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AEF discussion paper on what – on air pollution – needs to be in UK’s forthcoming “Aviation Strategy”
The Aviation Environment Federation have produced a series of discussion papers, on environmental aspects of aviation policy that need to be properly dealt with in the government's forthcoming new "Aviation Strategy" consultation, and then an Aviation White Paper in 2019. There are papers on noise and carbon emissions, and now one on air pollution. The AEF says the UK needs clarity on how airport expansion can be achieved keeping to air pollution commitments. We need better information on pollution that comes from planes, outside the "landing and take off cycle", which only covers planes up to 3,000 feet altitude. We also need better mapping of where the air pollution is, around airports, showing legal limit values and WHO maximum levels for pollutants. There should be clarity on how air pollutants will increase, if the number of flights at an airport increase, and how this affects the "National Emissions Ceiling Directive" (NECD) limit values. AEF says a lot more clarity is needed, on whether it is true most of the air pollution around airports comes from road vehicles (associated with the airport or not) and how much is from planes themselves. There has been no national review of airport air pollution since 2003, for airports other than Heathrow.
T&E report on how to decarbonise European transport by 2050 – including aviation
Transport & Environment (T&E) have produced a report on how to decarbonise (ie. zero carbon) European transport by 2050. It has many suggestions on aviation. A few quotes from the report: "By driving out the use of fossil kerosene fuel in aviation through carbon pricing and requiring aircraft to switch to synthetic fuels, and advanced biofuels to a very limited extent, the climate impact of flying can be reduced dramatically. Zero emission electrofuels and very low carbon advanced sustainable biofuels can be produced today and deployed immediately using existing engines and infrastructure." ... "While synfuels can solve aviation's CO2 problem, the non-CO2 problem will require additional measures to be mitigated." ... "In Europe [aviation] emissions have doubled since 1990, and globally they could, without action, double or treble by 2050." ... "Aviation is at risk of having its emissions locked in due to the growth in passenger numbers and aircraft fleet, consuming the limited carbon budget to remain within the 1.5°C and 2°C targets of the Paris Agreement." ... "By 2030, advanced biofuels are expected to contribute only 3.5% of all transport fuels (including cars, trucks, aviation) and their growth beyond this date is likely to be constrained due to land availability and competing industries." ... "ICAO, with its weak target of net 2020 emissions and reliance on offsetting instead of cutting emissions, is only capable of delivering a global minimum effort. Much more ambitious action" is needed.
“Heathrow unveils its plan for carbon neutral growth”: except there is no credible plan … not for a 50% increase in flights
Heathrow has set out a "plan" to (magically) help it to increase the number of flights by up to 50% but do this in a "carbon neutral" way. Needless to say, there is no detail of how it can actually do this. There is plenty about how it will be investing in "sustainable" fuels. Plenty of blather, without any actual details, about how can achieve an entirely impossible goal. Heathrow says it is looking at action on 4 key areas including: cleaner aircraft technology, [by that it means more fuel efficient, not more clean]; improvements to airspace and ground operations; sustainable aviation fuels [none probably exist, without huge unintended side effects]; and carbon offsetting methods [ie. keeping on emitting, and paying to cancel out the carbon savings made by others elsewhere, postponing the evil moment when they actually reduce aviation CO2 emissions.] There is hype like how they will: "Make Heathrow a leading hub for the development and deployment of sustainable aviation fuels by providing the necessary airport infrastructure, and support for pilot projects" and how they are calling on "ICAO to develop global goals for the uptake of sustainable alternative fuels." And lots of hope about those peat bogs, which they are hoping will save their bacon ....
Maersk pledges to cut CO2 emissions to zero by 2050, without use of offsets which just “delay the pain”
Global aviation and global shipping are two sectors with immense carbon emissions, not properly controlled by any one country. Shipping currently accounts for about 2-3% of global CO2 emissions, and if the sector does not cut fuel burned, this could to 20% of global emissions by 2050. Now the world’s largest container shipping company has "pledged" to cut net CO2 emissions to zero by 2050. It is challenging an industry that is one of the main transporters of global trade and one of the biggest carbon emitters to come up with radical solutions in the next decade. It hopes to make new ships "carbon free" by 2030. The CEO of Maersk, Mr Toft, said: “We will have to abandon fossil fuels. We will have to find a different type of fuel or a different way to power our assets." But what is suggested is perhaps biofuels, hydrogen, electricity, wind or solar power. It would be a catastrophe for the natural world if shipping also tries to get hold of biofuels (as well as electricity generation, and aviation) with forests and natural habitats for wildlife devastated. Maersk is aiming to meet its target without buying carbon offsets. Mr Toft said: “If you buy offsets, you are basically delaying the pain. What you are doing is buying yourself an excuse and hoping that the money you pay goes to good uses, but you are not tackling the issue at its core.”
Birmingham Airport expansion plans criticised over rising emission concerns
Green councillors amid concerns over rises in greenhouse gas emissions. They say the airport’s draft masterplan is ‘irresponsible’. The increase in passenger numbers after the expansion could see the level of emissions rise to double that produced by the entire city of Wolverhampton every year. The masterplan – covering the next 15 years – includes proposals to increase use of the airport’s existing runway, expand the passenger terminal and baggage sorting areas. The investment aims to prepare the airport to attract 18 million passengers by 2033. This would make Birmingham Airport the region’s largest single source of greenhouse gases. Even before the airport expansion, it is projected to emit 1.7million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year by 2030, Department for Transport figures show. By contrast, Wolverhampton’s carbon footprint is about one million tonnes per annum, according to latest government statistics. Just at a time when humanity should be making every possible effort to cut CO2 emissions.
No 3rd Runway Coalition’s message loud and clear at London Climate March
At the Climate Change march in London on 1st December, to mark the start of the COP24 climate talks in Katovice, Poland, the No 3rd Runway Coalition was out in force. Many hundred people marched - 700 or more? - with a large input from anti-fracking activists, and many from Extinction Rebelling. After rallying outside the Polish Embassy for speeches, including Neil Keveren from Stop Heathrow Expansion, the march set off down Regents Street and Piccadilly to Whitehall. The key concern was that in the UK, from fracking to a Heathrow third runway, our government is failing to face up to the climate crisis. The recent IPCC report is a landmark for our planet, setting out just what is at stake if we breach 1.5C warming. We need action now to move to a Zero Carbon Britain, with climate jobs to build the future we need. Instead of rapidly committing to effective action to cut CO2, the UK government is actively backing measures to make CO2 emissions higher or cut funding for initiatives that would cut burning of fossil fuels. The No 3rd Runway Coalition banner took up pride of place at the start of the march. There were many Coalition members present, many placards on show, the huge Chatr black plane clearly stating "No 3rd Runway", and a good turnout by Stop Heathrow Expansion.
The two Swedish mums who want people to give up flying for a year
Two Swedish mums have persuaded 10,000 people to commit to not taking any flights in 2019. Their social media initiative, No-fly 2019 (Flygfritt 2019), is aiming for 100,000 pledges, and has been asking participants to post their reasons for signing up. Maja Rosen and her neighbour Lotta Hammar say they started the campaign to show politicians what needs to be done to halt climate change. Direct emissions from aviation account for about 3% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions, according to the European Commission. And, it says, if global aviation was a country, it would rank in the top 10 emitters. See the video from Maja and Lotta. Sweden has had, since April, a tax of about $7 for short haul flights and about $48 on long haul flights, with the intention of cutting carbon emissions.
UTTLESFORD COUNCIL PLANNING CHAIRMAN DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WHAT HE WAS VOTING FOR!
Following the decision of the Chairman of Uttlesford Planning Committee, Councillor Alan Mills, to use his (additional) casting vote in favour of the airport planning application, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) health adviser, Professor Jangu Banatvala, wrote to him to ask whether he had reviewed the latest important WHO Noise Guidelines, published on 10th October, prior to voting. The disturbing reply from Councillor Mills suggests that he was not aware of the WHO Guidelines and he believed the planning application was for 174,000 flights, rather than 274,000. He did not appear to have understood that the application was for an increase in flights, by about 25,000 per year, despite claiming to have read a third of the documents. Five councillors voted in favour of the Stansted application, but SSE has found that at least some of them had either not read, or had not understood, even the most basic information about the application. SSE said this is entirely unsatisfactory. It confirms that this application should be dealt with at a higher level than a small district council, with limited resources to deal with such a significant application with such widespread implications. SSE's lawyers are now working on the detailed legal submissions to the Secretary of State on why he must now 'call in' the application for national determination.
No 3rd Runway Coalition blog: Still no clarity on Heathrow finances for its expansion
In a blog, from the Chairman of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, Paul McGuinness, he says that serious concerns remain about how Heathrow might fund its hoped-for 3rd runway. The CAA has written to the DfT asking for clarity, as it does not have adequate or detailed information from Heathrow. As Nils Pratley highlighted in the Guardian “in most industries, a rebuke from the regulator would be met with an immediate promise to do better. Heathrow’s response, however, amounted to a shrug of the shoulders". In Heathrow's "Scoping Report" to the Planning Inspectorate in May they said, buried deep within the highly technical documents, that it seeks ‘early release of capacity’ that would be created by a 3rd runway. In short, Heathrow are trying to secure an additional 25,000 flights each year, (68 per day) above the current cap of 480,000, years before the 3rd runway opens. The current cap was a key condition of the T5 planning permission. Heathrow wants the income from these extra flights to help pay for the runway. Nobody knows who would be affected, or what noise, pollution, congestion etc impacts there would be. There has been no assessment. Read the full blog.
Lasham Gliding Society applies for Judicial Review of CAA Farnborough airspace decision
The CAA decided to grant the airspace to TAG Farnborough on 11th July. After taking legal advice, Lasham Gliding Society decided to fight this decision and instructed its lawyers to draw up a claim for leave for a Judicial Review in the High Court. Lasham Gliding Society is strongly opposed to the CAA’s decision. It considers that the decision to introduce new controlled airspace has not been justified by the CAA, because it will create a choke point, it does not represent an efficient use of the airspace, and it does not properly or reasonably balance the needs of all users. Lasham Gliding Society says: “The consequence of the implementation of this large volume of controlled airspace, at the request of a small airfield which has around 28,000 annual (non-public) movements, will be to displace many times more transiting flights and to cause significant congestion of general aviation movements outside the controlled airspace.” The application for the JR was lodged on 10th October. The CAA has produced its reply, and the judge will decide if it can proceed. The cost will be at least £100,000 and Lasham hopes it will be of relevance to other general aviation airfields.
The concept of “flying shame” is growing in Sweden – shame if you fly too much – due to the CO2 emissions
Many Northern Europeans have "flying shame" because of the climate: they stay on the ground while traveling. Rail travel is becoming increasingly popular. Some people in Sweden are cutting down on flying, and believe the carbon emissions are a matter of shame. The word for it is "flugsham" or "flygskam" and this is becoming a common concept, akin to 'flying less" in English. A celebrity athlete is well know for only travelling to sporting events if he can get there by train. The Swedes are among the frequent flyers. They fly 7 times more than average global citizens. While Sweden's total CO2 emissions have fallen by 24% since 1990, air traffic grew by 61% in that time. A prominent writer in a popular newspaper denounced the "idiotic lifestyle" of frequent flying as the "most expensive suicide in world history". Researchers and artists responded: "Flying is no longer an alternative for them". People realise that we cannot go on with expanding aviation. A Facebook page on travelling by long-distance rail, rather than flying, had 30,000 followers in a few months. As well as the hashtag #flyingless there is the Swedish counterpart in #jagstannarpåmarken: "I'll stay on the ground".
New structure for GACC Committee as they continue longstanding fight to protect residents from Gatwick airport
GACC, Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, announces a new structure to better utilise the dedicated long standing GACC Committee, with the aim of being more agile and responsive in its work to counter the threat from Gatwick Airport and its expansion master plan. Brendon Sewill, having being the Chairman of GACC for over 6 decades and hugely respected, is now GACC President. Lisa Morris, after 5 years on the GACC committee, becomes Chairman, and said “I am honoured to be entrusted with the role of Chairman at a time when GACC seeks to fight Gatwick’s master plan for a 3 runway airport. The GACC committee is poised to use its combined forces of knowledge, expertise and sheer determination, to challenge Gatwick’s master plan, which includes bringing the emergency runway into routine use and safeguarding land in the Gatwick vicinity for a 3rd runway”. Peter Barclay, Brendon’s successor last year, steps down from his role as Chairman to take on the important role of Vice President in addition to continuing to be the GACC lead with Gatwick, nationally and regionally. GACC will be further strengthening and enlarging the Committee, to fight on behalf of all communities negatively affected - and not only from noise - by Gatwick airport.
Warning at UN Biodiversity Conference that humanity’s rush into biofuels/biomass will devastate global biodiversity
Growing enough plants to provide biomass and biofuels, that are meant to slow climate change (climate breakdown) compared to burning fossil fuels, will need a biofuel land grab: a 10 to 30-fold rise in land devoted to these crops from the level now. This means the destruction of the habitats for plants and animals, seriously undermining the essential global biodiversity. This warning was spelt out at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Egypt by Anne Larigauderie, executive secretary of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, IPBES. The latest IPCC report, on limiting climate warming to 1.5°C, had given “a sense of extreme urgency" for ways to cut CO2 emissions, fast. But this mean "tradeoffs and synergies between climate, biodiversity and land degradation.” More land would be used for monocultures of plants like maize. Perhaps by 2050 up to 724 million hectares, an area almost the size of Australia, might be used for biofuel crops - compared to perhaps 15 to 30m ha now. There is very little "marginal land" that could be used for these crops (they need water etc, and decent soils). This use of biomass will inevitably have "negative consequences for biodiversity.” By contrast, reforestation and forest protection helps reduce carbon more effectively.
Response by Government to PQ on Heathrow road traffic indicates a 29% increase with a 3rd runway
In a Parliamentary Question by Andy Slaughter (MP for Hammersmith), he asked the Secretary of State for Transport, "what assessment he has made of the number of (a) light goods vehicles, (b) heavy goods vehicles and (c) private cars that access Heathrow airport on a daily basis." The reply by Jesse Norman, Minister of State at the DfT, said the figures for goods vehicles come from the Airports Commission [now fairly out of date] and the other figures for highway and public transport trips are from an October 2017 DfT document. Heathrow has often said there would be no more vehicles on the roads with a 3rd runway than currently. But the DfT figures indicate the trips by passengers and employees, by cars and taxis, would be around 60 million in 2030 with no new runway, and about 77 million in 2030 with a 3rd runway. The numbers would be about 66 million by 2050, with no new runway; and about 85 million with a 3rd runway. ie. a massive rise of around 29% above the number with no new runway, both in 2030 and in 2050. Mr Norman said, to try to overcome this difficulty, "it will be for an applicant for development consent for the Heathrow Northwest runway scheme to submit a surface access strategy to the Planning Inspectorate alongside their application."
Replies to PQs on Heathrow – possible review of NPS after CCC climate report in spring 2019?
In recent Parliamentary Questions, Zac Goldsmith asked the Climate Minister (BEIS) Claire Perry: "what assessment she has made of the effect of the expansion of Heathrow Airport on the ability of the UK to meet the net-zero emissions target by 2050." The response said "The Committee [on Climate Change] will also publish a report on aviation in Spring 2019. ... this will include consideration of the potential to reduce aviation emissions over the period to 2050 and beyond. The Government will consider carefully the Committee’s advice .... Subject to this review, the Government will consider whether it is appropriate to review the Airports National Policy Statement, in accordance with Section 6 of the Planning Act 2008." Zac also asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer "what level of capital funding he plans to allocate for the delivery of improvements to rail access related to the expansion of Heathrow Airport." The reply by Liz Truss said (avoiding replying properly) the Government "will consider the need for a public funding contribution alongside an appropriate contribution from the airport on a case by case basis." And "The Government is supporting Heathrow Surface Access schemes subject to the development of a satisfactory business case and the agreement of acceptable terms with the Heathrow aviation industry." (sic)
Aircraft noise at smaller airports, likely to have negative mental health impact if they have night flights
Aircraft noise from large airports has been frequently linked to harm to mental health, as well as physical health, but it is not known whether the same is true for smaller airports. In this blog, Dr David Wright, lead author of a recently published article in Environmental Health, looked at how much aircraft noise around a smaller airport - Belfast City - affected mental health. It has about 40,000 annual flights, compared to Heathrow 475,000. There is growing evidence that noise generated by large airports also affects the mental health of local residents (see NORAH and HYENA, the two largest studies). As more airlines are flying direct between smaller airports, no longer using hubs, this is an important issue. The study looked at individual and household characteristics, overlaid with noise contours. It found there was a correlation of worse mental health in areas near the airport, under the flight path. But these areas were often poorer, and poverty increases the risk of mental ill-health - so wealth rather than aircraft noise best explains the findings. However, Belfast City airport does not have night flights (21:30 to 06:30), and it is noise that disturbs sleep that has the main impacts on mental health. "Setting sensible curfew hours would strike a balance between the economic benefits and health risks of living close to an airport."
CCC concludes there is limited scope for biofuels for aviation – even that not without risks
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has been looking at the future role of biomass, to try to cut the UK's CO2 emissions. In their report they look at how much biofuel the UK aviation sector should be expecting to use by 2050. The AEF has been assessing the CCC report, and say the UK aviation sector cannot rely on biofuel use to offset CO2 emissions growth. Only limited supply of sustainable biomass is likely to be available in future, and it should be used carefully to tackle climate change. The CCC warns that too much hope of biofuel use in future could delay or discourage work on other ways of reducing emissions (i.e. fuel efficiency and limiting demand for flying).” The CCC advises that we shouldn’t plan for aviation biofuel to exceed 10% of total aviation fuel use by 2050. More would risk diverting sustainable biomass from more carbon efficient uses, such as timber for construction, or industrial uses when combined with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). CO2 released by aircraft in flight cannot be captured. Significant emissions are associated with the manufacture of aviation biofuel from biomass. The CCC says CCS must be used in this biofuel manufacture, or otherwise producing and burning aviation biofuel could result in even higher emissions than simply burning fossil fuels.
PhD study indicates flight ban until 6am could save £ millions on NHS prescriptions for health impacts
A PhD thesis by an economics researcher at Kings College London, Silvia Beghelli, looked at "The Health Effects of Noise and Air Pollution". She looked at the medications prescribed to patients in areas affected by Heathrow planes, and the medical costs of the health impacts. She looked at a trial performed over 5 months at Heathrow in 2012, when planes did not fly over designated areas in the early mornings, between 4:30am and 6am. She found that fewer drugs were prescribed for respiratory and nervous system conditions in areas with the reduced air traffic. Mrs Beghelli cross-referenced NHS data with the trial’s findings and found a link between air traffic and health, notably a 5.8% decrease in spending on pills including anxiolytics for conditions such as insomnia, anxiety and depression in the no-fly zones. As well as meaning the quality of health of people in these areas must have been better, the lower prescribing saved the NHS money. She calculated that modifying flight schedules could save £5 million in NHS prescription costs. It could also cut demand for hospital appointments. The study suggests that early morning planes are causing people to need more prescriptions.
T&E warns that the EU only has till 1st December to save its right to regulate European aviation CO2 emissions
ICAO has been ineffective on aviation CO2, as it is heavily influenced by the aviation industry and operates in near complete secrecy. For decades it has done very little to act on aviation’s surging CO2 emissions. Worse, ICAO’s flagship climate measure, CORSIA risks being the end, not the start, of climate action in aviation around the world and a real threat to the EU ETS in particular. While the Paris agreement aims to get increasingly effective actions to cut CO2, CORSIA sets a cap on carbon ambition and, in particular, on EU action. While the EU ETS has a means to cut aviation CO2, CORSIA is neither really global, nor much of an incentive to reduce carbon emissions. That is why airlines love it. It will hardly affect them, or their growth or profits. But by 1st December the EU must notify ICAO of its intention to continue European legislation, to keep aviation in the ETS. The aviation ETS isn’t perfect, and is only for intra-European flights, but it’s worth fighting for. The alternative, CORSIA, will have almost no effect in reducing CO2 from global aviation. The EU needs to ensure it can introduce CORSIA in a way that is compatible with EU current and future climate rules. Airline lobbyists are trying to prevent this.
By January airlines have to start reporting their CO2 emissions, in preparation for the start of CORSIA
By January, all ICAO Council member states with aircraft operators doing a lot of international flights have to start compiling and transmitting their airlines’ CO2 emissions information. ICAO will gather this, to get ready for the start of its CORSIA "market based measure" plan (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation). Its aim is to try to have (sic) "carbon neutral growth" from 2020. The pilot phase starts in 2021. From January 2019 all airlines producing annual CO2 emissions above 10,000 tonnes will need to measure their emissions on cross-border flights, so a calculation of a sectoral 2020 emission baseline can be made of the average of 2019 and 2020. There are two bits of jargon for CORSIA; the emissions monitoring plan (EMP) and the CO2 emissions reporting tool (CERT). Airlines will need to submit their EMP to their administering state, the country where their aircraft are registered, by February 28, 2019, or preferably earlier. The CERT needs origin, destination, aircraft type, and number of flights for each airline for the year. There is more jargon - the SARP (standards and recommended practices) and the MRV (monitoring, reporting, and verification) requirements ... We may hear more of these in coming years ...
Time to focus on the real environmental costs of tourism; not only plastic, but the carbon from air travel
Tourists, going on holidays - including high-CO2 long-haul trips - are being encouraged to cut down on the amount of plastic they use etc. Great to be reducing the number of plastic straws, water bottles and other single-use plastics etc, but this really is barely touching the surface of the environmental problems caused by tourism. In a blog, Chris Haslam, of he Sunday Times, says that while the travel companies like Thomas Cook are "jumping on the sustainability bandwagon" - is this corporate responsibility or virtue-signalling? People can see bits of plastic. They, conveniently, cannot see the CO2 emissions they cause. Travel companies used to try to sell customers carbon offsets for their trips, but no longer seem to. Air travel is a uniquely fast way to cause the emission of a huge proportion of an individual's annual carbon footprint. “No other human activity pushes individual emission levels as fast and as high as air travel,” says Dr Roger Tyers, an environmental sociologist at Southampton University. "... [the aviation industry] tell us that engineers and inventors will come to the rescue, that politicians and passengers need do nothing. ... [but] Climate change will be a real problem unless we do something about our addiction to cheap and plentiful flying.”
Uttlesford DC approves Stansted expansion plan, only by Chairman’s casting vote – but plans may now be “called in”
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has expressed dismay and disappointment that the vote on 14th November)by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) Planning Committee granted approval for Stansted’s planning application to grow - to an annual throughput of 43 million passengers per annum (from the 35 million cap now). If this approval is allowed to stand, it would mean that Stansted could increase its flights by 44% and its passenger throughput by 66% compared, to last year’s levels. The Planning Committee, comprising ten elected Uttlesford councillors, split right down the middle with 5 in favour of the application (including the Planning Committee Chairman) and 5 against. Where there is a split vote, the Council rulebook gives the Chairman an additional (casting) vote - so he gets 2 votes. Both BBC and ITV regional news teams filmed the session, which was attended by many local people. UDC cannot issue a decision notice until the Sec of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (James Brokenshire) has considered whether the application should be called in. This should have been done already, as the planned expansion is very near the threshold necessary - of an increase by 10 million annual passengers. SSE will now submit further representations to the Secretary of State asking him (again) to call in the application. They are currently also legally challenging the decision.
Tests in the US to see if people tolerate booms, from proposed supersonic business jets (for the extra rich)
A long BuzzFeed article looks in detail at the problems of companies trying to bring back supersonic jets, like Concorde, just to cut a few hours off flights for those rich enough to afford them. The interest in developing these planes was galvanised on October 5th, when President Donald Trump signed a FAA bill directing NASA to start consulting with the aviation industry to restart supersonic passenger travel. The problems remain the horrible sonic boom, that is a pressure wave, that hits anyone/anything on the ground, as the plane flies so fast nearby. Earlier studies indicated people really hated it, and it was dangerous. The shock of the bang could cause heart attacks, car accidents, "people to fall off ladders"etc. Research earlier in the USA indicated that people did not become more tolerant of the bang, but less so. Supersonic flights by Concorde were banned over the USA. Now some US companies are looking at supersonic business flights again, but they are hugely wasteful in terms of fuel and high CO2 emissions. The ICCT said the jets would emit 40% more nitrogen oxides and 70% more CO2 than subsonic ones; they burn about 5-7 times as much fuel per passenger (not that Trump would care...)
CCC launches zero carbon economy advice to government – Call for Evidence (till 7th December)
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has launched a new Call for Evidence to support is forthcoming advice to the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations on long-term targets for greenhouse gas emissions and the UK’s transition to a net zero-carbon economy. In October the government asked the CCC when the UK should reach net zero emissions of CO2 and/or greenhouse gases as a contribution to global ambition under the Paris Agreement; if that target should be set now; the implications for emissions in 2050; how such reductions can be achieved; and the costs and benefits involved in comparison to existing targets. The government asked for the advice by the end of March 2019. The current target is for cuts of at least 80% on the 1990 level by 2050. This includes international aviation and shipping. So far the 5-yearly carbon budgets are set up to 2032. The CCC advice will be looking at the latest climate science, including the IPCC Report on 1.5°C. Organisations and individuals are invited to send in responses, by 7th December, including thoughts on costs, risks and opportunities from setting a tighter long-term target - and actions needed to achieve the targets. Details of how to respond etc.
Government, not content with ONE new runway breaching UK carbon targets, is now planning for TWO
The Government will open the door for another new runway by 2050, in addition to the plans for expansion at Heathrow, in a consultation to be launched next month. The DfT's "Aviation Strategy Green Paper" will consult on the decision-making process for delivering a further runway in the UK by 2050, according to Sarah Bishop, DfT's Deputy Head of Aviation Policy. This would be in addition to a 3rd Heathrow runway, and perhaps Gatwick making use of its emergency runway. Ms Bishop says there could be a "need" (sic) for more expansion, to meet air travel demand. Classic outdated "predict & provide" thinking. [The DfT gives the impression it is entirely unaware of of global climate breakdown, or the UK's responsibilities on its carbon emissions]. It remains unclear how even ONE further runway (perhaps Heathrow) could be delivered within the UK's legally binding CO2 emission targets - which require the aviation sector to keep its CO2 emissions to their 2005 level by 2050. The Committee on Climate Change warned as recently as June 2018 that higher levels of aviation emissions in 2050 “must not be planned for” and raised a series of concerns about even ONE new runway (let alone two). The No 3rd Runway Coalition believes the possibility of yet another runway being approved by the DfT would cause concerns for investors in Heathrow.
London City airport to introduce £600 fines for the noisiest planes breaching noise limits
London City Airport is going to fine airlines £600 each for breaching noise limits, after a surge in complaints from residents (due to the concentrated flight paths that started in February 2016). It has started a “penalty and incentive” scheme for planes breaching its rules, and will name and shame them online. The noise is now concentrated, as planes try to cut fuel use, to save money; therefore the same people get overflown all the time, creating highly unpleasant noise pollution. Many residents, from Leyton to Lewisham, have complained about the noise since the changes. This new charging emerged at a hearing at the London Assembly, when AMs questioned London City airport and Heathrow staff about the environmental impacts (noise, air pollution, carbon emissions) of their airports. Tessa Simpson, environment manager at City airport, told the Assembly yesterday: “We have set noise levels that are some of the most stringent in the country." They have to, as the airport is located in, and surrounded by, densely populated areas. The money will go into a "community fund" to be "shared amongst community projects.”
By 2050 global aviation emissions could surge by 700% compared to 2005
Someone flying from London to New York and back generates roughly the same level of emissions as the average person in the EU does by heating their home for a whole year, according to the European Commission (EC). The EC states that: “If global aviation was a country, it would rank in the top 10 emitters.” Looking at Ireland, it has agreed, under the EU’s Effort Sharing Decision targets, to deliver a 20% reduction in non-ETS (Emissions Trading System) greenhouse gas emissions, based on 2005 levels, by 2020; these include: agriculture; transport; residential; commercial; waste; and the non-energy intensive industry. Earlier this year, Ireland also committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions level by 30% on 2005 levels by 2030. But according to the EC, by 2020, global international aviation emissions are projected to be around 70% higher than in 2005 and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) forecasts that by 2050 they could grow by a further 300-700%. Some of the carbon emissions from aviation within Europe (not planes flying to and from Europe, just internally) are covered under the EU's ETS. This is at risk if the global ICAO deal succeeds in forcing the EU to abandon this scheme.
Living near to a busy road or airport TRIPLES your risk of a heart attack and stroke because the noise triggers a harmful response in the body
More evidence - now from Massachusetts General hospital - is showing that living near to a noisy road or a busy flight path significantly increases risk of a heart attack or stroke. The added risk is in addition to risks of smoking and diabetes. It is thought that exposure to environmental noise alters the amygdala - a brain region involved in stress regulation and emotional responses. This then promotes blood vessel inflammation, which can lead to cardiovascular problems. Those exposed to chronic noise, such as near an airport, showed and a greater than three-fold risk of suffering a heart attack or a stroke and other major cardiovascular event. People with the highest levels of noise exposure had higher levels of amygdala activity and more inflammation in their arteries. The study looked at 499 people, with an average age of 56 years old. None had cardiovascular illness or cancer. They all underwent simultaneous PET and CT scans of their brain and blood vessels. To gauge noise exposure, the researchers used participants' home addresses government noise maps. The researchers say more research is needed to determine whether reduction in noise exposure could meaningfully lower cardiovascular risk and reduce the number of cardiovascular events on a population-wide scale.
Birmingham airport unveils draft Master Plan, for huge growth over next 15 years
Birmingham Airport has unveiled its draft Master Plan, with its hopes of expansion over the next 15 years. There is a consultation till 31st January. It wants to increase its capacity by 5 million passengers a year (mppa) Much of the intended spending will be for a larger departure lounge with a mezzanine floor, new retail and restaurant units, more toilets and seating. Also more self-service desks (ie. fewer jobs...) and "the latest bag-drop technology and a new back-of-house baggage sorting area aimed at improving efficiency." (ie. fewer jobs). This has been seen by the airport's consultative committee on 5th November. There is no plan for a 2nd runway, but the expansion will cause more environmental damage, more CO2 emissions etc. - of which, no mention is made. (The usual airport attitude is " the majority of emissions are from planes in the sky and that is nothing to do with us…"). In the 2006 Master Plan the forecasts were for 25mppa by 2030; now they have reduced that to 18mppa by 2033. There were 12.9 mppa in 2017. Local campaigners suspect this will not be encouraging shareholders to fund expansion plans till the runway situation in the south east is sorted out. The airport is claiming the increased number of passengers will boost the local economy by £xx billion, and increase jobs by yyy. (These claims never materialise).
“Back Heathrow” massively funded by Heathrow airport, tries to discredit Hillingdon, for their spending to protect residents
"Back Heathrow" is the "astroturf" group set up, managed by and (probably entirely) funded by Heathrow airport, to promote its 3rd runway, largely by claiming it has huge local support. Their accounts show that in 2017 "Back Heathrow" had current assets of £1 million (£1.24m in 2016). They have Net Worth of about £951,300. They complained in January 2017 about how much money Hillingdon Borough had spent in trying to defend its residents from the adverse impacts of an even larger Heathrow airport. Back Heathrow is complaining again. It has got figures from Hillingdon Borough Council, through FoI, for what it has had to spend to oppose Heathrow's plans. (Not being a council etc, Back Heathrow cannot be FoI-ed). It says Hillingdon has spent £1.4 million of taxpayers' money on this, between 2007 and now. In fact Hillingdon has spent about £1.12 million, as they received some funding towards the expenses, from other councils. Meanwhile, it is known that Heathrow spent £1.25 million advertising on Transport for London between June 2016 and 2017. It is also known that, between July 2015 and January 2017, the DfT spent over £3.8 million on external firms such as financial advisers N M Rothschild & Sons, law firms DLA Piper UK and Allen & Overy. No wonder local councils are given little alternative to spending money, to counteract this.
Might Heathrow only be able to afford its 3rd runway scheme, by being allowed another 25,000 annual flights well before runway was ready?
The Times' Chief Business Commentator, Alistair Osborne, has written on the deeply unclear finances of a possible Heathrow 3rd runway. Alistair suggests, one way the airport could try and get in some extra cash, early in the building programme (when no airlines can use the new runway yet) is increasing the current numbers of flights and passengers. Heathrow loves to say it is full, but it is not. Each year the number of passengers creeps up - there is spare terminal capacity. But if instead of the current cap of 480,000 annual flights, Heathrow could get consent for an extra 25,000 (ie. to 505,000), it could add perhaps 6-7 million more passengers, up from the current 78 million or so. That could bring in much needed income, to help fund the vast project - including what to do with the M25. But adding 25 million more annual flights means about 65 more per day. Heathrow hopes to appease the ire of badly impacted local residents, by saying they would start flying at 5.30am rather than the 4.30am start now. But there would then be plane after plane after plane then, when people are still trying to sleep. And the airlines don't like the idea, as it upsets their lucrative long haul schedules, and causes less resilience if there are delays, at the peak periods.
SSE say Stansted airport spin doctors are in a desperate final attempt to sway Uttlesford DC planners
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has described the latest Stansted press release claiming public support for its expansion plans as a complete distortion of the facts and a desperate eleventh hour attempt by the airport’s spin doctors to influence members of Uttlesford District Council (UDC) Planning Committee. The Committee is due to consider the airport planning application - for 44% more flights and 66% more passengers per year - on 14th November. The expansion would mean far higher CO2 emissions (over 1 million tonnes) from Stansted flights than now. SSE says the expansion plan "would have very serious environmental consequences for this generation and future generations. It would inflict yet more noise misery upon local residents and it would be a recipe for gridlock [local roads]. ... We simply do not have the infrastructure to support an airport the size of Gatwick”. When Stansted claim hundreds of people support its plans, this is in part due to "repeatedly badgering all airport employees to trigger automatic computer-generated “I support expansion” emails. Only 16 members of the general public sent individual letters or emails to UDC backing the proposals. But UDC received 934 individually-written letters and emails opposing the plans including objections from 47 Parish Councils. No Parish Council has registered its support for the expansion proposals.
Heathrow regulator, the CAA, demands answers urgently on Heathrow’s 3rd runway plan
The CEO, Richard Moriarty, of aviation watchdog body, the CAA, have written to the Department for Transport (DfT) asking that they should "decisively and urgently” address major concerns about the funding for the 3rd runway scheme - at least £14 billion, and doubtless more with cost over-runs and things not going to plan. They say Heathrow must “provide assurance that its revised timetable is realistic” and would “ensure timely delivery” of the expansion. The CAA threatens enforcement action against Heathrow to force it to provide clear evidence about how it would finance the scheme, while avoiding pushing up costs for airlines and passengers. The CAA says the project had been hit by a further delay, with a public consultation on detailed plans for the new runway now scheduled for June rather than in the first three months of next year. Heathrow is already the most expensive airport in the world, with landing charges of over £20 per ticket, and that is likely to rise - regardless of flimsy Heathrow assurances. Mr Moriarty said there is a “lack of high quality and comprehensive information” about how Heathrow would keep costs down, while being commercially viable, and these concerns had “not been adequately addressed, despite repeated requests”.
Cabbies say Heathrow does not care about air pollution, as they announce sky high taxi electric charging price
Heathrow has to try and get air pollution levels down, as they are already breaching legal limits. With a 3rd runway, they would only get worse. Heathrow has pledged, and tried to persuade the government, that it will do all it can to keep pollution levels down, and there will be (very, very hard to believe ...) "no more" vehicles on the roads round Heathrow, associated with the airport, than now. One of the things Heathrow hopes will help is use of more electric vehicles, lowering local pollution. So one might have thought they would be keen to encourage taxis to use electricity as much as possible, to make their air pollution figures look better. Sure enough, there are now many electric charging points. But belatedly Heathrow has now announced that they will charge a very high price (31p per kW) for this charging. This is far higher than plug-in on street Polar for as little as 0.09p per KW, or even dedicated Transport for London taxi chargers at 22p per KW. Taxi drivers are saying they will not pay the 31p, and will instead use the petrol option on their hybrids for the trip back into London. By contrast, Gatwick has 8 charging points in short stay car parks, with free electricity, and free parking for up to 4 hours for this.
Mexico has just decided to scrap huge airport project, already half built, due to corruption, over-spending etc
A hugely expensive airport project in Mexico City has been abandoned, more than halfway built. Mexico's president-elect says he will respect the result of a referendum that rejected (70%) a partly built new airport, effectively ending the $18.35 billion project. It had been mired in over-spending and corruption, and was started with what critics said was little real environmental study by current President, who leaves office on December 1st. Organisers of the referendum reported just over one million people voted. The vote has been criticised in part as only about one of every 90 registered Mexican voters participated. It is unclear what will be done with the enormous foundations already built on the site, a former lake bed known as Texcoco. Much environmental damage has already been done. Critics of the cancellation had said it might affect investor confidence in Mexico. However, the president-elect wants to add 2 commercial runways to a military air base in the town of Santa Lucia, about 45km from Mexico City, involving journeys from the existing airport for transfers etc. The existing city airport was built in the 1940s and is considered to be working at near capacity; it would have been closed had Texcoco been built. Cancelling the Texcoco airport would save Mexicans, allegedly, about $7 billion.
Councils need to be bold enough to oppose all new runways, not try to pass the buck on to others
While rightly opposing the expansion of Heathrow airport, with its hugely negative noise and air pollution impacts on hundreds of thousands of Londoners, and its unacceptable increase in aviation carbon emissions, many London councils still want to see the pain inflicted on people affected by Gatwick instead. With increasing awareness that we cannot meet climate targets, of keeping a global rise of 2C - let alone 1.5C - we need to prevent any new runways. After all, logically, not increasing the extent of the aviation carbon problem, before trying to deal with it, is a sensible approach. The most effective, easiest and cheapest way to stop increasing demand is not to expand airport infrastructure. [eg. if someone badly needs to go on diet to lose 4 stone, for their health, no responsible doctor would first advocate gaining another 2 stone, and starting the weight loss after that ....] Gatwick's hopes to use its emergency runway to add more annual flights will be devastating to people already suffering Gatwick's noise, traffic etc impacts. We really need councils to be bold and wise enough to opt for no new runways anywhere, to help protect citizens and residents everywhere, not only those in their narrow patch. Interesting if more Gatwick flights would have a negative impact on Heathrow's finances, making the financial case for a 3rd runway even more shaky (negative).
What would happen to two “Immigrant Removal Centres” close to Heathrow, if its 3rd runway plans go ahead?
There has not been any discussion, in the plans to build a 3rd Heathrow runway, of the detention centre, that would be demolished - and where it would be moved to. To the north of the current airport boundary are two “Immigration Removal Centres” (IRC) which, together, form the UK’s biggest immigration detention complex, with space for 1,065 prisoners. They are run by the private contractor Mitie in a £240 million deal set to run until 2022. The DfT's NPS explains that “continuous service provision of the IRCs at Heathrow is necessary”, and so “replacement facilities in substitution for the affected IRCs should be provided prior to any works”. ie. they would build new replacement centres, which would have to be ready before the old ones are shut. Four possible sites (Jan 2018 document) are suggested, two further north and two further south, close to the airport, all on green belt (so special planning permission is required.) There will be local opposition. Spelthorne (which backs the runway plan) has already come out “categorically” against rehousing the prisons, and refuse to have the centre on their land. The Heathrow scheme cannot proceed (if at all) before the judgement on the legal challenges, some time next year (early summer?) at the earliest. The Home Office is unlikely to do much on new detention centre plans until that is certain.
Stop Stansted Expansion says Uttlesford DC planners’ recommendation is just an uncritical rehash of MAG’s claims
The recommendation by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) planning officers, published on 22 October, that the current airport planning application should be approved, will not surprise anyone who has followed UDC’s handling of this airport planning application from the beginning. As far back as July 2017 – before the application was even submitted – UDC were openly discussing concessions that might be extracted from Manchester Airports Group (MAG), the owners of Stansted, in return for approving the application. SSE say the UDC officers’ report is little more than a rehash of MAG’s planning statement with no attempt made to challenge the many unsubstantiated and misleading claims made in the planning application. They say UDC planning officers haven’t even bothered to check the many wholly implausible assumptions made by MAG which allow it to claim that there would be no significant adverse impacts if the application is approved - thought that would mean a 66% increase in passengers and a 44% increase in flights compared to last year. But UDC say this "would not result in significant adverse impacts.” It is now for UDC councillors on the planning committee to decide. This case seems too large and complex for a small team of planning officers in a small local authority, without the necessary resources or expertise.
Local group SHE advises residents they should NOT be intimidated by, or respond to, Heathrow demands for their household information
Residents living in the CPO (Compulsory Purchase Order) area for the proposed Heathrow 3rd runway have received a letter, questionnaire and information sheet from Heathrow even though many of those people have already refused to take part in its surveys linked to the proposed runway. Local group, Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) says this repeated pestering of residents for data looks like harassment. In a long, detailed article here SHE gives information on what Heathrow is doing, what they ask for, and how residents do NOT have to give Heathrow any of the details they ask. The runway is NOT a done deal, and until it is, no resident is under any obligation to reveal personal information about themselves, their household members, their mortgage etc. The details are wanted by Heathrow, in order to facilitate future acquisition of the properties. The persistent propaganda by Heathrow, and the letters etc are having a demoralising effect (which suits the airport) on residents. SHE advises residents that they should NOT feel under any obligation to help Heathrow, and they should "NOT let this letter and accompanying paperwork upset or stress you. It can be binned with a clear conscience if that helps. Otherwise, just put it at the back of a drawer and get on with your life."
Edinburgh Airport flight path plan rejected by CAA, as it was not the same as in the consultation
A deeply unpopular plan to change a flight path at Edinburgh Airport has been rejected by the CAA. The proposed changes would have seen aircraft flying to the west of Cramond and along the Firth of Forth. The CAA said it could not approve the proposal due to "significant" differences between the final plan and the version developed in consultation with local communities. Had the correct information been in the consultation, it could have made people respond differently to the questions asked. It was the second set of plans submitted to the CAA after the industry regulator told Edinburgh Airport to do more work on the original proposal. Helena Paul, of Edinburgh Airport Watch, said: "On behalf of communities affected by these damaging proposals we are highly relieved the CAA have looked carefully and agreed the process was fatally flawed and could not be allowed to stand. Our hope now is the regulator does not allow Edinburgh Airport to continue using an outdated set of rules for any future consultations and instead enforces the new set of rules brought in for any consultations on new flight paths." Further consultation would be necessary. The airport said modernising the airspace was necessary for growth.
Error in Gatwick Route 4 flight track-keeping figures undermines trust in airport
Local group, Plane Wrong, says Gatwick Airport have always maintained they are ‘good neighbours’ but it is becoming increasingly clear that - as a commercial enterprise - Gatwick have their own agenda and are single minded about achieving their growth and bottom line profit. Gatwick have been reporting that Route 4, the busiest departure route out of the airport to the west, heading north and then east, has significantly improved its track-keeping throughout 2018. The experiences of local supporters of campaign group, Plane Wrong, have suggested the contrary and that Gatwick's figures on track-keeping are wrong. In fact, since January 2018 Gatwick has mis-calculated the percentage of aircraft flying outside the designated route. They have now admitted that instead of the 1-2% claimed and published on their website, the actual level of non-compliance was up to 8%. It is also a concern that Gatwick's noise and track-keeping monitoring group, NATMAG, failed to pick this up. In the past 4 years, the number of passengers using Gatwick has risen by about 25%, but there has been no consultation or no account taken of the impact on the health and well-being of local communities.
New map reveals – Slough and Windsor will be at the heart of pollution caused by Heathrow expansion
Slough Borough Council has been told it must protect its residents after it was revealed the town would be right in the epicentre of increased noise and air pollution, if a 3rd Heathrow runway is built. The CAA map shows that Slough and Windsor will be at the heart of increased pollution, and community groups are very upset. The Colnbrook Community Association (CCA) said it was time for Slough Borough Council to ‘wake up and protect our residents’ following the publication. Slough Borough Council does not criticise Heathrow, as it hopes to get some benefits from the expansion, if it never complains. The Council says: “We have been vigorously defending the local community not least in our cabinet discussions about road diversions through Colnbrook and securing a green envelope around Colnbrook." The quality of life for many residents will be diminished by the 3rd runway, regardless of some businesses making more money. CCA said: “The trouble is that gullible Local Authorities, Councillors, MP’s and media peeps swallow this misinformation and accept it as truth. Residents know it’s fake news; Heathrow’s PR knows it’s fake news (they make it up); media knows its fake news – but it doesn’t make headlines.”
Anger and despair in local communities as CAA backs London City airport flight path changes
Local residents in the East London area reacted with fury to the report published by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) which backed the controversial changes London City Airport made to its flight paths two years ago. In 2016 the airport narrowed all its flights paths, so they became more concentrated. It resulted in a fourfold increase in complaints as people under these new concentrated flight paths experienced many more planes than before. The new CAA report recommends that the concentrated flight paths remain in place. The new flight paths are not producing the fuel and CO2 savings that were expected, and plans are not flying the exact routes, but the CAA still approved them. John Stewart, chair of HACAN East, the campaign body which gives a voice to residents experiencing the noise, said, “There is anger and despair that the CAA has backed the concentrated flight paths. Many people hoped that today’s report would end two years of misery and they would be able to get their lives back. This decision is a cruel blow for them.”
Campaigners fighting Gatwick expansion issue “State of Emergency” for the Sussex countryside
CPRE Sussex has taken the unprecedented step of declaring a “Countryside State of Emergency” in response to Gatwick Airport’s new expansion ‘Master Plan’, published on October 18th. The Master Plan details the airport’s proposal to expand from one to potentially three runways. A 2nd runway created from Gatwick’s existing emergency runway could result in an estimated 14 million extra passengers travelling through Sussex to/from the airport every year. A 3rd runway to the south - on the "safeguarded" land - would add millions more passengers and require “significant changes to the airport and surrounding roads”. “This plan would have a devastating impact on our countryside,” says CPRE Sussex Chair, David Johnson. “It would change the landscape and rural character of Sussex forever - scaring our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and deeply damaging the tranquillity and ecology of our National Park.” He commented: "It would be unthinkable to allow Gatwick to urbanise Sussex in this way, so we will be joining with all other community and conservation groups to oppose these plans”. We need to give our National Parks and AONBs more, and better protection - not risk ruining them with the impacts of developing an airport about the size Heathrow is now.
CAGNE points out that Gatwick’s planned local consultation events ignore most areas worst impacted by noise
Local group CAGNE has written to Gatwick to express their concern that the consultation events for the Gatwick Master Plan, including adding over 30% more flights per year, are being held in peripheral areas that are not constantly, if at all, affected by aircraft noise. The Gatwick "Master Plan", launched on 18th October, reveals plans to use the emergency runway and continue to safeguard the land for a 2nd runway, providing details of a three-runway airport eventually. CAGNE commented that the 5 consultation events planned are not in the areas where people will be experiencing the worst noise problems, or those getting noise for the first time. The events are in areas like Crawley, Brighton and Croydon - where there may be support for the expansion, and people are not affected negatively. Many people in areas to be affected in future are probably totally unaware of what is being proposed by the airport. By holding events in areas like Croydon, Gatwick hopes it can manipulate the responses to their loaded questionnaire whilst avoiding holding events in affected areas as Reigate, Redhill, Dorking, Alfold, Lingfield and Copthorne. Everyone in areas to be affected, including the elderly and those without internet access, should be given full information.
Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is looking to buy part of GIP’s 42% stake in Gatwick
The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is looking to buy part of a stake in Gatwick airport that could be worth more than 3 billion pounds $3.92 billion, Sky News on Friday. CPPIB is said to be part of a group of investors proposing to buy out Global Infrastructure Partner's (GIP) 42% stake in the second-busiest airport in Britain, the Sky News report said. The Canadian pension fund would invest "hundreds of millions of pounds" in the airport, if the deal gets finalised, insiders told Sky News.
“What we really need is a change of mentality. Let’s get ready for an era where flying is the new smoking.”
Professor Dorothea Hilhorst has done a blog on how essential it is for everyone, including development practitioners and academics, to cut the amount they fly. She asks whether flying should become the new smoking and how we can address our problematic flying behaviour. This is especially vital after the IPCC report that showed how humanity needs to keep global warming to 1.5C. She says: "...governments should get their acts together and start taxing air travel, while investing in alternatives" ... "organisations and their employees should also take some level of responsibility." ... "What we really need, though, is a change of mentality. Let’s stop kidding ourselves. " There are alternatives. Like other academics she has "found it normal or at best a necessary evil to hop on a plane for every piece of research, conference or seminar." This has to change. There are problems like the department saying: “Sorry, we are short on budget this year, would you mind taking the plane rather than the train?” There is a lot academia (and business etc) could do, such as organising international conferences "every three or four years rather than every year" or more use of Skype for seminars etc, or "investing more in identifying and fostering local experts to avoid international consultancies." Read the full blog.
Gatwick’s subterfuge with its emergency runway – or a 2nd runway, by any other name
In response to Gatwick airport announcing they plan to use their emergency runway, as a 2nd runway, local campaign, Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) Chairman, Peter Barclay, said, "We strongly oppose any 2nd runway at Gatwick and it will fight this proposal tooth and nail." The Emergency Runway is located parallel to and only approximately 190m north of the main runway. Planning permission for the emergency runway was granted solely on the basis that - under no circumstances - could it be used in conjunction with the main runway. The CAA permission is that only one runway can be used at a time, and the emergency runway can only be used if the main runway is out of action. New planning consent (DCO) from Crawley council would be needed for the change of use, and also consent from the CAA and other safety bodies. Peter said: “The proposal, which may bring in excess of 80,000 additional flights a year, will simply increase the problems already being experienced by local communities - noise, air pollution and excessive road traffic. It would also put even greater pressure on the tottering road and rail infrastructure both locally and further afield. ... Gatwick is attempting to get a 2nd runway via the back door, as it were."
Gatwick opens 12 week consultation on using its emergency runway, for some take-offs, adding 30% + more flights
Gatwick has announced its draft "Master Plan" which (quote) "sets out how Gatwick can grow and do more for Britain." In order to cram more flights into a one-runway airport, they hope to make more use of their emergency runway, parallel but close to the main runway. It is too near to be used properly as a second runway, on safety grounds. There will now be a 12 week consultation period on the plans, and Gatwick hopes to finalise its plans some time into 2019. The plans also include how the airport hopes to "meet future aviation demand with sustainable growth" (sic) into the 2030s. Under its 40-year current planning agreement, Gatwick’s existing standby runway is only used when the main runway is closed for maintenance or emergencies. But Gatwick hopes it "could potentially bring its existing standby runway into routine use for departing flights, alongside its main runway, by the mid-2020s." This could mean a maximum of 390,000 flights annually (P. 88) compared to 290,000 in 2016, (ie. about 34% more.). That could mean up to 70 million annual passengers, compared to 43 million now - and a current theoretical maximum of 61 million (ie. about 15% more). “We would be able to add between 10 and 15 additional hourly aircraft movements in the peak hours.” (P.10) Oh .... and with no extra noise .... obviously....
Teddington TAG shows London Assembly data proves Heathrow NOx travels far, far away from the airport (not just Grayling’s “2km”)
The Airports Commission had, as its study area for the effects of Heathrow expansion, an area of just 2 kilometres from the boundary of the expanded airport. Chris Grayling wrote to the Chair of the Transport Committee on the 23rd February 2018 saying that this area "captures over 98% of additional emissions that could occur from expansion". Teddington TAG asks if this figure of 98% emissions captured within 2 km of the boundary is true. They located air pollution data from the London Assembly, available by Borough. It apportions how much of the NOx in different areas is from vehicles, aviation and other sources. This shows that in Richmond Old Deer Park, according to the Data Apportionment Tool, about 77% of the NOx is from aviation. In Kew / North Sheen, 11km from touch-down, about 57% is from aviation. At Putney, which is under the flight path but is over 15 km from touch-down at Heathrow, about 33% of the NOx is from aviation. Putney is worse off than Kew as total emissions are greater. And all that is just from 2 runways! Aviation apportionment readings stretch back to Clapham Junction and beyond. So why did Grayling tell the Transport Committee that 98% was within 2km. Ignorance of the facts? Failure to be properly informed?
Prof Kevin Anderson blog: “Callous or calamitous? … the UK climate minister pulls the rug from under 1.5°C”
The UK government is meant to be signed up to the Paris Agreement on climate change. That aims to keep global warming to below 2 degrees C. It is now understood that we actually need to keep warming to below 1.5 degrees C. The UK is woefully lacking any real progress on this, with its claimed cut in emissions largely due to phasing out coal power stations. Now the "Minister of Energy and Clean Growth", Clare Perry, has said she is writing to the government's advisors on climate change, the CCC, to ask "their advice on the implications for the UK of the IPCC’s recent 1.5°C report." However, as Prof Kevin Anderson explains, the CCC is permitted only to comment on the implications of Paris for post 2032. Ms Perry says: "Carbon budgets already set in legislation (covering 2018-2032) are out of scope of this request.” Nowhere does she acknowledge the IPCC’s recent call for drastic reductions in emissions by 2030 if we are to have any chance of meeting our 1.5°C commitment. There is little point for the CCC only to be able to consider carbon cuts years ahead, when most current Ministers will long have been out of post. The UK's emissions have not, in fact, decreased - but barely altered since 1990, when international aviation and shipping are included, as well as UK imports.
Heathrow electric plane greenwash – tiny subsidy for one plane …years ahead ….
Heathrow has made its latest greenwashing attempt. This time it is saying it is to let the first electric hybrid plane have a year's free landing slots, when in regular service. This is - quote - "designed to encourage airlines to pursue clean growth and deploy their cleanest, quietest aircraft at Heathrow." This is part of the oxymoron, "clean growth" which business is aiming for. (Clean - totally abused word with aviation sector - is probably meant to mean lower carbon, in this context.) So far there is - wait for it - a plane that can carry 2 passengers .... Heathrow is telling the government etc that it is helping to "drive sustainable change across the industry." The aviation industry hopes there might be electric aircraft carrying passengers by 2030 (so the Heathrow offer is not exactly imminent...) Here is a Heathrow quote, showing just how much carbon greenwash this is: "With global air passengers expected to double by 2035, these changes will play a critical role in driving a sustainable future for the aviation sector and will support goals outlined in Heathrow’s own sustainability strategy – Heathrow 2.0." Aviation Minister, Liz Sugg, said: "Our Aviation Strategy [consultation soon] will also consider further ways to support the development of cleaner, greener technology in the sector.”
WHO Europe publishes tough guidelines & recommendations for policymakers to cut aircraft noise
WHO Europe has now published its long-awaited environmental noise guidelines, (for aviation, road, rail, wind turbine and leisure noise) the first complete update of the guidelines launched in 1999. For aircraft noise, the relevant guidelines strongly recommend reducing noise levels to below 45 dB Lden during the day, as aircraft noise above this level is associated with adverse health effects. For night noise exposure, they recommend reducing noise levels to below 40 dB Lnight, as aircraft noise above this level is associated with adverse effects on sleep. They say that to reduce health effects, policy-makers should "implement suitable measures to reduce noise exposure from aircraft in the population exposed to levels above the guideline values for average and night noise exposure.” Groups concerned about aircraft noise have long asked that WHO health guidelines are included in UK aviation policy documents, but they are not. There is no mention of WHO in the Government’s Aviation Strategy documents so far. Tim Johnson, AEF Director, said: "The Government has the perfect opportunity to respond positively in its draft Aviation Strategy due later this year. Rather than electing to ignore the WHO’s advice on the basis that it is too challenging, it should use set out appropriate measures to tackle this issue."
Norway proposes increased tax on long haul flights, (200 crowns from 80 now) and cut on short haul (75 crowns from 80 now) – due to climate change
The Norwegian government proposed on Monday to raise the tax on airline tickets to non-European destinations to 200 Norwegian crowns ($24.13) from 80 crowns currently. On travel in Europe, it proposed a cut to 75 crowns per ticket from 80 crowns. “The passenger fee is given an environmental profile by introducing distance differentiation with higher rate from EEA/Europe,” the government said in its 2019 fiscal budget proposal. Overall, the overall proceeds from airline ticket fees is expected to be neutral, it added. If approved by the parliament the changes will take place from April 1st 2019.
New station among big plans for Leeds Bradford airport
The public will have their say on proposals to improve transport connectivity to Leeds Bradford Airport, including plans for a new railway station nearby. Senior councillors on Leeds City Council’s executive board have agreed a recommendation to carry out public consultation and engagement on proposals to improve road and rail access to the airport to support its future growth, as well as job creation in the area and addressing current congestion issues in north west Leeds. The council working with West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Leeds Bradford Airport and key stakeholders has put forward key investment proposals for a new airport parkway rail station, located on the existing Leeds-Harrogate Line, with a short connecting spur road to the airport to provide a shuttle bus connection similar to that at Luton Airport. This would also serve as a park and ride service for destinations on the Leeds-Harrogate Line and beyond. Also improving road access through one of three options. And releasing 36 hectares of land next to the airport for employment growth and job creation in north west Leeds. All of the key details on the proposals to be considered together will be available in the consultation, to take place early in 2019.
NGOs urge EU to stand firm on aircraft emissions, keeping ETS and not letting ineffective CORSIA replace it
NGOs working on aviation’s climate impact have called on the European Commission (EC) to reject industry demands to hastily sign up to the controversial ‘Corsia’ carbon offsetting scheme for international aviation. T&E is warning that Corsia threatens the only effective measure currently in place to address aviation emissions, the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). In 2016, ICAO’s general assembly agreed a Corsia to come into effect in 2021. Its aim is to stabilise net emissions from aviation at 2020 levels – a low level of ambition. It also relies on offsetting – a mechanism which is increasingly discredited. T&E said: "Corsia is essentially an attempt by industry to dismantle the only effective measure in place to address aviation emissions – the ETS – and replace it with a weak and uncertain Corsia. The motivation is clear: emissions trading is working, but as the rules for Corsia get close to finalisation they are being weakened to the point where Corsia will have next to no environmental benefit." That’s why industry is lobbying the EC to accept the Corsia rules without reservation. Three NGOs working on aviation’s climate impact, T&E, AEF and Carbon Market Watch, have written to the EC, calling on it to keep aviation as part of the ETS, and object to Corsia's draft rules, that prevent the EU being able to regulate its aviation emissions.
UN climate science body’s (IPCC) report highlights that aviation must accelerate emissions reductions
The IPCC’s Special Report on trying to keep global warming to 1.5C highlights that we are not on target to keep global warming to below 2 degrees C much less 1.5C as countries agreed to in the Paris Agreement in 2015. Most notably, the report shows that progress in the transportation sector is lagging behind and needs to start its own transformation immediately This includes the global aviation sector. Some downplay the extent of aviation’s climate impact – some 5% of global warming when accounting for both CO2 and climate effects at altitude. The international portion of aviation’s emissions was “excluded” from the Paris Agreement and is being addressed entirely inadequately by the UN's ICAO instead. But the IPCC report makes clear that cutting emissions from the fast growing aviation sector is essential. ICSA (the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation) says: “The IPCC makes clear that, without action on this major and growing source of emissions, the goal of limiting a temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C cannot be achieved. The report's finding that efficiency improvements alone aren't enough is a wake-up call to governments to put aviation on a flightpath to decarbonization to ensure the sector plays its part in delivering a zero-carbon future."
Stansted Airport expansion decision delayed again, (from 17th October) – no date set
Plans to expand Stansted have been grounded, for now. Uttlesford District Council (UDC) has postponed a meeting to determine the future of the plans, under pressure from expansion opposition. The airport wants to increase the annual passenger limit by 35 million, from 8 million now up to 43 million. Expansion plans include work to build new aircraft stands and taxiways for additional aircraft (not a runway). The meeting was originally due to be held in July, before being pushed back until October 17th. A rearranged date has yet to be set. Expansion opposition group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) successfully requested the latest delay so that technical issues can be discussed. Highways England also complicated matters with concerns about road traffic implications. SSE said it is important that approval is not given before all the implications have been properly considered. They say it is "astonishing" that UDC were preparing to approve the expansion "even when important issues were - and still are - unresolved.” UDC said:“As a consequence of accommodating this request, officers expect to need extra time to address any technical issues that may arise from these enhanced consultation arrangements”.
EU rejects aviation regulator’s push for no-deal Brexit transition talks
The EU's aviation regulator, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), rejected British calls for a joint no-deal Brexit transition plan in July. In June, the UK's CAA chief executive Richard Moriarty wrote to his EU counterpart Patrick Ky to say it would be in "both their interests" to agree to a joint transition plan. Ky responded to say that although EASA was "in principle" available to discuss practical co-operation with the CAA, it considered it necessary to have "sufficient clarity and certainty on the outcome of the ongoing withdrawal agreement negotiations" before engaging in talks. Ky said: "It remains the case that without sufficient clarity on both the outcome of the withdrawal process and the future UK legal framework such discussions would currently be premature." The UK is set to leave the EU on 29 March 2019, with a deadline for reaching an agreement set for December at the latest. A CAA spokesman said:“We call upon the European Commission to allow EASA to hold discussions with us about the detailed technical arrangements that would apply in a no-deal scenario. We are ready to start these talks immediately.”
Launch of “Stay Grounded” network – organisations around the world opposing unsustainable aviation/airport expansion
The Stay Grounded network has been officially launched. It now has over 130 signatories, (including the No 3rd Runway Coalition, and others in the UK) and more than 80 member organisations. Stay Grounded aims to reduce the environmentally and socially damaging impact of aviation, by stopping its fast rate of expansion across the world. The industry has privileged status in many ways, including its out-of-control increasing carbon emissions. The Stay Grounded network has published a position paper outlining 13 steps for a transition towards a transport system that is more socially just and ecologically sustainable. Many non-violent actions took place in countries around the world, in a recent week of action. These were directed against airport infrastructure projects, many of them leading not only to rising CO2 emissions, but also noise and health issues, loss of homes, biodiversity and fertile lands. Around the world there are about 1200 airports planned to be built or being expanded. Stay grounded will also highlight the industry’s inadequate “greenwashing” strategies, which will lead to increasing pressure on ecosystems, local farming communities, and indigenous peoples, particularly in the Global South.
The 5 legal challenges against a 3rd Heathrow runway will be heard over 2 weeks in March 2019
Five legal challenges against the Government’s plans to expand Heathrow have reached the next legal hurdle and will proceed to a full judicial review in March 2019. Justice Holgate today (October 4th) confirmed, in a hearing at the High Court, that the cases lodged by five different parties would be heard over 10 days in March 2019. Due to the size of the cases, amount of paperwork involved, and the public interest in the case, the hearings in March will be heard by two judges and will be heard in the largest courtroom at the Royal Courts of Justice. It was also noted that a separate courtroom may have to be used as overspill, with a TV link to the main proceedings, also due to level of interest. Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “These legal challenges are of the Government’s own making. It is not insignificant that the judge has permitted all five claimants to proceed to judicial review. In addition to the claim from several councils and the London Mayor, the four other claims raise some serious points of law. If the government had not ignored available evidence in their blinkered enthusiasm to expand this already highly disruptive airport, parliament would not have supported the proposal, and these actions would not have been necessary."
Environmental NGOs write to European Commission asking that they do not allow CORSIA to replace the ETS for aviation
AEF, along with Carbon Market Watch and Transport & Environment, recently wrote to the European Commission to warn against any decision taken to exclude aviation from the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) before details of ICAO’s offsetting scheme (known as CORSIA) have been firmly established. The EU ETS covers only intra-EU flights and requires airlines to surrender sufficient carbon permits to cover their CO2 emissions in the previous year. CORSIA (Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation), a global market-based measure, was agreed in 2016 and its first phase is due to come into effect in 2021. Under CORSIA, operators will be expected to buy carbon credits equivalent to the additional carbon the sector emits above its 2020 level, for international flights globally. The aviation industry would like to see CORSIA take over from the ETS and replace it, as it is weaker and less effective in reducing CO2 emissions. The NGO's letter asks that the European Commission should not allow CORSIA to replace the ETS for aviation, as CORSIA has many unresolved issues and well as "environmental weakness and lack of alignment with European climate ambition”.
Legal proceedings against Heathrow expansion begin – groups against the 3rd runway welcome “decisive action”
Plans for Heathrow expansion will meet their first legal test on Thursday 4th October, as claimants against the proposals seek to proceed their cases to full judicial review. Five parties have lodged judicial review claims against the plans including a consortium of 5 local authorities with Greenpeace and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Also Heathrow Hub Limited (promoters of a rival scheme to expand Heathrow), and Friends of the Earth. Also Plan B and a Twickenham resident, Neil Spurrier. The claims are against the Government’s National Policy Statement (NPS) – which only included Heathrow expansion – which Parliament voted on in June 2018, despite many unanswered questions about the projects legality and wider environmental impact. Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “Having ignored evidence, such as the report of parliament's Transport Select Committee, the decision to expand Heathrow was always going to end up in the courts, under judicial review ..." Government lawyers have conceded that all applicants are likely to get permission to proceed with their applications for JR, they are unlikely to oppose the granting of permissions at this pre-trial hearing.
Newcastle Airport expansion plans slammed by Green Party as ‘harmful’ to health in the North East
The Green Party say planned expansion of Newcastle International Airport flies in the face of efforts to tackle climate change and improve public health in the North East. The Greens have set out a stinging critique of the wide-ranging ‘Masterplan 2035’ set out earlier this year. The public consultation on the plans closed earlier this month. By 2035, the aim is to drive passenger numbers up by 74% to 9.4m a year and increase the amount of freight coming through the airport - in order (in theory) to boost the region’s economy. Environmentalists say it is in incompatible with national and local policy designed to improve air quality and cut CO2 emissions. A spokesman for the Greens said: “More flights at Newcastle Airport would take us in the opposite direction to our national and international legal obligations, and the resulting increase in road traffic would worsen already-illegal levels of air pollution." The airport claims that restricting its expansion "would undermine the competitiveness of our region and make it difficult for businesses to operate." The airport wants more investment in public transport to the airport.
AEF discusses how UK’s aviation strategy should effectively tackle climate change
The Government has promised that by the end of this year it will have laid out proposals to address one of the key policy gaps left by the Heathrow NPS, namely how UK plans to square its growth plans for aviation with its commitments on climate change. In the second of their discussion papers on the key issues the AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) want to see addressed by the Aviation Strategy Green Paper. The AEF sets out – in some detail – why the current set of UK, regional and international policies fall short, why the Government’s carbon forecasts for aviation underplay the scale of the action needed, and just how big the challenge of fitting aviation into a net zero future is going to be.AEF argues that the strategy should: 1. Show as much ambition on climate change as on safety, technology and customer service. 2. Make an unambiguous commitment to limit aviation emissions to 37.5 Mt by 2050 as a maximum level. 3. Map out a policy plan for ensuring that emissions do not exceed this level. 4. Consider the implications of the Paris Agreement for domestic aviation policy. 5. Set out a clear UK position in relation to international efforts. 6. Propose policies to address aviation’s non-CO2 emissions.
Heathrow pays towards peat bog restoration – but its contribution to offsetting Heathrow’s carbon is infinitesimal
Heathrow has invested in the restoration of UK peatlands, not just because it is a good thing to do, but to give the airport good PR, with an infinitesimal contribution to offsetting their CO2 emissions. Working with the Lancashire Wildlife Trust and DEFRA, Heathrow’s first restoration priority will be Little Woolden Moss, west of Manchester, which has been subject to commercial peat extraction for more than 15 years. Heathrow says [sic]: "The restoration of the UK’s peatland bogs forms part of Heathrow’s plans to be a carbon neutral airport by 2020. " ....and, worryingly "Heathrow hopes to show that projects like this will make a good option for airlines’ CORSIA commitments." Heathrow has (paid already probably?) about £94,000 towards the project. They omit to mention that Defra has already paid £334,000 for the project. Heathrow claims "the restoration of this project area could lead to savings of 22,427 tonnes of CO₂ over 30 years ..." As Heathrow departing flights emit over 18 million tonnes CO2 per year, that comes to 540 tonnes of CO2 over 30 years (ignoring a possible 3rd runway, with emissions perhaps 50% higher). The 22,427 tonnes comes to all of 0.004% of that carbon. So in reality, irrelevant. But greenwash.
Air pollution by NOx linked to much greater risk of dementia
Research published in the BMJ indicates there is an increase in the chance of developing dementia. About 131,000 patients in London aged between 50 and 79 were followed for 7 years, with air pollution exposure estimated by post code. People over 50 in areas with the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air showed a 40% greater risk of developing dementia than those with the least NOx pollution, according to data from London. The observational study cannot establish that air pollution was a direct cause of the dementia cases, but the link between higher pollution and higher levels of dementia diagnosis could not be explained by other factors known to raise risks of the disease. Air pollution has already been linked with cardiovascular and respiratory disease, but this is one of the first studies to examine links with neurodegenerative illness. It is possible that perhaps 60,000 of the total 850,000 dementia cases in the UK may be made worse by air pollution. This adds to the body of research on the wide-ranging effects of air pollution, including evidence that particles of pollutants can cross the placenta - an evidence from China of a “huge” reduction in intelligence associated with breathing dirty air, equivalent to losing a year’s education.
Monbiot: “It doesn’t matter how many good things we do: preventing climate breakdown means ceasing to do bad things” (eg. expanding aviation)
An excellent article by George Monbiot, includes these comments in relation to aviation: "There may be more electric vehicles on the world’s roads, but there are also more internal combustion engines. There be more bicycles, but there are also more planes. It doesn’t matter how many good things we do: preventing climate breakdown means ceasing to do bad things."... "When a low-carbon industry expands within a growing economy, the money it generates stimulates high-carbon industry. Anyone who works in this field knows environmental entrepreneurs, eco-consultants and green business managers who use their earnings to pay for holidays in distant parts of the world and the flights required to get there." ..."Labour guarantees that any airport expansion must adhere to its tests on climate change. But airport expansion is incompatible with its climate commitments. Even if aircraft emissions are capped at 2005 levels, by 2050 they will account for half the nation’s carbon budget if the UK is not to contribute to more than 1.5C of global warming. If airports grow, they will swallow even more of the budget' ...Airport expansion is highly regressive, offending the principles of justice and equity that Labour exists to uphold. Regardless of the availability and cost of flights, they are used disproportionately by the rich..."
Heathrow fined £1.6m for anti-competitive car parking
Heathrow and hospitality group Arora have admitted hotel airport car parking charges broke competition law. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has fined Heathrow a £1.6m while Arora escaped a penalty after being granted immunity by the CMA for bringing the matter to its attention under a “leniency programme”. The breach relates to a 2005 lease between Heathrow and Arora, the operator of the Sofitel hotel at what is now Terminal 5. The Sofitel has a car park that is open to hotel and non-hotel guests. The lease contained a provision that prevented Arora from charging non-hotel guests less than the charges Heathrow levied elsewhere at the airport. The CMA said such a provision was anti-competitive. The CMA has also issued letters to other airports and hotel operators, warning against similar agreements. Heathrow got a 20% reduction on its fine, that would otherwise have been a £2 million, for having voluntarily entered into a settlement. There are at present mounting tensions between Heathrow and Arora, the largest landowner in and around the airport, as its boss, Surinder Arora, wants to be allowed to build the new runway etc.
Date set for Stansted Airport expansion planning decision
The passenger limit at Stansted could be lifted from 35 million a year to 43 million. Now the date of the special planning committee hearing at Uttlesford District Council, (UDC) to decide a planning application that would mean potentially millions more people going through Stansted, has been announced. UDC said the special planning committee is will be on October 17th, following 3 public speaking sessions the week before the decision will be made. The decision on whether to allow the airport to increase its annual passenger numbers was due to be decided in July, but because of the lack of information on sections of the application the meeting was delayed. There has been staunch opposition from residents fighting to stop any increase in passenger numbers. In August, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) filed legal papers to try and force the government to make the decision on the application, saying that UDC didn't have the experience or expertise to handle such a complicated application. Currently the airport is operating with around 27 million passengers per year, eight million fewer than its current passenger limit. SSE will continue with legal action to make central government decide the plans, irrespective of the decision taken by UDC's planning committee.
Air pollution particles found in mothers’ placentas
Scientists have found the first evidence that particles of air pollution travel through pregnant women’s lungs and lodge in their placentas. Toxic air is already strongly linked to harm in foetuses but how the damage is done is unknown. The new study, involving mothers living in London, UK, revealed sooty particles in the placentas of each of their babies and researchers say it is quite possible the particles entered the foetuses too. A series of previous studies have shown that air pollution significantly increases the risk of premature birth and of low birth weight, leading to lifelong damage to health. A large study of more than 500,000 births in London, published in December, confirmed the link and led doctors to say that the implications for many millions of women in polluted cities around the world are “something approaching a public health catastrophe”. Scientists are increasingly finding that air pollution results in health problems far beyond the lungs. In August, research revealed that air pollution causes a “huge” reduction in intelligence, while in 2016 toxic nanoparticles from air pollution were discovered in human brains.
Trade Unions sceptical about extravagant jobs claims for a Heathrow 3rd runway
The Trade Union movement appears split on the issue of Heathrow expansion, following a fringe meeting (organised by the No 3rd Runway Coalition and the PCS) held at the Trade Union Congress in Manchester. Unions such as Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) spoke at a fringe meeting on the issue of transport, climate and jobs, highlighting their continued opposition to a 3rd Heathrow runway, despite other trade unions supporting the hugely environmentally damaging project. Chris Baugh (Assistant General Secretary, PCS), said though workers would not support the agenda to transition away from fossil fuels if their jobs were put in jeopardy, claims of large numbers of high quality jobs were hard to believe. Manuel Cortes (General Secretary, TSSA), raised concerns that the transport sector was heading backwards in addressing the challenge posed by climate change, while the UK urgently needs to address the crisis of CO2 emissions. Paul Beckford of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said the role played by trade unions in helping the transition to a low carbon economy will be crucial. Unions have to be clear about the reality of future jobs, generated by the runway.
Heathrow airport is battling debt pile of £13bn – enough to build the third runway
Heathrow has blown more than £6bn in interest on its debts over the past 12 years, a Mail investigation has found. It spends more than £500m a year on interest payments alone, accounts for Heathrow Airport Holdings show. Meanwhile its debt pile has risen to £13.4 billion – about the cost of aa possible 3rd runway. Heathrow is planning to spend around £14 billion on the project, but its mammoth debts reveal just how stretched the airport has become. Airline bosses fear Heathrow may not be able deliver the runway on budget, and want Heathrow to guarantee not to increase these to pay for the runway. While it has paid more than £6 billion in debt interest over 12 years, shareholders have extracted £3.6 billion in dividends. Heathrow makes money by charging landing fees to airlines, which are passed on to passengers – around £22 for each fare. The airport is planning to spend £33 billion on infrastructure in coming decades – including the runway and terminals to serve an extra 52m passengers a year. Most of the work is due to be completed by 2035, and there is growing concern that the airport will have to raise charges significantly to pay the bills.
Manston airport has another possible chance to take cargo planes in future
Manston, once named as Kent International, was shut down four years ago. Plans to turn it into a cargo airport will be subjected to a public inquiry. An application to upgrade the airfield and reopen it primarily as a cargo airport was accepted by the government’s Planning Inspectorate. Its ambitions to be a cargo airport come from the days when it was touted as a viable alternative to Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted when, for a time, it traded under the name Kent International Airport. It was used by old, noisy and often clapped-out planes, that caused serious noise nuisance to residents of Ramsgate, where houses are situated on the approach path, almost up to the airport - and planes flew at night. The plans put forward by Riveroak Strategic Partners, Manston’s proposed operator, must first be subjected to a public inquiry in which local people can express their views. Cargo could perhaps be transferred onto the road system, from the airport. But its location, so far out to the north east of Kent, is far from ideal for any sort of airport. In 2012, Flybe and KLM launched services from Manston in the mistaken belief that it could be a passenger airport.
Edinburgh Airport is set to press on with introducing a new controversial flight path route, despite widespread public objection.
Edinburgh Airport is set to press on with introducing a new controversial flight path route, despite widespread public objection. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) put the airport’s initial submission on pause in September last year and asked bosses to review part of the design. A fresh proposal has now been resubmitted to the CAA, with aircraft to fly towards the west of Cramond and along the Firth of Forth under the plan. The airport carried out a consultation on the changes to its initial proposal between May and June, with 89% of the 1,167 participating against the flight path. Airport chiefs say the route will allow the airport to be more flexible with flights while building increased capacity for future growth. Campaigners argue the airport has failed to consider other viable flight path alternatives, as well as the impact the new route will have on the environment and residents’ wellbeing. Helena Paul, from Edinburgh Airport Watch, has urged the CAA to reject the new proposals, insisting the airport needs to scrap the plans and start again, taking proper account of the responses to the consultation by people who will be seriously negatively affected.
Data shows the NOx produced by Heathrow planes is over double that produced by road vehicles
There is a widely held belief that Heathrow's NO2 air pollution is largely due to road vehicles, and as long as measures can be taken to reduce these a bit, then a 3rd runway could be allowed. However, research indicates that the aircraft are producing even more NOx than the road vehicles, and there is far less that can be done to cut these emissions. Indeed, if there were to be almost 50% more Heathrow flights, the amount of NOx generated by the aircraft alone would mean a massive increase locally. That is not taking into account all the extra road traffic that would inevitably be generated by a larger Heathrow, including businesses etc that locate near the airport and all their traffic. The 2013 figures from a study for Heathrow, by Ricardo-AEA Ltd show the amount of NOx emitted from planes up to 1000 metres altitude was 2761 tonnes NOx/ year, and 1524 tonnes from aircraft on the ground (ie a total of 4285 tonnes/ year). Also 274 tonnes/year from other airport sources. Then 350 tonnes/year from Heathrow associated trips on main roads in a 11km x 11km area, and 1661 tonnes/ year from non-Heathrow associated traffic in that 11x11km area. (ie. a total of 2011 for all road traffic). So the amount from planes is way over twice the amount from road vehicles. And that ignores the NOx from planes in the wider area, over 1000 metres altitude.
Farnborough Airport gets go ahead on airspace expansion despite inevitable ‘increase in noise’
Farnborough Airport has been given the green light to go ahead with a planned airspace expansion despite suggestions from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) that there could be an increase in noise. The aviation authority also suggested there could be an increase in noise for those who already experience noise pollution, but there would be no new people significantly affected by noise. TAG Farnborough Airport's application has been "largely" approved by the CAA, which provides guidance and regulation on all aspects of civil aviation in the UK. The CAA said that given the increase in business aviation at the site, there was a material safety case for introducing controlled airspace around the airport. However, TAG will have to concede some of the controlled space it applied for to collaborate on reasonable access arrangements for gliders in 3 airspace blocks in the vicinity of RAF Odiham and Lasham Airfield. Though the flight paths do not go directly over Guildford, Aldershot and Farnham, there is a lot of overflight of the southern limit of Farnham, causing noise intrusion. While in theory there are "no new people who will be significantly affected by noise as a result of this proposal" in reality many will experience an increase in noise, even if technically there is no theoretical increase.
Climate Change charity Plan B begins legal action against Grayling over Government’s Heathrow expansion plans
Climate change campaign Plan B, has started legal action against Transport Secretary Chris Grayling over his plans for Heathrow expansion. Plan B say the proposal breaches legal obligations in the Planning Act to alleviate the impact of climate change. Plan B join 4 other legal challenges against the runway plans (5 councils and Greenpeace UK, Heathrow Hub, a resident Neil Spurrier, and Friends of the Earth UK). Tim Crosland, Director of Plan B, said: ‘The Government has an express obligation under the Planning Act to promote sustainable development, with specific reference to the impacts of climate change. That means safeguarding the interests of current and future generations of UK citizens. Plan B says the NPS does not even consider the Government’s obligations under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change or that in April this year, the Government committed to a review of its climate targets in light of the Paris Agreement. Plan B’s legal action focuses exclusively on climate change impact.
Friends of the Earth launches High Court legal challenge against Government decision on Heathrow runway NPS
Friends of the Earth (FoE) believes the Government's Airports National Policy Statement, (NPS) which backs building a Heathrow 3rd runway, fails to address the UK's climate change obligations. So they have started formal legal action at the High Court. The legal action challenges the legal basis of the government’s decision to designate the NPS, which gives the go-ahead to a 3rd runway. Lawyers Leigh Day, on behalf of FoE, have filed papers with the High Court - asking for the Airports NPS published in June to be quashed. They argue the NPS is illegal because • it does not explain how it takes account of domestic targets for greenhouse gas emission reduction under the Climate Change Act 2008; • it does not factor in the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C; • it fails to factor in the non-CO2 climate impacts of a 3rd runway, such as the emission of nitrogen oxides, which generate warming effects of a similar magnitude to CO2 emissions; and • it does not lawfully and fully consider the likely impact on future generations. A decision on whether there will be a full hearing about these issues is expected to be made this autumn.
Lawyers acting for a consortium of local authorities and others have issued JR proceedings in the High Court re. Heathrow runway
Lawyers acting for a consortium of local authorities and others have now issued judicial review proceedings in the High Court against the Secretary of State for Transport, on the basis that he has unlawfully designated the Airports National Policy Statement [NPS] under the Planning Act 2008. The proceedings challenging the expansion of Heathrow airport have been brought by the London Boroughs of Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith and Fulham, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Greenpeace and the Mayor of London. The grounds of challenge are on air quality, inadequate environmental assessment, climate change, surface access, breach of the habitats directive and a flawed consultation process. Councillor Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: "Once again we have a government that is trying to avoid applying both the correct legal process and common sense to the question of airport expansion. The abject failure to address the far reaching consequences for both the environment and the health and wellbeing of tens of thousands of residents across London is simply not acceptable." The many flaws in the scheme need to be subjected to the rigorous scrutiny of the legal process, and its serious failings exposed.