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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:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Environmentalists protest outside Luton Airport expansion consultation event in Stevenage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Emirates boss says he took too long to accept climate crisis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Councils tell government to review Heathrow expansion following climate change developments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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