Airport News

Below are news items relating to specific airports

 

Good news from Plan B Earth from legal pre-hearing, of the Heathrow runway JRs, at the Court yesterday.

Plan B Earth say the Government has now formally conceded it did not consider Heathrow expansion against the Paris Agreement temperature limit. "We now need to convince the Court that ignoring the boundary between humanity and catastrophe is not a great idea."  In total 1,582 people signed the petition for open justice & live-streaming of the trial (10 days from 11th March). On this, Plan B have got the Court thinking. They've asked for further submissions from Plan B on the issue and, given that this has never happened before in the High Court, they want to talk to other judges about the implications. Judge Holdate indicated we should have a ruling on the issue 2 weeks before the start of the trial. But that's already a major step forward. Not just for this case. But for open justice in the UK.  We need the full hearings into the judicial reviews against the government's approval of a 3rd Heathrow runway, to be live-streamed so people can see what is said. Otherwise only at most 150 people in the court (2 courts to be used) will be able to hear. This case is of huge importance to the UK's carbon targets in coming decades, and the UK's ability to take its responsibilities to the Paris Agreement seriously. (Saying the right thing is not enough - the UK government has to show, by its actions, it is serious about reducing UK CO2. In this case, CO2 from the aviation sector).

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Study identifies heavy metals in high concentrations of potentially harmful airborne nanoparticles around Trudeau airport.

A recent study by scientists at Montreal's McGill university has found unusually high concentrations of potentially harmful airborne aerosols containing nanoparticles around Montreal's Trudeau airport. Some contained chromium and arsenic. The study, published in December 2018 in the prestigious journal "Environmental Pollution" found these observations were statistically higher than corresponding measurements in downtown Montreal and at major highways during rush hour. The airport is thus a hotspot for nanoparticles containing "emerging contaminants" (substances produced by human activities that have, or are suspected to have, adverse ecological and/or human health effects.) The study found trends in levels of nanoparticles during the day showed concentrations that exhibited peaks during times with many flights, also showing correlations with pollutants (CO, NOx, and O3) - confirming the  anthropogenic source of the aerosols. The nanoparticles, especially containing heavy metals, are potentially a matter of public health. The study detected up to 2 million particles per cubic centimetre of air, which is more than the amount found so far at other airports.  More studies need to be carried out, as health is at stake. 

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Government tries to deny its climate responsibility to aim for 1.5C temperature rise, in pushing for 3rd Heathrow runway

The pre-trial hearing for the series of legal challenges against the Government’s decision to expand Heathrow takes place at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Tuesday 15th January.  In legal correspondence between the defendant (Government) and one of the claimants, Plan B Earth, the Government argues that “[Plan B] is wrong to assert that “Government policy is to limit warming to the more stringent standard of 1.5˚C and “well below” 2˚C’.  This means that the Government is effectively denying that its own policy is to limit warming to the level that has been agreed internationally is required to avoid climate breakdown. The legal challenge brought by Plan B Earth and Friends of the Earth assert that the Government decision to proceed with Heathrow expansion was unlawful as it failed to appropriately consider climate change. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell described the case as “the iconic battleground against climate change”.  The Committee on Climate Change had previously expressed surprise that neither the commitments in the Climate Change Act 2008 nor the Paris Agreement (2015) were referenced in the Government's Airports National Policy Statement (aka. the plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway).This is a huge inconsistency.

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Pre-trial hearing on 15th January of the 5 legal challenges against ‘unlawful’ Government decision to approve 3rd runway

Campaigners are taking the government to court in a bid to overturn the “unlawful” decision to approve a 3rd Heathrow runway. The pre-trial hearing for Friends of the Earth’s case will take place on Tuesday at the High Court, when the activists will lay out their opposition based on several grounds. There are 5 separate legal challenges being brought by a range of organisations, on  grounds of climate, air quality and harm to the wellbeing of local residents.  It would be virtually impossible for Britain to meet its obligations to cut emissions under the Paris climate agreement if a new Heathrow runway is built [or for that matter, one at Gatwick either]. The Government's advisory body on climate change, the Committee on Climate Change, has warned the expansion also threatens the government’s own legally binding pledge to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. Transport secretary Chris Grayling said, without any justification for his belief, that he was "confident" that technical innovations would cut aviation CO2 emissions enough, so expansion could happen without breaking the targets. Hopes that either biofuels or electric planes would enable aviation to become a low carbon means of transport are unrealistic. 

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Local residents not at all happy about noise plan for Dublin airport

Some residents living under flight paths of Dublin Airport are unhappy that a new plan is not adopting World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on permitted noise levels for aircraft.  Fingal county council will become the noise regulator for the airport under proposals drawn up by transport minister Shane Ross. Fingal county council submitted a draft 5-year noise action plan for the airport to the Environmental Protection Agency last week. The public made more than 50 submissions in the consultation period, and most queried why new (October 2018) WHO noise guidelines were not adopted. WHO  guidelines say that average noise exposure from aircraft should be limited to 45 decibels during daylight hours and 40 decibels at night. The council’s plan sets no limits for noise and instead focuses on mitigation measures. In the UK the WHO noise guidelines are not followed either - nowhere even approaching them. The number of people exposed to plane noise of 55-60 decibels was over 18,000 in 2016, and that is likely to rise due to more activity at the airport and more housing built near it.  Fingal council said it is awaiting national or EU-led policy guidance on noise levels. Construction of the new 2nd runway, for yet more flights, is due to be completed in early 2021 and commissioning will then take place.

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Richmond Council condemns latest Heathrow consultation – for unacceptable increases in noise and air pollution

Heathrow has a consultation, closing on 4th March, on its future airspace, both for the existing 2 runways and with a possible 3rd runway. Heathrow claim they will take the responses and view of residents etc into account. However, Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, has condemned the latest consultation – claiming 25,000 extra flights would be disastrous for the borough. He, said: “We have always said that Heathrow needs to be better and not bigger. But clearly size is everything to the airport. Heathrow are proposing the biggest changes to its flight path since it opened. People living in Richmond and other areas of West London will find their respite from overhead noise cut under these proposals. Not to mention the additional 25,000 more flights a year – which will no doubt be crammed into the early morning schedules, delivering more misery for our residents. Let’s not forget, these extra flights will still require Planning consent." He said it was a bad case of the government "putting the cart before the horse" in having got a parliamentary vote in favour of the runway (many votes by MPs who very little indeed about it) before details of flight paths and other impacts were known.

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New flight routes (NextGen or PBN) may save airlines time, but they damage health of those suffering the extra noise on the ground

More planes are flying directly over densely populated areas, due to airport computer systems that automatically chart the most "efficient" routes - so airlines can save fuel (= money).  A new study by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health concludes that the benefits of the reduced flight times are outweighed by the health effects on residents below, who suffer from the noise burden. Looking at the increase in noise pollution around New York City’s LaGuardia Airport since routes were changed when NextGen (concentrated, accurate routes, all planes along approximately the same line) was implemented in 2012, the researchers determined that people living in certain Queens neighbourhoods will lose an average of one year of good health over the course of their lifetimes, due to their heightened risk of cardiovascular disease and other ailments linked to stress. They looked at costs and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs).  “Ideally, airports should be built farther away from urban centres,” says lead author Peter Muennig, a professor of health policy and management. “The next-best option is to use flight patterns that send planes over green space, waterways, and industrial areas.”

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Advice from Teddington TAG on Heathrow consultations on future flight paths

During January to March 2019, Heathrow Airport will be conducting a consultation in 2 parts, which people need to be aware of:  1. Airspace changes for the existing two runways to allow an increase in the number of flights. Heathrow want to increase the annual throughput by 25,000 ATMs.  2. Airspace changes for a 3 runway airport.   Later in the year, there will be a second consultation on Heathrow’s “preferred masterplan for Heathrow expansion.  It is VERY IMPORTANT that people respond to the consultation. One thing that we can be pretty sure of is that there will be more, not less, noise; for some people, this may be very significant.  For both 2 runways and 3 runways, Heathrow will be introducing PBN “Performance Based Navigation”, a form of “Satnav” which enables planes to be positioned in the sky much more precisely. This will bring about the further concentration of flight paths - to the detriment of people underneath them.  TAG is very much against the concentration of flight paths as it represents an unfair and extremely unhealthy burden upon those affected.

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Tahir Latif (PCS Union): Trade Unions must demand jobs that protect our planet, not destroy it

The Trade Unions are divided on whether to support a 3rd Heathrow runway. Unfortunately many have been led to believe, by the airport and its backers, that there will be wonderful jobs in future with expansion. And without it the jobs are in danger. The  reality of airport jobs is somewhat different.  In a new blog, Tahir Latif, President of the PCS Aviation Group, and NEC member, discusses the sorts of jobs that Trade Unions should be supporting, if we are to have a habitable planet in future. He comments: "Too often, trade unions are seen as part of the problem, desperate for jobs and therefore willing to support employers who are intent on blindly taking us towards disaster in the name of further profits. ... But that does raise two important questions: (1) does our survival as a species trump the jobs argument and (2) does the jobs argument stand up to scrutiny anyway. ... The impact of climate change can’t be underestimated. ...The IPCC report puts us on notice: we HAVE to change. And if industries like aviation (and oil, coal, gas etc.) cannot continue their unchecked growth, then unions are NOT looking after their members long term interests by clinging to them. When change comes or is forced upon us, workers in those industries will be stranded in obsolete jobs without the skills or any plan for an alternative."

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Heathrow opens new consultation on airspace – including 25,000 more annual flights, by using IPA

Heathrow has opened another consultation - this on is on "Airspace & Future Operations". It ends on 4th March. Not only is Heathrow planning for a 3rd runway, and up to 50% more flights eventually, it is also now trying to get another 25,000 flights (about 5% more). fairly soon. And it wants these extra 25,000 flights whether it gets its 3rd runway, or not. The current flight numbers cap is 480,000 per year, set after the Terminal 5 Inquiry. It is currently using about 475,000 - with the few spaces at unpopular times of the day or week. Heathrow plans to get the extra flights, added at times already very busy, by what it calls IPA - Independent Parallel Approaches, which mean planes can come in on two runways at once, at the same time. Currently if they do this, they have to be staggered, at slightly further distances apart than with IPA. Heathrow admits this will mean different flight paths, and people not currently being overflown, by narrow concentrated flight paths.  Planes on IPA would join the final approach path about 8 nautical miles from the runway. It will be important that the areas to be newly negatively affected are made aware of what is going to hit them. The extra flights would also give Heathrow more income in the short term, to help it pay the immense cost of its 3rd runway plans.

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