Air Quality

News about aviation and air quality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Stanwell Moor residents demand better compensation from Heathrow over negative expansion impacts

Heathrow has rejected pleas from Stanwell Moor residents to be included in a compensation package designed for those who will experience more noise. The residents now appreciate that the negative impact will be far greater than they were previously led to believe, from effects of more noise, pollution, HGV traffic, more car parking, more taxis etc.  A campaign has been launched to ask for better compensation, with those involved labelling Heathrow's current offer as "derisory compensation and precious little else".  Heathrow has not included the area in its Wider Property Offer Zone (WPOZ) which would make them eligible for compensation. On 7th July there was a protest march, and public meetings have been held.  Stanwell Moor Residents' Association (SMRA) said villagers feel they have been "kept in the dark" about the plans; in their talks with Heathrow till now, they had been led to believe they would receive a "world-class compensation package befitting the impact". The residents "call upon the future Prime Minister (whoever that may be) and the new Secretary of State for Transport, to uphold and safeguard the interests of Stanwell Moor residents."

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Local residents launch new “HEATHROW’S PREFERRED DISASTERPLAN” campaign 

The group, Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE), has launched a new campaign entitled “Heathrow’s Preferred Disasterplan”. The title of the campaign is a reference to the current Heathrow consultation on its “Preferred Masterplan” for expansion. Residents and campaigners against a third runway are strongly supported by Hillingdon Council, and  John McDonnell MP. The impacts of building a 3rd runway would be horrendous for those in areas facing compulsory purchase, or living close to the airport.  SHE has sent a booklet to all those living nearest to the airport. It is called "How a Third Runway Will Affect You and Your Family," and details some of the main impacts the expansion proposals would have in West Drayton, Hayes and the Heathrow Villages, without the gloss and spin of Heathrow consultation documents. SHE has organised 3 public meetings locally, so residents can learn more about traffic congestion, noise, pollution, the plan to relocate Harmondsworth Primary school to the Stockley by-pass.  SHE chair, Jackie Clark said: “The current Heathrow consultation is a Disasterplan for our area. It is left to us to provide the true scale of Heathrow’s monumental expansion proposals ...without Heathrow’s usual gloss and spin. Expansion is far from certain and the key message to residents is that it is can be stopped."

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Crowdfunding appeal: Bristol Airport is Big Enough – Help Stop Further Expansion

Bristol Airport plans to significantly increase its passenger numbers, to grow eventually to 20 million passengers per year from a current level of 8.6 million.  A group of environmental campaigners and local residents are raising money - through crowdfunding - to fund an important legal challenge to the airport's planning application, that is being dealt with by North Somerset Council.  The group hopes to employ a well respected barrister, Estelle Dehon, who is expert in environment and planning law (with particular expertise in climate change matters). She would be able to legally analyse the 400 plus planning documents on the application, on the Council's planning website, and offer campaigners and the committee expert evidence for refusal. Estelle has previously worked on the Plan B fight against Heathrow’s third runway.  The coming decade is absolutely critical in averting the climate crisis that is upon us. Yet, that same decade is to be used by Bristol Airport to increase the carbon emissions of flights using the airport, by over 500,000 tonnes per year.  In addition to the carbon issue, many people in Bristol would be exposed to a range of air pollution substances, including NO2 and black carbon - as well as increased noise nuisance.

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Research shows ultrafine particles from aircraft in the vicinity of Schiphol Airport negatively affect health

A thorough study of 191 primary school children who live near Schiphol Airport, in the Netherlands, shows that  high concentrations of ultra-fine particles from aircraft can affect health seriously. The research showed that when the wind blows in the ‘wrong’ direction children with respiratory complaints suffer more and use more medication. Complaints include shortness of breath and wheezing. These are the conclusions of new research by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), in collaboration with Utrecht University and the Academic Medical Centre (AMC). There were 3 sub-studies: a study of 191 primary school children in residential areas near Schiphol, a study of 21 healthy adults immediately adjacent to Schiphol, and a laboratory study with lung cells. Such extensive research on ultrafine particles and health has never been carried out around airports before. The findings should alarm everybody responsible for the tremendous worldwide growth of aviation.  There are no indications that the health effects of air traffic are different from those of road traffic. The study is part of a long-term study of the RIVM.  In 2020 and 2021 they will research the effects of long-term exposure to ultra-fine particles from air traffic.

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Heathrow plans mean schoolchildren face illegal pollution levels as schools moved to polluted areas

A primary school near Heathrow is to be demolished and rebuilt in an area with poor air quality - in order to build the third runway. This is revealed in the Heathrow consultation documents. These say: "Harmondsworth primary school will be displaced by the new runway. Land to the north of the M4 highway on Stockley Road in West Drayton, has been identified as a suitable replacement site for the school as it is within the catchment area and has appropriate road access and connections to green areas for recreational purposes. This site also has the benefit of being able to accommodate early delivery to enable vacation of the existing facility in time for the commencement of construction of the new runway.”  Three other primary schools would be left just metres from the new runway; the playground of one of the schools would border the new runway fence - if the plans were ever allowed. Campaigners say the relocation of Harmondsworth primary from the village of Harmondsworth, where it is surrounded by fields and farmland, to an area on the Stockley bypass , where air pollution monitors regularly breach legal limits, will harm children’s health.

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