heathrow protest against 700 MORE planes per day
A number of areas already badly affected by Heathrow plane noise held photo shoots early today, to provide a graphic visual reminder of just how much worse the noise problem would be, if a Heathrow 3rd runway was built. Links to photos of some of the actions below. It is likely that a 3rd runway would enable about 50% more flights per year. That translates to around 700 more planes, every day (350 more landings, 350 more take offs) with the runway. Though not all would go over the same areas, it means more planes and more noise for those under existing flight paths, and new intense noise pollution to many areas (details are not yet known) not currently overflown. The groups in areas already overflown, especially in areas near Heathrow, used 700 red cardboard planes, at their different locations - getting their message across "loud and clear" just one day after the DfT announced its second phase of consultation on the Airports NPS (National Policy Statement), which aims to press through the Heathrow 3rd runway. This consultation deals with air pollution, noise and passenger forecast data - none of which was properly available during the earlier NPS consultation that closed in May. The need for the 2nd consultation demonstrates just how weak the case for the Heathrow runway is, and the enormity of the hurdles it faces, including those on environmental issues.
East Midlands Airport boss on plans for future expansion (hope to double passengers and triple freight)
East Midlands Airport (EMA) is owned by MAG, the Manchester Airports Group, and the 3rd largest after Manchester and Stansted. In its most recent accounts, revenue grew by 3.6% to £62.4m for the year to March 2017 – far behind Manchester airport’s 12.5% growth to £444.5m, but slightly above the 3% for Stansted, which had a £294.1m turnover. The airport's management hopes that being near Nottingham, Derby and Leicester, and with programmes such as HS2 and the Midlands Engine aiming to grow the local economy, it has growth prospects for the future. There are always hopes of connections to 2nd-tier Chinese cities such as Ningbo, where the University of Nottingham has a campus, India and the United States – possibly key markets in the post-Brexit world. East Midlands wants to double is passenger number, to 10 million - and almost treble the amount of freight to one million tonnes by around 2030 to 2035. It is the UK’s largest pure freight airport – for aircraft dedicated to carrying cargo – in the UK. (Heathrow has much more, but that comes as belly-hold cargo, in passenger planes). EMA handles about 350,000 tonnes of freight and cargo through a 24/7 operation. Noisy planes fly all night.
DfT publishes another 8 week consultation on the Heathrow NPS, showing further weaknesses
As stated in September, the Government has now published a second part of its consultation on the "Airports NPS", on building a 3rd Heathrow runway. The 8 week consultation ends on 19th December. This consultation contains updated air passenger forecasts which were not produced for the earlier NPS consultation (which ended in May). It also looks at air pollution issues, which were not covered properly before, and also noise. This consultation comes exactly one year since the Government announced it favoured a 3rd Heathrow runway. The DfT is very aware of the problem Heathrow has with air pollution saying the runway means "there remains, however, a risk that the options could delay or worsen compliance with limit values, albeit decreasing over time." Since the report by the Airports Commission, in July 2015, the arguments it put forward for the 3rd Heathrow runway have been seriously undermined - on economics, air pollution, carbon emission, noise, cost to the taxpayer etc. Yet Government tries to push on with it. Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park, commented: “It is as if our politicians have been collectively hypnotised, but sooner or later reality will click and the project will be shelved once again.”
Dublin: Planned new 2nd runway twist as IAA grounded on aircraft noise
Fresh complications are clouding the planned use of a new runway project at Dublin Airport after the Irish Government backtracked on proposals to put the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) in charge of enforcing an EU aircraft noise regulation. New legal advice from the Attorney General's office has meant that it "would not be consistent with the principles of good corporate governance of the IAA as a whole" to appoint the authority as the competent body to enforce the legislation, contained in regulation EU 598/14. The decision has left the Department of Transport scrabbling for an alternative to the IAA. The EU regulation was introduced to reduce the noise impact from aircraft arriving and departing at airports in the EU. Its implementation could have consequences for Dublin Airport, where passenger traffic is expected to hit about 30 million this year. The DAA, which controls Dublin and Cork airports, has almost finished site preparation work for the new runway, and a tender for the actual runway construction is expected to be awarded next year. The runway is due to be operational in 2021. Local residents and groups have mounted High Court legal challenges against the runway plans.
Buyers of new homes near Schiphol airport to get official warnings about aircraft noise (to avoid future complaints)
People moving into new homes close to Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport will be warned about aircraft noise before they move in, and the warning will become part of sales contracts. Agreement on an official aircraft noise warning has been reached between the Dutch junior infrastructure minister, Schiphol airport, airline KLM and local and provincial governments. While no new homes are being built directly under flight paths, thousands of houses are being built in areas where noise is likely to be a problem - as aircraft noise is heard some way from the direct line of a flight path. In particular, 4,500 new homes are being built south-east of Amsterdam close to the Buitenveldert runway and there are other building projects in areas where aircraft noise will have to be taken into consideration. People are told they can then not complain about plane noise, so the aviation industry will not be faced with extra costs and further expansion of housing stock will be made possible. It has already been agreed that municipalities and provinces will point out the new residents to potential inconvenience. Municipalities will not submit requests to change the flight path routes. The aim is that housing can not block further aviation growth after 2020.
Lancet Commission prompts critical Heathrow air pollution question
With the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health reporting that air pollution is responsible for 8% of all deaths in the UK (50,000 annually, and an increase of 25% on previous estimates), the poor air quality surrounding Heathrow has again been cast into focus. Importantly, it is not just the existence of pollutants, but the proximity of their source to populations that damages health. Heathrow, which sits within the UK's most densely populated residential region, not only has the highest level of aircraft emissions. It is close to the M3, M4 and M25 (motorways, much of whose traffic services the airport), and regularly fails to meet Air Quality legal limits for NO2. Meanwhile there is growing evidence that London exceeds WHO recommended limits for Particulate Matter, thought to be responsible for 45% of air pollution related deaths. Studies have identified higher risks of stroke, respiratory and cardiovascular disease (for both hospital admissions and mortality) in areas close to Heathrow. Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition said: "This report highlights yet again one of the many reasons why expanding Heathrow can't happen. Its proximity to people. There could be no worse place to concentrate yet more pollution."
European Commission moves to Brexit-proof Emissions Trading System
The European Commission has agreed on a new measure to protect its Emissions Trading System (ETS) against a potential breakdown in Brexit negotiations. The EU ETS sets a cap on the total emissions from electricity generation and enables UK-based industries to purchase emissions reductions from overseas. Member States met on 18th October to agree in principle to change ETS regulations to nullify any permits to emit greenhouse gases under the scheme if they are issued by a country that leaves the EU from January 2018 onwards. The UK is the 2nd largest CO2 emitter in the EU, and research suggests that a UK departure from the EU ETS would tighten the supply-demand balance of the system by around 745 million tonnes. The new measure is intended to stop potential sell-offs of permits if UK businesses are ejected from the market because of Brexit. The Committee on Climate Change found that if the UK did leave the ETS, the 5th carbon budget should be extended to a 61% emissions reduction by 2030. The recently-announced Clean Growth Strategy outlines the trajectory towards the approved 57% reduction, but analysis suggests the strategy will fall short. Aviation is only partly included in the ETS, with just intra-European flights.
European Parliament make progress on dealing with aviation non-CO2 impacts
The meeting on 17th October between the European Council and EU Parliament has finally come to an agreement on how to deal with non CO2 emissions. This is at least 9 years overdue. It opens a fundamentally new and important avenue of aviation climate mitigation work. The non-CO2 impacts on climate forcing are short-lived but they are potentially of great magnitude – potentially more than double CO2 according to the EC’s own assessment. A research consortium led by Professor David Lee will publish early next year a fresh report on non CO2 climate impacts. Then it will be necessary to follow through with further research including into ways to mitigate. The non-CO2 impacts issue is much more important in the northern hemisphere than the southern as there is where most land, and most flights, are. Europe is well placed to begin assessing what measures could potentially be implemented, such as operational re-routeing (altered flight levels) action on NOx, particulates and black carbon. The meeting reached a provisional agreement on a regulation to extend existing ETS provisions covering aviation beyond 2016 and to prepare for the implementation of CORSIA from 2021.
Newcastle Airport’s part owner (49%), Australian AMP Capital, buys Leeds Bradford Airport
The Australian investment group which owns almost half of Newcastle Airport has bought another airport in the North, Leeds Bradford. AMP Capital, which took a 49% stake in Newcastle Airport in 2012 (51% is owned by 7 local authorities in Tyne and Wear, Northumberland and County Durham), has bought Leeds Bradford outright - after buying it from European investment group Bridgepoint. AMP Capital say the airport offers a “highly attractive investment and a great fit for its global infrastructure platform”. It is likely that a competition probe could take place on the deal, with one company potentially having a major stake in two Northern airports whose target markets have some crossover. Though theoretically serving a larger population area, Leeds Bradford is currently smaller than Newcastle Airport, with many people in Yorkshire choosing to fly instead from Manchester. Newcastle recorded 4.8m passengers in 2016 compared to Leeds Bradford’s 3.6m.
Stansted Airport lowers growth target from 44.5 million to 43 million per year
Stansted Airport has scaled-back its expansion plans, saying it will achieve is growth ambitions without seeking any increase in the number of flights it is allowed to handle. Stansted current has permission for 35 million passengers per year, while it currently has about 25 million. But the airport said in June that it ‘urgently’ needs the cap to be raised to 44.5 million. Stansted is now saying it wants the cap raised to 43 million, not 44.5 million - and they can accommodate that growth by use of larger planes. They say they can get to 43 million passengers without increasing the noise “footprint” that is already authorised under the current capping arrangements. Stansted is hoping to get a lot of growth in passenger numbers, in the time before (if it ever happens) a 3rd Heathrow runway is built. Stansted hoped to get the growth to 44.5 million passengers, about 9 million more than now, through on a regular planning application - rather than having to go through the more rigorous National Infrastructure process, that would be needed for a 10 million passenger increase. Local campaign Stop Stansted Expansion said: “People shouldn’t be hoodwinked by Stansted Airport’s spin doctors. The new planning application would still mean an extra 1,800 flights a week compared to today’s levels.” There will now be more feedback sessions by Stansted during November, before a final planning application to Uttlesford Council early in 2018.
Government set to face fresh legal challenge from ClientEarth for inaction in cutting air pollution
Environmental lawyers, ClientEarth, are set to take the government back to court over what they say are ministers’ repeated failings to deal with the UK’s air pollution crisis. ClientEarth has already won two court battles against the government. It has has written a legal letter demanding that the environment secretary Michael Gove sets out a range of new measures to address UK air pollution. If the government fails to comply with this “letter before action”, ClientEarth will issue new proceedings and ministers are likely to face a third judicial review. The courts forced the government to produce its latest air quality plan in July but the document was widely criticised as inadequate by environmentalists and clean air campaigners. The government’s proposal had “simply passed the buck to local authorities who will have little option but to impose charges on diesel vehicles”. Better action by the government itself is needed, such as changes to the tax system to favour less polluting vehicles; a targeted diesel scrappage scheme and a “clean air fund” to help local authorities tackle pollution. In 2016 some 278 of the 391 local authorities (71%) missed their air quality targets, up from 258 in 2010 even though measures to reduce pollution are meant to be taken “in the shortest possible time”.
Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG (with over half Heathrow’s slots) again says its expensive 3rd runway plans are “a ridiculous glory project”
Willie Walsh, the boss of British Airways’ parent company, IAG, has again lambasted Heathrow’s expansion plans as a “ridiculous glory project”. He said the £17.6bn plan to build the 3rd runway (just £200 million for the runway itself - not counting the M25 problem) could lead to a “completely unjustified” increase in airport charges, which airlines would have to charge to passengers, denting demand etc. IAG (which owns Iberia and Aer Lingus) have over 50% of Heathrow landing slots. IAG wants a 3rd runway, though it would increase its competition, but they want a cheap no-frills scheme - and have backed the £7 billion cheaper scheme promoted by Surinder Arora. The Heathrow scheme requires the demolition of the BA HQ at Waterside in Harmondsworth and IAG could end up effectively paying its own compensation through increased charges levied by Heathrow. Willie Walsh also said IAG's new long-haul, low-cost brand Level might one day fly from Heathrow. At present, the subsidiary operates just two aircraft from its base in Barcelona. He hopes it will have 30 planes by 2022, and fly to destinations currently off the BA route map, like secondary cities in China.
Aviation biofuels plan would use palm oil and ‘destroy rainforests’ – warn 200+ environmental organisations
A new plan to accelerate production of biofuels for passenger planes has drawn stinging criticism from environmentalists who argue that most of the world’s rainforests might have to be cleared to produce the necessary crops. Aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions, with an 8% leap reported in Europe last year and a global fourfold increase in CO2 pollution expected by 2050. To rein this back, the industry is hoping for what it (unrealistically) calls "carbon neutral growth" by 2020 – to be met by biofuels, and offsets. The “green jet fuel” plan would increase the use of aviation biofuels to 5m tonnes per year by 2025, and 285m tonnes by 2050 – enough to cover half of overall demand for international aviation fuel. This is three times more biofuels than the world currently produces, and advanced biofuels are still at too early a stage of development to make up the difference. Environmentalists say that the most credible alternative fuel source would be hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), even though this would probably trigger a boom in palm oil plantations and a corresponding spike in deforestation. The vast use of palm oil for aviation biofuels would destroy the world’s rainforests, vital to life for local people and the habitats of endangered species such as orangutans. Over 200 environmental organisations are urging ICAO to scrap its misguided biofuels plan.
BEIS “Clean Growth Strategy” admits aviation CO2 cannot be kept below 37.5MtCO2 – it has no plan on aviation carbon
The government's long-awaited Clean Growth Strategy has been published by BEIS setting out how it plans to deliver the carbon reductions needed by the Climate Change Act. BEIS claims that “This strategy sets out our proposals for decarbonising all sectors of the UK economy through the 2020s.” But there’s a huge hole in the strategy - there is no plan for aviation CO2. Despite the Committee on Climate Change repeatedly asking for details of how the sector will keep to within is recommended cap of 37.5MtCO2 pear year, BEIS has been unable to provide any. The Clean Growth Strategy now gives up on the 37.5MtCO2 target, and anticipates the aviation sector emitting 44 MtCO2. Worse than that, in its calculations it lumps in shipping with aviation in that 44 MtCO2 - which presumably is simply an error. The strategy document just says the government “has not reached a final view on the appropriate level of aviation emissions in 2050.” There is not only no policy to limit aviation carbon to the 37.5MtCO2 level, but also no clue how all other sectors could make even greater carbon cuts, to allow for the higher aviation emissions. Cait Hewitt, of AEF, commented that as the government has no proposals or answers on limiting aviation CO2, and there should not be a new Heathrow runway until or unless these are clear.
Leo Barasi: UK Government’s new aviation strategy is a plan for climate chaos
In his new book, The Climate Majority, Leo Barasi looks at the problem the UK has with its carbon targets and its desire to fly more and more. There is no doubt about the fact that to meet its climate targets the UK must restrict flying – but the government is going backwards on this, and the public are becoming less worried about aviation’s environmental cost. A 3rd Heathrow runway, with ever more longer haul flights, might produce around 9 million tonnes of CO2 each year, which is about 8% of all the emissions the UK can release in 2050 if it is to meet the Climate Change Act. The government is well aware of, but trying to ignore and conceal, the fact that the Heathrow runway can only be built and used if aviation growth at other UK airports is restricted - or we fail to meet the UK carbon target. The Airports Commission was well aware of the problem, and suggested the entirely implausible solution would be to hugely raise the cost of flying a few decades ahead, to cut passenger numbers. The current consultation by the DfT is focused almost entirely on planning for huge aviation expansion, prioritising consumers over the climate. Ironically, while an ever larger percentage of the population realises climate change is real, and caused by humanity, fewer are prepared to reduce their own flying at all. Just 21% say they would be willing to fly less to reduce the impact of climate change.
Bankrupt Air Berlin (Europe’s 10th biggest airline) to end all flights by 28th October
Air Berlin has revealed all flights will be grounded by the 28th October. Air Berlin has been in financial crisis for months, culminating in forced insolvency mid-August. It was bailed out by a £137 million loan from the German government, which has kept planes flying until now. Air Berlin’s crisis began when Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, which holds a 29% stake in Air Berlin, finally withdrew its funding as the airline kept losing money. Lufthansa and easyJet are in talks with Air Berlin to buy up parts of the company. Customers who booked Air Berlin flights prior to August 15 will not get their money back from the airline. Monarch ceased trading earlier this month, less than two months after Air Berlin filed for bankruptcy, and in May, Italian airline Alitalia also became insolvent. The demise of 3 major European airlines recently has prompted concerns about the future of the aviation industry. Competition between airlines has become every more intense, and more failures of European airlines are likely. While easyJet, Ryanair and Norwegian may be able to continue, some 'mid-market' carriers with relatively high cost bases being continually squeezed to a point of failure. All this could spell the end of the ultra-low fares people have become accustomed to.
Stobart plans to open a 24 hour private jet centre at Southend airport in November
London is Europe's busiest city for private aviation, and Southend airport (some 65 km east of London) has become the latest airport to tap into the market. It has announced that the "Stobart Jet Centre" will open in November. Stobart - the owners of Southend airport - hope it will cater for 5,000 private flights per year by 2022, and will be open 24/7 for 364 days a year. That means plane noise on any night for nearby residents, but Stobart see the possibility of flying any time of the night as a big draw for London's private jet users. [That is, if they can be bothered to travel all the way out to Southend ...] And it will be cheap. Stobart says it is "...confident that London Southend Airport will become a refreshing, hassle-free alternative to London’s current, crowded private aviation terminals.... The airport is 42 miles from the heart of London's West End, while chauffeur transfers are under an hour by road to central London. There are also helicopter transfers to and from Canary Wharf or Battersea Heliport." London Southend said that with no slot restrictions, it will be able to offer faster departure routes outside of London airspace, reducing flight times. There are restrictions on night flights at Southend, to protect residents from night noise. But these apply to commercial flights, not private jets.
Philip Hammond admits, to Treasury Cttee, that no deal on Brexit could have serious impacts on flights to and from UK
Chancellor Philip Hammond has become the first Cabinet minister to admit leaving the EU without an agreement could ground all flights from the UK to Europe. Giving evidence to MPs on the Commons Treasury Committee, the Chancellor said that was “theoretically possible” and a failure to reach agreement with the EU would halt air traffic between Britain and the 27 member states on March 29, 2019. However, he did not believe that would happen, and a deal on air travel would be struct regardless as it would be in the mutual interest of both sides. It would be necessary to make decisions so there is no interim period with no deal. He said: "What I am not proposing to do is allocate funds to departments in advance of the need to spend it." All flights within the EU for the last 25 years have been governed by the “EU Internal Market for Aviation” - known as "open skies". This allows any EU airline to fly between any two EU airports, subject to slots being available, and has worked since 1992. When the UK leaves the EU, there are no WTO rules to fall back on, and the UK would need to negotiate an entirely new treaty with the EU for any flights. All flights from the UK to the US are governed by the Air Transport Agreement between the EU and USA, and this would also need to be re-negotiated.
Letter to ICAO, from hundreds of organisations, calling on it to oppose the promotion of biofuels in aviation
ICAO supports the aviation industry’s quest for unending rapid growth, a quest which is incompatible with keeping global warming to 1.5oC or even 2oC per (a goal endorsed by the Paris Agreement). Greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation alone grew by 87% between 1990 and 2014 and are rising faster than those from almost any other sector. Efficiency improvements lag far behind growth in the number of air passengers worldwide and there are no available techno-fixes which would allow planes to fly without burning hydrocarbon fuels. ICAO hopes for vast-scale use of biofuels in aircraft: it wants to see 128 million tonnes of biofuels a year being burned in plane engines by 2040, going up to 285 million tonnes (half of all aviation fuel) by 2050. By comparison, some 82 million tonnes of biofuels a year are currently used in transport worldwide. The only aviation biofuels which can currently be produced reliably and at scale – although they are still expensive – are made from vegetable oils and animal fats, using a technology called hydrotreatment. Any large-scale use of aviation biofuels made from hydrotreated vegetable oils (HVO) would almost certainly rely on palm oil. That would be an environmental disaster. See details of the letter to ICAO from Biofuelwatch signed by hundreds of organisations
Britain’s toxic air – especially PM2.5 particulates – ‘could cause dementia and diabetes’
The Commons health committee has warned toxic air could contribute towards dementia and even diabetes, as well as lung and cardiovascular effects. A new Inquiry by 4 parliamentary select committees, in to UK air pollution, has been started. Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, chair of the health committee, said: “There is an increasing amount of evidence showing the impact of nitrogen dioxide and invisible particulates on human health. Many people are aware of their impact on our lungs and hearts, but new evidence suggests that they could also contribute to diseases as disparate as dementia and diabetes.” The 4 committees launched a similar Inquiry in March, ending on 12th May. However, the General Election was called, and finally committees were re-constituted in September, with different membership. The Chair of the Transport Committee was Louise Ellman, and is now Lilian Greenwood. She commented that “Real change is possible if Government leads from the front to co-ordinate an effective response to one of the biggest issues of our time.” The mechanism by which PM2.5 particles could increase dementia may be through a critical Alzheimer’s risk gene, APOE4, interacts with air particles to accelerate brain ageing but the science is unclear. The mechanisms by which diabetes risk is raised are also unclear.
4 Commons Committees (Health, Transport, EFRA and Environment) re-launch joint inquiry on UK air pollution
Four Parliamentary Committees have re-launched their joint inquiry into improving UK air quality - for one month. The Committees are Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Environmental Audit, Health, and Transport. They started a similar inquiry in March, which ended on 12th May. In July 2017, after UK courts twice ruled that the Government’s plans to cut air pollution were inadequate, the Government released a new air quality plan. The new cross-party inquiry will examine whether this new plan goes far enough, and fast enough to both meet legal limits and to deliver the maximum environmental and health benefits. The Chair of the Health committee, Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, said there are concerns that air pollution may not only cause lung and heart problems, but possibly dementia and diabetes too. Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said local authorities do not believe the Government's plans for air pollution are adequate. Air pollution needs to be tackled by m any government departments across Whitehall working together. The joint Inquiry will hold Ministers from key Departments to account, on the effectiveness of plans to reduce air pollution. The huge role of road transport in lowering air quality is recognised. The Inquiry ends on 9th November.
Opinion: Ryanair and Monarch show the era of cheap short-haul flights is coming to an end
A customer proposition that has served short-haul European airlines well for over two decades may be coming to an end. It is 22 years since easyJet first offered passengers European flights for the price of a pair of jeans; back then just £29.99. And this generation of British travellers has grown to expect trans-continental hops for prices more akin to everyday clothes. The real costs of all these low-cost flights are becoming apparent, and there are doubt whether this is sustainable. Ryanair pilots are now rebelling over their pay and workload. Perhaps people will have to pay more for hopping across Europe, and that premium should go to creating a better experience for passengers and minimising environmental damage. The rock bottom fare prices were the death of Monarch. And even easyJet, whose marketing and PR have been good, is facing a crisis over the forecast impact of Brexit on its operations. More expensive flights is a very difficult proposition for any single airline, with the intense competition and minimal profit margins of their business model. But future air passenger numbers forecasts are increasingly likely to now be inaccurate - not the sort of thing to base massively expensive airport infrastructure investment on.
Heathrow consultation on its plans delayed as CAA hopes to reassure airlines on lower 3rd runway costs
The Times says Heathrow’s plans for a 3rd runway have been delayed until at least December, or early 2018, as the airport tries to cut £6 billion from the cost. A report by the CAA said that Heathrow’s proposals would be published for consultation “no earlier” than December. This had been expected by August. The CAA report was distributed to airlines, and said that Heathrow was working on revised proposals designed to cut £6 billion from the previous £17.6 billion budget. Heathrow's attempts to cut the cost is to reassure airlines like British Airways and Virgin Atlantic over “gold-plated” facilities planned for Heathrow expansion - that airlines fear they would have to pay for. Airlines fear higher landing charges, leading to higher fares, knocking their profits and even driving some airlines out of Heathrow. Heathrow has already publicised cuts to its plans, like delaying Terminal 6 and an underground passenger transit system to limit the expense. The problem of how to get the runway over the M25 has not been resolved, but it would be cheaper to do a bridge over the motorway rather than a proper tunnel, as the Airports Commission had expected. The airlines want Heathrow to "make available more mature information/data on costs and benchmarking before [the consultation].”
AvGen analysis casts doubt on accuracy of Heathrow’s “Fly Quiet & Clean” league table
Following the recent revisions to Heathrow's flagship "Fly Quiet" programme, which every 3 months ranks the airport's top 50 airlines on their environmental performance, UK-based consultancy AvGen Limited has cast serious doubts on the published results. Some of the anomalies AvGen uncovered are that in the latest Q2 2017 results of some of the airport's regular scheduled airlines, such as Icelandair, MEA and Egyptair, while carriers with markedly fewer flights during the period (for example Croatian and China Southern) are included. Another anomaly is airlines being awarded scores on average 45% higher than their performance, under Heathrow's own published rules, should merit. There is also inconsistent application of the "weighting" scheme, resulting in most airlines not being ranked in their true position (e.g. top performer Delta Air Lines gets demoted to 7th place). There is a serious lack of transparency, with no way to know how many points a given airline is awarded for each individual environmental measure, such as NOx emissions, and no ability to tell whether a carrier's performance in any area has improved or worsened quarter-on-quarter. So the Heathrow tables, much flaunted by the airport, mean very little and are not helpful.
London’s air pollution from PM2.5 is widespread and bad – electric vehicles don’t solve the problem
New research shows just how bad air pollution by PM2.5 is across London. The latest updated London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory, shows that every area in the capital exceeds WHO limits PM2.5, which are particularly bad for health as they penetrate deep into the lungs. The particles have serious health implications – especially for children – with both short- and long-term exposure increasing the likelihood of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Young people exposed to these pollutants are more likely to grow up with reduced lung function and develop asthma. However, the main sources of PM2.5 emissions in London are from tyre and brake wear, construction and wood burning. A recent European commission research paper found about half of all particulate matter comes from tyres and brakes. Cutting the number of diesel vehicles helps reduce NO2 levels, but even converting to electric does not solve the problem of the particles from tyres and brakes. Heathrow hopes getting more vehicles on the road network near the airport might reduce air pollution enough to get its runway - but that will not solve its PM2.5 problem.
Scottish plans to cut APD and introduce Air Departure Tax hit snag with EU state aid rules
Plans to replace Scottish air passenger duty with a discounted alternative have been disrupted by legal issues. The Scottish government wants to replace APD with a new devolved Air Departure Tax (ADT) in Scotland from April next year. MSPs voted for the new tax by 108 votes to 11 in June. However plans to continue exempting journeys from airports in the Highlands and Islands required EU approval under state aid rules. It is understood that getting this approval could take longer than Brexit. It could cost the Scottish government £320m to maintain the exemption of these flights in the meantime. The Scottish government wants to cut the new tax by 50%, before eventually scrapping it completely. It argues the move will boost the economy by increasing the number of flights to and from the country. To introduce the new tax, it has to be approved by the European Commission, and tough EU rules which ban state aid make it potentially problematic for flights to and from the Highlands and Islands being exempted. Transport & Environment says the state aid issue may never be resolved. If the UK wants to remain in the European Common Aviation Area, it will have to abide by EU rules including those on state aid. ECJ is the final arbitrator in that agreement. And the UK will have no vote in shaping future EU state aid rules.
Monarch failure: Government to pay bulk of repatriation costs – perhaps £60 million
The government will pick up the cost of repatriating the majority of Monarch Airlines’ passengers following the collapse of the airline and its sister Monarch Travel Group. Flights returning 110,000 passengers from overseas will cost about £60m, according to the CAA. The CAA confirmed the Air Travel Trust fund will pay only the cost of repatriating and refunding Atol-protected customers. CAA deputy director of consumer protection David Moesli said: “The government will pay. The Air Travel Trust is only covering the Atol-protected customers. However, the government has said it intends to recover the money from other parties.” The operation will bring home passengers, using aircraft from 16 different carriers, including British, North American and Qatari. The CAA insisted it had not sent Monarch into bankruptcy by refusing to renew its Atol licence. The CAA expects debit card issuers to join credit card issuers in refunding customers’ bookings, although there is no legal requirement for them to do so. The closure of Monarch will lead to nearly 1,900 job losses and is the largest ever closure of a UK airline. The reasons for its collapse are "depressed prices" in the short-haul travel market, fewer tourist trips due to terror attacks in Tunisia, Turkey and Egypt, increased competition, and the weak pound meaning many costs eg. fuel were higher.
EasyJet hoping to fly electric planes within a decade – reality is very limited, and a long time ahead
EasyJet has announced that it is hoping to fly planes powered by batteries rather than kerosene to destinations including Paris and Amsterdam within a decade. EasyJet has formed a partnership with US firm Wright Electric, which is developing a battery-propelled aircraft for flights under two hours. It has all sorts of hype about the difference this will make to carbon emissions etc. However, the weight problem of batteries imposes limits on distance a plane could fly. Jet fuel is around 50 times more energy dense than the best lithium batteries we have now. It seems extremely unlikely they could get a fully electric passenger aircraft carrying 120 passengers on 300 mile journeys in service in 10 years? It is more likely that the aircraft will use some kind of hybrid power system, using batteries to provide a boost on take-off, but then running engines using power from an on-board generator during flight (or vice versa). And it will take a lot more than 10 years for them to be in regular service. The short flights on which these could be used would be precisely those where rail (especially high speed rail) is a good alternative. Routes without a rail option might be Southampton to Dublin or Bristol to Paris. It is likely to be the kind of fake 'aspiration' to allow an uninformed public to believe that there is, or could be a green version of aviation. It is peddling false dreams, to let the industry continue with "business as usual" avoiding real cuts to CO2 emissions.
Biofuelwatch to publish report about aviation biofuels ahead of ICAO high-level conference
From 11th to 13th October, ICAO will be holding a High-Level Conference on Alternative Aviation Fuels, in Mexico City. ICAO's Secretariat has published a proposed "Vision" which would see 128 million tonnes of biofuels per year used in aircraft by 2040 and 285 million tonnes by 2050. By comparison, a total of 82 million tonnes of biofuels was produced worldwide for all uses last year. ICAO and airlines are keen to promote biofuels as solution to their CO2 problems. Greater efficiencies cannot possibly cancel out the impacts on CO2 emissions of the industry's expected rapid, continuous growth. Meaningful measures to curb aviation CO2 emissions would be incompatible with an airline's shareholder profits. The aviation sector hopes to use carbon offsetting (condemned by over 100 civil society groups last year) and biofuels (which, contrary to scientific evidence, continue to be largely classified as zero carbon). There is no possibility of producing the vast quantities of biofuels that would be needed for such an endeavour without disastrous impacts on forests, on the climate, on food prices, food sovereignty, on human rights and land rights. The prospect of even limited use of biofuels in aircraft is particularly concerning, especially if palm oil is used. There will be a new report on 6th October, and a Webinair on 6th October (4pm).
Climate change: Ministers should be ‘sued’ by “Plan B” over insufficient 2050 CO2 targets
Prof Sir David King, the government's former chief scientist, has said Ministers should tighten the UK's official climate change target - or face the courts. He supports a legal case forcing Ministers to shrink UK CO2 emissions to zero by 2050 - and says the current government goal - an 80% emissions cut by 2050 - is too weak to protect the climate. Ministers have failed to enshrine a 100% cut by 2050 within the Climate Change Act, though it knows what needs to be done. A small group, called "Plan B"(run by former government lawyer Tim Crosland) is taking preliminary legal action against the government. The basis of their case is that the UK is obliged under the Act to tighten CO2 targets if the science shows it is needed. Professor King is backing this legal action. Mr Crosland has written to the Business Secretary (at BEIS) Mr Clark and says if there is no satisfactory reply after 14 days, he will take the case to the High Court for judicial review. The case would be argued in court by Jonathan Crow, a former senior Treasury lawyer. Targets do not on their own reduce emissions, but efforts are needed to ensure Climate Change Act fulfils its purpose. Meeting the CO2 target is made much harder, as the government apparently intends to ignore CCC advice on aviation carbon, allowing it to grow - seriously threatening the 2050 target and the chances of achieving it.
Algae biofuel claims overhyped – GE algae risks to environment if they escape
A new report suggests that industrial scale production of biofuels and chemicals via genetically engineered (GE) microorganisms such as GE algae pose serious environmental and health risks. Microalgae Biofuels: Myths and Risks and a companion briefing, published by Biofuelwatch and Friends of the Earth US., reveals that even after decades of investment, viable commercial production of algae biofuels has failed and is unlikely to succeed. There are already problems caused by algal blooms in some places, and it therefore seems very unwise to be encouraging mass-scale production - with the inevitable accidental release of GE microalgae into the environment. Many of the traits that are being engineered to create algal ‘chemical factories’ could result in their outcompeting and proliferating out of control in the wild. These organisms could become ‘living pollution’ that is impossible to recall. The continued market hype about GE algae biofuels as sustainable, claims of unrealistic productivity, and historic promises of commercial viability just over the horizon perpetuate the myth of a “miracle fuel” and that unsustainable energy consumption may continue “business as usual.”
Packed Labour fringe meeting hears from John McDonnell, Andy Slaughter and Leonie Cooper on Heathrow runway air pollution problem
While Heathrow airport continued shmoozing any Labour party MP it could, with its corporate hospitality at the Labour Conference in Brighton this week, anti-runway campaigners raised concerns about high air pollution levels from Heathrow. A packed fringe meeting, standing room only, organised by the NO 3rd Runway Coalition, was addressed by John McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington. John was extremely busy during the Conference but had found time to open the meeting on a subject close to his heart. Aside from his long-standing and determined opposition to a 3rd Heathrow runway, to protect his constituents, he was emphatic that the runway could and would never meet the 4 tests Labour have set. These tests refer to environment and economic aspects of the expansion. On air quality alone, the airport already generates high pollution levels, and these could only worsen with another 50% more flights. Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter also spoke convincingly on the low chance the runway would even actually be built, because of the catalogue of serious problems. Leonie Cooper, Chair of the GLA Environment Committee reiterated the seriousness of the air pollution problems around London, the harmful impacts on childrens' lungs, and the determination of Mayor Sadiq Khan to get improvements.
Frustration as Gatwick continues to blight communities with noise – new independent noise survey for residents
The Chair of CAGNE, representing communities affected by Gatwick noise in West Sussex and Surrey, has met senior members at the DfT to raise concerns about the continuing problems. A year on from the formation of the Gatwick Noise Management Board (NMB), Gatwick continues to ignore the people most impacted by aircraft noise, day and night 7 days a week - with no respite. CAGNE says Gatwick airport continues to focus on areas that already have respite from plane noise, with some seeing a decline in aircraft movements according to data from the CAA. To get a better picture of the problem, CAGNE has now launched an independent survey questionnaire for residents. It is being circulated to CAGNE members, parish and town councils via the CAGNE Council Aviation Forum. It is also being sent to MP in affected constituencies, asking them to encourage residents to take part in the survey. It is a huge concern for those already affected by the airport that Gatwick continues to push for a 2nd runway, (even if there is a 3rd Heathrow runway) and CAGNE will be attending the Conservative Party Conference to ensure that the community’s voice of frustration at Gatwick’s continued blight is heard.
FAA cites over 42,000 complaints of plane noise from residents near Washington airports
The FAA’s annual aircraft report lists 42,683 complaints about noisy flights from Reagan airport (Washington) and Dulles International airport (Washington) in 2016. That compares with just 10,000 complaints the year before. Many people are complaining about planes about every three minutes, all day long. People say the plane noises increased tremendously since December 2015. That’s when the FAA launched a new GPS navigation tool called the Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen for short. The system, which takes the place of radar, allows planes to travel safely at closer distances, and to use more direct routes - and means concentrated, narrow flight paths. Upset residents call the flight paths “sacrificial noise corridors,” with the same routes being used continually, over the same homes and neighbourhoods. People are being badly affected, and unable to use their outdoor space, because of noise intrusion. Local group the “DC Fair Skies Coalition" is suing the FAA to move routes back to over the Potomac and other waterways, as they were before. The FAA is unwilling to change anything, as the concentrated routes improve their efficiency and save airlines a small amount of money on fuel. One resident said, on plane noise: “It goes away, but as soon as the noise is gone, another plane starts.”
CAA rejects Edinburgh Airport’s application for flight path change due to “Technical and Coordination” issues
Edinburgh airport’s planned new flight path has been put on hold after the CAA announced it was halting the process. The CAA’s decision - which is very unusual - is understood to relate to technical aspects of the proposal, as well as a delay in receiving elements of the submission. It is not yet clear what this means for local communities that are affected by the airport and its noise, but the CAA decision is welcomed by local noise campaigners. This was the first Airspace Change proposal, by Edinburgh airport, which anticipates many more. Local group, Edinburgh Airport Watch (EAW) said that during the 2 year consultation process, multiple flaws and errors by the airport were identified at every stage. It remains to be seen whether the CAA will require a new application by Edinburgh airport to be determined under the CAA’s new rules for Airspace Change, rather than the old ones. Many people under newly concentrated flight paths have been experiencing much worse plane noise, in the past few years. EAW says the airport now has fewer aircraft movements than 10 years ago, and new routes are not needed. They want the airport to "learn from their past mistakes, and start a proper, meaningful and respectful dialogue with Communities that leads to substantial improvements."
Criticism that Government’s Heathrow leaflet was “mere propaganda” justified, says judge
The comms team at the DfT has been criticised over a promotional leaflet extolling the virtues of a 3rd runway at Heathrow, which has been branded as a "hard sell". The retired judge, Sir Jeremy Sullivan, asked to assess and oversee the quality of the DfT consultation said criticisms of propaganda in the DfT's NPS Heathrow consultation leaflet were justified, but the consultation was otherwise well run. Sir Jeremy was critical of the mass-produced leaflet, which went to about 1.5 million homes. There was inadequate information in the leaflet about consultation events, and it was unduly biased in favour of the runway. He said that it "fell short" of best practice and criticisms that it was "mere propaganda" on behalf of Heathrow were justified. "The headline points, as presented in the leaflet, did give the impression of a 'hard sell' for Heathrow." ... "It would have been much better if a more neutral leaflet had been distributed, giving more information about the addresses of the local events." The DfT said they were analysing over 70,000 responses, which "will be fully considered" before the NPS is presented to Parliament for a vote next year.
Tech & creative sectors the key to London’s future, as well as professional services and FinTech (not Heathrow)
According to the latest CBI/CBRE London Business Survey the majority of respondents said that the tech and creative sectors were the principal sectors for the capital’s economic growth over the next five years. That is followed by professional services and FinTech (financial technology). About 90% considered London a good or great place to do business. Around 75% of firms surveyed wanted the Government to push ahead with Crossrail 2 whilst over half wanted Heathrow’s 3rd runway to be a priority project. With the overwhelming majority of London businesses employing staff from the EU, Brexit is having a significant impact on the capital’s companies. Almost 75% of firms view uncertainty over the UK’s role in Europe as their top concern, whilst a similar number have developed, or are developing, a contingency plan for when the UK leaves the EU. About a quarter are planning to move part of their operations overseas, and two thirds have, or are developing, a strategy to address skill shortages that could be incurred if restrictions are placed on EU nationals working in the UK. The CBI London Director said London is a great place to do business, and the CBRE said the unrivalled cultural and social benefits the capital provides are important.
Consultation on flight path changes at Leeds Bradford airport – ends 6th October
A public consultation (ends 5th November) is under way into air space changes around Leeds Bradford Airport. The departure routes will not change, but aircraft will climb quicker, reducing plane noise to some of those under the flight paths. The airport says that to provide improved spacing between arriving and departing aircraft and greater efficiency of operation, the new procedures require additional airspace within which to manoeuvre aircraft. Some new areas would be overflown. After the consultation, the airport will submit its application to the CAA, which has 17 weeks to reply. Once approval is achieved, LBA will complete controller training with the changes set to be implemented from autumn next year. The proposals affect Class G airspace, and would significantly concentrate flight paths – so some local residents will be blighted with considerably more noise then they experience today whilst others may benefit. The documentation claims that the change in airspace proposed will not automatically mean an increase in air passenger numbers and aircraft movements but then refers readers to the airports development plan published elsewhere which clearly states their ambition to grow passenger numbers to 7 million per year by 2030 (from around 3.5 million now).
Heathrow wants Chancellor to scrap APD on domestic flights – which would help make some routes viable
Heathrow is urging the Government to scrap Air Passenger Duty on domestic flights. It has written to the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, before the Budget on 22nd November, arguing for this.. Air Passenger Duty is £13 per person (aged over 18) per flight leaving a UK airport. Therefore while a passenger on a return flight to a European airport only pays £13, on a domestic return flight they pay £26. Heathrow says if APD on domestic fights was scrapped, it would result in a £24m "annual saving" for those flying from that airport. [That means a £24 million loss to the Treasury]. Domestic air tickets tend already to be cheaper than rail for the same journey, and this would make them even cheaper. Consultancy Frontier Economics reckons removing APD on domestic flights would increase GDP growth and boost tax receipts to offset the loss to the Treasury from the abolition of the tax. That would mean there would have to be a lot more domestic passengers. Heathrow has promised there will be more domestic links, if it gets a 3rd runway. Many of those would need to be subsidised. Removing APD could make these domestic links viable, without costing Heathrow anything. That results in the taxpayer losing tax, and Heathrow saving itself money.
Plane Justice Ltd -v- CAA: Gatwick Route 4 Court Case passes its first big test
In the High Court Mrs Justice Lang DBE granted permission for Plane Justice’s Judicial Review case against the Civil Aviation Authority to proceed to a full trial hearing on all grounds.In granting permission, Mrs Justice Lang said Plane Justice’s grounds of claim merited full consideration. Gaining permission to proceed is a vital first step that all JR cases have to go through, and only a minority of JR cases achieve it. Plane Justice is trying to get changes to Gatwick\s Route 4 departure route, which was altered in May 2016 and now overflies (or in some cases vectors over) new populations to the north of the airport in Newdigate, Capel, Leigh, Norwood Hill, Sidlow, Salfords, Outwood and Horley. The route was changed to avoid overflying other areas, and a different group, Plane Wrong, fought hard to get the route change that badly affected them in 2013 altered. Plane Justice wants the route to revert to how it was before 2013. The case is now likely to be listed for a full hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London in the new year. Salfords & Sidlow Parish Council, affected by Route 4, has made a substantial donation towards the legal costs, and Plane Justice has to date raised 82% of its budget to fund the High Court action.
City ramps up pressure on politicians to push ahead with Heathrow runway, after likelihood of delays
The City of London Corporation has taken the opportunity of the Lib Dem Party Conference to urge the party “to not stand in the way of Heathrow expansion”. The Corporation’s policy chair Catherine McGuinness, said: “Increased airport capacity at Heathrow is near the top of the list when we speak to firms about what can do to help them trade more, create jobs and invest for the future.” (Many other surveys of businesses over the years do not show this - but it depends on which firms are sampled). Speaking at the party conference yesterday, Lib Dem leader Vince Cable (a long term opponent of the runway) said: “I want our party to remain where we were, which is opposed to Heathrow expansion, strong on the environment, protective of our climate change obligations, but committed to support business, but in a practical way that rebalances the UK.” The Labour party is also known to be very divided on the issue of Heathrow, with a lot of opposition. Some Labour MPs have been misled by inaccurate forecasts of jobs that the runway might create. Big business tends to stand with its colleague, Heathrow. The CBI wants progress on the runway quickly, and the Institute of Directors said after waiting years, they want to see "spades in the ground" at Heathrow.
Offsets can play limited role in reducing aviation CO2 – but there’s poor understanding of their limitations
With the growth in air travel demand forecast to outstrip fuel efficiency improvements, the only hope for the aviation industry’s CO2 emissions goals is if they could be achieved through the purchase of carbon offsets. However, says a new study, there is considerable misunderstanding about offsetting and the difference between scientific and policy perspectives. Offsets are merely a way to cancel out aviation carbon, by nominally assisting other sectors to make actual reductions in carbon emissions. Offsets are just a way of concealing the problem, and giving the impression that aviation is not just adding to global carbon emissions. The study says offsets do not "make emissions ‘go away’ in some miraculous manner" and there is a low level of understanding about the limitations of offsets in reducing global CO2. For example, the influence on the global climate system of additional atmospheric CO2 from the combustion of fossil fuels is not neutralised by offsets in the land sector. As it does not reduce atmospheric concentrations of CO2, carbon offsetting should be seen as a second or even third best option behind technological advances or demand reduction efforts to make the necessary deep cuts in aviation emissions over the long term.
MEPs place limits on aviation ETS exemption and put airlines on intra-EU flights CO2 reduction path
MEPs have voted to limit the exemption from the EU ETS of flights to and from Europe until 2021, pending further information regarding ICAO's offsetting measure ‘CORSIA’ (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation). It would be much more effective, in limiting aviation CO2 emissions by flights using European airports to have them all included. However, only flights between EU airports are now included in the ETS. But sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) welcomes this vote saying an indefinite exemption of flights to and from Europe would have been a blank cheque to ICAO. It would have been reckless, as it is not yet known how the CORSIA scheme will operate or how effective it will be. There is still no clarity on CORSIA rules on offset quality and enforcement, for future aviation carbon emissions. "Europe now has a leverage to make aviation contribute to our collective climate efforts as proportionally as other sectors of the EU economy should the global measure fail.” For intra-EU flights, MEPs have also voted to start reducing the cap in CO2 allowances from 2021, thus bringing aviation into line with other sectors covered by the EU ETS scheme. This is an important shift in the EU’s approach to aviation’s climate impact. They are also to look at aviation's non-CO2 impacts, so far ignored.
Local MP says RAF Northolt is becoming a commercial airport ‘in all but name’
Labour MP Gareth Thomas (Harrow West) says military base, Northolt Airport, in west London near Heathrow is hosting 10,000 passenger flights a year and this number could quintuple. It is used by many VIP passenger flights and by the royal family. It is not supposed to be a commercial airport, but it seems to have become one "by stealth" and it is “increasingly apparent that it is a commercial airport in all but name”, with military status used “as a smokescreen”. While it is a military airfield, the number of commercial flights has dramatically increased in recent years. The number of passenger journeys, mostly involving VIP jets, dwarfs the 3,800 military flights. In a report commissioned by the Ministry of Defence, consultants suggested increasing the number of commercial flights to 50,000 a year, with the regional airline Flybe among those campaigning for commercial passenger flights to start operating there. Local residents had not been consulted over further changes including the proposed increase to 50,000. Some enthusiasts for Northolt hope it could become “an alternative to London City airport” for regional flights with up to 100 seats and a “key access airport” for Heathrow. It is unsuitable for larger planes. Gareth Thomas said the number of flights was already having a major impact on local people’s quality of life, including noise pollution, poor air quality and concerns about safety.
BA flight to Athens returns to Heathrow (flying across London) after engine fire soon after take off
A British Airways flight was forced to turn back to Heathrow on Weds 6th September after witnesses reported seeing flames coming out of the engine. The Boeing 777, bound for Athens, headed back to Heathrow within minutes of taking off. Flight tracking website FlightRadar24, showed a graphic of the aircraft departing from Heathrow, circling around Maidstone in Kent and then returning. The plane had the engine on fire closed down, so flew right over London in order to land (landing from the east towards the west). Airlive tweeted: “British Airways Boeing 777 (reg. G-VIIH) returning to Heathrow with engine #2 shut down.The flight departed as scheduled at 1.44 this afternoon but was forced to declare an emergency and return to British Airways London hub." British Airways had not confirmed the fire but said they were looking into the incident. Speaking to The Independent a British Airways spokesperson said: “The flight landed safely after returning to the airport, and our highly trained engineers are investigating what happened." This is a reminder that is it very far from ideal for planes limping, damaged, back to Heathrow - across miles of densely populated London. This should remind people of the safety issues of the location of Heathrow - with the risk even higher with a 3rd runway.
Privately funded rail link project from Windsor to Heathrow T5 – making a “rail M25”
Plans have been published for a new railway connecting the Great Western Main Line with Heathrow and Waterloo - via Windsor, which could be a link creating a future ‘M25 rail route’ encircling Greater London. It is considered to be feasible. Most of the rest of such a route either exists or is already being built, such as East West Rail between Oxford and Bedford. The Windsor project includes a new railway in tunnel connecting the two existing stations at Windsor, with Riverside being replaced by a new central station and transport interchange. A new railway would be built connecting the present Windsor Riverside line with Heathrow Terminal 5, with several possible routes identified. The cost is being put at £375 million, to be funded by the private sector. Investors would also bear the risk of any cost overruns. Promoters of the Windsor Link Railway have published a strategic case, and a formal feasibility study – a ‘GRIP 2’ report – has now been submitted to Network Rail. The Windsor Link report was prepared by engineering consultants Pell Frischmann in collaboration with Network Rail, with support from Skanska Infrastructure Development. This scheme is separate from the other privately funded scheme called - Heathrow Southern Railway - which like the Windsor Link would use the two vacant platforms at Terminal 5 station.
Newcastle Chronicle asks: “Could Heathrow expansion hurt the North East and Newcastle Airport?”
Because Heathrow hopes to get support from the Newcastle area for its hoped-for 3rd runway, it held one of its "business summits" there. The airport has elaborate projections, based on extremely weak and shaky premises, of the economic benefit - and the jobs - that its runway would bring to the north east. However, the No 3rd Runway Coalition has pointed out (which came as news to the local press, that has been starved on the real facts) just how few jobs the runway would probably bring, and how Heathrow has used unreliable estimates based on out of date, discredited, numbers. While Heathrow takes one figure (all the UK over 60 years) of economic benefit of £147 billion, the DfT downgraded this figure in 2016 to £61 billion. Even that is hugely inaccurate, with the actual number taking all costs into account, more like £1 - 2 billion at most. Heathrow implies (based on the incorrect £147 bn) that the north east region would get some 5,000 jobs The other harsh reality is that a 3rd runway is unlikely to do much to increase domestic links to Heathrow, as these are only maintained if subsidised. What is much more likely to happen is that Newcastle airport would have fewer long haul flights, with even more of a concentration of these at Heathrow. The Coalition said that for good connections between the north east and international markets, the Government should be working to get direct flights into airports such as Newcastle.
Gatwick continues to claim it would build a runway even if there is also a 3rd Heathrow runway
The boss of Gatwick, Stewart Wingate (in line for huge bonuses if he can get a 2nd runway approved) is repeating his claim that he will get the runway, and build it instead of - or in addition to - a 3rd runway at Heathrow. Gatwick has managed to considerably grow its passenger numbers this year, as affluent citizens have plenty of spare spending money and flying is so dirt cheap (especially with the oil price being very low). Gatwick is increasingly adding long-haul destinations in the US, Florida and the Caribbean to its tourist customers. Gatwick says it has had an 11% rise in long-haul passengers this summer compared to 2016. Stewart Wingate said: “Later this year, we’ll be further adding to our more than 60 long-haul connections with routes to Denver, Seattle, Austin, Chicago, Taipei and Singapore ... As Gatwick continues to grow beyond 45 million annual passengers, we remain ready and willing to build our financeable and deliverable 2nd runway scheme ...." His comments came as Labour peer Lord Blunkett claimed that the party will support building a 3rd runway at Heathrow because it fears the anger of powerful trade unions if it does not. He said the unions would “not countenance” the parliamentary Labour party being told to vote down the plans due to the sheer number of jobs involved. He has been persuaded by the job numbers put about by Heathrow.
Holland-Kaye confirms again that Heathrow will need to build its runway etc in phases to spread costs
Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye, has again said the airport may need to build its 3rd runway and associated airport infrastructure in phases, to spread the massive £17 billion cost over many years. It will be interesting to see the latest government air travel demand forecasts when they are finally published later this year. It is likely they will show more demand at Gatwick than the Airports Commission had assumed, when it pressed for a 3rd Heathrow runway. There may be less strong demand for Heathrow than originally suggested, with impacts on Heathrow's finances. Holland-Kaye says he is not in favour of the cheaper runway plan by hotel tycoon Surinder Arora, which could be some £7 billion cheaper than Heathrow's own. Not otherwise very bothered about the extra noise caused by his 3rd runway, Holland-Kay says ..."I’m most concerned about the idea that the runway might move closer to London – that means more homes lost, more people hit by aircraft noise." He says: ‘We can expand the airport with fewer new buildings. We can do the construction on a phased basis so we can smooth out the price. Originally we were going to expand Terminal 2 early on which would have given us an extra 20 million passengers a year. ...Now we’re going to do that in phases, adding enough for 5 million at a time."