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Aviation Strategy Green Paper: AirportWatch position on aviation carbon emissions
The government consultation on its Aviation Strategy Green Paper ends on 20th June. For those wanting to respond, there is some guidance from AirportWatch on carbon emissions. This says the Aviation Strategy must take into account the likely implications of a shift to higher climate ambition for the UK’s aviation plan than the current Committee on Climate Change guidance, which is only approximately in line with an 80% cut in UK carbon emissions, from their 2005 level, by 2050. Due to the Paris Agreement and the UK aspiration to be carbon neutral by 2050 (the CCC guidance in May) the target of UK aviation being allowed to emit 37.5MtCO2 by 2050 is far too high. Aviation growth as envisaged in the Green Paper cannot in this context be justified. The Government should accept the CCC recommendation that international aviation (and shipping) emissions should be part of Net Zero target, and formally included in the UK carbon budget. Aviation must make a fair contribution to reductions in actual UK CO2 emissions (without offsets), first by capping aviation emissions at their existing level and then reducing them along an established emissions reduction pathway. See further details ...
ICCAN consultation on its Corporate Strategy – public welcome to respond – deadline 16th June
The Airports Commission suggested, back in 2015, that there should be an independent body looking into aircraft noise issues - largely to help reduce public opposition to the massive increase in noise that would be generated by a Heathrow 3rd runway. The ICCAN (Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise) was finally set up earlier this year, with a chairman (Rob Light) and three commissioners (Colin Noble, Howard Simmons and Simon Henley). It has been visiting a lot of airports, and also community groups. It plans to take two years to make its recommendations, and it will then decide if it needs to have some statutory powers - it currently has no powers to get the industry to do anything. ICCAN says: "Our two-year aim - To improve public confidence and trust in the management of aviation noise, by building our expertise, credibility and profile across the UK." There is currently a consultation on ICCAN's corporate strategy, which the public are requested to fill in. No technical expertise is needed - and the views of ordinary people, to whom plane noise is of interest or concern, are solicited. Deadline 16th June.
IATA – aviation CO2 emissions in 2018 approaching 1 billion tonnes
IATA has produced its annual report, with information about how the airline industry had done in the past two years, and how they think it will do in the coming year. Among many other details, it has the growth rates in RPK (Revenue Passenger Kilometres - the number of paying passengers flying a kilometre) for each region. Growth in RPK for 2017 was between about 7 - 10% for most regions; about 5 - 9% for 2018; and expected growth in 2019 is a little lower, about 3 - 6%. The amount of CO2 emitted by the airline sector was 860 million tonnes in 2017; 905 million tonnes in 2018; and expected to be 927 million tonnes in 2019. In fact, the AEF comments that in 2018, global aviation emissions - including an estimate for other airline and military emissions, based on EIA data, takes the total above 1,000 million tonnes of CO2 (ie. a billion). The fuel efficiency has not changed much. It was 23 litres of fuel per 100 atk in 2017; 22.8 in 2019; and it is expected to be 22.4 in 2019. As an investment, IATA says: "Airlines continue to create value for investors, but only just ... This year we forecast the industry to generate a return on invested capital (ROIC) of 7.4%, which is only marginally above the cost of capital." And "consumers will spend 1% of world GDP on air transport in 2019."
Government announces it will be redesigning airspace to cram in yet more flights in already crowded skies
The DfT says UK airspace sectors will be redesigned "to accommodate more capacity and allow more direct flights, rather than following long-established lanes." This is dressed up as being “greener” flying by rationalising the use of airspace. It is just to fit more flights into already very crowded airspace, to allow for more aviation expansion. The hope is that delays will be slightly reduced, and there would be a bit less stacking - so saving a small amount of jet fuel (and cutting the cost to airlines, for which profit margins are already tight, due to the competition to get bums onto plane seats). But the changes will mean more noise for many residents who already get some noise, and also plane noise for many who currently are barely overflown. Over the next few years, a new Airspace Change Organising Group, operating independently within the air-traffic service NATS, will oversee the changes. There will be few places within tens of miles of Gatwick and Heathrow that are not affected by noise.There is almost nowhere people can choose to live, where there will be guaranteed to be NO plane noise. The industry greenwash is that this will "will make flying cleaner, quieter and quicker, as we make our aviation sector one of the greenest in the world."
“If Seeing the World Helps Ruin It, Should We Stay Home?”
"The glaciers are melting, the coral reefs are dying, Miami Beach is slowly going under. Quick, says a voice in your head, go see them before they disappear! You are evil, says another voice. For you are hastening their destruction. To a lot of people who like to travel, these are morally bewildering times. Something that seemed like pure escape and adventure has become double-edged, harmful, the epitome of selfish consumption. Going someplace far away, we now know, is the biggest single action a private citizen can take to worsen climate change. One seat on a flight from New York to Los Angeles effectively adds months worth of human-generated carbon emissions to the atmosphere. ... Still, we wonder: How much is that one vacation really hurting anyone, or anything? It is hard to think about climate change in relation to our own behavior. We are small, our effects are microscopically incremental and we mean no harm. The effects of climate change are inconceivably enormous and awful — and for the most part still unrealized. You can’t see the face of the unnamed future person whose coastal village you will have helped submerge." ... See the full article.
South East London community group Plane Hell Action South East (PHASE) join the No 3rd Runway Coalition
The South East London community group Plane Hell Action South East (PHASE) have joined the No 3rdRunway Coalition. This follows the recent addition of the London Borough of Southwark to the Coalition’s membership and reflects the increasing concern in communities across London about the impacts of Heathrow expansion. PHASE is campaigning against concentrated flight paths over South East London, an area that would suffer far worse aircraft noise if there was ever a 3rd runway. These flight paths will be concentrated, creating what the CAA has described as noise canyons, over local communities. Research by Greenpeace suggests that as many as 1.6 million people could be left enduring nearly constant noise from aircraft, with a 3rd runway. Bridget Bell, of PHASE said: "...plane noise and emissions affect South East Londoners badly, over 18 miles from Heathrow. City Airport flight paths cross under those to Heathrow. The result for many of us is double overflight; or cross-over flight which arises when planes to one airport stop and planes to the other start, giving the overflown no let-up of any sort.”
Airlines increasingly worried about polluter stigma as “flygskam” -“flight shame” – movement grows
A Swedish-born anti-flying movement is creating a new vocabulary, from “flygskam” which translates as “flight shame” to “tågskryt,” or “train brag.” Many Swedes have stopped flying. There are similar movements in some other European countries. An activist in this movement, Susanna Elfors in Stockholm says membership on her Facebook group Tagsemester, or “Train Holiday,” has reached some 90,000 members - up from around 3,000 around the end of 2017. She said: “Before, it was rather taboo to discuss train travel due to climate concerns. Now it’s possible to talk about this on a lunch break ... and everybody understands.” People who do not fly are no longer seen as so odd. It is not seen as such a peculiar sacrifice. But the “Flygskam” movement is worrying the aviation industry. At the ATA conference in Seoul, the head of IATA said: “Unchallenged, this sentiment will grow and spread.” That would seriously damage profits. It must be stopped (obviously). The sector wants to get the public to believe it is not a major polluter, and it doing everything possible to emit less carbon. Trouble is, there are no magic fuels on the horizon, and though efficiency gains of 1-2% per year can be made, the sector entirely cancels these out by expansion of 4-5% per year.
Colm McCarthy: ‘Why it’s time to stop giving aviation and shipping sectors an easy ride on pollution’
Colm McCarthy, writing in the Irish Independent, says it is time aviation was taxed. There is no VAT and no excise duty on jet kerosene. The EU is "coming around to the view that neither aviation nor marine transport should permanently be treated so favourably" ... "A litre of petrol or diesel costs around €1.40 in most European countries, inclusive of both VAT and excise. This is more than double the pre-tax price - more than half what you pay is either VAT or excise. ... Aviation fuel is only 60 or 70 € cent per litre to the airlines." ... " part of the charge on petrol and diesel is for the upkeep of the road system, largely free at the point of use" so airlines would not need to pay that. "But the leaked report for the EU argues that there should be an excise tax of around 33 € cent per litre on jet kerosene, bringing the price up to about €1 per litre. This would add 10-12% to the price of airline tickets." That would cut demand by about 11%. ...If VAT is also imposed, there would be an even bigger price rise and an even bigger impact on demand, inhibiting aviation growth even further."
Might rationing the amount people fly be the only fair way to restrict use of air travel?
Chief Leader writer at the Observer, Sonia Sodha writes about how she almost cares about climate change, but not enough to give up flying or eating meat etc. A common attitude. She writes, on the measures needed: "It’s naive to think that we can achieve these sorts of lifestyle shifts by imploring people to do more. I already know we’re fast approaching a catastrophic climate tipping point and yet I’m just not very good at forgoing a steak, particularly when I know plenty of others won’t be either." Green taxes, (or sin taxes) tend to "hit the least affluent hardest. It’s people on low incomes who are most sensitive to marginal increases in the cost of their food and flights." ... "I need someone to force me to take my carbon footprint more seriously." ..."Rationing to tackle the climate crisis could be given a modern-day makeover. People could be allocated polluting credits to cover activities such as meat eating and flying that they can sell and buy in an online marketplace. If you’re short of cash, or not that bothered about eating meat or flying abroad, you can ...sell your credits to someone who is, which makes this far more equitable than green taxes." It’s surely an idea whose time has come.
Extinction Rebellion plans to use drones to shut down Heathrow on 18th June and then for up to 10 days
Extinction Rebellion (XR) demands the Government begins to act on its declaration of a Climate and Environment Emergency by cancelling all Heathrow expansion. On June 18th (start of Heathrow's consultation), XR plan to carry out nonviolent direct action to ensure Heathrow has to close the airport to flights. This is to create a “pause” in recognition of the impact of high carbon activities, such as flying, on the natural world. If the Government does not cancel all Heathrow expansion, XR will act to shut the airport down for up to 10 days from July 1st. XR is consulting its members on the proposed action. They say it is not intended to target the public, but holding the Government to their duty to take leadership on the climate and ecological emergency. Adding the planned 3rd runway would make Heathrow the single biggest carbon emitter in the UK; to expand the airport at this critical point in history would be madness. XR understands the action will cause disruption to a great number of holiday makers and other travellers, but believe it is necessary - given the prospect of far greater disruption caused by ecological and societal collapse. XR say by giving early warning of the disruption, travellers have time to make alternative plans.
Contenders for Theresa May’s job – and their (pro) Heathrow runway views
The New Civil Engineer has looked out the positions of the leading contenders to replace Theresa May as Prime Minister. Apart from Boris Johnson, (who conveniently managed to be abroad at the time of the Heathrow NPS vote, in order to avoid publicly voting ...) every one voted for the 3rd runway (the vote was whipped). Every one other than Boris has made positive statements in the past about Heathrow expansion. Eg. Dominic Raab: "I support the expansion of Heathrow in principle, due to the economic benefits a third runway will bring – especially as Britain looks to forge a stronger global trading role" (and a few inaccurate statements on economic benefit, costs etc). Michael Gove said the 3rd runway was crucial to “ensuring the UK maintains its position as a global leader in aviation”. Sajid Javid in July 2016 said: “We should quickly give the green light to a third runway at Heathrow.” And so on. Remember what Boris said: after being elected as an MP in 2015, he told supporters: “I will lie down with you in front of those bulldozers and stop the building, stop the construction of that third runway.”
KLM and SkyNRG to open factory to produce “low carbon” jet fuel, mainly from “wastes”
Airlines are desperate to find some form of fuel that they can claim is "low carbon" and that does not have obviously negative environmental and social impacts. Finding these miracle fuels is the only way the industry could continue its rapid growth in fuel burn, for decades to come - in the face of the global climate emergency. Dutch airline KLM is keen to get "sustainable" aviation fuel (SAF), working with SkyNRG. They are hoping to use "regional waste and residue streams such as used cooking oil, coming predominantly from regional industries" as feedstock. A plant is being built, to be opened in 2022, making this fuel. KLM says: "From 2022, the plant will annually produce 100,000 tonnes of SAF .... It will mean a CO2 reduction of 270,000 tonnes a year for the aviation industry." That number all depends on how it is measured - they are regarding this fuel as causing the emission of at least 85% less CO2 than conventional kerosene. (Is that realistic?) KLM says: "There will be absolutely no use of food crops, such as soya oil and palm oil (or by-products such as PFAD and POME), for production." Biofuelwatch has calculated that using all tallow worldwide for biofuels could only supply 1.7% of global aviation fuel burned in 2016. Converting all Used Cooking Oil that can be realistically collected in the EU and USA would meet just 0.16% of US aviation fuel and 0,26% of EU aviation fuel use respectively.
Val Shawcross, once a fierce critic of Heathrow expansion, now chair of “Heathrow Area Transport Forum” (paid by Heathrow)
Val Shawcross worked as deputy mayor of London for transport, and was vehemently against the expansion of Heathrow, last week took up a job as chair of the "Heathrow Area Transport Forum". The Forum is an (allegedly) "independent" statutory body whose chair’s salary is paid by Heathrow airport. It does not have powers to penalise Heathrow if it misses its targets. Part of Ms Shawcross’s role will be to develop Heathrow’s transport access strategy, and monitoring the airport’s performance against the strategy’s targets. If they miss targets, then in theory the DfT (a huge supporter of Heathrow expansion) and the regulator, the CAA, are meant to "hold it to account." She knows well that “If Heathrow expanded without tackling issues like air quality, public transport growth, active transport . . . it would be a disaster for London.” In January 2018, Ms Shawcross told parliament’s Transport Select Committee that the NPS, “completely fails to show how you could expand Heathrow without worsening air quality, not just locally but with an impact across central London as well”. She says now she will “walk my talk” by challenging the airport from a statutory role. Time will tell ...
Heathrow plans a ULEZ from 2022 for passenger cars, taxis etc coming to car parks or drop-off areas
Heathrow knows it has to try to do something to cut its high levels of air pollution. So it has proposed some changes, to slightly reduce pollution from road vehicles (nothing about the pollution from the planes). The plan is to introduce charges for passenger cars and all private hire vehicles, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It would be the world’s first airport ULEZ. That might start in 2022, and then turn into a VAC (Vehicle Access Charge) on all passenger cars, taxis and private hire vehicles coming to car parks or drop-off areas, if the runway finally gets built. Heathrow says: "We want to reduce congestion by decreasing the number of cars on the road and encourage more people to use sustainable ways of getting to and from the airport..." And "The Heathrow ULEZ will introduce minimum vehicle emissions standards identical to the London Mayor’s ULEZ..." Initial proposals set the charge figure between £10-£15 per vehicle. "Revenue collected from both schemes will help fund initiatives to improve sustainable transport, contribute to community compensation and help keep airport charges affordable as the airport expands." (sic) [ie. keep flights cheap, so there can be more flights, which will lead to more air pollution].
House prices drop in areas to be negatively impacted by Heathrow expansion
House prices around areas where Heathrow’s third runway will be built have fallen by 2.6% since June last year, when the proposed expansion was approved by the House of Commons, estate agent comparison site GetAgent.co.uk has found. Windsor and Maidenhead have seen the largest decline with a drop of 6%. Prices have fallen by 4.4% in Wandsworth, 1.5% across Hillingdon and 1% in Richmond, and price growth has ground to a halt in Hammersmith and Fulham, with almost no change. Chief Executive of GetAgent said: “There’s no doubt that the construction of a 3rd runway is going to hurt house prices for those directly impacted, either due to the expansion itself, or the resulting noise pollution from an increase in air traffic over the area....we could see prices continue their downward trend as the reality sets in and buyer demand dwindles." The impact of a 3rd Heathrow runway is on a far greater scale than other airport expansions, making comparisons impossible. There is no guarantee that property prices would rebound in due course, with homes subjected to worse plane noise.
Should short-haul flights be banned? Climate change is a major issue in elections in Europe and Australia.
"Not long ago, Europe’s young urban residents used to brag about their latest adventures on the other side of the planet, in Asia, Australia or the Pacific. These days, you better be quiet about that, or at least make it clear that you feel a bit conflicted about how you got there. The phenomenon has a name: “flight shame,” or “flygskam,” in Sweden, “flugscham” in German, and “vliegschaamte” in the Netherlands. Amid mass youth protests for more decisive climate action in Europe and around the world, younger people especially have started to examine their own lives — and their roles in driving up emissions." Earlier this year, European travel agencies first started to notice a drop in flight bookings, a development they quickly named the “Greta impact”. The debate over whether to abandon air travel or not — which regularly features on top of European news sites — has now also reached global politics. Ahead of European elections next week, this is becoming an issue. The two main contenders for the role of President of the European Commission have both advocated for finding ways to reduce short-haul aviation. They both agree that Europe’s reliable train network would need to be expanded to make up for a reduction (or even ban) on short-haul flights.
Heathrow airport expansion ‘will expose 1.6 million people to near constant noise’
A third runway at Heathrow will expose 1.6 million people to “near constant” noise, according to an investigative report by Greenpeace. There could be up to 47 flights passing over London every hour (except during the night period) if expansion goes ahead. By overlaying flightpath maps published earlier this year with population data, Greenpeace found perhaps 11 million people lived in areas could be exposed to Heathrow noise above 65 decibels (about as loud as being in a busy office). About 1.6 million people live in areas closest to the airport; they are almost certain to experience noise levels at or above 65 decibels. Currently around 492,000 people experience at least 65 decibel Heathrow noise. This is NOT a local problem - it is far wider than that, and opponents cannot be accused of being "nimby". Greenpeace Director John Sauven said: “This project is not in the interests of people living in the west of London. It is not in the interests of the UK economy. And it most certainly is not in the interests of the global climate. ...The government has all the public support they could possibly want for radical climate action. Cancelling Heathrow is the easiest measure available."
Netherlands planning to start taxing air travel by around €7 per passenger, from 2021
The Netherlands plans to impose a €7 tax per passenger in 2021 if the EU fails to come up with an aviation fuel tax. Momentum is building for a crack-down on aviation’s environmental impact. The Netherlands' finance state secretary said its draft flight tax bill could yield €200 million and “help close the price gap between plane tickets and, for example, train tickets”. The proposals - still a draft, to be debated by politicians - are that any air passenger departing from a Dutch airport will be charged a maximum of €7.50. Cargo planes will also be charged, at a rate of €1.92 for less noisy planes and €3.85 for more noisy aircraft. At present, unlike travel by car, bus or train, international flights from the Netherlands are not in any way taxed by the Dutch government. There was a tax till it was scrapped in 2009. There has also been a proposal that the Netherlands and Belgium made earlier this year on imposing aviation taxes via bilateral deals - and the Netherlands may look at implementing others. If there is EU agreement on another aviation tax, before 2021, then the current Dutch tax proposal will be dropped. On 13th May a report emerged that showed taxing jet fuel would cut EU CO2 emissions and have a limited impact on employment.
Heathrow vast consultation starting 18th June – aiming to be done less badly than earlier consultations
Heathrow has announced the dates of its forthcoming consultation on the expansion it wants. The consultation will start on 18th June, and end on 13th September (ie. much across the summer holiday period, when responding is more difficult ...). Unlike the consultation that started in January and ended on 4th March, this one is statutory - something Heathrow has to do, by law. It will cover a large range of issues. Perhaps in response to the highly critical comments on its earlier consultations, Heathrow says: "Having listened to feedback from previous consultations, Heathrow will be holding events in more locations than previously and, in addition to an extensive national publicity campaign across newspapers, radio, billboards, digital and – for the first time - Spotify, will be contacting 2.6 million households directly in the vicinity of the airport with a leaflet encouraging participation." Paul McGuinness, Chair, No 3rd Runway Coalition said: "This consultation is about the infrastructure Heathrow will build once they've demolished villages in Hillingdon. Not the serious environmental impacts of imposing a further 700 planes a day over the country's most populated region." Or the devastating impact on air pollution, carbon emissions etc.
France’s Vinci completes takeover of majority stake – 50.01% – in Gatwick
French construction and transport concession group Vinci sealed a deal to take a majority stake in Gatwick airport. This was first announced in December 2018. Vinci formally completed its £2.9 billion deal to buy a 50.01% stake in Gatwick. Vinci took advantage of a Brexit-related hit to UK asset prices to buy the stake - its is President Nicolas Notebaert said he did not think that Brexit would change Gatwick's prospects. There are tourists who want to come to the UK, and even more Brits want to fly out on cheap holidays - which is what Gatwick caters for. The acquisition gives Vinci, which already runs 45 airports in 12 countries, access to the world's largest metropolitan aviation market. It is now the second largest airport operator in the world, behind Spain's Aena but it has overtaken French rival ADP. Gatwick hopes to expand, by using its emergency runway as a 2nd runway. It said"a consultation response summary and final master plan will be published later in 2019." Local group, CAGNE, commented that the noise burden from Gatwick flights is already too high, day and night, and should not be allowed to increase.
T&E found the EU sat on data showing benefits of ending airlines’ tax break on jet fuel
A leaked report for the European Commission shows that taxing aviation kerosene sold in Europe, by duty on all departing flights to all destinations of €0.33/litre, would cut aviation emissions by 11% (16.4 MtCO2). It would have no net impact on jobs or the economy as a whole while raising almost €27 billion in revenues every year. Unlike road transport, airlines in Europe have never paid any excise duty on the fuel they take on at EU airports. Airlines are not even taxed on domestic flights where taxation barriers were lifted in 2003. In contrast, jet fuel taken on for domestic aviation has been taxed for many years in countries such as the US, Australia, Japan, Canada and even Saudi Arabia. European member states have, since 2003, had the power to start taxing kerosene uplifted for flights within Europe by using bilateral agreements., but have failed to do so. Over 20 EU states don’t tax international aviation at all (at least the UK has APD). Aviation CO2 emissions grew 4.9% within Europe last year – while emissions from all other industries in the ETS fell 3.9%. CO2 from flying in Europe has soared 26.3% in the last five years – far outstripping any other EU emissions source. With realisation about the reality of climate breakdown, this increase cannot be allowed to continue.
Climate emergency realisation in UK to cause review of Heathrow expansion – climate change may limit future UK flying
The government (DfT) has admitted that concerns over climate change might restrict the growth of flying in the UK. The government's statutory advisors, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) recently said the UK's planned increase in aviation would need to be curbed to restrict CO2. Now a senior civil servant, Caroline Low (in charge of Heathrow expansion at the DfT) has told Plan B Earth that means ministers may have to review the UK's aviation strategy (due to become a white paper later in 2019). The aviation strategy is currently out to consultation, till 20th June. Plan B says the level of climate concern is so high that the decision on Heathrow expansion - the Airports NPS - should be brought back to Parliament. (It was voted for in June 2018, with carbon issues glossed over so MPs were unaware of the extent of the problem). The DfT hopes expanding Heathrow would create economic growth etc. When the government first laid out proposals for increasing aviation, the UK had an overall target of cutting CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050. But the CCC now recommends that Britain should adopt a target of net zero emissions. Growth of aviation needs to be constrained to fit within a Net Zero target. Caroline Low said the DfT will now have to give aviation carbon emissions "careful consideration" and even look at whether the ANPS should be revised.
Senior DfT civil servant confirms aviation CO2 issues to now be “given careful consideration” for ANPS review
Tim Crosland, Director of Plan B, wrote on 2nd May to the government's lawyers, asking for clarity on how Heathrow expansion would be assessed against the UK target of Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, including emissions from aviation. In a response on 8th May from Caroline Low, the senior DfT civil servant working on Heathrow expansion, she confirms that: "...the department will carefully consider this request against the statutory criteria set out" in sections of the 2008 Planning Act. And "As well as giving careful consideration to the Net Zero report and the declaration of environment and climate emergency, mentioned in the request, it may be necessary to consider the Committee on Climate Change's recommended policy approach for deviation which, the Committee has stated at chapter 6 of the report, will be provided to the department later in 2019 and any relevant decisions taken by the government in the coming months as a result. These decisions are likely to include decisions on relevant policy being developed as part of Aviation 2050: The future of UK aviation, which is currently the subject of consultation. At the end of this consideration, the department will provide advice and a recommendation to the Secretary of State, to enable him to take a decision on whether the statutory criteria for a review of part or all of the ANPS are met, and whether or not it is appropriate to carry out such a review."
London Borough of Southwark joins No 3rd Runway Coalition
The London Borough of Southwark has today become the latest local authority (joining Richmond, Wandsworth, Windsor & Maidenhead, Hillingdon and Hammersmith & Fulham) to join the fight against Heathrow Expansion. Its residents get a great deal of noise from Heathrow aircraft already, and that would get much worse with a 3rd runway. Cllr Richard Livingstone, Cabinet Member for environment, transport management and air quality for Southwark, said: “We are happy to be joining the No 3rd Runway Coalition, to stand alongside other groups, organisations and individuals, in opposition to a third runway"... Southwark councillors are already concerned about the noise, and also now the carbon emissions. With the Westminster Parliament now joining the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, London Assembly and over 500 councils around the UK in declaring a climate emergency, it is clear that the unconstrained growth of carbon intensive infrastructure is no longer politically palatable. And it is no longer just environmental campaigners who are considering the proposed expansion of Heathrow to be the totemic issue in the battle against climate change, but mainstream politicians too.
Heathrow Hub appeals High Court judgment that rejected its legal challenge to the ANPS
Heathrow Hub, the independent proposal for expanding Heathrow Airport via an extension to the existing Northern Runway, has started proceedings to appeal the High Court judgement handed down on the 1st May 2019, which refused a judicial review. The DfT, Chris Grayling and Heathrow hoped the ruling would clear the way for Heathrow to get on with its plans. But now 3 of the other 4 claimants are also appealing - the councils, Friends of the Earth, and Plan B. Heathrow Hub is majority owned by Anthony Clake, a senior partner at Marshall Wace, a global hedge fund in London. Heathrow Hub has been advised that it also has grounds for appeal, and has applied for permission to do so. They cite the legal flaws as including: "The court did not set out the legal test of overriding public interest or acknowledge that the burden of discharging it lay with the secretary of state. Furthermore, it did not allow Heathrow Hub to address the court on this matter resulting in a clear error of law. The role of the court in a judicial review is to review the exercise of discretion by the decision-maker, not to exercise the discretion itself.”
Hillingdon and the other 4 Councils seek permission to appeal Heathrow ruling
Following the Divisional Court's decision on 1 May 2019 to dismiss the legal challenge brought by Hillingdon Council and others, expert legal opinion has been sought by them in relation to whether there are any grounds to appeal this decision. There is no automatic right of appeal and permission to appeal is needed, in the first instance, from the court which heard the legal challenge. Therefore, an application for permission to appeal is being made to the Divisional Court on behalf of Hillingdon Council and the other local authorities involved in the legal challenge (Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith & Fulham, Windsor & Maidenhead) - it will be supported by Greenpeace and the Mayor of London. The appeal is on 2 specific grounds which both have their origin in European Law. 1). Relating to the Habitats Directive, and 2). the relationship of the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) to the councils' Local Plans, and the noise assessment and metric used by the government, under the SEA Directive. If the Divisional Court refuses the application, the councils can apply for permission to appeal directly to the Court of Appeal. Plan B and Friends of the Earth are also appealing, on different grounds. The councils have always known this would be a long slog ...
Plan B to appeal against the Court’s judgment on Heathrow
Plan B Earth is to Appeal against the decision of the Judges, on 1st May, to reject the legal challenges by the five councils etc, by Friends of the Earth, Plan B Earth, and Mr Paul Spurrier (as well as Heathrow Hub). Plan B Earth has published its application for permission to appeal against the judgment of Hickinbottom LJ and Holgate J . "The Appellant wishes to challenge the Secretary of State’s decision ... to designate the Airports National Policy Statement (“the ANPS”) in support of the expansion of Heathrow Airport under the Planning Act 2008 (“the 2008 Act”), on the basis of his failure to give proper consideration to the climate change impacts of the proposal. Plan B mention specific errors, including that the "Court erred in law in treating the minimum target of 80% greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2050, established by the Climate Change Act 2008 (“CCA”) as precluding Government policy which implied emissions reduction of greater than 80%: The Court proceeded on the basis that “Government policy relating to … climate change” could not differ at all (or at least could not differ materially) from the base level of the emissions target set out in the CCA. That approach is fundamentally flawed."
European elections: Top candidates for EU President demand tax on (aviation) kerosene, to help deal with CO2 emissions
Both the conservative Manfred Weber [German politician] and the social democrat Frans Timmermans [Dutch politician and diplomat] want to tax aircraft fuel. They are the main candidates to be the next EU Commission President, after Jean-Claude Junker steps down later in May. But they are divided on the CO2 tax. Both want to abolish the tax benefits for aviation fuel. Airlines currently do not pay fuel tax on their fuel, due to historic international agreements. The injustice leads to lying being significantly cheaper than other means of transport. "The preference of the airline business must be ended." Then the train would also have better chances in the competition. Frans Timmermans wants to tax kerosene "unconditionally and quickly"... "If it fails at the international level, we have to introduce the tax EU-wide." They disagree on whether carbon should be taxed, due to difficulties in protecting the poor. The German Union parties have so far no uniform position on the CO2 tax. But Timmermans wants a European tax on CO2, and said the next President must make climate protection a top priority and push the transformation of the economy in the next 5 years.
Scottish government has decided not to remove APD – tax-free flying is inconsistent with policies to cut CO2 emissions
The Scottish Government has decided to scrap plans to cut Air Passenger Duty (APD). The tax (just £13 for a return flight to anywhere in Europe) is paid by any passenger leaving from a UK airport. Aviation pays no VAT on tickets and there is no duty of jet fuel. The Scottish government had wanted to reduce the tax by 50% initially, before eventually abolishing it. This has been threatened since 2016. Cutting APD would have the effect of making air tickets a little cheaper, so increasing the number of flights taken - and therefore the CO2 emissions from Scottish airports. Edinburgh airport said the number of extra passengers at Scottish airports could be one million. Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said reducing air departure tax was "no longer compatible" with Scotland's climate targets, and all sectors have a contribution to make to meeting the challenge of climate change. Cutting the tax would possibly slightly increase the number of visitors flying to Scotland, but the increase in the number of Scottish people flying abroad would be higher. Nicola Sturgeon declared a "climate emergency" in her speech to the SNP conference last month. Cutting the tax would have been entirely inconsistent with that.
Edinburgh Airport launches new flight path plans
A new attempt to change flight paths at Edinburgh Airport has been launched. Their earlier controversial proposals were thrown out by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in October 2018 after it deemed the differences between the consultation and the final proposals were "too significant". West Fife residents and politicians had raised their concerns during the process as it was feared the plans would mean more planes overhead, with more noise and pollution. Fears were also expressed that one of the proposed new routes would mean that North Queensferry would have flights going over it 365 days a year. The airport has now submitted a Statement of Need to the CAA in a renewed effort to modernise the existing routes which they say currently rely on 1950s technology. The new flight paths would use the new technology to fly very accurately, all along exactly the same route. This is sold to the public as minimising the number of people affected (it affects a smaller number, but severely) and minimally cutting CO2 emissions, if planes fly a marginally shorter route. The noise problem would be great for those intensely affected, especially at peak times of day - like early morning. Residents have to keep battling the airport ....
Uttlesford decision on Stansted: New councillors mean an opportunity for a fresh approach
The previous council at Uttlesford voted through expansion proposals for Stansted Airport, in November 2018, but the Chairman's casting vote. It then came to light jhat at least some of the councillors had either not read, or had not understood, even the most basic information about the application. Now with the council elections in early May, there has been a huge re-shuffling. Local group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) says this left no doubt as to its dissatisfaction with the incumbent administration. The Conservatives retained just 4 out of their 24 seats, making this proportionately the largest loss by any ruling party in any District Council in the entire country. The 5 members of the Council's Planning Committee who voted in favour of the Stansted Airport planning application last November are no longer councillors, whereas the 5 who voted against were all re-elected. Voters were unhappy that an unpopular administration had attached greater priority to the commercial interests of Manchester Airports Group than to the wellbeing of local residents. SSE now looks forward to re-establishing a constructive dialogue with the Council.
IPBES report on global biodiversity loss. Comment on impact of tourism
The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has published a report on the serious global loss of biodiversity. IPBES says: "Long-distance transportation of goods and people, including for tourism, have grown dramatically in the past 20 years with negative consequences for nature overall. The rise in airborne and seaborne transportation of both goods and people, including a threefold increase in travel from developed and developing countries in particular, has increased pollution and significantly raised invasive alien species... Between 2009 and 2013, the carbon footprint from tourism rose 40% to 4.5 gigatons of carbon dioxide and overall 8% of the total greenhouse-gas emissions are from transport and food consumption that are related to tourism. The demand for nature-based tourism, or ecotourism, also has risen, with mixed effects on nature and local communities, including some potential for contributions to local conservation in particular when carried out at smaller scales."
Plan B Earth writes to Government lawyers, requesting a review of the ANPS under Section 6 of the Planning Act
After the High Court rejected all the legal challenges against the DfT's backing of the 3rd Heathrow runway, Tim Crosland (Director of Plan B Earth) has written to the government's legal department to request review of the ANPS (Airports National Policy Statement) under section 6 of the Planning Act 2008. This is in light of the approval by Parliament of a motion declaring a climate and environmental emergency. In addition, there has now been the publication of the advice to the UK government from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), on how the UK should aim for net zero carbon by, or before, 2050. The ANPS was designated on the assumption that it was premature to speculate on the implications of the Paris Agreement for the UK carbon target for 2050. That assumption has now been overtaken by events. The CCC's report recommends that the Government implement a target of net zero GHG emissions by 2050 (which implies net zero CO2 emissions even earlier than that). It is now clear that the viability of Heathrow expansion must be assessed against the target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Tim asks that the government lawyers clarify the position on this rapidly, to assist those considering appeals to the judgement.
Councils that brought legal challenge re. Heathrow say Londoners face added noise and long-term health impacts from Court decision
Councils say the High Court’s failure to quash the government’s Airport National Policy Statement (ANPS) backing Heathrow expansion could bring long-term damage to the health of millions of Londoners. They warn that large areas of London and the Home Counties will be affected by noise from the new north-west runway. The court has refused all the applications for judicial review of the ANPS essentially because it has decided that at this policy stage the decision to support a third runway at Heathrow needs to only meet a low level of judicial scrutiny. All the damage caused to life and health and the environment by a third runway and its associated traffic (damage causing air pollution, noise pollution and contributing to climate change) will have to be more closely scrutinised at the DCO stage. Objections to a third runway must be heard then and any decision to approve it will be open to challenge through the courts. The councils will continue to explore every avenue possible to protect their residents from the health and environmental consequences of a third runway. Hillingdon "has set aside sufficient funding to defend our environment and the health and wellbeing of our people for however long it takes to do so.” See the comments of the Council Leaders.
Comment by Prof Kevin Anderson on the CCC report, in relation to aviation CO2
Kevin commented: "Although the CCC have not detailed their choice of UK carbon budget, read between the lines and it is clear they see this fair Isle receives a disproportionately large slice of the global carbon pie. Such colonialism is then exacerbated by passing a significant burden for reducing today’s emissions onto our children – and subsequently their children. These future generations will need to invent and deploy planetary-scale technologies to suck 100s of billions of tonnes of ‘our’ emissions out of the atmosphere. This generational transfer of responsibility enables the CCC to maintain a thriving aviation sector and leave unquestioned the huge inequality in who is responsible for most of UK emissions. What’s not to like – business as usual, albeit with a sizeable green twist, and influential high-emitting groups left unencumbered by policies tailored towards their carbon-intensive lifestyles. More disturbing still, clever use of the CCC’s report will see it used to support Heathrow expansion, shale gas developed and even ongoing offshore oil and gas exploration."
CCC Net Zero Report: Aviation emissions to rise a little bit less fast than now … probably … speculative …
The CCC has produced its report on how the UK should aim for zero-carbon GHG by 2050. There are a lot of mentions of aviation (most copied on this page, for ease of reference). The CCC advice is that aviation emissions must not rise as much as they are on track to do. International aviation emissions must be fully included in carbon targets, not just taken account of, as currently. They must be in the the 6th budget period (2033-37), on which the CCC will advise next year. So people will not be able to keep increasing the amount they fly by quite as much ... But as it is a "hard to treat" sector, the CCC knows aviation will be emitting more CO2 than any other sector by 2050. The CCC’s "Further Ambition" scenario, setting out a pathway to net zero GHGs, anticipates that the aviation sector will still be emitting 31MtCO2 in 2050 (the current limit is 37.5MtCO2 per year). The CCC sees the use of synthetic fuels perhaps being 10% by 2050. It also hopes equivalent carbon, as produced by aviation, will be removed from the atmosphere through measures such as ‘direct air capture’ or BECCS, to be paid for by the aviation industry. But measures such as tree planting will not be enough. There will be a need to limit increases in air travel demand, but no ideas how to do that. The CCC will says it "will write to the Government later this year on its approach to aviation, building on the advice in this report."
CCC report to government: Phase out greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to end UK contribution to global warming
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has produced its report to government, on how the UK should aim to become zero-carbon by 2050. This comes over 10 years after the Climate Change Act was passed, and higher ambition is now needed than the earlier target of an 80% cut on the 1990 level by 2050. The world is on course for a temperature rise of 3 - 4°C later this century unless drastic action is taken. Net-zero in the UK would lead the global effort to try to limit the rise to 1.5°C. The CCC hopes its targets can be achieved with known technologies, though it places a lot of faith in capturing carbon - not done on any scale at present. The CCC says the changes should be put into law as soon as possible, ideally before September 2019. There are current policies moving in the right direction, but "these policies must be urgently strengthened and must deliver tangible emissions reductions – current policy is not enough even for existing targets." ..."The Committee’s conclusion that the UK can achieve a net-zero GHG target by 2050 and at acceptable cost is entirely contingent on the introduction without delay of clear, stable and well-designed policies across the emitting sectors of the economy. Government must set the direction and provide the urgency."
MPs make history by passing Commons motion to declare “environment and climate emergency”
MPs have passed a motion making the UK parliament the first in the world to declare an “environment and climate emergency”. The symbolic move – recognising the urgency needed to combat the climate crisis – follows a wave of protests launched by the Extinction Rebellion strikers in recent weeks. Jeremy Corbyn called for the motion to “set off a wave of action from parliaments and governments around the globe”. He added: “We pledge to work as closely as possible with countries that are serious about ending the climate catastrophe and make clear to US president Donald Trump that he cannot ignore international agreements and action on the climate crisis.” Theresa May had decided not to whip her MPs against Labour’s motion, and instead encouraged them to be out campaigning ... to avoid voting. [What a government....] Michael Gove said the government recognises “the situation we face is an emergency”, but stopped short of meeting Labour’s demands to officially declare one. Caroline Lucas said "words are cheap - we need urgent action. So to be clear: you can’t declare a climate emergency AND continue business as usual - fracking, building new runways, industrialised farming etc."
Comment by Plan B Earth and Extinction Rebellion, on Judges’ rejection of Heathrow legal challenges
The High Court dismissed all the legal challenges to the Government’s plans to expand Heathrow, including the claims brought by Friends of the Earth and Plan B on the grounds of inconsistency with the Paris Agreement on climate change. Tim Crosland, Director of Plan B and a legal adviser to Extinction Rebellion, said: “...it is increasingly difficult to see how the Government’s reckless plans to expand Heathrow Airport can proceed. Following the recent Extinction Rebellion protests there is widespread recognition that we are in a state of climate and ecological emergency. The Court has upheld Chris Grayling’s surprising contention that the Paris Agreement is “irrelevant” to Government policy on climate change. It ignored the fact that the Government stated in May last year that it planned to decarbonise the economy by 2050. Instead it accepted Grayling’s argument that the CCC considers the current target of 80% emissions reductions by 2050 to be consistent with the Paris Agreement. Tomorrow the CCC is expected to expose the fallacy of that position by recommending that the Government implement a target of net zero by 2050,... Since that recommendation is obviously inconsistent with the expansion of Heathrow, presumably the plans will now need to be reviewed."
Judges reject judicial review challenges against DfT’s Heathrow 3rd runway NPS
The judges at the High Court have handed down their judgement, which was to reject all the legal challenges against the DfT and the Secretary of State for Transport, on the government decision to approve a 3rd Heathrow runway, through the Airports NPS (National Policy Statement). The judges chose to make their ruling exclusively on the legality, and "rationality" of the DfT decision, ignoring the facts and details of the Heathrow scheme and the NPS process - or the areas where relevant information was ignored by the DfT. In the view of the judges, the process had been conducted legally. They threw out challenges on air pollution, surface access, noise and habitats - as well as carbon emissions. The latter being on the grounds that the Paris Agreement, though ratified by the UK government, has not been incorporated into UK law, so the DfT did not have to consider it. The Paris Agreement requires countries to aim for only a global 1.5C rise in temperature, not 2 degrees (as in the current UK Climate Change Act). Read comments by Neil Spurrier, one of those making a legal challenge. There are now likely to be appeals, perhaps even direct to the Supreme Court.
HEATHROW EXPANSION JUDICIAL REVIEW VERDICT Wednesday 1st May at 10 am at the High Court
Judgments on the legal challenges to the Government’s decision to permit Heathrow to apply for the expansion of its airport with a new 3rd Runway, will be announced at the High Court on Wednesday, 1 May, at 10am The presiding judges, Justices Hickinbottom and Holgate, will be handing down judgments on the judicial review claims made by 5 separate parties that the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), as approved by Parliament in June 2018, was unlawful. Four of the claimants’ cases relate to undue consideration being given to the environment, noise and climate change. Regardless of the Justices’ pronouncements, it is expected that appeals will be made against the judgments - whether by defendant (the government) or claimants. Even if the judgments were to find in favour of the Secretary of State for Transport (DfT), and these were to then survive the appeals process, this is unlikely to mark the end of legal battles to expand Heathrow airport. Heathrow’s application for its Development Consent Order - DCO (the detailed planning application, which Heathrow is expected to submit in 2020) – is also certain to attract legal challenges.
Grandmother complains after Southend airport expansion means 50 planes a day taxi at end of her garden
More planes using Southend airport have been causing noise nuisance and distress to local residents. A grandmother has complained as planes now taxi at the end of her garden, and there are 50 jets a day coming within 150ft of her fence. She says the planes going past, sometimes as often as every 20 minutes, with the noise and fumes, have left her and her husband miserable. "You can't have a conversation in the garden with anyone because you can't hear them. When we are inside with the door closed we have to pause the TV until the plane has gone past. We worry about our grandchildren coming around and the enjoyment of having people over for BBQs is ruined. I love my garden and used to do a lot of gardening but now it is all spoilt with the noise and the smell." She has complained to the airport numerous times and is concerned the problem could worsen this summer when runways are expected to get busier. It is very unsatisfactory when residential housing is as close to the taxiways as it is at Southend, and the quality of life of the residents is greatly reduced.
“You did not act in time” on climate: Greta Thunberg’s full speech to MPs… expanding airports is “beyond absurd”
The 16 year old climate activist from Sweden, Greta Thunberg, addressed MPs in Parliament. It was a remarkable speech, pulling no punches and telling the MPs they had to start taking action properly. A few quotes: "The UK is, however, very special. Not only for its mind-blowing historical carbon debt, but also for its current, very creative, carbon accounting.... Since 1990 the UK has achieved a 37% reduction of its territorial CO2 emissions, according to the Global Carbon Project. And that does sound very impressive. But these numbers do not include emissions from aviation, shipping and those associated with imports and exports. If these numbers are included the reduction is around 10% since 1990 – or an an average of 0.4% a year, according to Tyndall Manchester. ...And the main reason for this reduction is not a consequence of climate policies, but rather a 2001 EU directive on air quality that essentially forced the UK to close down its very old and extremely dirty coal power plants and replace them with less dirty gas power stations. And switching from one disastrous energy source to a slightly less disastrous one will of course result in a lowering of emissions.... The UK’s active current support of new exploitation of fossil fuels – for example, the UK shale gas fracking industry, the expansion of its North Sea oil and gas fields, the expansion of airports as well as the planning permission for a brand new coal mine – is beyond absurd."
Swedish flygskam (or flight shame) is spreading across Europe – Finland, Germany … Brits yet to catch on….
Fears about climate change have led many to rethink the way they travel and, in Sweden, there is a new word - flygskam (flying shame) - for the shame associated with flying, knowing the carbon emissions it causes. The subject has come higher up the agenda with the vast protests in Central London by Extinction Rebellion, since Monday 15th April. And there are protests in many other cities and countries. The Swedes are now travelling a bit less by air, and a bit more by rail. But it’s not just the Swedes racked with guilt about their carbon footprints. The Finnish have invented the word "lentohapea", the Dutch say "vliegschaamte" and the Germans "flugscham", all referring to a feeling of shame around flying. Brits are lagging behind ... The Swedish rail company reported 32 million passengers in 2018, a good increase. Many understand that flying has a huge negative climate impact, and there are other words associated with this: “tagskryt” (train bragging) and “smygflyga” (flying in secret). The 16 year old Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg, started the world wide movement of school strikes, to draw attention to climate change, only travels by train to meetings in other countries.
“Be the change you want to see”: How individuals (not only governments) are vital in cutting global CO2 emissions
What can we do in the face of the climate emergency? Many say we should drive less, fly less, eat less meat. But others argue that personal actions like this are a pointless drop in the ocean when set against the huge systemic changes that are required to prevent devastating global warming. Research from a PhD researcher into Environmental Leadership (Cardiff University) shows that doing something bold like giving up flying can have a wider knock-on effect - by influencing others and shifting what’s viewed as “normal”. These effects were increased if a high-profile person had given up flying, such as someone in the public eye. Far from the small actions by individuals having no impact, they are important. The role of people, in changing their lifestyles, cutting their carbon emissions and environmental footprint, is as big as that of governments or major corporations. But significant lifestyle changes by individuals need to be encouraged by effective government policy. It has to be both - policies, government action etc PLUS actions by individuals. Millions of them. Behavioural change has the potential for far greater emission reductions than the political pledges made under the Paris Accord.
Because the adults of today have ignored the climate crisis, today’s children face lives with tiny carbon footprints
Children born today will have to live their lives with drastically smaller carbon footprints than their grandparents if climate change is to be controlled. Previous and existing generations have emitted nearly all the CO2 to get the world to 1.5C or 2C, so future generations will have to severely and rapidly cut the emissions from flying, meat consumption, heating, hot water and other activities in their lifetimes. An analysis has shown this means the new generation will have lifetime carbon budgets almost 90% lower than someone born before 1950. The figures suggest 734 tonnes CO2 is the lifetime budget for limiting global warming to 1.5C for someone born in 1957; 405 tonnes if born in 1987; 86 tonnes if born in 2017. This dramatically highlights the burden inherited by today’s children, an issue at the heart of the global school strikes for climate. A spokesman for the UK Student Climate Network said: “Those in positions of power – from politicians to business leaders – that have benefited from a much higher lifetime carbon budget [and all those flights] have a duty to act to ensure a liveable planet for current and future generations. Without appropriate action, those in power are sacrificing our tomorrow for their today.”
“Flight Free” blog – “Why we stopped carbon-offsetting our flying, and then stopped flying”
New campaign "Flight Free" is asking people to sign up and pledge not to fly in 2020 (or ideally not in this year either ....) We need people to choose to cut their flying voluntarily, because government is never going to introduce measures to cut demand for air travel - it would risk displeasing too many voters. The Flight Free website has blogs by people who have pledged not to fly, or have already given up flying. One comments on their past flying: "...going on adventures to the other side of the world was one of our treats. We thought we’d earned it. We felt like responsible tourists, keen to explore local cultures and wildlife. Happy to tip local guides and to buy hand crafted items direct from local artisans ...". And then "We started carbon offsetting our flying. Planting trees that would absorb our CO2 and pump out oxygen in the process. It was a win, win. We felt better for a year or two. In effect we had thrown money at the problem but we hadn’t gone through any radical change of behaviour and we were still enjoying the same experiences, from wildlife safaris to snorkelling with turtles". Then they gave up flying: "This is a Climate Emergency and we need to change our behaviour individually and collectively now."
West Sussex County Council votes to do more on climate – but Gatwick airport intends to instead vastly increase its CO2 emissions
West Sussex County Council has agreed unanimously to back an amended motion pledging action on climate change. South East Climate Alliance campaigners hailed this as a potential ‘tipping point’ for the area. Two of the commitments made were to try to make the C County Council itself carbon neutral, and encourage residents and businesses to do more to help tackle climate change. Council members were invited to make personal pledges on things like saving water and energy, and making low carbon journeys (air travel not mentioned specifically). Louise Goldsmith, Council Leader, said: " ... we really do need everyone young, old and not so old and all businesses to come together and do their bit to become more sustainable..." CAGNE attended the meeting, and Sally Pavey commented that aviation issues were included in the debate - Gatwick airport is in West Sussex, and is probably the largest carbon emitter in the area (about 4.5 million tonnes of CO2 per year). Cllr Liz Kitchen and Cllr Bill Acraman, raised the issue of Gatwick expansion, which would hugely increase the airport's carbon, undoing any good done by local carbon cuts by individuals, businesses or the council.
Gatwick will get a Brüel & Kjær system to provide better flight and noise info for local people
Gatwick says it will soon improve the technology it uses ,so local residents can get information on the details of planes using the airport. It will be using the EMS Brüel & Kjær system, also used by Heathrow. The website is due to be available in a few months. The system will also allow noise complaints to be submitted via an automated telephone line, which has been a key request from local communities for several years, since this was withdrawn by Gatwick and they had made complaining about noise very difficult. There will be "up to" 23 new noise monitoring terminals in surrounding areas, to monitor noise levels. These can then be presented in real time alongside flight information from the airport radar and other airport systems. Gatwick hopes this will be preferred by local people, and provide them with better information. Also that airlines might "use the data to analyse how they might improve the performance of their flights in terms of track keeping and noise." A Gatwick public affairs person said "... we know that some residents are concerned by the impacts of aircraft noise."... and Gatwick hopes it will " improve our engagement with communities that are negatively impacted by aircraft noise.”
SSE takes Communities Secretary James Brokenshire to JR on Stansted expansion, including its CO2 emissions
Campaign group, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) say they will use latest EU figures showing Ryanair as one of Europe’s biggest polluters in their latest judicial challenge. Currently about 21 million of Ryanair's 130 million passengers in 2018 travelled via Stansted. Ryanair has the highest CO2 emissions (for intra-EU flights) of any European airline. Its flights emitted 9.9 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, up 6.9% on 2017, and up 49% over the past 5 years. SSE say the added argument of the vast carbon emissions, to only be hugely worsened by expansion to 43 mppa, is another reason why the planning consent by Uttlesford council, for the airport expansion, should be called in for determination by the government. The Communities Secretary James Brokenshire has said his reason for not intervening was that the application does not involve issues of "more than local importance." Carbon emissions are indeed of much more than local significance - it is a global issue. Brian Ross, from SSE said: “You can’t just allow local authorities to approve an increase in carbon emissions as they like. There needs to be national co-ordination.”
Ryanair the biggest but not fastest growing EU airline CO2 emitter – whole airline sector emissions rising very fast
The carbon emissions of 8 airlines for intra-European flights grew even faster than Ryanair last year. Low-cost airlines Jet2 (20% up); TAP (>12% up); EasyJet, Finnair, Wizz (up about 11%); Vueling and Norwegian (over 8%) and Lufthansa all increased CO2 emissions faster than Ryanair, though Ryanair has the highest emissions on European routes in 2018. Transport & Environment (T&E) says the top 10 growing polluters show that aviation’s runaway emissions are a huge problem. But governments have left airlines untaxed and under-regulated compared to other transport. Emissions from intra-European flights account for 40% of the aviation CO2 – the remaining 60% comes from flights to destinations outside Europe. Those are entirely unregulated, not being part of the EU ETS. Aviation regulators are consistently underestimating the extent of the emissions growth in their planning forecasts. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) anticipated a 3.3% increase in carbon emissions on flights within Europe last year, but official data shows they grew 4.9% – or 1.1 megatonnes of CO2 more than expected.
Ryanair’s carbon emissions within Europe make it the EU’s 10th largest emitter
Ryanair has become the first non-coal company to join Europe’s top 10 biggest carbon emitters, according to EU ETS figures. That is for flights within the EU. Ryanair declared 9.9 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, up 6.9% on 2017 and up 49% over the last 5 years. The only larger emitters of carbon within Europe are power stations. Andrew Murphy, the aviation manager at T&E said: “When it comes to climate, Ryanair is the new coal. This trend will only continue until Europe realises that this undertaxed and under-regulated sector needs to be brought into line, starting with a tax on kerosene and the introduction of mandates that force airlines to switch to zero-emission jet fuel.” Emissions from airlines, have risen over 25% since 2014, outpacing all other transport sectors. EasyJet was 31st on the list, after an 11% rise in emissions in 2018. Prof Kevin Anderson at the University of Manchester, said: “Ryanair use new and efficient aircraft rammed to the rafters with passengers, illustrating how technology alone cannot reconcile aviation’s rocketing emissions with the Paris climate commitments...we need to drive down the demand for aviation."
ICAO blocks any critics on Twitter and describes comments on aviation and climate as “fake news”
The UN's International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is dismissing factual critiques and blocking Twitter accounts that raise concerns about the climate change impact of flying, accusing them of “fake news” and “spam”. A number of campaigners and researchers complain they have been barred from following @ICAO on Twitter, including famous and respected climate scientist, Kevin Anderson. ICAO’s combative approach to public engagement has drawn wider criticism, with environmental journalists describing it as “spectacularly ill-judged” and “self-defeating“. On Wednesday, Steve Westlake, a behavioural scientist at Cardiff University, shared a screenshot showing Icao had blocked him. It came after he responded to 3 ICAO tweets by sharing a comment from Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg arguing most airport expansions were incompatible with meeting international climate goals. That analysis is uncontroversial. Aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions. AEF commented that "Climate leadership should always begin with open and transparent debate about the issues and challenges, so this is worrying."
Heathrow finally shortlists 18 areas as possible sites for its 4 “logistics hubs” – out of the original 65 possible areas
Heathrow has - for several years - been dangling the carrot of being one of 4 "logistics hubs" around the UK, for its expansion plans, to over 65 possible sites. It was a way to get local support from MPs, councils, business etc. It has now made a list of 18 shortlisted sites that "remain in the running to help deliver the infrastructure project". So that leaves 47 sites disappointed and let down. Heathrow makes out that these are going to bring "jobs and economic opportunities up and down the country years before the additional trade and tourism that will follow from unlocked runway capacity." And it will be "sustainable" due to "transporting assembled components in consolidated loads." The sites shortlisted have "showcased a strong base of local support, their area’s thriving supply chain, convenient connectivity links and the potential to tap into a skilled workforce." So those 18 shortlisted are still kept on tenterhooks, to see if they might get lucky, eventually. In the autumn, they will have the opportunity to pitch to the airport for their chance to become one of the final 4 construction centres, to be announced early next year, ahead of work [possibly, bearing in mind all the legal and planning hurdles] "starting in 2021".
Kings College research: Teenage psychotic experiences more common in areas with high air pollution
A new study (in JAMA Psychiatry) by researchers at Kings College London has found it is likely that teenagers living on polluted roads are about 40% more likely to be psychotic. There seems to be a connection between the air pollution and why adolescents in cities are twice as likely to suffer psychosis as those in rural areas. It is not proof that the pollution causes psychosis, but it adds to mounting evidence that NOx and particulates can do far-reaching damage to the brain and lungs. They may contribute to the development of dementia and depression, as well as possibly harming the unborn foetus, by entering the placenta. The recent study used data on 2,232 teenagers in England and Wales who were asked about psychotic experiences, such as whether they heard voices or felt they were being watched. About a third had such experiences. While most will grow out of them, these teenagers are at higher risk of going on to suffer full-blown psychosis. The answers were compared with detailed modelling of pollution levels at the teenagers’ homes. The link remained significant even after adjusted for class, drug use, family history of mental illness etc. Heathrow is a huge source of air pollution, from its planes and associated road traffic.
EU labels palm oil in diesel as unsustainable – it causes deforestation
The European Commission today decided that palm oil is not a green fuel and should not be promoted because it causes deforestation. The use of palm oil in diesel, which is driven by the EU’s renewable energy targets, will be gradually reduced as of 2023 and should reach zero in 2030 although exemptions remain. Europe’s federation of green transport NGOs, Transport & Environment (T&E), said the labelling of palm oil as unsustainable is a milestone in the fight to recognise the climate impact of burning food for energy. However, in a bid to placate palm oil producing countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Colombia, the Commission introduced a number of exemptions, so some palm oil could still be promoted as a “green” road fuel. The Commission also failed to classify soy, a major contributor to deforestation worldwide, as unsustainable. The EU is the world's 2nd largest importer of crude palm oil; over half of it (around four million tonnes) is currently used to make ‘green’ fuel.
New AEF briefing: Why Heathrow can’t solve its carbon problem (and the trouble with offsets)
The Government and Heathrow are trying to pretend that adding a 3rd runway, increasing the number of flights by around 50% (many or most to long-haul destinations) somehow is not a climate change impact problem. Now in an excellent new briefing from the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF), "Why Heathrow can't solve its carbon problem (and the trouble with offsets", they explain how the carbon emissions cannot just be wished away and there are no mechanisms currently proposed to properly deal with them. Heathrow has a "roadmap" on how it aspires to be "carbon neutral". AEF says the roadmap "does little more than recycle existing – inadequate – measures to limit aviation emissions" and their briefing sets out why the plan falls short. AEF says: "...almost all the proposed actions involve Heathrow riding on the coattails of other Government or industry initiatives." ... and "The kind of offsetting that CORSIA will deliver ...isn’t designed to deliver a zero emissions target but instead to reduce emissions, at best, to half of what they might have been. ... the idea that offsetting makes a tonne of CO2 from aviation “neutral” is misleading."
Flybe’s Newquay link with Heathrow takes off courtesy of taxpayer PSO subsidy (£6.2m over 8 years)
From next weekend people flying between Newquay and Heathrow will get a £5 subsidy each, from UK taxpayers. There will be 4 flights per day both ways. Newquay airport is not particularly near anywhere - other than surfing beaches. The service will be Heathrow’s only subsidised service, run under a public service obligation (PSO). PSOs are defined under European aviation regulations as “scheduled air services on routes which are vital for the economic development of the region they serve”. That means for routes where there is not enough demand to even half fill a small regional aircraft and that to attract a commercial operator to fly the route, the government has to provide a financial incentive. The cost to the taxpayer over 4 years for this will be £3.4 million. (For 180,000 pax per year that works out at £5 each. But there were only <93,000 pax in 2013). The pendulum is swinging back to Heathrow, however.Heathrow has set aside a £10 million fund to incentivise domestic airline route development - needed to persuade regional MPs to back the runway.
Stop Stansted Expansion to start legal challenge to government decision not to call in expansion application
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has confirmed that it will commence legal proceedings to challenge last week's decision [20 March] by the Communities Secretary James Brokenshire not to intervene in the decision by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) to approve the expansion of Stansted to 43 mppa. Brokenshire said his reason for not intervening was that "the application does not involve issues of more than local importance". SSE considers this conclusion to be completely wrong. In the next month or two, Stansted is expected to overtake Manchester to become the UK's 3rd busiest airport. The noise, air pollution, community health and road traffic impacts of Stansted are felt far beyond the borders of Uttlesford, and the 3.7 million equivalent tonnes of carbon dioxide attributable to Stansted flights this year will have significant adverse global impacts. SSE will apply to the High Court for a JR of Brokenshire's decision. SSE solicitors have written to UDC pointing out that it would be inappropriate for UDC to issue any decision in relation to the airport planning application whilst these legal challenges are pending. SSE already has an outstanding JR application against the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, over his decision of 28 June 2018 to allow the airport planning application to be determined locally by UDC.
Heathrow’s Fly Quiet results reach new heights of improbability
Heathrow has this week (22nd March) belatedly published the results from its Fly Quiet & Green programme for Q4 2018. In this scheme Heathrow assesses 7 different aspects of environmental performance, but it only publishes a single, numeric "Fly Quiet points" score for each airline. That published score is the sum of the Fly Quiet points awarded to the airline for each of the 7 metrics. But that part that is far from transparent, with the 7 numbers per airline not made public. The results put out by Heathrow do not make any sense, and do not appear to properly reflect the actual noise. Rather, they appear to be manipulated to make noise levels look lower than they really are. This time around instead of giving the airlines an average score of around 750 out of (optimum) 1000, as with previous quarters' results (already grossly inflated), Heathrow has hiked the average score by over 8% to 813 points. The expected average (mean and median) score should be around 500. But not content with inflating the scores even more than usual, Heathrow has also inexplicably excluded 5 (China Southern, El Al, Korean Air etc) of its 50 busiest airlines from the results - but added others instead.
Summary of the hearings into the legal challenges against DfT approval of Heathrow 3rd runway
The hearings at the High Court, into the legal challenges against the government's decision to press for a 3rd Heathrow runway, were complicated. They were hard to follow, even with daily transcripts - as there were constant references to text in documents in "bundles" that the public are unable to see. Neil Spurrier, who individually brought one of the legal challenges, and is a solicitor, has done a user-friendly summary of some of the key points that came up. Four of the challenges were largely on environmental grounds (the 5th was a rival runway builder, Heathrow Hub). Neil gives a brief summary of some of the points on noise, air pollution, carbon emissions, and economic benefit including comments on the response by the government's barristers and their attempts to brush aside the criticisms. The judges may make their judgement in about May - there will probably be a few days notice before hand. As well as the summary, there are some notes made during the hearings, to help clarify some points.
Heathrow to start procuring contractors for demolition, site clearance, utility diversions etc by end of 2019
Heathrow's expansion programme director Phil Wilbraham says the airport will begin procuring construction partners at the end of this year, [assuming it passes the hurdle of the legal challenges, which ended on 22nd March ....]with construction of the 3rd runway scheduled to begin in 202. Contractors will be sought for a range of disciplines including demolition, site clearance and utility diversions. The plan is to start to procure teams at the end of 2019: "We are going to start in 2021, so we will need contractors on board next year to work with the designers and to ensure that the construction planning is done really well in advance of starting the main construction work. ... Initially we will be starting with demolition, site clearance and utility diversions. Then we will go into a major civil engineering project which will be around things like earthworks. We have got a lot of earth to move around underneath the runway. We will be moving roads like the M25, the A4 and the A304. We are moving some rivers as well.” Heathrow is “confident” legal challenges would ultimately fail and have no impact on the airport’s construction timetable.
Grayling’s team at DfT deliberately tried to conceal information about Heathrow 3rd runway noise, which might have risked “further scrutiny”
A totally damning, ‘smoking gun’ memo has been located, showing how DfT staff in November 2017 were keen to avoid information showing how bad Heathrow noise would be - and how many people would be affected - with a 3rd runway. The Times reveals how DfT staff plotted to cover up warnings about the extra aircraft noise, with a 6-page document sent to Chris Grayling (Transport Secretary) recommending blocking a plan to tell millions of households (up to 13 million people) about the extra noise they could face from a 3rd runway. Grayling and the DfT claim publicly that a 3rd runway could be introduced with fewer people affected by plane noise even with 265,000 more annual flights - which, of course, beggars belief of anyone with half a brain. The DfT memo wanted to avoid alerting people to the noise problem, for fear that would cause "disruption" and "public debate" and "further scrutiny" and “unnecessary controversy” before the parliamentary vote on the NPS (in June 2018). The memo included a map that reveals DfT officials knew well how badly vast swathes of London and southern England (and Grayling's own constituency) would be badly affected. Disgraceful DfT behaviour.
Hampstead and Highgate, with few flights overhead now, due to get bad levels of Heathrow noise
Heathrow wants to expand its operations to fly over areas with little aviation activity at present, including over north west London. The local paper for Hampstead and Highgate says that Hampstead is 500 ft above sea level and, in Heathrow’s first phase of expansion, (it wants an extra 25,000 flights per year in a couple of years from now - if permitted) it may be exposed to flights at 2,500 to 3,500 ft. The noise levels would be over 60 to 65 decibels (dB) - more than the level of background noise in a busy office - from 6am every morning. Highgate may be in the same position. That might work out as a flight overhead every 2.5 minutes between 6am and 7am and one every 10 mins thereafter from 7am to 11.30pm. If there is then a 3rd runway, there could be a flight every minute, with the noise of most being above 65dB. The negative effects on health, (from noise and air pollution) and noise impacts on the education of children are well known. The paper says: "That Heathrow is pushing ahead with expansion despite these impacts beggars belief." While more studies need to be done on the health risks of aviation noise, it is a serious concern for residents accustomed to zero noise who are then subjected to noise above 65dB at least 40 times a day
Government (James Brokenshire) rejects ‘call in’ of Stansted Airport planning application to increase passengers from 35m to 43 mppa
The Government has decided not to ‘call in’ Stansted Airport’s planning application to increase passenger numbers, which was approved by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) last year. In February 2018, Stansted Airport owners, Manchester Airports Group, submitted a planning application to UDC that sought permission for the airport to increase the annual passenger number from 35 to 43 million per year. UDC granted this planning permission in November 2018, by a narrow vote of the Planning Committee, only won by the Chairman's casting vote. The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire, has now written to say the decision by UDC is correct, saying: "... the application does not involve issues of more than local importance justifying the secretary of state’s intervention.” That is, of course, wrong as planes using Stansted fly over a wide area. Brian Ross from campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) said the planning consent still faces a legal challenge from SSE, versus the transport secretary in the High Court, which began last September. The case has been on hold for 4 months, pending the decision, but SSE is now takin legal advice on whether to widen the basis of its legal challenge.
Open letter from 90 academics to European governments – carbon offset markets (eg. CORSIA) will not effectively cut carbon
There is an interesting letter from 90 academics calling for governments to withdraw support from new carbon offset markets - with a specific reference to the UN Corsia scheme for aviation emissions. The academics call on European governments that care about climate change to withdraw their support for the creation of a new doomed carbon offset market at the COP25 this December. The proposals for carbon offsets are entirely unable to meet necessary criteria, needed to ensure they actually succeed in "offsetting" carbon. The letter says: "Yet, beyond the well-known issues of excess permits and frauds, it has also been demonstrated that carbon markets have major conceptual flaws that cannot be fixed, such as the inability to provide a reliable price signal or the fact that the climate impact of offset projects is not calculable....It is well documented that carbon markets have failed spectacularly in achieving their environmental objectives and that many carbon offset projects have a devastating social impact. In spite of this evidence, carbon markets remain the main policy tool to address climate change in Europe, based on the misguided hope that they will work “once the price is right”."
Austrian higher court approves construction of 3rd runway at Vienna Airport, refused on climate & noise grounds in Feb 2017
The Supreme Administrative Court in Austria has approved construction of a 3rd runway at Vienna Airport. The court overturned appeals made by local residents and environmental groups on the basis of noise complaints and environmental impact of the runway. Opponents had successfully argued that noise would be a problem across urban Vienna. Also that it could not be justified on climate change grounds. But the airport appealed - and has now won. It says the noise will not be a problem as there will not be landings over the Vienna city area during normal operations, and it aims at "decreasing noise pollution in the area." There are the usual claims that it will "reduce delays, fuel consumption, and noise by abolishing allotment patterns and queued aircraft during peak hours". Back in February 2017 a court said the increased greenhouse gas emissions for Austria would cause harm and climate protection is more important than creating other jobs. Also that the ability of the airport to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by its own measures were not sufficient, and emissions would rise too much. All now forgotten, it seems. Making money trumps climate stability.
Evidence on air pollution, given to the High Court hearings on a 3rd Heathrow runway, by Neil Spurrier
Neil Spurrier, a solicitor from Teddington, made one of the 5 legal challenges against the Secretary of State for Transport's decision to approve a 3rd Heathrow runway, through the Airports National Policy Statement. The legal hearings from the councils, the Mayor of London, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Plan B Earth and Mr Spurrier took place between the 15th and 19th March. There are transcripts of each day's proceedings here. Neil addressed the issue of air pollution in particular, and the emissions of NO2 and particulates from planes themselves. He made important points, such as that air pollution is known to spread much, much further from an airport than the 2 km that the DfT has tried to use. Also that there is evidence of possible damage to the foetus from particulates found in placentas of people affected by air pollution, and that the government should not be risking the health of future generations. He made the point, on ultrafine particles, that merely because they have not been specifically studied (being part of the wider category of PM 2.5), is no reason for the government to discount them or consider their impact to be negative. The absence of evidence is not enough to avoid the precautionary principle. Read the full transcripts for details.
Heathrow Airport Holdings will announce the appointment of Ruth Kelly (was Labour Transport Secretary) to its board
Heathrow Airport Holdings will announce the appointment of Ruth Kelly to its board this week. Ruth Kelly, the former Labour transport secretary, (2007 - 8) is to join the board of Heathrow Airport's parent company as it attempts to clear the remaining hurdles to the construction of its £14bn third runway. She will become a non-executive director of Heathrow Airport Holdings next month. She briefly worked for HSBC Holdings after stepping down as an MP in 2010, now sits on the board of the Financial Conduct Authority. "Her appointment will strengthen Heathrow's political connections at a critical juncture". This "revolving door" is just another to add to the long list: In September 2015 Vickie Sheriff became head of communications for Heathrow airport, having earlier worked for the Prime Minister, in 2013, with a dual role as official deputy spokesperson for the Prime Minister and head of news at Number 10. Heathrow’s director of PR, Simon Baugh, left the airport in 2015 to work at the Department for Transport to take the role of head of communications. Earlier Tom Kelly in 2009, who had worked for Tony Blair went to BAA as head of comms. There are several other examples.
An assessment by Carbon Market Watch of credit providers for the aviation offsetting scheme
Carbon Market Watch has produced a report that assesses credit providers for the ICAO CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme - which aims to compensate the growth in CO2 emissions from international aviation above 2020 levels, starting in 2021. Offsets should " offset programs will be screened against the eleven new Program Design Elements," (one of which, for example, is: "Program Governance: Programs should publicly disclose who is responsible for administration of the program and how decisions are made." Carbon Market Watch conclude that "no program can yet operate in a manner which complies with all the eligibility criteria. Some will need to update and improve certain parts of their protocols or methodologies, but all are hampered by the lack of clarity on international accounting rules to avoid double counting of emission reductions. The present assessment also highlights that the Program Design Elements are not sufficient to exclude credits with no environmental value, and that a rigorous application of the second set of criteria, the Carbon Offset Credit Integrity Assessment Criteria, is necessary and will require analysis of specific methodologies and projects."
2019 Spring Statement – how getting passengers to pay for carbon offsets is not the answer
In the Chancellor's Spring Statement, there was a mention of launching a call for evidence on offsetting transport emissions, in the hope of encouraging more travels (not only air passengers) in a vain attempt to "neutralise" their climate impact. Hammond said this would explore how travel providers - including airlines - could potentially be required to "offer genuinely additional carbon offsets so that customers who want zero carbon travel have that option can be confident about additionality". Some airlines already offer offset schemes alongside flight bookings, but take-up is about 1%. So they are not working. The Aviation Environment Federation warned offsets can never be the solution to aviation's carbon problem. "In order to meet the tough goals that states signed up to in the Paris Agreement, all countries will in any case need to reduce emissions close to zero in the coming decades, leaving little scope for any country or sector to sell their emissions reductions to airlines or air passengers by way of offset schemes," it pointed out. All that offsetting means is that carbon savings genuinely made in other sectors are cancelled out by more carbon emissions from transport (especially aviation). It just negates the carbon savings. That does nothing to cut the emissions from the transport itself, especially aviation.
Heathrow 3rd runway unlawful, says Friends of the Earth, as DfT failed to consider the need for stringent CO2 targets
Friends of the Earth have accused the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, of acting unlawfully when he agreed to the 3rd Heathrow runway, in the Airports NPS. Their lawyers at the High Court legal challenge hearings the DfT failed to consider the full impacts of climate change and the need for more stringent targets to avoid catastrophic global warming. “Friends of the Earth is concerned that the expansion of Heathrow by adding a 3rd runway will jeopardise the UK’s ability to make the very deep reductions in greenhouse gases that are necessary to prevent global warming from causing catastrophic, irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems." The Court heard that the government knew when it approved the third runway that the Paris agreement, which UK ministers have signed, was likely to involve more stringent emissions targets than domestic law required under the 2008 UK Climate Change Act. David Wolfe QC, for FoE, said ministers were told by the Committee on Climate Change in January 2018 that as a result it was “essential that actions are taken now to enable these deeper reductions to be achieved”. But Grayling pressed on regardless, ignoring the advice.
Spring Statement: there is to be a consultation about possible offsets for passengers for their CO2 emissions
The section relevant to aviation, under the heading "Clean growth" states: "The Budget 2018 set out how the government is accelerating the shift to a clean economy, building on the Industrial Strategy, Clean Growth Strategy, and 25 Year Environment Plan. The Spring Statement builds on this commitment: (several bullet points, of which the one relating to transport is: "to give people the option to travel ‘zero carbon’, the government will launch a call for evidence on Offsetting Transport Emissions to explore consumer understanding of the emissions from their journeys and their options to offset them. This will also look into whether travel providers should be required to offer carbon offsets to their customers." Note, this is not only mentioning aviation. And nothing is settled, till there is the consultation - no date given for that. [ All this seems to mean is nothing whatsoever to cut demand for air travel. Most offsets are useless, and do not achieve cuts in carbon. (Aviation CO2 emissions are added to the atmosphere, cancelling out whatever savings were achieved by the offset created elsewhere). AW note].
At Heathrow legal hearings, Court told Grayling left thousands of people in the dark over the impact of Heathrow flight paths if expansion allowed
Chris Grayling left thousands of people in the dark over increased noise pollution from an expanded Heathrow by under-stating the impact of new flight paths. At the High Court hearings, lawyers for five London councils, the London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Greenpeace claim this amounts to a breach of the law under which the Transport Secretary should have identified all areas that might be affected. The Councils say that instead of an environmental report showing which communities were going to be hit by noise from flights, Mr Grayling only published "indicative flight paths." They say "The flight paths were drawn in such a way that the numbers of people affected were minimised. This meant the health and environmental costs of the north west runway were understated." Maps compiled by the councils suggest as many as 1 million more households will be affected by planes at 7,000 ft, or below, with decibel levels of at least 65, (equivalent to a vacuum cleaner in a room). A vast circular area stretching from Didcot in the west, Dartford and Romford in the east, Tring, Harpenden and Welwyn Garden City to the north, and Godalming, Leatherhead, Epsom and Copthorne - and many more places - to the south would be affected. The NPS failed to deal properly with the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion.
How the UK government misled Parliament on Heathrow expansion and climate change
A new briefing from Friends of the Earth, West London, (FoE-WL) sets out how the government misled Parliament on the CO2 emissions that would be generated if a 3rd Heathrow runway was allowed. In its National Policy Statement (NPS) presented to Parliament in June 2018 the DfT said expansion could "be delivered within the UK’s carbon obligations ..” FoE-WL says unfortunately, there is no evidence to support that assertion. The advice on CO2 from the UK aviation sector is that it should not be above 37.5MtCO2 in 2050. But the DfT's own figures show this being exceeded. A 3rd runway would increase CO2 emissions by about 3.3MtCO2 per year. This information was not disclosed in the NPS presented to Parliament. Instead, data was buried in the mass of ‘supporting information’ (as usual). All the government has to offer is slight carbon efficiency gains per plane in future, and some use of biofuels (highly dubious) - and "carbon offsetting". In reality there is no global trading system of any sort on the horizon, let alone one which would offset aviation’s increase with genuine reductions elsewhere. It is unlikely the UN's CORSIA scheme, which the UK government is placing its trust in, will be effective.
Severe impact of 3rd Heathrow runway on residents laid out in High Court hearing
The Government's approval of a third runway is being challenged at the High Court by a coalition of councils, residents, environmental charities and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. Representing five London boroughs, Greenpeace and Mr Khan, Nigel Pleming QC said the plans could see the number of passengers using Heathrow rise to around 132 million, a 60% increase. Mr Pleming said: "The new development, if it goes ahead, will add, in effect, a new airport with the capacity of Gatwick to the north of Heathrow" and that the adverse effects and consequences for local residents of such an expansion are "bound to be severe". The legal challenges (other than the one by Heathrow Hub) say the Government's National Policy Statement (NPS) setting out its support for the project fails to properly deal with the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion. The claimants argue the NPS is unlawful and should be quashed, which would mean the Government would have to start the process again and put it to another vote in Parliament. Scores of demonstrators gathered outside the court ahead of the hearing, addressed by MPs, Council leaders and campaigners. All are determined that this runways is NOT going to go ahead. The hearings will last for 2 weeks.
Judicial reviews into government approval of Heathrow 3rd runway plans begins on 11th March
London’s High Court will on Monday 11th March begin a judicial review into the government’s approval of a third runway at Heathrow airport, with local authorities, environmentalists and rival bidders arguing the £14bn scheme should be scrapped. Five legal challenges to the decision are being heard together, including one brought by a consortium of local authorities (Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Windsor & Maidenhead), Greenpeace and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, on the grounds of air quality, climate change, noise pollution and transport access. The negative impacts of Heathrow already affect many councils, and those would get far worse with planned expansion to have 50% more annual flights. John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: “Governments are very happy to talk the talk when it comes to protecting the air we breathe and the climate we all share, but unfortunately getting them to walk the walk often takes legal action.” There is also a legal challenge by Heathrow Hub, which wants to build a 3rd runway by extending the current northern runway, rather than adding a runway further north. The hearings are expected to last about two weeks, with the judgment being reserved.
How Heathrow has been getting away with paying so little tax to the UK government
UK tax rules have allowed airports like Heathrow to pay far less tax than they should. It is estimated that Heathrow's foreign owners have been able to get a tax break of perhaps £120 million per year from the UK government. And the airport’s shareholders (which include the governments of China, Qatar and Singapore - with only 10% by the USS being British - .have paid themselves about £3 billion in dividends in 5 years. Rules on how firms can cut tax bills due to large debt interest payments began in 2017, but the Treasury has given an exemption for infrastructure projects like Heathrow. The think-tank, Taxwatch, said: “In the case of Heathrow, the benefits of the exemption appear to flow overwhelmingly to the owners of the company.” ..."The company was bought using a huge amount of debt. Instead of paying back the debt themselves, the new owners managed to push this liability on to Heathrow, making the company liable for large interest payments... The large debt repayments wiped out the company’s pre-tax profit.” Revenues at Heathrow have risen to £2.9billion but its owners have paid little corporation tax, due to massive debts. Between 2007 and 2014 the group reported a total pre-tax loss of more than £2 billion, and paid just £15 million in corporation tax. In the past 3 years it declared pre-tax profits of more than £1 billion, leading to corporation tax payments of £122 million (ie. £70 million in 2018 and £53 million in 2017.
Heathrow issues €650m bond, to borrow more money, weeks before Brexit deadline
Heathrow Airport has placed a €650m (£558.9m) bond with only weeks to go before the UK is due to leave the European Union. The 15-year bond was backed by current and new investors, which were mostly European, and reached an order book in excess of €2.8bn (ie. there was demand of that amount). Heathrow said the high demand for the bond "shows investor confidence in Heathrow's expansion plans and resilience ahead of Brexit." The bond means Heathrow hopes to extend the duration of its debt portfolio - ie. taking more time to pay it all back - for its 3rd runway expansion plans. It said the funds will be used on day-to-day corporate spending. The airport's director of treasury and corporate finance, said: “The transaction delivers on our strategy of further diversification, longer duration and stronger liquidity." Heathrow hopes, at the earliest, that the runway might open in 2026 - but it has a large number of hurdles to overcome before them, including the long DCO (Development Consent Order) process, that is the equivalent of a planning application, but for a vast project - with the decision taken out of the hands of the local authority, and made by government instead (a process devised to avoid the sort of long delays they had on Terminal Five).
ICAO working on rules to at least ensure its CORSIA carbon credits for aviation are not double-counted
Rules to avoid double-counting of CO2 emissions cuts in offsets to be used by the aviation sector through the (weak, ineffective) ICAO CORSIA scheme, are considered to be a step forward by some campaigners. But proper assurances are needed to meet aviation's climate pledges, so the claims of (sic) "carbon neutral growth" mean something. ICAO negotiators have agreed rules to prevent double-counting of carbon credits used to offset airline emissions. As air traffic growth outpaces efficiency improvements, airlines will be expected to pay for emissions reductions in other sectors to offset the climate impact. In one of its secretive meetings, ICAO has adopted broad criteria to ensure those carbon offsets are not also counted towards national targets - and they actually represent extra CO2 emissions savings. Campaigners are also calling for an age limit on eligible carbon offsetting projects and transparency around the way the rules are put into practice. There is a huge pool of dormant projects under the UN’s CDM that could, in theory, meet demand from airlines for carbon offsets. But most of those would continue cutting emissions, even without being used by aviation. So they are not additional.