Airport News

Below are news items relating to specific airports

 

Air travel CO2 emissions will have to be curbed; the Frequent Flier levy may be the best solution

An article in the Irish Times points to new research from the ICAO showing how CO2 emissions from aviation might increase 3 -7-fold over the next 30 years has been released.  Amusingly Richard Branson is advocating the elimination of industrial-scale meat production by “eliminating harmful subsidies and putting a price on externalities”. And that without an apparent hint of irony, in the subsidies (no VAT, no fuel duty) given to the aviation sector - which is a major beneficiary of comparable harmful subsidies and a producer of vast externalities of the sort he decries in the meat sector. The Irish Government is committed to spending at least €320 million on new runway at Dublin airport – another giant subsidy to the sector.  There is "No other discrete human activity is more intensely polluting than flying."  Eating less meat, or cutting it out entirely, is indeed a positive action to help reduce humanity's carbon emissions. But that is not a substitute for taking proper action to limit aviation carbon emissions.  The "Frequent Flyer" levy, which would progressively tax air travellers, with higher taxes the more they flew, would be a good way to penalise frequent flyers (who are currently pampered by airlines with upgrades and incentives.)

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Wandsworth Council Leader criticises Heathrow Public Consultation event – just one for the borough, in a difficult location

Wandsworth Council Leader, Ravi Govindia, has urged residents concerned about the impact of a 3rd runway at Heathrow, to attend a Heathrow consultation event that the airport is hosting in the borough this week. They need to make their voice heard. He has criticised Heathrow for having just one such event in Wandsworth, at a location that will be difficult for many residents to access. That is even though the increased aircraft noise would affect hundreds of thousands of Wandsworth residents. The event is being held on 30 January and is open to residents from 2pm to 8pm at the University of Roehampton, SW15 5PH.  Councillor Govindia said residents know that a 3rd runway would have a serious impact on the borough. It would produce an unacceptable rise in noise and air pollution, damaging the environment and posing a risk to people’s health and well-being. The Council believes that the impact from additional flights would be felt most keenly in West Hill, Southfields, Earlsfield and Tooting. Currently most aircraft noise from is concentrated over the north of the borough including Putney, Wandsworth and Battersea. Many people will get intense plane noise for the first time.

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London Assembly report says Heathrow 3rd runway should be scrapped, due to ‘severe effects’ of aircraft noise

A report, by the London Assembly environment committee, calls for Heathrow expansion to be stopped, due to the effects of aircraft noise. The report has renewed calls for the 3rd runway to be stopped. The noise from aircraft negatively affects work, relaxation and sleep, with “severe effects” on health and wellbeing. Caroline Russell, chairman of the committee, said: “The experiences of residents living with the daily nightmare of overhead noise are deeply worrying. This drive towards filling airspace capacity must be checked. For too many people, including children, aircraft noise is a major dominant intrusion into their everyday lives.”  If Heathrow builds the new runway, the number of flights will increase from around 475,000 to 740,000 a year.  It is likely that around 200,000 more people will be badly affected by aircraft noise. Heathrow also plans to increase its flights by 25,000, to around 500,000 per year and change flight paths, including overflying new areas, even before any 3rd runway. Ms Russell added: “...aviation authorities and operators must prioritise the health and well-being of Londoners and give us a break.”

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Alistair Osborne of the Times: Heathrow expansion shows Gove’s air pollution strategy is hot air

In a blog by Alistair Osborne, of the Times, he says on air pollution: "No government minister ever got anywhere without being able to think two contradictory ideas at once. So why should Michael Gove be different? The environment secretary’s just published his Clean Air Strategy, complete with the rallying cry: “We must take strong, urgent action.” And what sort of action has the government he represents got in mind? That’s right: building a £14 billion 3rd runway at Heathrow. Yes, the same one that transport secretary Chris Grayling admits may well cause more pollution. Or, as last year’s Airports National Policy Statement put it: “Increases in emissions of pollutants during the construction or operational phases of the scheme could result in the worsening of local air quality.” Bizarrely, the H-word doesn’t get a mention in Mr Gove’s 109-page document. But maybe he didn’t want to draw attention to one awkward fact: that air quality around the airport is already in breach of EU limits for nitrogen dioxide emissions.  Read the whole article  .....

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Report from London Assembly says due to noise, air traffic should NOT increase at Heathrow or London City airport

The London Assembly's Environment Committee has produced a report on aircraft noise, particularly now that Heathrow not only wants a 3rd runway, but has also recently announced plans for 25,000 extra flights a year, bringing new areas of London under its flight paths. The noise is increasing the negative impact for those who have no choice but to live with a debilitating noise invasion. The report found that noise nuisance levels are unacceptable; it calls for a halt on all air traffic growth at Heathrow and London City airports. The report details the impact of altitude, flight paths and out-of-hours flights on the noise suffered by many Londoners. Among its recommendations are that the noise thresholds for disturbance should be lowered, to take account of people needing to open their windows. They say: "Air traffic at Heathrow and London City should not increase and Heathrow’s third runway should not go ahead." It also says that planes should be kept higher, and the impacts of noise from both Heathrow and London City should be considered together, not separately. Night flights should be stoped, and there should be better restrictions on flights in the early morning.

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Solihull councillor expresses ‘real’ concerns about impact of Birmingham Airport expansion

The leader of the Green party group, Cllr Burn,  on Solihull council has said that Birmingham Airport's expansion plans pose a grave risk to the environment. He said he had real concerns about the draft masterplan, which sets out a vision for annual passenger numbers to increase to 18 million by 2033. At a Cabinet meeting he said the Council needed to urge the airport to do far more to reduce and offset "huge" carbon emissions. Cllr Burn said: "It's not popular to say, but we cannot have this growth in air travel and stick to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, we just can't. The extra emissions here are just way above what we can combat in emissions reduction elsewhere. We have to be honest, it's not sensible or responsible to grow air travel unless it can come with no additional carbon emissions and it just can't - the technology for that is so far off." The Leader of the Council said the council was "robust" in its discussions with the airport, but it gives a lot of people jobs. The council is a shareholder in the airport, and benefits from the council tax the airport pays, which "does help keep our council tax burden down and also allows us to spend money on frontline services".  The expansion planned is 40% increase in passenger numbers and 21% increase in flights (ie. CO2), in 15 years. 

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Gatwick Airport parking could soon be done by robots to maximise numbers of parked cars

You know how airports are so keen on telling everyone they intend to not increase use of private cars, but encourage public transport to and fro? Well, they make a lot of money out of car parking.  And it is just sooooo convenient for the passengers. Now it has been announced that Gatwick has submitted plans to have futuristic robots parking people's cars. There may be a pilot project in Zone B of the South Terminal long stay car park starting by August, fitting 270 cars into the space that now holds 170. The scheme is by French company Stanley Robotics, which has created a robot valet that parks your car more efficiently and securely. It can move the car to an exact position, and as it can park without the need to open the doors, it takes less space. So the car park owner can cram more vehicles into the car park, perhaps about 40% more, and thus provide more passengers to the airport - and make more money. The autonomous robots, known as 'Stan', would carry your car from a garage bay near the terminal, to an outdoor parking space. Where cars can be parked densely, using every available metre of space. The machines have already been trialled at airports in Lyon and Paris. The plans have been submitted to Crawley Borough Council's (CBC) planning department. The company claims the robot is "zero carbon."

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New study by London TravelWatch shows more airline passengers using cars or cabs to get to Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton

A new report has been produced by London Travel Watch. "Way to go: Improving public transport access to London's airports". It gives comprehensive details about the various components of surface access transport, with information on what works well and what does not for each airport, and current state of any improvements.  The report indicates that airline passengers are more likely to travel by car or taxi to catch flights from Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton than they were 7 years ago, in a trend they say is “concerning”. Despite major investment in rail and coach links to the three airports, the proportion of passengers using public transport actually fell slightly between 2012 and 2016. But at Stansted, with accessibility improved by new coach connections, the use of public transport had improved. The proportion using public transport fell from 41% to 39.1% at Heathrow, 44% to 43.6% at Gatwick and 33% to 31.4% at Luton. Failings of public transport and the growth of taxi apps like Uber cited as reasons. Numbers using public transport rose at Stansted from 51% to 54.7% and at London City from 50% to 50.9%. Heathrow continues to encourage car parking, from which it earns huge revenues.

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Bristol Airport wants to introduce a free drop-off zone – but only if allowed to expand to over 10million annual passengers

Bristol Airport wants to bring back a free drop-off zone and create a new waiting area for taxis. The airport has not had a free drop-off zone since it removed its 10-minute 'free' period in May 2011. People now pay £1 for up to 20 minutes. The airport has now announced plans to introduce a free drop-off zone - but only if it gets planning consent from North Somerset Council to expand. People living near the airport complain about cars clogging up local areas, with drivers parking in lay-bys and residential roads to avoid paying to park at the airport. The airport's expansion plans, with hopes of expanding from the current 8 million annual passengers up to 12 million, (its current cap is 10 million) would include a new authorised waiting area for taxis and a free drop-off area for other vehicles. It is not yet known how much time drivers will get for free. The plan is included in the airport’s proposals for the Section 106 Agreement, so is dependent on the plans being approved. The airport hopes to reduce opposition to its plans, by this small gesture towards helping with the local parking issue. And to please future air passengers. 

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Bristol airport hope to expand from 8 to 12 million annual passengers; 73% rise in CO2 emissions

Bristol Airport is hoping to expand. There is a consultation that started on 19th December, and ends on 26th January, on their plans. Details can be found here.  The headline application issue is a 50% growth in passengers - from the current 8.2 million per year, to 12 million by the mid 2020's. Carbon emissions from flights are estimated to rise by 73% from 746 ktCO2 in 2017 to 1,290 ktCO2 with 12 million passengers, an increase of 73%. The increase in passengers will be achieved by de-restricting night flights up to 4,000 per year, expanding car parks, changing road lay outs, and building a multi-storey car park (persuasively capped with some wind turbines). There are further plans to raise passenger numbers to 20 million by 2040. There is a lot of local opposition, focused on issues such as congested roads, 'parking blights' (cars parked in lanes etc), other local environmental impacts, noise pollution - through the night and day. There are some minimal hyper-localised 'Noise Insulation Grants' (up to £5000 for glazing). The airport plans to get more income in from cafes, shops and car parking, to boost profits. Bristol Airport is entirely owned by Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan - it is not British owned at all.

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