General News

Below are links to stories of general interest in relation to aviation and airports.

 

Farnborough airspace Judicial Review by Lasham Gliding Society fails to overturn CAA decision

Mrs. Justice Thornton has delivered her judgement on the CAA's grant of airspace to TAG Farnborough following the Judicial Review actioned by Lasham Gliding Society (LGS). She did not find sufficient grounds to overturn the CAA's airspace decision and concluded that the CAA acted within its powers and the limits of its discretion. This is in spite of the arguments presented by LGS - and roundly supported by the wider general aviation community - on its adverse impact on aviation safety, the consequential inefficient use of airspace, and the potential detrimental operational and financial impacts on LGS. As things stand, it is expected that the new Farnborough airspace will come into effect by early 2020 . This will have serious impacts on general aviation activity in central southern England. It is a hard blow to gliding enthusiasts, whose available airspace will be seriously curtailed. It follows several years of intense opposition to what is widely considered to be a completely unjustified and ill-considered move by TAG Farnborough to secure a large swathe of controlled airspace, to facilitate its operations for private jets.

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Heathrow plans to increase 3rd runway costs – to £2.9 bn – before approval, hoping it will be too costly to scrap its plans

Heathrow plans to triple the amount it spends on its third runway proposal, to £2.9bn - well before getting final approval. This either means air passengers using Heathrow would be charged more (something the industry and the government do not want), or else the taxpayer will be charged. Even if the runway never goes ahead.  The CAA has a consultation about the costs and how Heathrow has been speeding up the process, spending ever more money. (The legal challenges are now going to appeal in October, but Heathrow is pressing ahead with its DCO consultations). Especially on carbon emissions, air pollution and noise grounds, it is entirely possible the runway will be blocked and the DCO will not be granted.  The CAA says it has asked Heathrow "to consider different options for this spending and the implications of this spending for the overall programme timetable and the interests of consumers.” [Not to mention the taxpayer, who may end up paying ...] Heathrow is increasing the amount of its "Category B" costs and "early Category C" costs. They want to increase the amount spent already to be so large, that it effectively cannot be cancelled. Detailed costs still have to be outlined, but Heathrow is expected to submit its initial business plan to the CAA for review towards the end of this year.

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Boris may follow Heathrow legal case “with lively interest” – while business lobby insists 3rd runway must go ahead

The Sun reports that Boris hinted, in a reply to a question by Caroline Lucas, that he might change government policy on Heathrow. The Sun says Mr Johnson told MPs he will “study the outcome of the court cases” on the Heathrow 3rd runway plans, with a “lively interest.” This is especially relevant now that the Appeal Court has permitted appeals by all the legal challenges, which were rejected on 1st May.  Green Party MP Caroline Lucas (Brighton Pavilion) asked if the Prime Minister would scrap the third runway given his opposition to the scheme as London mayor. She said: “Few will forget his pledge to lie down in front of the bulldozers to stop the construction of a third runway at Heathrow Airport. Luckily for him, luckily for us all, he is now at the steering wheel and can turn those bulldozers around.”  Boris replied: “Of course, the bulldozers are some way off but I am following with lively interest the court cases."  Business groups will shortly be writing to Boris, to put pressure on him not to cancel the runway, pushing the line that failing to support a third runway will "prevent us all from successfully building a global Britain".

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What is driving London City Airport’s expansion plans? John Stewart comment

John Stewart, from Hacan East, has looked at why London City Airport is planning huge expansion. The airport Master Plan wants to lift the current cap of 111,000 flights allowed each year to 137,000 by 2030 and to 151,000 by 2035. He says the airport is aiming to promote itself as a major player on the aviation scene, and a key driver of the regional economy, not just a niche business airport. It now often holds receptions at the party conferences, and is raising its profile to get backing for its growth plans. The current owners bought the airport for £2 billion in 2016, and want to make a good return. Business passengers used to be about 60% of the total, but now 50% - with the plans suggesting 36% by 2035. Most business passengers fly in the morning and evening, so leisure flights use the hours in the middle of the day. It can’t offer budget flights because Ryanair and EasyJet planes are too big to use the airport. London City has set out to change to portray itself as a key driver, maybe even the key driver, of the economic development of East, NE and SE London.  It is pushing this to MPs and also local authorities in its regions in order to convince them it is in their interest to back expansion.

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Hammersmith Society gives its advice on Heathrow consultation – to respond, just say “NO”

The Hammersmith Society aims to ensure the borough is a "safer, more convenient and better place in which to live, work and enjoy ourselves." They have been looking at Heathrow's consultation on its expansion plans - equivalent to adding on a new airport the size of Gatwick. They warn that if people fill in the response document, giving a preference for one or other option in the questions, this may (quite illegitimately) be taken by Heathrow as "support" for their plans. So the Society's advice is that people do not engage with the questions; the whole plan is bad for Hammersmith, so JUST SAY NO. The Society says on Heathrow plans to burn biomass and plant some trees  "that’s hardly the point considering the carbon footprint of the industry it facilitates – it’s not even a drop in the ocean – this amounts to lip-service greenwash, rather insulting to our intelligence". On the consultation, the Society comments: "the weight of documents is tremendous, and more than a little excessive.  The reader eventually concludes this is an attempt to bamboozle and wear down those trying to interpret them, to make them give up in the belief that the project must have been well thought-through, because of the weight of documentation alone."

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New 10:10 campaign: “Climate Perks” – to help employers cut employees’ CO2 from holiday trips – by offering paid “journey days” if they don’t fly

An interesting new scheme - Climate Perks - has been created, for employers - to help cut the carbon of their staff's holiday arrangements. It has been started at a time when more and more people are becoming aware of the real danger the climate emergency we are now in, and many want to cut their own carbon emissions. Climate Perks is encouraging employers to offer paid ‘journey days’ so staff can travel on holiday, by means other than by air. Globally, flying is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases. Flying less is one of the most powerful actions we, as individuals, can take to cut our carbon footprint. Many people want to cut their carbon, but with only a short holiday period, cannot (or do not wish to) eat into that in order to get to and from their holiday by surface transport - not by plane. The 10:10 campaign, behind the Climate Perks scheme, estimates that avoiding two flights to a Mediterranean destination would save around as much carbon per year as avoiding having a car. Employers who will give staff paid days, for land-based travel on holiday, would get Climate Perks accreditation in recognition of their climate leadership.

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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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DfT launches call for evidence on carbon offsetting on travel, including plane

The DfT (under Grayling) has launched a call for evidence into whether more consumers could be given the option of buying carbon offsets to reduce the carbon footprint of their travel (plane, ferry, train, coach etc).  The DfT also asks if transport operators should provide information on carbon emissions. And it will explore the public’s understanding of carbon emissions from the journeys they make and the options to offset them. The transport sector contributes about a third of the UK total CO2 emissions, and these are not falling. Aviation CO2 is increasing. Presumably Grayling hopes that getting some passengers offsetting will somehow cancel out the horrific increases in transport carbon from infrastructure he has pushed through. The DfT seems aware that many people are not persuaded of the effectiveness of carbon offsetting. It seems aware that offsets should be from domestic schemes, not from abroad. But the main problem is offsetting does not reduce carbon. All it does is slightly absolve someone's conscience, while effectively cancelling out the carbon savings made by others. Offsetting is essentially a con. Offsets are damaging, as they help to continue with "business as usual" behind the greenwashing.  See "Cheat Neutral" 

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Michael Gove admits that government action on climate change has not been good enough

Michael Gove, the current Environment Secretary, while speaking at a Green Alliance event, has said the next Prime Minister's 'single greatest responsibility' will be addressing the climate and environment emergency.  He has conceded that action by the UK government to tackle the climate emergency has to date not been good enough. And he felt greater affinity on the issue with Greta Thunberg, who spoke more sense on the need to act now to deal with the climate emergency, than "many of the people I sit alongside in the House of Commons". Gove said the School Strikes for Climate activists and Extinction Rebellion protestors, had helped to turn climate change into a mainstream political issue over the past year - reproaching his generation "for not having done enough".  And there has not been enough done by this government. Gove said he was "under few illusions about how big a change we need to make", acknowledging calls to eat less meat, fly less and plant more trees. And he compared the required transformation of the economy and society with that achieved during and immediately after World War Two.

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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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