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

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Latest news stories:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Government response to CCC advice on how the UK will achieve net-zero; woefully poor on cutting aviation CO2

The Government has produced "The Government Response to the Committee on Climate Change’s 2019 Progress Report to Parliament – Reducing UK emissions".  It is very weak on aviation, stating:  "The Aviation 2050 Green Paper was published in December 2018 and proposed accepting the CCC’s long-standing planning assumption that for an economy-wide target of an 80% emissions reduction, aviation emissions in 2050 should be no higher than those in 2005 (i.e. 37.5 MtCO2e). It also proposed a requirement that airports’ planning applications for capacity growth must demonstrate that their emissions do not impact on our ability to meet carbon reduction targets." No mention of the UK zero carbon target, ie. 100 % cuts, not the 80%.  It says: "Following the aviation advice we received from the CCC in September 2019, we intend to consult on how we are going to achieve a sustainable growth of the aviation sector and update our position on aviation and climate change." While the CCC recommended formal inclusion of international aviation and shipping emissions in the Climate Change Act net-zero target, all the DfT says is it is "minded to include these emissions in domestic legislation at a later date, subject to future progress in ICAO."

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Huge expansion plans by all UK airports mean carbon cap would be greatly exceeded

The UK aviation sector has massive expansion plans, that would take its carbon emissions way above even a lax future cap. UK airports are planning to expand almost three times faster than the government's climate change advisers, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), say is sustainable. Sky News has done an analysis, which shows the "masterplans" for 21 of the country's biggest airports show they intend to add 192 million passengers to the 286 million that already use their terminals, over the next 10-20 years.  That's a growth of 67%. It far exceeds the ceiling of "at most 25%" that the Committee on Climate Change has told the Department of Transport is the limit for sustainable growth if the UK is to meet its commitment for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Heathrow plans for almost 50 million more passengers per year (it had about 80 million in 2018). Gatwick hopes to add 24 million passengers to the 46 million per year it now has. Southampton hopes to expand from 2 million to 5 million passengers by 2037 - an increase of 151%. Doncaster Sheffield airport, wants passenger numbers to grow from 1.2 to 7.2 million. Belfast City airport wants to almost double the number of passengers to four million over the coming years. And so on.

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Government CO2 net zero commitment challenged in High Court, on Heathrow expansion NPS

A cross-party group of politicians will join claimants, campaigners and residents outside the High Court on the morning of Thursday 17th October as the legal challenge against the proposed expansion of Heathrow continues, with the Government’s new target of net zero emission by 2050 a key element of the judicial review.  The Court of Appeal will be hearing the challenges from Local Authorities, the Mayor of London and Greenpeace as well as Friends of the Earth, Plan B Earth and Heathrow Hub. The challenges are being made against the decision to designate the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS). One ground is the incompatibility of the expansion plans with the UK’s climate change commitments.  The previous challenge was dismissed by the High Court on a technicality as the Government had not incorporated the Paris Agreement into law. The Climate Change Act (2008) has now been amended to incorporate a target of Net Zero by 2050, which places an even more pressing demand upon Government to limit the expansion of carbon intensive infrastructure. The No 3rd Runway Coalition said: “It’s now vital for Government to pause plans for Heathrow expansion, to reassess airport capacity strategy for the whole country.”

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Imperial College report for the CCC says regulations are needed, on marketing and advertising of high-CO2 flights and holidays

A report, by Dr Richard Carmichael of Imperial College, London, was commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), to look at behaviour change, public engagement and the UK Net-Zero target. It made a number of recommendations, one on advertising of flights. It says:  "Advertising and marketing of holiday destinations and airlines also stimulate demand for flying and help set norms and aspirations about flying. Advertising and packaging for alcohol and tobacco has long been tightly controlled in view of their health risks, and gambling marketing must warn about irresponsible betting. More responsible flying could also be encouraged by new regulations for the marketing and promotion of flights and holiday destinations by requiring that carbon footprints of flights are stated in the advertising material. This could raise awareness and begin to change the norm of unproblematic unlimited flying." Recommendation:  "Encourage more responsible flying by mandating that all marketing of flights show emissions information expressed in terms that are meaningful to consumers (e.g., as proportion of an average household’s annual emissions now and under Net Zero)."

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Polling reveals 64% of Britons are concerned about the climate impact of Heathrow 3rd runway, and only about 25% back it

A poll conducted by YouGov Plc., for Friends of the Earth (FoE), showed that 64% of people, after being told the potential benefits and negatives impacts of the Heathrow 3rd runway plans, were concerned about its climate impact.  The survey also showed that only 1 in 4 people  (25%) support the plans. The online survey's total sample size was 2,017 adults and fieldwork was undertaken between 4th - 6th October 2019.  Numbers were weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).  The 50% planned increase in the number of flights at Heathrow (about 700 more movements than now) would mean almost 50% more carbon emissions, that would all but destroy any chances of the UK meeting its targets for cutting CO2 emissions and fighting climate breakdown.  The poll results come as FoE prepares to take its legal case against Heathrow’s 3rd runway plans to the Court of Appeal on climate grounds. The court will hear an appeal against the High Court’s decision that the government had not breached its sustainable development duties by allowing the expansion of Heathrow. The hearing begins on Thursday 17 October and is expected to last six days.

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Report for the CCC recommends not only a levy on number of flights someone takes, but their length (and seat class)

A report written by Dr Richard Carmichael from Imperial College London, for the Committee on Climate Change, sets out several important recommendations on how to reduce the demand for, and the carbon emissions from, air travel. One recommendation is to impose a frequent flyer levy, that not only takes account of the number of flights a person takes in a year, but the distance travelled (and thus the carbon emitted). This should also include class of ticket bought, as premium classes cause the emission of much more carbon than economy seats. The levy would help discourage long-haul flights: as most flying is for leisure, some shift from long-haul to short-haul destinations would be expected, delivering further emissions reductions. Averaging-out flying habits over a longer period than one year would also be fairer: a 3-4-year period, for example, could mean a traveller could take a long-haul trip without incurring a substantial levy if they took few other flights during the rest of the period. The complexity of administering this levy need not be onerous, though would need a central database storing total miles flown in the accounting period under a passport number.

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Imperial College report for the CCC says Air Miles schemes, which needless encourage frequent flying, should be banned

Air miles schemes should be axed as they encourage jet-setters to take extra flights in a bid to maintain “privileged traveller status”, according to a report by Imperial College, London, commissioned by the government’s climate change advisers, the Committee on Climate Change. Encouraging those who already fly a lot, to fly even more, is completely the wrong way to try to cut the carbon emissions from aviation. The report says: "The greatest beneficiaries of aviation’s generous tax treatment in the UK (it is exempt from fuel duty and zero-rated for VAT) are therefore those who pollute most and could most easily afford to pay more. The norm of unlimited flying being acceptable needs to be challenged and, as a very highly-polluting luxury, it is suitable to taxation."  It also recommends: "Introduce regulation to ban frequent flyer reward schemes that stimulate demand". And: "Raise awareness and encourage more responsible flying by mandating that all marketing of flights show emissions information expressed in terms that are meaningful to consumers."  Also: "Introducing restrictions to ‘all-you-can-fly’ passes and loyalty schemes which offer air miles would remove incentives to excessive or stimulated flying."

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Offsetting by passengers on flights won’t get us to net zero, says AEF in response to government offsetting consultation

The Department for Transport’s held a consultation "Carbon offsetting in transport: a call for evidence" which closed on 26th September.  The consultation outlined a proposal to require all air travel providers and other providers of ticketed travel to give passengers the option to buy a carbon offset for their journey. The Aviation Environment Federation did a response, in which they agree with the CCC's view that "the UK should not plan to meet is climate change obligations using international offset credits." They also agree with the EU’s decision to exclude international offsets from its ETS. There are few good quality carbon offsets available, and very few deliver CO2 reductions beyond what would have happened anyway. In the not-too-distant future, when all countries and sectors are cutting their emissions, there will not be many spare credits available. AEF say: "But a key argument against offsetting is that it risks distracting from the need to rein in aviation demand in order to tackle emissions." People think that having bought a cheap offset for a few ££s means that's all OK, and they can book another flight.  It delays real cuts in aviation emissions, that can only be achieved by the industry not expanding.

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IAG now rattled by growing awareness of carbon emissions from flying, and possibly lower passenger numbers

The airline industry is feeling under threat, from growing awareness across society - and it many other countries - that its carbon emissions are a problem. It fears there will be a drop in passenger numbers, if the concept of "flying shame" catches on, and if more people decide to fly less. So the industry is fighting back, with claims about how it is a "force for good" in the world, and how it is working really, really hard to reduce its emissions. Doing everything it can, other than actually not trying to keep growing. Willie Walsh admits aviation will keep on burning huge amounts of fossil fuel for decades, as there are no real alternatives (other than very tiny amounts of alternative fuels). He admits that the only solution is carbon offsets, as the emissions from aviation rise, and so at best emissions are net, not gross.  Increases in aviation carbon just wipe out the cuts made elsewhere.  The industry like to keep emphasising that the cost of flying must not be raised, putting it out of reach of the poor - but ignores the solution, that a frequent flyer levy could be imposed, giving each person a free flight per year, with escalating tax on subsequent flights. Most flights are taken by people who fly several (or many) times per year.  IAG wants to give the impression of being a leader in carbon responsibility ...while continuing with "business as usual" flying as much as it can.

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Travel industry told, by “Responsible Travel”, that they must encourage their customers to fly less, and only fly if necessary

At the ABTA Travel Convention in Tokyo, Tim Williamson, director of marketing and content at Responsible Travel, told delegates he couldn’t “sugar coat” his message that “we all need to fly less and we need to encourage our customers to fly less”, in order to tackle the challenge of climate change.  He said:  “Given that I’m talking to travel companies, that’s a difficult message, but if we’re going to stop the planet heating above two degrees, I can’t see how you can do it without flying less.”  Also that a reduction in flying was key to lowering emissions created by travel and he warned “we need to act now ...We’ve not done nearly enough in the last ten years on carbon.”  He told the Convention that carbon offsets are also “a very murky world”, and voluntary offsetting is not enough - and that the answer may lie in a carbon tax on aviation. He claimed turning Air Passenger Duty (APD into a kind of emissions fee, combined with raising rates to discourage people from flying unless necessary, could “fund sustainable aviation”. A delegate gave the warning to the audience to “Change before you have to.” 

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Extinction Rebellion protests at London City Airport, to highlight the threat of its higher CO2

As part of the Extinction Rebellion protests in London, as well as in around 60 cities around the world, London City Airport was a target for action.  The intention to disrupt the airport, the plans were announced well beforehand. Many XR people got into the airport, causing disruption in a non-violent manner.  A smartly dressed man, who had bought a flight ticket for an Aer Lingus flight, got onto his plane and then refused to sit down. He "walked down the aisle, delivering a lecture on climate change"; this caused about two hours delay to the flight. Another, a Paralympic cycling medallist James Brown, who is visually impaired, also had a ticket for an Amsterdam flights, but when approaching the plane door, instead climbed onto the roof of the BA plane  About 50 arrests were made at the airport, including those who had blocking the airport entrance or glued themselves to the terminal floor. There were delays to some flights.  The airport was chosen for the action because of the glaring incompatibility of the government's legally-binding commitment to be net carbon neutral by 2050, with expanding the aviation sector. Many of the flights from London City are leisure, (skiing, city breaks, beach holidays, etc) not for business.

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Independent legal advice says the 2018 decision on Stansted Airport expansion should be reconsidered by Uttlesford Council

Stop Stansted Expansion say the 2018 Stansted Airport Planning Application should be considered entirely afresh.  That's the verdict of leading planning barrister Paul Stinchcombe QC in an independent legal opinion prepared for Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE).  In the interests of transparency the full (25-page) legal advice is now published today and will be available online at http://stopstanstedexpansion.com/ The QC's opinion sets out the key precedents in planning law and confirms that Uttlesford District Council (UDC) is lawfully entitled to reconsider the entire Planning Application even if there have been no material changes in circumstances or any relevant new considerations.  However, a number of new material factors which have arisen since the Application was provisionally approved last year mean there is not only an entitlement to reconsider, but an obligation to do so.  The QC's advice explains that, provided there are good planning reasons, the new Planning Committee could quite lawfully and reasonably reach a different planning judgment from the former Committee who, by the slenderest of margins provisionally approved the Application last November. 

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BA flight ‘declares emergency’ after leaving Heathrow, then flies across whole of London for emergency landing

On 3rd October, British Airways Airbus A319 flight BA1496 to Glasgow was forced to turn back to Heathrow, after declaring an emergency 9 minutes after take off. According to reports, no Pan-pan signal was declared but the pilots 'were wearing oxygen masks'. The flight was scheduled to leave London at 9.40pm, but took off at 10.20pm. The plane took off towards the west, turned north and circled round London, did a loop around east London, before approaching Heathrow - flying right across the middle of London, over tens or hundreds of thousands of people - to land safely on the southern runway. A the time of the emergency, the plane was at approximately 10,000ft. The reason for the emergency has not yet been released. This brings back memories of a flight in May 2013 that had an engine problem (caused by faults on maintenance, due to technicians been too tired....) which caused one engine to catch fire. The plane flew right across London, visibly trailing smoke all the way, using just one engine.  There are many more flights that return to Heathrow with problems, about which we never hear. These raise serious concerns about the location of SUCH a busy airport - let alone its plans to increase numbers of flights by 50%.

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Skeleton arguments by Plan B Earth for their legal appeal against government approval of the Airports NPS

The legal appeals against the decision of the High Court, to reject the legal challenges against the Secretary of State for Transport (SST) decision to designate the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), starts on 17th October, at the Appeal Court, in the Strand. The ANPS gave approval for a 3rd Heathrow runway.  One of the four parties who are appealing is Plan B Earth, on grounds of the increased carbon emissions that the runway would produce. The Plan B skeleton argument has been publicised, and this says the SST and the court below proceeded on the false assumption that “Government policy relating to … climate change” was confined to a) (The minimum target established by CCA s. 1 as it was then, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 compared to a 1990 baseline) and that  b) (a commitment to introduce a new UK target in accordance with the Paris Agreement (a commitment which has now been implemented into law, via a change to CCA s.1)  should be disregarded.  Also that neither the SST nor the court below, have advanced any explanation for disregarding the Committee on Climate Change's clear position on this issue. "If the court below had given proper account to these matters, and properly considered the advice of the CCC, it would have been driven to the conclusion that the ANPS was fundamentally flawed and that it should be quashed."

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Islington Council agrees motion on opposition to Heathrow Expansion & the introduction of concentrated flight paths over Islington

Islington Council has agreed a motion, to oppose the expansion of Heathrow, and the introduction of concentrated flight paths over Islington. This was debated by the Council on 26th September. The Council believes:  That expansion of Heathrow is not compatible with the climate emergency recently declared by the UK Parliament and by this Council. And  That noise impacts from additional flights over London would have a negative impact on the health and quality of life of Islington residents.  It therefore resolves to:  Oppose expansion of airport capacity in London if the Government cannot demonstrate that it is accommodated within the emissions budget that the CCC recommends for aviation in 2050, as well as other environmental limits, such as air quality.  Make representations to London City Airport and the CAA calling for a fairer distribution of flight paths in London.  Make representations to the Government urging UK Aviation Noise policy to be brought into line with WHO recommendations.  Register as an ‘Interested Party” in the Development Consent Order Process for the proposed expansion of Heathrow.  Investigate joining the No Third Runway Coalition as a local authority member

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Windsor and Maidenhead residents show up the unverifiable claims made by Rob Gray, Heathrow’s Director of Community & Stakeholder Relations

In response to a letter in the Maidenhead Advertiser by Rob Gray (who used to be the head of the astroturf group, "Back Heathrow" and is now Director - Community & Stakeholder Relations at Heathrow), making a number of dodgy statements about Heathrow expansion, several residents have sent in great responses. A few quotes: "He says that the Expansion project will only be permitted if it can be delivered within strict and legally binding environmental targets  – but he does not say that Heathrow’s carefully chosen word ’target’ relates to an unenforceable aspiration which is entirely different to “enforcement’’.  Mr Gray fails to admit that most of the current targets are not met today and this would be virtually impossible to remedy with an addition of at least 54% more flights."  And "After substantial costs of pollution, congestion, noise and health ill-effects, the DfT's own report shows the overall benefit is practically zero and could easily go negative. Heathrow is real motivation is to increase the £800 million in dividends sent last year to foreign Chinese, Qatari, Singaporean, Spanish and Canadian investors, whilst over the previous 10 years they paid only a total of £24 million in corporation tax to HMRC."  See the three letters.

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Badly thought-through aviation carbon targets, involving biofuels, risk massive deforestation to grow palmoil and soya

A new report shows that the aviation industry’s attempts to cut its carbon emissions (caused by encouraging more and more people to take more flights....) are likely to lead to a dramatic increase in demand for palm oil and soy for aviation biofuels. They suggest the amount of tropical forest that would be taken for this could be 3.2 million hectares – an area larger than Belgium. The aviation industry hopes to be able to use as much alternative fuel as possible, and hopes this will be classed as lower carbon than conventional kerosene jet fuel. These hopes are unrealistic. To try to prevent climate destabilisation from worsening, the world needs as much forest as possible left standing, intact and health. The last thing we need is forest being cut down, in order to produce fuel for planes - largely for hedonistic leisure travel.  It makes no sense to destroy so much forest, and its biodiversity, for such an inessential reason. The report says the only technology currently operating at a commercial scale to make bio-jet fuel is the ‘HEFA’ (Hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids) process using vegetable oils and animal fats. The cheapest and most readily available feedstocks for HEFA jet fuel are palm oil and soy oil, which are closely linked to tropical deforestation - not to mention competition for land for human food.

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Climate perks: new scheme encouraging employers to give staff extra paid holiday days, to travel overland, not by plane

Travel habits may be starting to change, as climate awareness - and our sense of personal responsibility for it - are growing.  A survey by Trainline indicated about two-thirds of Brits  want to try to try to choose more sustainable options. But people still want to travel a lot, and a constraint is time time travelling overland takes - compared to air travel. A new initiative, the the 10:10 climate action campaign, called Climate Perks, is being launched, to encourage employers to help staff take lower carbon forms of transport for their holidays. That means giving them a few extra paid days holiday, on which to travel.  This can empower staff to act on their values.  In exchange, employers receive Climate Perks accreditation in recognition of their climate leadership. The carbon emissions from travelling by train or coach are far lower than those for the same trip by plane - they might be a quarter or a third of those by plane. Even a [non-gas-guzzler ...!] car, with 4 people in it, has far lower CO2 emissions than those people all flying. And there are benefits of appreciating the distance travelled, and stopping off at places en route, to visit them too. The journey becomes a valuable part of the holiday.

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Increase in numbers trying to cut the amount they fly could reduce plane sales by Airbus and Boeing

The Swedish concept of "flygskam" or "flight shame" appears to be spreading.  A survey by (bank) UBS of more than 6,000 people has revealed that a growing number of travellers in Europe and America have already reduced the number of flights they took over the last year,  because of heightened environmental awareness. Around 25% of flyers in France, Germany and the U.S said they had reduced flights. Only 16% of Brits (16%) said climate change had encouraged them to take one less flight.  It may be that over 25% are now “thinking about it,” when asked if climate worries could affect travel plans - up from 20% in May. Global air travel has been grown by between 4% and 5% a year, so overall numbers are doubling every 15 years. UBS is expecting higher costs of flying, and growing climate concern, could reduce intra-European traffic growth over the next 20 years to 1.5% per year versus the 3% per year currently estimated by Airbus. The number could be 1.3% growth in the US, compared to 2.1%, over the next decade or so. That could have a big impact on aircraft manufacturers, cutting profits.

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Heathrow might get over £1 billion per year from its congestion charge, at £29 or more per day per vehicle

Heathrow could make £1.2 billion a year from a congestion (vehicle access) charge levied on drivers arriving at the airport by car, according to analysis. Heathrow has committed to expanding without any extra cars on the road. The new charging, that might be introduced when (or IF) a 3rd runway opened - which the airport hopes would be in 2026 - might grow by 2040 to yield as much as £3.25 million per day.  The charge, is set to cost £29 a day, based on today’s prices, then rising. As many as 65,000 vehicles would pay the charge each day.  It would eventually be levied on all cars, including those with the lowest emissions, and is designed to act to encourage drivers to choose public transport to get to and from Heathrow. In reality, there would not be enough bus and train capacity to deal with all the extra passengers. The number needing to travel by public transport might be 140 million more than now - a 75% increase.  There is likely to be no way for drivers in the area, not associated with the airport, to avoid being charged.  Heathrow says then money it gets (why does Heathrow get to keep it?) from the charge "will help to improve sustainable transport and keep passenger charges affordable..." 

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More direct Eurostar services to be created, including western France and German cities – helping cut flights

At present, travellers to Amsterdam by Eurostar have a direct trip on the way out, but have to change at Brussels on the return, for security, customs and immigration checks. This is now to change. Direct services will start, between Amsterdam and St Pancras on December 15th.  In future these checks will take place at Dutch stations. For London – Amsterdam passengers, security and customs checks take place before boarding at St Pancras, and that will continue. Netherlands Railways (NS) and Eurostar are working to complete facilities such as segregated platforms and waiting facilities, so security and immigration checks can be transferred to Rotterdam Central and Amsterdam Central. Another change, helping more travellers to use rail rather than flying, is that Eurostar plans to merge with another operator, enabling direct train services and an integrated network covering 5 countries. With the new system, a direct rail journey from London to Bordeaux would take about four-and-a-half hours. There would also be direct trains to Cologne, Düsseldorf, Essen, Aachen and Dortmund. Already in summer there are trains to Marseilles.  The number of passengers across the combined network might rise by by two thirds over the next 10 years, from 18.5 million to 30 million.

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FoI data from the DfT shows 1% of English residents take 20% of overseas flights

igures obtained from the Department for Transport, through a FoI request, indicate that just 1% of English residents are responsible for nearly 20% of all flights abroad. These figures have not bee n published before. The DfT survey of transport and passengers, also showed that the 10% most frequent flyers in England took more than half of all international flights in 2018. However, 48% of the population did not take a single flight abroad in the last year.  The new findings bolster calls for a frequent flyer levy, a proposal under which each citizen would be allowed one tax-free flight per year but would pay progressively higher taxes on each additional flight taken. John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, also endorsed the idea of a frequent flyer levy. “It makes it easier for families to fly once a year, but the escalating tax on further flights means that the people responsible for most of the problem are the ones who end up paying most of the tax – or, ideally, flying a lot less."  Sian Berry said:  “A progressive tax on the most frequent flyers is a fair policy that most people would come behind if the government put it forward.”  It was realised 4 years ago that about 70% of flights are taken by about 15% of UK residents.  See more at A Free Ride. 

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Heathrow expansion dealt huge blow by Committee on Climate Change aviation carbon advice

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has advised the Government that aviation will become the biggest source of carbon in the UK by 2050 and that expansion at Heathrow leaves very little room for growth at any other airport. In the letter, CCC Chair Lord Deben states that demand for aviation will need to be reduced and policies implemented to help limit that demand. The CCC state that Government need to reassess its airport capacity strategy to ensure that the increase in air travel demand by 2050 is half what is currently predicted. They suggest that a frequent flyer levy would help to curb the demand for growth or alternatively Government could raise taxes on airlines or restrict airport capacity growth. In a direct blow to aviation industry claims of technological solutions to aviation’s carbon problem, the CCC states that zero-carbon aviation is highly unlikely to be feasible by 2050. It estimates that aviation emissions could be reduced by around just 20% through improvements to fuel efficiency, some use of low carbon fuels, and limiting demand growth. Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said:  "The Government must now commit to amending the Airports National Policy Statement in light of the climate emergency.”

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Committee on Climate Change advice to the Government on aviation: it must be included in the UK net-zero target

The advice from the Government's statutory advisors on climate issues, the CCC, to the Government, says it is important that the carbon emissions of international aviation and shipping (IAS) are formally included into the UK net-zero target. This needs to complement international action to reduce aviation carbon.  The CCC letter, from its Chairman Lord Deben, says the aim should be for international aviation to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and this should be reflected in the Government’s forthcoming Aviation Strategy . "It means reducing actual emissions in the IAS sectors" and the CCC considers this "is likely to require some use of greenhouse gas removals (GGRs) to offset remaining emissions." The limit of 30 MtCO2 per year, by UK aviation, requires demand growth of no more than 25%  compared to 2018. That would only be possible if there are significant improvements in aircraft efficiency, maybe 10% of low carbon fuels, and some increased flight charges.  But the UK is aiming at net zero by 2050. The CCC says aviation will have to pay to capture some CO2 from the atmosphere, and that only offsets that actually remove CO2 - rather than trying to stop more being emitted, would be acceptable. 

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Committee on Climate Change advice to government on aviation: flying will have to become more expensive

In a letter to Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport, Lord Deben, Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC - the government's statutory advisor) warns that flying will have to become more expensive, especially for frequent flyers, to avoid climate chaos and keep the UK within its carbon targets. The letter also warns that going ahead with a Heathrow 3rd runway would all but rule out airport expansion in the rest of the country.  Demand for aviation will have to be reduced, in order that aviation carbon is kept under some degree of control, while the UK has a zero carbon target for 2050. Ways demand could be reduced might be increased APD, new levies on frequent flyers and changes to air taxation relative to rail and road. Aviation is likely to become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK by 2050. The CCC says the government "should assess its airport capacity strategy in the context of net zero. Specifically, investments will need to be demonstrated to make economic sense in a net-zero world..." In other words, does it make sense to build another Heathrow runway, when future demand for air travel will have to be limited. The CCC's Chairman, Chris Stark said: “But it’s very important that the government is honest about aviation emissions.”

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Global airlines’ CO2 emissions rising up to 70% faster than predicted by ICAO

Worldwide CO2 emissions from commercial flights are rising up to 70% faster than predicted by the UN, according to analysis by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT).  They found that CO2 emitted by airlines increased by 32% from 2013 to 2018, and was about 918 million tonnes (for passengers + freight) in 2018. This rate of growth is higher even than the projections by ICAO. ICCT says: “The implied annual compound growth rate of emissions, 5.7%, is 70% higher than those used to develop ICAO’s projections that CO2 emissions from international aviation will triple under business as usual by 2050.”  The UK has particularly high aviation CO2 emissions, per capita - being responsible for 4% of global aviation CO2 emissions, behind only the US (24%) and China (13%), and the whole EU (18%). The only plan ICAO has to cut aviation carbon is an “aspirational goal” to make all growth in international flights after 2020 “carbon neutral” by buying carbon offsets from other sectors (effectively cancelling out carbon cuts made elsewhere). Small efficiency gains have been made, of 1 - 2% per year, but are dwarfed by industry growth rates of over 5% per year. Our Grant Shapps is waffling about electric planes .... which will NOT solve the problem.

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Redbridge councillors agree to oppose ‘detrimental’ London City Airport expansion plans

Redbridge Councillors have agreed to oppose  (43 : 10) London City Airport's expansion plans and express serious concern about the "detrimental effect" of noise and air pollution on the health and wellbeing of Redbridge residents.  Proposing the motion, Councillor Sheila Bain and Councillor John Howard spoke about the "profound noise and environmental impact" the proposals will have on residents, particularly those living directly under the flight paths. The motion also asked councillors to note a lack of evidence to support the claims that noise pollution, air quality and emissions will not be affected and the lack of adequate consultation by London City Airport with residents affected by the proposals, most of whom are unaware of the consultation taking place.  Councillor Paul Donovan said: "City Airport needs to think again, listen to what people are saying and realise that whilst they may need to make more money, that the environment, health and welfare of those of us living below these flight paths is more important."

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Jeremy Corbyn urged to block all airport expansion under radical plan to slash carbon emissions by 2030

Labour could end all airport expansion in the UK under radical plans drawn up by party activists to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2030. With Corbyn saying climate change is one of his top priorities, his supporters hope to push their proposals to a vote at the Labour conference next week, to make them official policy.  There are at least 7 motions to the conference, submitted by local branches, asking for an end to more construction and growth of airports. Environmentally aware Labour members "specifically want to see radical policy on the climate and if you’re talking about net zero by 2030...one of the less radical things, to help decarbonise the economy, will be not building any more airports."  Separately, Labour for a Green New Deal, a prominent grassroots campaign group, has claimed that "opposition to airport expansion should be as natural to the Labour Party...as support for new green jobs.”  Labour party members are being asked to boycott the many events at the conference sponsored by Heathrow and Gatwick airports (they always sponsor conference stuff, hoping to gain favour...).  The problem for Labour is the unions, Unite in particular, which have members working in the aviation sector..

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Ealing Council demands Heathrow pay up £190 million to offset the impact of a 3rd runway

In its response to the Heathrow consultation, Ealing Council has said it will do everything it can to oppose the expansion of Heathrow Airport - unless it is given £190 million for mitigation measures, investment and new transport links.  Ealing Council said the current plans would create unacceptable levels of noise and pollution for its residents. "The council is demanding a £190 million package [it was £150 million in October 2016] of mitigation and investment for the borough, should expansion go ahead.  This includes getting better insulation for home owners to combat noise and increasing the catchment area covered by the scheme.  The council also wants new investment to improve public transport, so more airport passengers and employees can travel to the airport by greener means, reducing air pollution locally.” Other demands included greater investment in skills and employment - and also a commitment to a total night time flight ban, except in emergencies.  The Council Leader said there has to be a balance  between economic benefits and the very real noise and environmental impacts on local people, and  “Despite some positive engagement, we haven’t really seen much movement on some of the concessions we’ve been seeking.

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Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) announce a major campaign to challenge Gatwick’s Master Plan.

Under the banner Gatwick's Big Enough community groups around Gatwick have joined forces with GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) to call Gatwick to account over their Master Plan growth proposals.  The airport plans to grow to be the size of Heathrow today, with an increase in flights in the next 10 years to 390,000 pa (1,050 or more per day), and passenger numbers to 70 million passengers per year (190,000 or more per day). By contrast the current numbers are around  283,000 flights in 2018, and 46 million passengers.  That growth will bring increased misery to thousands through noise, pollution and impacts on local infrastructure.  They also mean a massive increase in CO2 emissions caused by the additional flights estimated at an increase of almost 1 million tonnes CO2 (circa 37% increase) per annum by 2050. The new campaign group is already challenging Gatwick's attempts to bypass full scrutiny on its main runway growth plans through use of the Planning Permitted Development processes. It has made a submission to the Planning Inspectorate for Gatwick's use of its emergency runway to be fully used. It is also planning challenges to plans for a 3rd runway.

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Rival scheme, Heathrow Hub, estimate true costs of Heathrow runway could be £61 billion, by 2050 (not £14 bn)

The rival scheme, to try to build a 3rd Heathrow runway - Heathrow Hub - have put together figures indicating the final cost of Heathrow's 3rd Runway Plan could be £61 billion by 2050.  That is in contrast to the £14 billion claimed by Heathrow itself and even the £32 billion assed by IAG.  Heathrow Hub say the cost of the initial phase, included in Heathrow’s current consultation, could be as much as £37.7 billion, when it is supposedly completed in 2026.  The figure of £14 billion is based on 2014 prices, 5 year out of date, and assumes a pared down scheme with no new terminal capacity. Heathrow’s current consultation shows a completely different scheme, which would cost far more.  There is no clarity on how Heathrow would bridge the M25 (12 lanes wide at that point) and what it would cost.  Over 5 years, there are now higher costs from inflation and higher land acquisition and relocation costs.  Heathrow Hub say Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps should announce a review of the project.  They want the CAA to make Heathrow provide proper figures on costs.  The CAA disclosed pre-planning application spending by the Airport has tripled to £2.9bn. The Hub's scheme would, of course, also cost more than they estimate now ...

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YouGov poll indicates about 67% of UK adults appreciate that amount of flying should be restricted

A YouGov poll of 2,000 adults in the UK found that about two-thirds of people in the UK think the amount people fly should be reined in to tackle climate change. The poll indicated about 28% said air travel should definitely be limited, with 38% said it should probably be restricted. Just 22% felt there was no need for limits, and 11% said they did not know. The poll was commissioned by the Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST), partly in the light of the publicity created by Heathrow Pause, in drawing attention to the nonsense of expanding Heathrow and increasing UK flying, when we are in a climate crisis.  The poll findings of 66% of people believing flying should be restricted is much higher than a few years ago, and signals a shift in social attitudes. This has happened because of more informed media coverage of climate issues, and more understanding that the climate is changing already. The polling also found that 48% of people had become more worried about climate change in the past year, up from around 25% in 2014. Whether people will actually cut the amount they fly remains to be seen - people prefer to opt for smaller changes ...

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Bristol Airport expansion cycle protesters halt A38 traffic near airport entrance

The new local group, opposed to expansion of Bristol Airport, partly on grounds of carbon emissions but also due to noise and other local impacts, has held a protest cycle ride.  The group of about 70 cyclists met up close to the airport and then cycled in convoy along the busy A38. They temporarily brought roads around the airport to a halt in a protest against expansion plans, by riding in convoy to the airport and then repeatedly cycled around a roundabout close to the entrance. The lunchtime protest caused queues of between two and three miles in both directions.  Unbelievably, the airport tries to claim its expansion to 12 million annual passengers by the mid 2020 will cut CO2 - as slightly fewer people would drive to London airports, if they fly from Bristol. They would in fact just fly more.  The group support taking the "flight free  pledge" not to fly in 2020, as a way to get people to think more carefully about travel and their lifestyle choices.  The airport has submitted plans for the expansion and North Somerset Council is expected to decide on the expansion later this year.

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Complaint submitted to Advertising Standards Authority about misleading Ryanair emissions advert.

A complaint has been made to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about an advert Ryanair has placed in newspapers saying it is "Europe’s lowest fares, lowest emissions airline" on the grounds that it is systematically misleading about the airline's carbon emissions. While that may be true in terms of carbon emissions per seat kilometre flown, it is certainly NOT true for the airline as a whole. Ryanair is in fact now the 10th largest carbon emitter in Europe, on an assessment of power stations, manufacturing plants and airlines. Its emissions were around 10 million tonnes CO2 in 2018, up 6.9% on 2017.  The complainant says the "unqualified statements" in the advert combine to make the advert "comprehensively misleading as to the impact of both past and future expansion of low-cost air travel on carbon emissions, an expansion which was, and is still, being led by Ryanair." 

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Wokingham council poised to change stance to opposing Heathrow 3rd runway, as local Labour launches petition against it

Wokingham Council is poised to change its stance over a 3rd Heathrow runway - it had previously been in favour of it, but now the council leader realises the damage it would bring. It is utterly in conflict with the council having declared a climate emergency recently. “Wokingham Borough Council has declared a climate emergency. We only have 10 years to take drastic action. If we’re really serious about climate change, we must object.”Separately Wokingham's Labour group leader has launched a petition calling on the council to ditch its support for Heathrow expansion as "it is bad for the environment and bad for the Thames Valley and we do not want it." ...“We are in a Climate Emergency – encouraging more flights will make it harder to win the fight against climate change....The expansion of Heathrow will concentrate even more economic growth in the Thames Valley and increase the demand for housing here.”  The council's position has changed, because "things have moved on since five years ago.”...  "Few, if any, of our communities will escape noise and many will be affected seven days a week."

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Interesting breakdown by T&E of the hidden subsidies of airlines in Europe, that allow flights to be SO cheap

An interesting inquiry by Transport & Environment looks at how flights within Europe can be  so cheap. It emerges that there are many hidden subsidies, which enable a flight to be so much cheaper than the same trip by train. In their example, they consider the trip from Amsterdam to Toulouse. The cost of the air ticket by Air France-KLM would be €80, and €81.65 with some extra charges.  The total of the subsidies came to €86.24 in subsidies, and then another €43 in state debt. That consists of:  airline tickets being VAT exempt, a difference of €7.35 per person. €45 per person is invested in the infrastructure to keep Schiphol Airport accessible.  Border control costs €3.50 per person. The pipelines to get kerosene to Schiphol cost €0.05 per person, and the tax exemption for kerosene is €25 per person. The total amount of small extra subsidies was estimated at €0.25 per person. The EU contributes €1 per person to the flight, in particular to reorganise the airspace. And KLM gets free emission rights worth €4.14 per person. The €86.29 in subsidies does not include the Dutch public debt, which increases by €43 per person because of state investment in Air France-KLM. 

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Heathrow wants the £4 bn APD revenue (paid because aviation pays no VAT or fuel duty) to boost ‘green’ aviation fuels

Heathrow's avarice and self-interest appear to know no bounds. Aside from the immense cost to public health from the increased noise and air pollution of its plans for a 3rd runway (equivalent to bolting another large UK airport onto the Heathrow site....) the huge cost to the taxpayer for the necessary improvements to surface access infrastructure, if it expands, and so many other costs - like destroying villages, Heathrow wants yet more. The Treasury has repeatedly said that the aviation industry in the UK pays Air Passenger Duty (APD) BECAUSE that makes up, to a small extent, for the income lost to the Treasury each year, because the aviation sector pays NO fuel duty and NO VAT.  The money is NOT there to give the aviation industry a boost.  But Heathrow wants  the approximately £4 billion raised each year from APD to be given back to the industry, so it can try to find a way to produce jet fuels that are allegedly "sustainable" and "lower carbon" that convention jet fuel. The problem for the aviation industry is that, other than worthy-sounding pronouncements about "the ambition of a net-zero carbon aviation industry by 2050" etc, they have no actual plans of any means by which to do that.  APD funds should NOT be given back to aviation.

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Yet another “first” household & commercial waste to aviation fuel plant planning application – Velocys, Shell, BA

Altalto, a collaboration between Velocys, British Airways and Shell, has submitted a planning application for a plant that turns waste into so-called "sustainable" aviation fuel. The proposed plant near Grimsby would take hundreds of thousands of tonnes of household and commercial solid waste destined for landfill or incineration. That would be converted into fuel, to be used by the aviation industry (some could be used for road vehicle fuels...). The scheme is claiming it would "reduce reduce net greenhouse gases by 70% compared to the fossil fuel equivalent."  The company says the fuel also improves air quality, with up to 90% reduction in particulate matter from aircraft engine exhausts and almost 100% reduction in sulphur oxides - but gives no explanation how. It also claims the process produces less air pollution that if the waste was incinerated or landfilled (but gives on details).  Usual blurb from British Airways (desperate to try to make out that aviation will emit less CO2 in future, while continuing to grow) about "Sustainable fuels can be a game-changer for aviation..."  blah blah... BA had proposed a similar plant in Essex which was cancelled due to lack of funding in 2016.

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£125 million more UK public money going to fund aviation research to (possibly, eventually) minimally cut CO2 emissions

The aviation industry repeatedly gets money from the UK government, to help it try to find new technologies, or new fuels, that might slightly cut the carbon emissions of flights.  Instead of the industry funding this research itself, it always wants public money to help - money from taxpayers that could be better used.  If the aviation sector really wanted to cut its carbon emissions significantly, it would stop attempting to grow as fast as possible. If the government was serious about cutting aviation CO2, it would introduce measures to make flying more expensive and less attractive, in order to cut demand. But instead, money is spent on technologies that just - basically - involve continuing with "business as usual" and carrying on flying as much as possible.  Hopes of magical future technologies, or fuels, just postpone the day when they have to "bite the bullet" and reduce aviation growth. Now the UK government is spending another "£125 million in the Future of Flight Challenge, supported by an industry co-investment of £175 million, to fund development of technologies including cargo drones, urban air taxis and larger electric passenger aircraft." Fiddling while Rome burns....

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Local opposition growing to expansion plans by Southampton airport

A group within Southampton Friends of the Earth has set up a campaign to oppose Southampton Airport expansion. Despite the Government's recent commitment to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, there are many airport expansion applications across the UK. This expansion cannot enable the aviation sector to meet even its current, easy, carbon target - let alone the much more stringent one required for a zero-carbon Britain by 2050. The airport will probably submit its planning application to extend the runway by 170 metres to Eastleigh Borough Council in the next few weeks. The scoping report and Master Plan have received approval in principle from Southampton City Council. Twyford Parish Council has objected, due to a proposed increase of flights over the village. Eastleigh Greens are likely to be objecting as well.  Friends of the Earth Southampton are currently putting together a petition to Southampton City Council to ask them to re-think their support for airport expansion, given that the Government is asking for net zero carbon by 2050. Campaigners started a group here to oppose the proposed expansion but it has not got a name yet. People interested can get in touch via the local FoE group foesoton@gmail.com

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Evan Davis “The Bottom Line” programme on aviation industry CO2 – basically “there is no plan”…

Evan Davis has done an edition of the BBC programme "The Bottom Line" on aviation and its claims about cutting its carbon emissions. His interview is revealing, in making clear how empty the industry's claims of reducing its CO2 in future really are. Sector representatives admit it has broken its own pledges to grow carbon neutrally and lacks firm plans to achieve it by 2050. They talk about changing the sort of planes that fly, though ignoring that any new plane model that could fundamentally cut CO2 emissions per passenger is decades away, and all planes remain in service for perhaps 30 years. There is foolish over-optimism that electric planes might eventually transport enough passengers to make a difference - but it is decades away. All the current changes they are mentioning cut CO2 by far smaller amounts than the anticipated annual growth of the industry. As Evan says, "But this is sort of hot air…we’re used to from the aviation industry: ‘we’re all taking this very seriously, we’re signing up to these targets, by the way we missed it the last time we did it, but we’re ever more ambitions in the target we’re going to sign up to… there’s no plan.’ "

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What will be the impact of the UK ambition of “Net Zero” on the Airports NPS?

Lawyers, BDB Pitmans, for whom airport planning is an area of work, have commented on the change by the UK to a net zero carbon target by 2050 - and its effect on the aviation sector. They say the 1990 baseline was 778 million tonnes of CO2. With the 80% cut target, until 27th June, the UK had to cut CO2 emissions to 155.6 million tonnes by 2050. It now has to be reduced to 0 tonnes. The government understands that: "Achieving net-zero GHG emissions for the UK will rely on a range of Speculative options that currently have very low levels of technology readiness, very high costs, and/or significant barriers to public acceptability." One change that will be needed is for people to fly less. The legal challenges in March 2019 against the Airports NPS had grounds relating to carbon emissions, but these were dismissed, on the basis of developments like the Paris Agreement had not yet being translated into UK law. Now the Appeal Court will hear the legal challenges, and as the CO2 target has been changed, presumably the conclusions of the NPS are now vulnerable. The Sec of State for Transport will need to review the NPS, considering whether there has been a "significant change in any circumstances."

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Mayor of Newham’s challenge to London City Airport’s expansion as “fundamentally flawed, due to lack of clarity & information”

Campaigners have welcomed a demand by the mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, to halt London City Airport's consultation on expansion with more daily flights - until it shows how it will tackling noise and CO2 emissions. City Airport's Consultation Master Plan suggests almost doubling the number of daily flights, with more early morning and late evening. The airport insists its consultation will continue till 20th September. The mayor called the consultation "fundamentally flawed because of lack of clarity and information" in a letter to the airport's chief executive. She calls on the airport to halt the public consultation immediately until it publishes the "omitted technical details". "The significance of the mayor's move cannot be overstated. Newham is the planning authority for the airport," said Hacan East chairman John Stewart.  Newham Council which declared a "climate emergency" earlier this year, and is seeking more evidence about the airport's plans to tackle CO2 emissions and air pollution. A huge number of people are already badly affected by aircraft noise. Newham already has a large number of deaths, occurring prematurely, due to air pollution. London City airport growth - pollution from aircraft - would only add to that, as well as the noise assault.

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Plan B Earth skeleton argument for Heathrow legal Appeal in October – that Grayling’s designation of the NPS was unlawful

The legal challenge by Plan B Earth is one of the four that will be heard at the Appeal Court from the 17th October. They have published their skeleton argument, which says, in summary that on 27th June 2019, the UK carbon target was amended by statutory instrument to read “at least 100%” cut by 2050 (ie. net zero) rather than the previous target of an 80% cut.  Plan B say the "Secretary of State [Grayling] proceeded on the false premise that the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Government’s commitment to introducing a net zero carbon target in accordance with the Paris Agreement were “irrelevant” considerations for the purposes of s.5(8) of" the 2008 Climate Change Act.  And the Secretary of State "chose to ignore these developments and proceeded as if there had been no material developments in government policy relating to climate change since 2008 and as if no change were in contemplation."  And  "The basis of the Appellant’s claim that the designation of the ANPS was unlawful, and that it should be quashed, is that the Secretary of State approach to these matters was fundamentally flawed."

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Heathrow legal challenge Appeals to be live-streamed from the Court of Appeal (from 17th October)

On 23rd July 2019, the Court of Appeal ruled that there were grounds for appeal for all four of the legal judicial reviews, challenging the Governments support for the expansion of Heathrow. These will take place at the Court of Appeal, from 17th October, for 6 days, and will be live-streamed. On 1st May 2019, the High Court dismissed the judicial review claims made by five separate parties that the Government's Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), as approved by Parliament in June 2018, was unlawful.  Paul Beckford, Policy Director of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, the leading campaign organisation opposing the expansion of Heathrow, said: "This is excellent news for transparency. It is vital that the public get the opportunity to hear that the Government chose to proceed with expansion at Heathrow because the former Secretary of State for Transport (Grayling) did not consider the Paris Agreement relevant. The fact that a net zero target has now been included in the Climate Change Act makes the climate case against expansion even stronger."

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AEF explains why Gatwick expansion adds to UK’s aviation CO2 headache – at least 1 million tonnes more CO2 per year

If Gatwick was allowed to increase its number of flights and passengers, that would be a huge increase in its carbon emissions. Already the UK aviation sector is not on track to stay under even the outdated cap of 37.5MtCO2. That was when the UK was aiming for an 80% cut in carbon emissions, compared to 1990, by 2050. But now the UK has signed up to zero carbon  - ie. 100% cut - by 2050.  The corresponding carbon cap for aviation would then be more like below 30MtCO2 by 2050. As the ongoing growth, from incremental increases in flights and passengers from most UK airports, will take the UK aviation sector well over the 37.5MtCO2 limit, let alone the 30MtCO2 cap. So there is absolutely no room for a Heathrow 3rd runway, or the semi-new-runway at Gatwick - achieved by making use of its emergency runway for much of the time. The AEF has pointed out that Gatwick's Masterplan is for 390,000 flights per annum by 2032/33, around 39% more than in 2018.  Gatwick carefully avoids giving any CO2 estimates in future, let alone to 2050. Extrapolating the carbon emissions from 2017 estimates by the DfT, it is likely that Gatwick's carbon emissions would rise by about 1Mt CO2 per year, to 3.6MtCO2 (or more, if Gatwick has a larger % of long-haul flights in future) if it uses its emergency runway as a second runway.

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Heathrow gets £9M payout from DfT for HS2 work at Old Oak Common affecting Heathrow Express

In mid-July, before he left the job, Transport secretary Chris Grayling signed off on a £9M payout to be handed to Heathrow Airport to prepare for HS2.  The pre-emptive payment from the DfT to Heathrow is compensation for knocking down a rail depot at Old Oak Common where Heathrow Express trains are kept.  The £9M figure was reported in Heathrow Express’ annual accounts. It is understood that the sum will be paid irrespective of whether or not HS2 gets the go ahead, with the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson in charge. A DfT spokesperson said the compensation would be part of “a series of agreements to secure the future of the Heathrow Express service, while enabling the construction of a new HS2 station at Old Oak Common”.  For the £9 million, Heathrow Express "agreed to vacate its train care depot at Old Oak Common to make way for the development of HS2.” In the Lords, on 24th July (the day Boris became PM), Lib Dem Baroness Elizabeth Randerson asked the DfT if the £9 million was still being paid, and the then Transport Minister Baroness Vere replied that "Work continues on HS2 and that £9 million was part of that work." 

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London Assembly – wholly opposed to Heathrow expansion – urges people to respond, rejecting 3rd runway plans

The London Assembly is totally opposed to a 3rd Heathrow runway. They have set out clearly 5 key reasons why it should be opposed, and are asking Londoners to reject the plans. They point out that the Heathrow consultation is confusing, and very difficult indeed for anyone who is not an expert to fill in. The Assembly says: "We are gravely concerned that Heathrow is prioritising the interests of the airline industry and passengers over and above the wellbeing of Londoners, who are going to be the most affected by the expansion."   The plans would mean unacceptable levels of noise, air pollution, carbon emissions and amounts of road traffic. The extra noise is likely to harm health and well-being of thousands of people. As the consultation is too hard to respond to, using the online or paper forms, the Assembly suggests that people send a short message to the Heathrow email address feedback@heathrowconsultation.com  The text they suggest - vary it however you wish - is "Heathrow expansion fundamentally goes against the UK’s commitment to cut carbon emissions and improve air quality in the capital.  It’s going to make air pollution worse, increase carbon emissions and increase noise, and we don’t support it. I stand with hundreds of others calling for it to be CANCELLED."

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AEF produces extensive guide to understanding how the planning system can influence airport development

The AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) has published a guide explaining the role of the UK planning system in controlling development at airports and airfields, and how planning conditions have been used to limit the impact of operations. The guide, in plain English, outlines provisions and policies in the planning system that are relevant for airport development projects. The Town and Country Planning Act (TCPA) applies to smaller scale developments, whilst the Planning Act (2008) has introduced a new process applicable to larger infrastructure projects, like extending or adding runways. AEF says national policy imposes very few meaningful environmental limits on airport operations or expansion, and successive governments have been reluctant to intervene. That means it is largely up to local councils to negotiate controls or limits. An exception is that Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick airports have been “designated” for noise regulation by the Government. Some of the issues covered are those relating to smaller airports; permitted development rights; "established use" rights; conditions and planning agreements; Section 106 Agreements; the stages of the planning application process; the Airports National Policy Statement; and the Development Consent Order process for the largest developments.

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Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, hints at scrapping Heathrow expansion and “taking a really close look” at whether it stacks up

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has hinted that the Government could scrap Heathrow expansion, in his first public utterances on the topic in his new job. He told Sky News that “there are questions about whether the whole plan stacks up” and that Heathrow are going to need to “make sure they bring in enough income to justify the billions of pounds spent on it.” Mr Shapps also mentioned the upcoming legal challenge appeal, starting on Thursday 17 October. He said “there are of course court cases to do with emissions, that sort of thing so what we’ve said is we’ll watch that process very carefully and in the meantime I’ll be having a really close look at whether figures stack up or whether building more capacity, another runway there, would add to the charges to such an extent that it doesn’t.” Rob Barnstone, from the No 3rd Runway Coalition said: “Whether it is Heathrow’s overconfidence of being able to deliver the necessary funds for this project or the catastrophic environmental impacts, it is becoming clearer than ever that a third runway won’t be able to be delivered on time or budget and certainly does not fit within the Government’s environmental commitments of net zero emissions by 2050.”

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IPCC report on Climate Change and Land; growing crops for biofuels just increases the problem

The IPCC report on Climate Change and Land has stressed the importance of humanity not continuing to do so much damage to the land, but growing crops on so much of it, or removing natural vegetation to provide grazing for animals. It emphasises that we need to reduce the amount of land that humanity is using, and let land store and sequester carbon. There is also the added point, made by George Monbiot, that a real calculation of the amount of carbon produced by agriculture - and destruction of the natural vegetation (eg. tropical forest) should look at the opportunity cost of that land; how much carbon would have been saved by leaving it in its natural state. So the carbon emissions are not just those from food production - but also the loss of the natural carbon sink. The emphasis on the extent to which humanity is increasing climate breakdown via agriculture shows how using land to produce biofuels is adding to this problem. Using land to grow biofuels competes with land for growing food crops. Biofuel plantations may lead to decreased food security through competition for land.  In addition, BECCS will probably lead to significant trade-offs with food production.

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Key facts about Heathrow 3rd runway: total EXTRA CO2 emissions would be about 183 MtCO2 between 2022 – 2050 (above staying with 2 runways)

Heathrow is attempting to make out that the carbon emissions to be caused by its 3rd runway would be insignificant. They would either not be counted in UK totals; or they would all be offset by airlines and so "vanish". They also ignore all non-CO2 impacts. Or they would in some other miraculous ways be offset by various untested, unproven technologies.  These are the key facts people need to realise:  Heathrow's own figures show a total of 173 MtCO2 MORE carbon emitted, over 2022-2050, with the 3rd runway than without building it. The emissions could reach 25MtCO2 per year from flights alone. The increased CO2 would be as much as 9MtCO2 per year more, in the peak year (2035) than with 2 runways. The total extra CO2 from more surface access transport would be 7MtCO2 over that time period. The extra CO2 from all the construction work would be 3.7MtCO2, to build it all. The total of all that would be 183MtCO2 MORE carbon produced in total (flights, surface access + construction) than if the runway was not built. The estimates may be on the low side, as Heathrow has factored in future carbon efficiencies. Heathrow has taken no account of the fact that we now have a net zero target for 2050. The CCC has now said the total cap for UK aviation CO2 should be no more than 31MtCO2. Not the earlier 37.5MtCO2 it had recommended earlier.

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4.4 billion air trips taken world wide in 2018; number was 2.63 billion in 2010

IATA data show more Britons travelled abroad last year than any other nationality, when 126.2 million air trips were made by Brits - which is 8.6%, roughly one in 12, of all international air travellers. The UK was followed by the USA (111.5 million, or 7.6% of all passengers) and China (97 million, 6.6%). In total there were 4.4 billion air passenger journeys (that does not mean that number of people flew - many take multiple flights, and even in rich countries, many people do not fly at all, or not in any one year). The 4.4 billion is an increase of 6.9% compared to 2017. The number was 2.63 billion in 2010.  There were 1.674 billion in 2000. The load factor on average across airlines was only 82%.    IATA's Director General, Alexandre de Juniac, does admit there is "an environmental cost that airlines are committed to reducing." But any possible future cuts in aviation CO2 are tiny, dubious, and far ahead.  In 2018, Asia had  1.6 billion passengers, (37% of market share), which grew by 9.2% over 2017. Europe had 1.1 billion passengers ( 26.2% of market share), up 6.6% over 2017.

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FoI documents show Scottish airports would lose perhaps 220,000 passengers per year, if Heathrow got 3rd runway

Scottish airports could lose more than 220,000 passengers per year, if Heathrow got a 3rd runway.  The regions have been led to believe the runway would benefit them, in terms of links to Heathrow and more jobs. The reality is different. The Scottish Government had backed the runway plans, hoping Scotland would benefit. But the DfT's own data - revealed in emails - shows they expect number of passengers using  Scottish airports would reduce, with the 3rd runway, as Heathrow would increasingly have a monopoly of lucrative long-haul routes.  There might be more domestic flights to Heathrow from Newcastle, cutting demand from Glasgow and Edinburgh airports. The Scottish government needs to consider their position on Heathrow very carefully. The figures on alleged jobs were based on very, very dodgy, out of date data, (assuming benefits of the runway to the UK over 60 years as £147 bn, when in reality they might at most be £3bn - or an actual cost) that cannot be believed. "Estimates of aviation emissions from an expanded Heathrow were redacted in the emails released."

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Flight Free UK blog – “Train travel is a gem waiting for rediscovery”

People are signing up to the Flight Free UK website in good numbers. The campaign is asking people to commit to not fly at all in 2020. Many who have pledged not to fly have done blogs, about their experience. Now environmental scientist Alexandra Jellicoe report on her recent trip to Italy, by train. She loved the space in the train, the pull-down table for her laptop, the ability to walk down the train to the restaurant for a meal or snack. Alexandra worked out that her train trip probably cause the emission of about 480kg CO2 than if she had flown. By train, or even by road, you are reconnected with the place and the culture through which you are moving. You appreciate the huge distance travelled. You can stop off at places en route, for a few hours or a night, pleasantly and interestingly extending your holiday. Alexandra says: "I’ve completely reimagined how to explore the world. A holiday is no longer a jet to Mexico to lie by the beach for a week nor a quick weekend in Rome. I’ve rediscovered travel as something to be savoured rather than an inconvenience between home and holiday.... and a compulsion to discover new ways to live in a world so damaged by modern lifestyles. ...Choosing NOT to fly has a powerful impact."

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United Nations realising that carbon offsets do not work to genuinely reduce atmospheric CO2

The United Nations is aware that parts of the organisation are not convinced about carbon offsets, a strategy the UN and its ICAO has supported for two decades.  The UN has publicly struggled to reconcile its support for offsets with evidence that they are often ineffective. Rules on global carbon offsets remain contentious and often debated at UN climate talks. Offsets encourage the misapprehension that people can continue to lead high carbon lifestyles, and get away with a clear conscience, as long as some effort is made to "offset" the carbon. The organisation ProPublica published a study into how offsets related to forest preservation have not provided the promised carbon savings. Offsets just permit "business as usual" and postpone the date when any real action might be taken. If trees are planted in poor, hot countries which are suffering unpredictable impacts of climate breakdown, they are likely not to survive. How can the intact forest provide income and livelihoods for local people, if trees are not cut down? Even if the trees do survive for decades, the carbon they have stored is later released back to the atmosphere. Perhaps in time of our grandchildren. Forests are not permanent removal of CO2 from the atmosphere.

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CLIMATE CHANGE:  Deeds must now match words, by Uttlesford Council, on Stansted expansion

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has strongly welcomed the resolution by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) to declare a climate and ecological emergency and to commit to achieving net zero carbon status by 2030. The resolution was approved by an overwhelming majority of local councillors on 30 July 2019. SSE says the challenge now is for Uttlesford Council to convert words into deeds; its biggest challenge is Stansted's insatiable appetite for expansion. Unless the Council acts on its climate resolution, it is just hollow words, an empty gesture.  Allowing Stansted to expand from 35mppa to 43mppa would mean the airport becoming almost as large as Gatwick. Stansted's emissions in 2019 will be about 2.1 MtCO2. That would rise to about 2.7 MtCO2 per year, with the planned expansion. Other sectors of the economy have to cut carbon; aviation should not be allowed unrestricted growth. SSE Chairman Peter Sanders said that, on an issue as important as this for future generations, councillors should do the right thing. "History will remember those who fight for what they believe to be right long after it has forgotten those who gave way on such a vital issue."

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The elephant in the newsroom – despite nice words on climate, the media promote high carbon travel and holidays

Brits fly a lot - even more than people in most other rich countries. The campaign group Flight Free UK has challenged the British media to confront the awkward reality, that they are complicit in supporting, promoting and benefiting from carbon-heavy travel promotion. The media likes to consider itself independent, and that its journalism speaks truth to power and holds it to account. But in reality, they get a lot of funding from companies that increase CO2 emissions.  Flight Free UK says it is time we and the media properly faced up to the toll that flying has on our planet and future generations. Why is flying still being promoted so widely across all the media, without restrictions or health warnings to accompany advertisements and travel features? Unfortunately for the economics of journalism, adverts for long distance travel and flights partly funds it. Too often, travel journalists have nice trips paid for,  by the companies they are promoting. The media have a big influence on the holiday decisions of millions. The carbon from flights can easily double an individual's annual carbon footprint. Or worse. It is time the media stopped promoting high carbon travel, and started to act responsibly on climate. 

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Willie Walsh (IAG) warns again of excessive, out-of-control, unknown Heathrow 3rd runway costs

Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG, has always been against the very high costs of expanding Heathrow. He has again said he does not trust Heathrow to keep costs reasonable, and he is opposed to expansion - for which costs would escalate. He said Heathrow has "understated" the costs of expanding and the project is "out of control", and there was "absolutely no way" Heathrow could build everything planned on budget. He thinks that while Heathrow continues to quote a figure of £14 billion for the investment required, the "true costs" would be over £32 billion. He believes building the 3rd runway and associated works alone will require £14 billion. And then a further £14.5 billion would be required to add terminal capacity and other infrastructure on the existing site. Walsh thinks just extending Terminal 5 could cost a further £3.5 billion. Heathrow now claim their costs even before building anything, are £3.3 billion for planning and preparation. Far higher than earlier estimates.  It is a risk that the runway would be under-utilised, as costs would have to be too high - to pay for the excessive spending - to tempt airlines to use it.  That would also make any net economic benefit to the UK very negative.

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ICCAN to consider if it needs [indispensable!] powers by Sept 2020, rather than April 2021 ….

ICCAN (the Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise) consulted on its Corporate Strategy earlier in the year, and it has now published the final version. This sets out ICCAN's  aims and objectives for 2019 - 2021. A key issue of great concern to anyone hoping the Commission might be able to make any real difference on aviation noise, is whether it will have any powers for regulation and enforcement. The consultation document said: "...as we near our two-year review we won’t hesitate to recommend to the Government that enforcement powers should be introduced, should we consider at that point that the industry and decision-makers are not acting in the best interests of their communities, or not taking their concerns seriously." Now the final version says "... ICCAN will make independent, evidence-based recommendations which it will expect the government and others to take seriously and act on. ...  we will bring forward our opinion on the future of regulation and enforcement of noise issues in the UK, to September 2020 (from our intended April 2021 two year review point). This is the earliest that we believe we can realistically and achievably take a view on the regulation."

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Rethinking Decarbonisation Incentives: those for aviation are ineffective and too low

A recent paper called "Rethinking Decarbonisation Incentives: Future Carbon Policy for Clean Growth" looks at the UK’s current economic framework for encouraging decarbonisation. It finds it is uneven and incomplete. ‘Effective carbon prices’ are a measure of how much a firm or an individual is paid or rewarded per tonne of carbon (or CO₂e) saved when they make a choice that lowers emissions. These are too low in the UK to be effective in cutting carbon. For aviation, they are particularly weak. APD would need to be reformed to align aviation taxation with a target level, and make it more reflective of the actual emission impacts of journey/flight choices. APD is unrelated to the quantity of emissions and outweighed by the lack of VAT and fuel duty. In the short-term, air passenger duty could be increased to cover the gap. The duty could also be reformed to be more reflective of actual emissions. The report says if aviation proves impossible to fully decarbonise by 2050, then the cost of flying (or frequent flying) could include the costs of offsetting GGRs (greenhouse gas removal).

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Farnborough airspace Judicial Review by Lasham Gliding Society fails to overturn CAA decision

Mrs. Justice Thornton has delivered her judgement on the CAA's grant of airspace to TAG Farnborough following the Judicial Review actioned by Lasham Gliding Society (LGS). She did not find sufficient grounds to overturn the CAA's airspace decision and concluded that the CAA acted within its powers and the limits of its discretion. This is in spite of the arguments presented by LGS - and roundly supported by the wider general aviation community - on its adverse impact on aviation safety, the consequential inefficient use of airspace, and the potential detrimental operational and financial impacts on LGS. As things stand, it is expected that the new Farnborough airspace will come into effect by early 2020 . This will have serious impacts on general aviation activity in central southern England. It is a hard blow to gliding enthusiasts, whose available airspace will be seriously curtailed. It follows several years of intense opposition to what is widely considered to be a completely unjustified and ill-considered move by TAG Farnborough to secure a large swathe of controlled airspace, to facilitate its operations for private jets.

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HACAN East new major campaign against London City’s expansion plans, asking people to fill in postcard responses to the consultation.

HACAN East has launched a major campaign against London City's expansion plans. It is encouraging people to fill in postcards opposing the expansion plans, and send them in to Freepost LCY MASTER PLAN CONSULTATION. People can also download and display posters. The postcards call on residents to back the existing 24 hour weekend ban on aircraft using London City.  HACAN East wants the airport drop its proposals to end the 24 hour break as well as its plans to almost double flight numbers from today’s levels and to increase flights in the early morning and late evening. The postcards say: I SUPPORT the 24 hour London City Airport weekend flight ban. I DO NOT want up to 40,00 more flights. I DO NOT want more early morning or late evening flights. I DO NOT want more climate damaging airport expansion. Overall, I DO NOT support the plans in the draft master plan.

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Back to the drawing board for Marseille airport expansion plan, due to climate and environmental impacts

In a few months, Marseille airport must start work on its extension. However, before submitting a building permit, it must obtain an opinion from the environmental authority on the impact of the construction site on the environment. It recommends airport authorities should resume their studies from scratch. So the airport expansion plan has been blocked (for now) by the French environment agency on two grounds of wrongly estimating economic benefits and environmental harm, and on carbon emissions. The press release from the L’Autorité environnementale says the airport airport should rewrite its expansion plans given that the current project has “major methodological flaws” that make it “underestimate the environmental impacts and overestimate its socio-economic benefits.” The authority also said the airport needs to convince the government of how the expansion project is compatible with France’s plan to become climate neutral by 2050. Marseille airport wants to start expanding a terminal and “straightening” its runways in 2023.

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Heathrow plans to increase 3rd runway costs – to £2.9 bn – before approval, hoping it will be too costly to scrap its plans

Heathrow plans to triple the amount it spends on its third runway proposal, to £2.9bn - well before getting final approval. This either means air passengers using Heathrow would be charged more (something the industry and the government do not want), or else the taxpayer will be charged. Even if the runway never goes ahead.  The CAA has a consultation about the costs and how Heathrow has been speeding up the process, spending ever more money. (The legal challenges are now going to appeal in October, but Heathrow is pressing ahead with its DCO consultations). Especially on carbon emissions, air pollution and noise grounds, it is entirely possible the runway will be blocked and the DCO will not be granted.  The CAA says it has asked Heathrow "to consider different options for this spending and the implications of this spending for the overall programme timetable and the interests of consumers.” [Not to mention the taxpayer, who may end up paying ...] Heathrow is increasing the amount of its "Category B" costs and "early Category C" costs. They want to increase the amount spent already to be so large, that it effectively cannot be cancelled. Detailed costs still have to be outlined, but Heathrow is expected to submit its initial business plan to the CAA for review towards the end of this year.

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Caroline Russell: Action is needed on aircraft noise

Caroline writes in a blog that in parts of London, people are now living with severe levels of noise disruption. This is not acceptable, and urgent, decisive action is needed across the board to alleviate it. For some, the onslaught from Heathrow planes is made worse by the addition of London City planes using narrow, concentrated routes. The noise has significant health impacts for many. A report by the London Assembly’s Environment Committee, which Caroline chairs, concluded that the Government and CAA should regulate noise disturbance more stringently. They should use lower thresholds for noise disturbance (taking into account WHO guidelines and the need for residents to keep windows open) and mapping the combined effect of all London’s airports, especially Heathrow and City.  The WHO guidance is that 45dB is the threshold for health impacts, but the UK government persists with 54dB as the ‘disturbance’ threshold. Also that flight paths should be rotated, to give relief to those under concentrated flight paths - and flight paths should be designed to minimise noise impacts, including avoiding overlapping flight paths. Increasing exposure to aircraft noise is unacceptable, and must be challenged

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Boris may follow Heathrow legal case “with lively interest” – while business lobby insists 3rd runway must go ahead

The Sun reports that Boris hinted, in a reply to a question by Caroline Lucas, that he might change government policy on Heathrow. The Sun says Mr Johnson told MPs he will “study the outcome of the court cases” on the Heathrow 3rd runway plans, with a “lively interest.” This is especially relevant now that the Appeal Court has permitted appeals by all the legal challenges, which were rejected on 1st May.  Green Party MP Caroline Lucas (Brighton Pavilion) asked if the Prime Minister would scrap the third runway given his opposition to the scheme as London mayor. She said: “Few will forget his pledge to lie down in front of the bulldozers to stop the construction of a third runway at Heathrow Airport. Luckily for him, luckily for us all, he is now at the steering wheel and can turn those bulldozers around.”  Boris replied: “Of course, the bulldozers are some way off but I am following with lively interest the court cases."  Business groups will shortly be writing to Boris, to put pressure on him not to cancel the runway, pushing the line that failing to support a third runway will "prevent us all from successfully building a global Britain".

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Bristol Airport expansion plans – to grow from 8m to 12m annual passengers – ‘can’t be at any cost’

Bath and North East Somerset Council (Banes), which has declared a climate emergency, said tourism "cannot be at any cost". The Canadian owners of Bristol Airport want to increase passenger numbers by 50%, from 8 million to 12 million passengers per annum. Further growth to 20 million passengers is in the pipeline.  This is just to allow people to take ever more leisure flights.  Bristol's cabinet member for climate emergency, welcomed news the airport will reduce its direct emissions on the airport itself, but said "...it doesn't alter the fact that expansion of air travel is inconsistent with having declared a climate emergency." The main carbon emissions from airport expansion are due to the flights if facilitates, not the airport itself. The environmental impacts of tourism, including those on Bath and Bristol, cannot be allowed to continue, and growth "cannot be at any cost."  More than 2,000 people have objected to the airport's proposals, including Stop Bristol Airport Expansion, and Bath's Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse. North Somerset Council will make a decision on the plans later this year.

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What is driving London City Airport’s expansion plans? John Stewart comment

John Stewart, from Hacan East, has looked at why London City Airport is planning huge expansion. The airport Master Plan wants to lift the current cap of 111,000 flights allowed each year to 137,000 by 2030 and to 151,000 by 2035. He says the airport is aiming to promote itself as a major player on the aviation scene, and a key driver of the regional economy, not just a niche business airport. It now often holds receptions at the party conferences, and is raising its profile to get backing for its growth plans. The current owners bought the airport for £2 billion in 2016, and want to make a good return. Business passengers used to be about 60% of the total, but now 50% - with the plans suggesting 36% by 2035. Most business passengers fly in the morning and evening, so leisure flights use the hours in the middle of the day. It can’t offer budget flights because Ryanair and EasyJet planes are too big to use the airport. London City has set out to change to portray itself as a key driver, maybe even the key driver, of the economic development of East, NE and SE London.  It is pushing this to MPs and also local authorities in its regions in order to convince them it is in their interest to back expansion.

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Hammersmith Society gives its advice on Heathrow consultation – to respond, just say “NO”

The Hammersmith Society aims to ensure the borough is a "safer, more convenient and better place in which to live, work and enjoy ourselves." They have been looking at Heathrow's consultation on its expansion plans - equivalent to adding on a new airport the size of Gatwick. They warn that if people fill in the response document, giving a preference for one or other option in the questions, this may (quite illegitimately) be taken by Heathrow as "support" for their plans. So the Society's advice is that people do not engage with the questions; the whole plan is bad for Hammersmith, so JUST SAY NO. The Society says on Heathrow plans to burn biomass and plant some trees  "that’s hardly the point considering the carbon footprint of the industry it facilitates – it’s not even a drop in the ocean – this amounts to lip-service greenwash, rather insulting to our intelligence". On the consultation, the Society comments: "the weight of documents is tremendous, and more than a little excessive.  The reader eventually concludes this is an attempt to bamboozle and wear down those trying to interpret them, to make them give up in the belief that the project must have been well thought-through, because of the weight of documentation alone."

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New 10:10 campaign: “Climate Perks” – to help employers cut employees’ CO2 from holiday trips – by offering paid “journey days” if they don’t fly

An interesting new scheme - Climate Perks - has been created, for employers - to help cut the carbon of their staff's holiday arrangements. It has been started at a time when more and more people are becoming aware of the real danger the climate emergency we are now in, and many want to cut their own carbon emissions. Climate Perks is encouraging employers to offer paid ‘journey days’ so staff can travel on holiday, by means other than by air. Globally, flying is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases. Flying less is one of the most powerful actions we, as individuals, can take to cut our carbon footprint. Many people want to cut their carbon, but with only a short holiday period, cannot (or do not wish to) eat into that in order to get to and from their holiday by surface transport - not by plane. The 10:10 campaign, behind the Climate Perks scheme, estimates that avoiding two flights to a Mediterranean destination would save around as much carbon per year as avoiding having a car. Employers who will give staff paid days, for land-based travel on holiday, would get Climate Perks accreditation in recognition of their climate leadership.

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All the claimants, whose challenges against the DfT on Heathrow expansion were rejected, now given leave to appeal

The Court of Appeal has granted the claimants against the Government’s plans to expand Heathrow permission to appeal their claims in a hearing beginning on 21 October 2019. The Government had argued permission should be refused.  Lord Justice Lindblom stated: "The importance of the issues raised in these and related proceedings is obvious."  Four Councils (Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith & Fulham, Windsor & Maidenhead) with Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Plan B Earth and the Mayor London sought the appeal, after judges at the High Court ruled against the legal challenges  on 1st May.  Rob Barnstone, of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, commented: “Boris Johnson knows that Heathrow expansion cannot meet environmental targets, including on noise and air pollution. Mr Johnson has indicated he will be following the legal and planning processes very carefully. Then at the appropriate time, the project can be cancelled. We don’t expect any gimmicks but remain confident that Mr Johnson will stop this disastrous project, albeit at the correct time in the process. The decision by the Court of Appeal today may make that time a little sooner than previously thought.” Heathrow Hub has also been given permission to appeal.

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DfT launches call for evidence on carbon offsetting on travel, including plane

The DfT (under Grayling) has launched a call for evidence into whether more consumers could be given the option of buying carbon offsets to reduce the carbon footprint of their travel (plane, ferry, train, coach etc).  The DfT also asks if transport operators should provide information on carbon emissions. And it will explore the public’s understanding of carbon emissions from the journeys they make and the options to offset them. The transport sector contributes about a third of the UK total CO2 emissions, and these are not falling. Aviation CO2 is increasing. Presumably Grayling hopes that getting some passengers offsetting will somehow cancel out the horrific increases in transport carbon from infrastructure he has pushed through. The DfT seems aware that many people are not persuaded of the effectiveness of carbon offsetting. It seems aware that offsets should be from domestic schemes, not from abroad. But the main problem is offsetting does not reduce carbon. All it does is slightly absolve someone's conscience, while effectively cancelling out the carbon savings made by others. Offsetting is essentially a con. Offsets are damaging, as they help to continue with "business as usual" behind the greenwashing.  See "Cheat Neutral" 

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Michael Gove admits that government action on climate change has not been good enough

Michael Gove, the current Environment Secretary, while speaking at a Green Alliance event, has said the next Prime Minister's 'single greatest responsibility' will be addressing the climate and environment emergency.  He has conceded that action by the UK government to tackle the climate emergency has to date not been good enough. And he felt greater affinity on the issue with Greta Thunberg, who spoke more sense on the need to act now to deal with the climate emergency, than "many of the people I sit alongside in the House of Commons". Gove said the School Strikes for Climate activists and Extinction Rebellion protestors, had helped to turn climate change into a mainstream political issue over the past year - reproaching his generation "for not having done enough".  And there has not been enough done by this government. Gove said he was "under few illusions about how big a change we need to make", acknowledging calls to eat less meat, fly less and plant more trees. And he compared the required transformation of the economy and society with that achieved during and immediately after World War Two.

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Environmental Audit Cttee inquiry into environmental damage of tourism (in UK and by Brits abroad)

Holidaymakers’ responsibility for foul beaches, overcrowding, traffic, plane carbon emissions, harm done by cruises and other environmental impacts will come under parliamentary scrutiny. The Commons Environmental Audit Committee (chaired by the remarkable Mary Creagh) has an inquiry to address problems caused by tourism, including aviation emissions, pollution, habitat damage etc in UK and abroad. Deadline for comments 13th September.  It will look at whether the UK government should play a greater role in offsetting the waste and damage caused by the tens of millions of Britons who go on holiday overseas each year - and of the impact on domestic tourism in the UK.  The Committee says global tourism is responsible for 5% of greenhouse gas emissions. People do not often consider the environmental, and climate, impacts of their holidays. “While there are some sustainable practices, we want to look closely at the government’s actions to ensure the economic, social and environmental impacts of tourism are minimised.” Due to ever cheaper flights, and zero tax on aviation fuel, the holiday business is one of the world’s fastest-growing industries and accounts for more than 10% of global GDP. Many countries have had to take strict measure to prevent serious damage done by excessive tourism, eg in Philippines, or Venice or Thailand.  Or US hiking trails.

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