Below are news items relating to specific airports
London Borough of Southwark joins No 3rd Runway Coalition
The London Borough of Southwark has today become the latest local authority (joining Richmond, Wandsworth, Windsor & Maidenhead, Hillingdon and Hammersmith & Fulham) to join the fight against Heathrow Expansion. Its residents get a great deal of noise from Heathrow aircraft already, and that would get much worse with a 3rd runway. Cllr Richard Livingstone, Cabinet Member for environment, transport management and air quality for Southwark, said: “We are happy to be joining the No 3rd Runway Coalition, to stand alongside other groups, organisations and individuals, in opposition to a third runway"... Southwark councillors are already concerned about the noise, and also now the carbon emissions. With the Westminster Parliament now joining the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, London Assembly and over 500 councils around the UK in declaring a climate emergency, it is clear that the unconstrained growth of carbon intensive infrastructure is no longer politically palatable. And it is no longer just environmental campaigners who are considering the proposed expansion of Heathrow to be the totemic issue in the battle against climate change, but mainstream politicians too.
Heathrow Hub appeals High Court judgment that rejected its legal challenge to the ANPS
Heathrow Hub, the independent proposal for expanding Heathrow Airport via an extension to the existing Northern Runway, has started proceedings to appeal the High Court judgement handed down on the 1st May 2019, which refused a judicial review. The DfT, Chris Grayling and Heathrow hoped the ruling would clear the way for Heathrow to get on with its plans. But now 3 of the other 4 claimants are also appealing - the councils, Friends of the Earth, and Plan B. Heathrow Hub is majority owned by Anthony Clake, a senior partner at Marshall Wace, a global hedge fund in London. Heathrow Hub has been advised that it also has grounds for appeal, and has applied for permission to do so. They cite the legal flaws as including: "The court did not set out the legal test of overriding public interest or acknowledge that the burden of discharging it lay with the secretary of state. Furthermore, it did not allow Heathrow Hub to address the court on this matter resulting in a clear error of law. The role of the court in a judicial review is to review the exercise of discretion by the decision-maker, not to exercise the discretion itself.”
Hillingdon and the other 4 Councils seek permission to appeal Heathrow ruling
Following the Divisional Court's decision on 1 May 2019 to dismiss the legal challenge brought by Hillingdon Council and others, expert legal opinion has been sought by them in relation to whether there are any grounds to appeal this decision. There is no automatic right of appeal and permission to appeal is needed, in the first instance, from the court which heard the legal challenge. Therefore, an application for permission to appeal is being made to the Divisional Court on behalf of Hillingdon Council and the other local authorities involved in the legal challenge (Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith & Fulham, Windsor & Maidenhead) - it will be supported by Greenpeace and the Mayor of London. The appeal is on 2 specific grounds which both have their origin in European Law. 1). Relating to the Habitats Directive, and 2). the relationship of the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) to the councils' Local Plans, and the noise assessment and metric used by the government, under the SEA Directive. If the Divisional Court refuses the application, the councils can apply for permission to appeal directly to the Court of Appeal. Plan B and Friends of the Earth are also appealing, on different grounds. The councils have always known this would be a long slog ...
Plan B to appeal against the Court’s judgment on Heathrow
Plan B Earth is to Appeal against the decision of the Judges, on 1st May, to reject the legal challenges by the five councils etc, by Friends of the Earth, Plan B Earth, and Mr Paul Spurrier (as well as Heathrow Hub). Plan B Earth has published its application for permission to appeal against the judgment of Hickinbottom LJ and Holgate J . "The Appellant wishes to challenge the Secretary of State’s decision ... to designate the Airports National Policy Statement (“the ANPS”) in support of the expansion of Heathrow Airport under the Planning Act 2008 (“the 2008 Act”), on the basis of his failure to give proper consideration to the climate change impacts of the proposal. Plan B mention specific errors, including that the "Court erred in law in treating the minimum target of 80% greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2050, established by the Climate Change Act 2008 (“CCA”) as precluding Government policy which implied emissions reduction of greater than 80%: The Court proceeded on the basis that “Government policy relating to … climate change” could not differ at all (or at least could not differ materially) from the base level of the emissions target set out in the CCA. That approach is fundamentally flawed."
European elections: Top candidates for EU President demand tax on (aviation) kerosene, to help deal with CO2 emissions
Both the conservative Manfred Weber [German politician] and the social democrat Frans Timmermans [Dutch politician and diplomat] want to tax aircraft fuel. They are the main candidates to be the next EU Commission President, after Jean-Claude Junker steps down later in May. But they are divided on the CO2 tax. Both want to abolish the tax benefits for aviation fuel. Airlines currently do not pay fuel tax on their fuel, due to historic international agreements. The injustice leads to lying being significantly cheaper than other means of transport. "The preference of the airline business must be ended." Then the train would also have better chances in the competition. Frans Timmermans wants to tax kerosene "unconditionally and quickly"... "If it fails at the international level, we have to introduce the tax EU-wide." They disagree on whether carbon should be taxed, due to difficulties in protecting the poor. The German Union parties have so far no uniform position on the CO2 tax. But Timmermans wants a European tax on CO2, and said the next President must make climate protection a top priority and push the transformation of the economy in the next 5 years.
Scottish government has decided not to remove APD – tax-free flying is inconsistent with policies to cut CO2 emissions
The Scottish Government has decided to scrap plans to cut Air Passenger Duty (APD). The tax (just £13 for a return flight to anywhere in Europe) is paid by any passenger leaving from a UK airport. Aviation pays no VAT on tickets and there is no duty of jet fuel. The Scottish government had wanted to reduce the tax by 50% initially, before eventually abolishing it. This has been threatened since 2016. Cutting APD would have the effect of making air tickets a little cheaper, so increasing the number of flights taken - and therefore the CO2 emissions from Scottish airports. Edinburgh airport said the number of extra passengers at Scottish airports could be one million. Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said reducing air departure tax was "no longer compatible" with Scotland's climate targets, and all sectors have a contribution to make to meeting the challenge of climate change. Cutting the tax would possibly slightly increase the number of visitors flying to Scotland, but the increase in the number of Scottish people flying abroad would be higher. Nicola Sturgeon declared a "climate emergency" in her speech to the SNP conference last month. Cutting the tax would have been entirely inconsistent with that.
Edinburgh Airport launches new flight path plans
A new attempt to change flight paths at Edinburgh Airport has been launched. Their earlier controversial proposals were thrown out by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in October 2018 after it deemed the differences between the consultation and the final proposals were "too significant". West Fife residents and politicians had raised their concerns during the process as it was feared the plans would mean more planes overhead, with more noise and pollution. Fears were also expressed that one of the proposed new routes would mean that North Queensferry would have flights going over it 365 days a year. The airport has now submitted a Statement of Need to the CAA in a renewed effort to modernise the existing routes which they say currently rely on 1950s technology. The new flight paths would use the new technology to fly very accurately, all along exactly the same route. This is sold to the public as minimising the number of people affected (it affects a smaller number, but severely) and minimally cutting CO2 emissions, if planes fly a marginally shorter route. The noise problem would be great for those intensely affected, especially at peak times of day - like early morning. Residents have to keep battling the airport ....
Uttlesford decision on Stansted: New councillors mean an opportunity for a fresh approach
The previous council at Uttlesford voted through expansion proposals for Stansted Airport, in November 2018, but the Chairman's casting vote. It then came to light jhat at least some of the councillors had either not read, or had not understood, even the most basic information about the application. Now with the council elections in early May, there has been a huge re-shuffling. Local group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) says this left no doubt as to its dissatisfaction with the incumbent administration. The Conservatives retained just 4 out of their 24 seats, making this proportionately the largest loss by any ruling party in any District Council in the entire country. The 5 members of the Council's Planning Committee who voted in favour of the Stansted Airport planning application last November are no longer councillors, whereas the 5 who voted against were all re-elected. Voters were unhappy that an unpopular administration had attached greater priority to the commercial interests of Manchester Airports Group than to the wellbeing of local residents. SSE now looks forward to re-establishing a constructive dialogue with the Council.
Plan B Earth writes to Government lawyers, requesting a review of the ANPS under Section 6 of the Planning Act
After the High Court rejected all the legal challenges against the DfT's backing of the 3rd Heathrow runway, Tim Crosland (Director of Plan B Earth) has written to the government's legal department to request review of the ANPS (Airports National Policy Statement) under section 6 of the Planning Act 2008. This is in light of the approval by Parliament of a motion declaring a climate and environmental emergency. In addition, there has now been the publication of the advice to the UK government from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), on how the UK should aim for net zero carbon by, or before, 2050. The ANPS was designated on the assumption that it was premature to speculate on the implications of the Paris Agreement for the UK carbon target for 2050. That assumption has now been overtaken by events. The CCC's report recommends that the Government implement a target of net zero GHG emissions by 2050 (which implies net zero CO2 emissions even earlier than that). It is now clear that the viability of Heathrow expansion must be assessed against the target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Tim asks that the government lawyers clarify the position on this rapidly, to assist those considering appeals to the judgement.
Councils that brought legal challenge re. Heathrow say Londoners face added noise and long-term health impacts from Court decision
Councils say the High Court’s failure to quash the government’s Airport National Policy Statement (ANPS) backing Heathrow expansion could bring long-term damage to the health of millions of Londoners. They warn that large areas of London and the Home Counties will be affected by noise from the new north-west runway. The court has refused all the applications for judicial review of the ANPS essentially because it has decided that at this policy stage the decision to support a third runway at Heathrow needs to only meet a low level of judicial scrutiny. All the damage caused to life and health and the environment by a third runway and its associated traffic (damage causing air pollution, noise pollution and contributing to climate change) will have to be more closely scrutinised at the DCO stage. Objections to a third runway must be heard then and any decision to approve it will be open to challenge through the courts. The councils will continue to explore every avenue possible to protect their residents from the health and environmental consequences of a third runway. Hillingdon "has set aside sufficient funding to defend our environment and the health and wellbeing of our people for however long it takes to do so.” See the comments of the Council Leaders.