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Latest news stories:
‘Failure on pretty much every aspect’: Government condemned as UK set to miss key environmental goals
Despite promises to tackle green issues, the UK is failing to make progress on crucial targets such as cutting CO2 emissions. An investigation by Greenpeace and the FT shows that the UK government is set to miss legally binding environment targets in 2020 and had failed on “pretty much every aspect” of protecting wildlife and the environment. Despite promises to prioritise green issues, the UK has made little progress on tackling CO2 emissions, air and water pollution, waste and overfishing, and had now increased tree planting or protected biodiversity. One reason for the failure to meet many targets was budget cuts in DEFRA. A Greenpeace spokesman said: “As rivers and air become more toxic, emissions and waste piles continue to rise, our oceans emptied of fish and countryside becomes devoid of wildlife, the government must be held to account for its failure to protect people’s health and nature.” On energy, only 11% of the UK’s energy was produced through renewables in 2018. This figure has grown by around 1% every year since 2014 (meant to be 15%). UK is on track to miss its carbon budget for 2023-27, and 2028-32. UK aviation emissions continue to rise.
Plans to expand Bristol Airport accused of being flawed; decision put off till early 2020
A decision on Bristol Airport's major expansion bid will not be made this year. They submitted proposals to boost passenger numbers from 10 million to 12 million a year by the mid-2020s, and to expand the airport's on-site infrastructure. A decision had been due over the summer but people are continuing to comment - there are currently about 3,780 objections and 1,800 letters of support. Reasons for opposing the expansion include climate change, traffic levels, air pollution and noise. When they declared a "climate emergency", Bath and North East Somerset Council members also voted to oppose the airport's expansion, amid concerns about increased congestion on rural roads in their area. There is also doubt about alleged economic benefit. The airport and its supporters always talk up the possibility of more jobs, and improved "access international export markets." In reality, the majority of air passengers are on leisure journeys. The application will be considered by North Somerset Council's planning and regulatory committee meeting in 2020, with possible dates the 22 January, 19 February and 18 March.
Air pollution nanoparticles (from road vehicles and aircraft) now linked to higher risk of brain cancer
New research has now linked air pollution nanoparticles to brain cancer. The ultra-fine particles (UFPs) are produced by fuel burning, particularly in diesel vehicles, and higher exposures significantly increase people’s chances of getting the cancer. Previous work has shown that nanoparticles can get into the brain and that they can carry carcinogenic chemicals. Aircraft also produce nanoparticles that spread downwind of airports, and are also emitted into the atmosphere during flight - especially take-off and landing. Higher levels of the air pollution are related to slightly higher rates of brain cancer. The numbers per 100,000 are not huge, but add up when large populations are exposed to road traffic etc. Brain cancers are hard to treat and often fatal. As nanoparticles are so tiny, they can get into almost every organ. Air pollution has also been linked to other effects on the brain, including reductions in intelligence, more dementia and mental health problems in both adults and children. The WHO says air pollution is a “silent public health emergency”. Airport expansion does not help - due to road transport, plus the planes themselves, and airport vehicles.
Airlines accused of hypocrisy over ‘fuel-tankering’ that hugely increases airline CO2 emissions, to save a few £s
"Fuel tankering" means airlines fill up with a lot of fuel, at an airport where fuel is cheap, and then fly around carrying a huge extra load, to avoid spending slightly more for fuel at a destination airport. This means a small financial saving, but hugely higher carbon emissions - from carrying extra tonnes of fuel sof hundreds of miles (and the energy needed to lift it to 35,000 ft ...). This is a common practice within the industry, even while they are doing greenwashing about minimal weight savings on flights, to cut energy use. BBC Panorama found BA's planes generated an extra 18,000 tonnes of CO2 in 2018 through fuel tankering. And cost savings made on a single flight can be as small as just over £10 - though savings can run to hundreds of £s. Researchers have estimated that one in five of all European flights involve some element of fuel tankering. Critics say the widespread use of tankering undermines the industry's (hollow) claims that it is committed to reducing its CO2 emissions. Eurocontrol has calculated that tankering in Europe resulted in 286,000 tonnes of extra fuel being burnt every year, and the emission of an additional 901,000 tonnes of CO2.
Ten celebrities cause 10,000 times more CO2 emissions from flying than the average person
Professor Stefan Gössling, from Lund University, has written about the immense carbon emissions of a range of high profile celebrities - and the damaging effect this has on the perceptions of society on the desirability of this hyper-mobility, by jet. He says: "The jet-setting habits of Bill Gates and Paris Hilton mean that they produce an astonishing 10,000 times more carbon emissions from flying than the average person." ... "This highlights the insane disparity in carbon emissions between the rich and the poor." ... "Recently published figures reveal that 1% of English residents are responsible for nearly 20% of all flights abroad". ... "major clash about the social and moral norms surrounding air travel. For decades, frequent fliers have been seen as living desirable lifestyles. To be a global traveller automatically infers a high social standing." ... "But more and more people are beginning to question what is desirable, justifiable and indeed “normal” to consume. In the case of flying, this has come to be known as “flight shame”." ... We need to "stem the growing class of very affluent people who contribute very significantly to emissions and encourage everyone else to aspire to such damaging lifestyles."
Councils tell government to review Heathrow expansion following climate change developments
Local authorities opposed to Heathrow expansion say that changes in Government policy on climate change mean the case for a 3rd runway should be reviewed urgently. The national policy statement (ANPS) which included support for Heathrow expansion was designated in June 2018 - at a time when the UK was committed to an 80% cut in CO2 emissions, from the 1990 level, by 2050. But in June 2019 following the advice of the Climate Change Committee (CCC) the Government amended the commitment to a 100% cut – with the strengthening based on ‘significant developments in climate change knowledge’. This same logic needs to be applied to the ANPS. Under planning legislation a national policy statement must be reviewed if there has been a ‘significant change in any circumstances on the basis of which any of the policy set out in the statement was decided.’ And there has been. In September 2019 the CCC told the Government that the planning assumption for aviation should be to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 - and measures should be put in place that ‘limit growth in demand to at most 25% above current levels by 2050.’ The Heathrow case needs urgent review in relation to climate policy, and also noise. The councils say that Heathrow expansion is never going to happen - the obstacles are insurmountable.
John McDonnell says Labour could scrap Heathrow expansion, as it does not meet key criteria
John McDonnell has suggested that Labour would cancel the expansion of Heathrow if it wins power, and it might even also block other airport projects. John said climate change would dominate the party’s agenda in government. Labour have said for some time that the current 3rd runway plans “very clearly” do not meet Labour’s key criteria - its 4 tests - on protecting the environment. On climate grounds alone, plans to increase capacity at Manchester, Leeds Bradford, Bristol, Gatwick, Stansted and East Midlands airports would need to be assessed by the same criteria. He said that ensuring the “survival of our planet” would be Labour’s “number one priority” in government, with climate change becoming a “key” factor in all policy and investment decisions. Labour have the problem that some unions hope airport expansion will provide more jobs, and therefore back it, while knowing there is a carbon problem. John McDonnell's constituency, Hayes & Harlington, would be the worst affected by a Heathrow runway, in terms of homes destroyed and area covered in airport infrastructure. The 3rd runway fails not only on environmental grounds (carbon, noise, air pollution) but also on economic and social impacts.
Call for ban on UK private jets by 2025 with their climate impact as much as x10 that of a regular economy seat
Private jets are a total anachronism, in an age of climate emergency and climate crisis. First Class or business class seats cause far more CO2 to be emitted than economy seats. But private jet CO2 emissions per passenger - usually less than 5 passengers per plane - are an order of magnitude higher than of an average economy class seat. Now research by the Common Wealth thinktank indicates that private jet flights to and from UK airports in a year may contribute as much to the climate crisis as 450,000 cars. It suggests they should be banned as soon as 2025, with possible research into partly electric planes (small private jets are the only ones for which electric flight is feasible). There were some 128,000 private jet flights between UK and EU airports in 2018 and 14,000 trips were also made to destinations outside Europe. Industry estimates suggest that about 40% of private jet movements are empty leg journeys, in which aircraft are repositioned for the convenience of the super-rich and corporate customers who use them. Almost half of all private jet traffic in Britain passes through five airports around London, given its status as the home to the most billionaires in Europe.
Groups write to Government asking for a moratorium on airport expansion planning applications
Representatives of groups at some of the largest UK airports have written to both the Secretaries of State for Transport, and Housing, Communities and Local Government, to request a halt to airport expansion. The letter asks them to suspend the determination by all planning authorities of applications to increase the physical capacity of UK airports, or their approved operating caps, until there is a settled UK policy position against which such applications can be judged. Many UK airports are seeking - or have announced their intention to seek - planning approval to increase their capacity and/or their operating caps. In aggregate it has been estimated that proposals announced by UK airports would increase the country’s airport capacity by over 70% compared to 2017. There is no settled UK policy on aircraft noise, or policy on aviation carbon and how the sector will, as the CCC advises, "limit growth in demand to at most 25% above current levels by 2050”.The letter says: "Until a settled policy with set limits is established for greenhouse gas emissions and noise there should be a moratorium on all airport expansion planning applications."
One student stands up against flights for unnecessary, high carbon, field trips for university courses
Many universities and academics are trying to find ways in which they can reduce the amount they fly. This is difficult, as universities have been developed to be dependant on international students, international academics and numerous international conferences - to which everyone flies. And then there are also the field trips, for many student degrees. Now, writing in a blog for "FlightFree 2020" a courageous student, studying for an MSc in Environmental Protection and Management at Edinburgh University, has refused to go on a field trip - even though it was a compulsory part of her course - because she did not feel she could justify the huge carbon emissions the flight would create. Field trips are promoted as a chance to gain real-life, real-world experience, undertake research outside of the academic bubble, and interact with local communities. But as flying is so cheap, the destinations have moved further afield, continents away. Institutions entice potential students by offering study in ever more exotic locations. These trips play a large part in normalising flying as a form of transport. Fortunately the student's department were understanding, and arranged separate individual study for her in the UK. So that was quite possible. Food for thought for unis....?
Comment: Would banning frequent flyer programs do much to cut in air travel?
Might making frequent flier benefits, and airline loyalty programmes, illegal be effective, in reducing the amount some people fly? It has been suggested that it might, as so many flights are taking by the same people flying often. It is likely that frequent flyer programs stimulate demand by encouraging members to take extra flights to earn rewards or maintain a privileged status. The writer of a report for the UK Committee on Climate Change said: “The norm of unlimited flying being acceptable needs to be challenged.” Interestingly, Norway banned frequent flyer incentives from 2002 to 2013, although the aim was to break up airline monopolies. It could be complicated, if airlines have international partnerships with other airlines, so if an airline could no longer offer a loyalty program, customers could instead sign up with one of its partners. But the value might be more symbolic, indicating that flying for the hell of it is not something to be rewarded. However, ending the schemes might have the effect of increasing competition among airlines that can no longer buy customer loyalty with the promise of an upgrade or a free flight, with lowered fares (or lowered airline profits).
Welsh Assembly Member questions £21m Cardiff Airport loan from taxpayer – on top of an earlier £38m loan, not yet repaid
Monmouth AM Nick Ramsay has criticised the Welsh Government for its ‘blank cheque’ approach to funding for Cardiff Airport. Mr Ramsay said: “The Welsh Government has committed to this new loan without providing any detail on what the money is for or when it will be paid back. This comes on top of a previous loan of £38 million in 2015 which has also yet to be paid back. Transport minister Ken Skates said the funding – in the form of a loan the airport will pay back – would support “ambitious plans for the future” including a target of two million passengers a year. Mr Ramsay questioned the fairness of the loan, saying: “Businesses in my constituency do not receive this level of support from the Welsh Government and will understandably be questioning the fairness of these funding priorities. We need far more clarity on what this money is being provided for and when we will see an end to what effectively amounts to a “blank cheque” for the Airport. ... the public have the right to expect a coherent and rigid timetable for this money to be recovered.” But following the transport minister’s announcement, the Welsh Conservatives said Cardiff Airport would do better if it were re-privatised, where it would not need Welsh taxpayers to shoulder the financial burden.
Southampton Airport soon to submit runway extension (164m) proposals, hoping to more than double passengers in 10 years
Southampton Airport is soon going to submit plans to extend its runway, perhaps by the end of October. The airport proposes to extend the runway by 164 metres and if approved by Eastleigh Borough Council, work will start in early 2020 for completion by the end of the year. There are the usual claims about more jobs being generated. Friends of the Earth, the Green Party and Extinction Rebellion have joined together to fight the plans. Calling themselves Airport eXpansion Opposition (AXO) they accept the need for a small regional airport, however, because of the climate crisis believes people must fly less. AXO is urging residents to sign a petition calling on the council to reject the plans. The airport wants some of the people who travel to London airports, for their European flights, to travel instead from Southampton. They want more economic benefit from flights by local people. There is the usual greenwash of wanting "sustainable growth", which makes little sense for growing carbon emissions. There will be public drop-in sessions, where the plans can be seen. Winchester City Council wants to be fully involved, as the airport's expansion would affect its residents.
Sadiq Khan attacks London City Airport expansion plans – “unfettered growth is not an option”
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has warned London City Airport that “unfettered growth is not an option” as he criticised its plans for expansion. He said residents must have a break from plane noise, and the airport should take its air pollution and environmental responsibilities more seriously. The airport, in a densely populated area of east London, is increasingly used for holiday travel - not business - and it wants to increase the current cap of 111,000 flights/year to 137,000 by 2030 and to 151,000 by 2035. It hopes for 5 million passengers this year, but wants up to 6.5 million per year. The Mayor said the current plans “would not be in the interest of Londoners”. He said noise from planes was a “fundamental issue” as changes to flight paths three years ago meant some areas were being flown over too often. Also that breaks from flights – overnight, and for 24 hours from lunchtime on Saturday – “must not be eroded” and the airport should use new technology to give residents more relief, not just to maximise profits. He said the airport must consider CO2 emissions from flights in its carbon reduction plans, as its current target of "net zero emissions by 2050 "does not include flights – only airport terminals, vehicles, and other ground operations.
Tower Hamlets Mayor’s letter to London City Airport consultation, opposing changes that will negatively impact residents
The Mayor Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, has sent a letter to the London City Airport consultation, to express his concerns about the airport's expansion plans. This is in addition to the more detailed response sent by the council itself. Mr Biggs says: ..."the negative impacts of increasing flights at LCA would be unacceptable in terms of increasing noise levels and exacerbating climate change. The level of noise coming from aircraft needs to be tightly regulated and we believe lower thresholds for disturbance need to put in place. ... To protect residents from noise disruption LCA must retain the current 24 hour closure of the airport at weekends between 12.30pm Saturday - 12.30pm Sunday to provide respite for our residents from the noise. To limit the level of disturbance caused to our residents the restrictions on early morning, late night and weekend flights should also be retained, ...In Tower Hamlets we have declared a climate emergency and 40% of our residents live in areas with unacceptable levels of air quality. I would like to see further commitments by the airport on its plans to limit the amount of emissions from airport operations." See the full letter.
Heathrow tries to make out that its 3rd runway is vital, as it will lower fares (so increasing yet further the number flying)
Heathrow has accused British Airways of acting against “the consumer and national interest” by attempting to slow down its expansion and "depriving passengers of lower fares." They would say that, wouldn't they? BA’s parent company, IAG, has complained to the CAA about the approximately £3.3bn Heathrow will spend on preparations for the third runway, accusing the airport of covering up costs that will affect airlines. BA is of course not pure in this; it wants to prevent other airlines at Heathrow, competing with it. It has no qualms about its CO2 emissions rising. Heathrow wants airlines (IAG is the main airline company using Heathrow) to pay towards its 3rd runway plans, before the expansion is complete. IAG is not at all keen on that. Rather pathetically, Heathrow is terrified of being overtaken by any other European airport. Holland-Kaye said: "In two years’ time Charles de Gaulle [in Paris] will overtake Heathrow as the biggest airport in Europe.” They like to make out that would be a terrible thing for Britain (which it would not be).
Global air freight tonnage has been falling for the past year – IATA expect no growth in 2019
Heathrow hopes, if it ever got its 3rd runway (looking increasingly unlikely for a range of reasons ...) to get a 50% or so increase in air freight. Manston hopes to re-open as a freight airport. But the increase in tonnage of air freight over the past few years has not been large. In the UK over the past 10 years, CAA data show an increase in tonnage of 11.6% between 2008 and 2018. Global data from IATA, which produces a report on air freight for most months, indicates tonnages have been falling for the past year. The comments from August 2019 state: "• Industry-wide air freight tonne kilometres fell by 3.9% year-on-year in August – a faster speed of decline compared to the previous month. ... the industry continues to face headwinds from weakening global trade and softness in a number of key economic indicators. • The deterioration in air freight has been broad-based across the regions in August .. . [as in the] past nine months, Asia Pacific was the main contributor to the industry decline. • Industry-wide air freight capacity increased by 2% compared to a year ago. With capacity rising against contracting demand, the industry-wide air freight load factor dropped by 2.7% compared to a year ago". IATA says growth is anticipated to be flat in 2019.
Manston airport decision before long, after Planning Inspectorate sends recommendation to Grant Shapps
Government planners, the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) , have made their decision on whether a bid to reopen Manston Airport as a cargo hub should be backed. The recommendations have been sent to Transport Secretary of State (SoS) Grant Shapps, who has 3 months to decide whether to grant planning permission to site owners RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) in the form of a Development Consent Order (DCO). The decision is made the SoS because the airport re-opening is considered a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) which is not decided by a local authority. If the SoS approves the plans, the owners RSP will probably use the airport primarily for air cargo. In July Stone Hill, the site's previous owners, agreed to sell the land to RSP for £16.5m, instead of their plan to build up to 3,700 homes on it. The tonnage of air freight has risen by only 11% in the UK in the past 10 years, with most going through Heathrow. But RSP says "there has been continuing growth in the air freight cargo market, driven chiefly by the increase in e-commerce and ... e-fulfillment..." Manston re-opening will be strenuously opposed by local people, largely to noise over Ramsgate, from old, noisy freighters, often at night.
SSE will be in the High Court from 12-14 November for a Judicial Review challenge of the decision of the Secretary of State for Transport (SST)
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) will be in the High Court from 12-14 November for a Judicial Review challenge of the decision of the Secretary of State for Transport (SST) to allow Uttlesford District Council (UDC) to determine the 2018 Stansted Airport planning application for 43 mppa. The essence of the SSE challenge is that the application should be treated as a nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP) under the Planning Act 2008 - because it is nearly 10 million extra annual passengers - and therefore determined by the Secretary of State for Transport, rather than UDC. Part of the challenge relates to the CO2 emissions impact of the proposed development. It is not satisfactory for the DfT to say the limiting of aviation carbon emissions is not an issue for Local Planning Authorities (LPAAs). The SST cannot just sit back and allow LPAs to sanction major airport expansion projects all over the UK, and at the same time tell them to disregard aviation CO2 emissions of these airport expansion projects. Many airports plan expansion, and the combined carbon emissions way exceed even lax future cap targets. SSE will be trying to pin down the SST on this key issue.
Environment minister Zac Goldsmith says ‘bonkers’ Heathrow expansion ‘unlikely’ to go ahead, and would not survive a proper review
Zac Goldsmith, the environment minister, said he did not believe the plans for a Heathrow 3rd runway would survive a government-commissioned review - despite the Commons backing it last year. In mid August, the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the project could still be scrapped after questioning whether it “stacks up” financially. Zac said of the runway plan: “I think it’s a bonkers scheme, and all the arguments that I’ve been using for the last ten years and repeating ad nauseam are true, in my view, and I see nothing to persuade me that they’re wrong… It’s currently out of government hands because it’s been through parliament.... Unfortunately, Parliament voted for it overwhelmingly – I’m still surprised by some of the MPs who voted for it, who nevertheless campaign heavily on things like climate change and air quality, but they did.” He added that the airport will “struggle to come up with the cash”, so needing the Government to stomp up “really vast sums of money”, which the public would oppose. An “entirely objective” review into the plans would find that it was “a bad project”, and it may not survive the detailed planning and policy processes.
Sutton Council reconfirmed its determination to fight 3rd Heathrow runway plan, and that it has joined the No 3rd Runway Coalition
Sutton Council has been opposed to a 3rd runway at Heathrow Airport for many years, due to the negative impact on noise, air pollution, the local environment and roads and public transport. Cllr Ruth Dombey, Leader of Sutton Council, said: “We’ve been campaigning against Heathrow expansion for over a decade but given this government's support of the plans, it is important to reconfirm our clear position against Heathrow expansion. We want our residents to know that we share their concerns, that the expansion is not a done deal and that they can count on the Sutton Liberal Democrats to work tirelessly with the “No 3rd Runway coalition” and others partners to continue this fight. The Conservative government is wrong to press ahead with this highly contentious, damaging policy and we will oppose them all the way.” The Council document said Heathrow plans took "no account of the recent announcements on climate change, in particular the declarations of a climate emergency by boroughs across London and the key issue of achieving carbon neutrality that these declarations raise." On 22 July 2019, Sutton council declared a climate emergency.
Lower Stansted passenger numbers recently shows there is no urgency for agreement to allow expansion
After 63 consecutive months of year-on-year growth, Stansted Airport has posted a reduction in passenger numbers in each of the past three months (July, August, September). Passenger numbers were down 0.5% in July, down 3.7% in August and down 2.7% in September, compared to a year earlier. The overall reduction over the 3 month period was some 200,000 passengers, equivalent to a year on year decline of 2.3%. Luton posted a 7.3% increase for three months to 31 August with 5.3 million passengers. (Luton and other airport numbers from the CAA for September are not yet available). One reason for the fall in numbers at Stansted is the late arrival of Boeing 737 Max planes to Ryanair. Stansted's passenger numbers are also expected to be down in October, partly due to the collapse of Thomas Cook at the end of September. Stansted's cargo tonnage was down with a loss of 28,000 tonnes (11%) on a year-on-year basis, with the number of cargo aircraft using Stansted is down 6% compared to 2018. All that shows there is NO urgency to allow Stansted higher annual passenger numbers. SSE said: "At the very least, Uttlesford District Council should do nothing until we all know the outcome of SSE's legal challenge in the High Court, which takes place from 12th-14th November."
Flybe (now “Virgin Connect”) could drop unprofitable flight routes that are better done by road or rail
The new boss of Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline, says it could axe some routes, if they are being out-competed by rail. Flybe has been renamed "Virgin Connect" after being taken over by the Connect Airways consortium of operators featuring Virgin Atlantic. "Virgin Connect" may stop flying between airports where the journey can be made easily by train or car - and the airline needs to cut costs. Its CEO said "maybe in the future we’ll get behind that as well.” The routes in the UK that should not be served by air routes, but by rail, include Manchester-Glasgow, Birmingham-Edinburgh, Exeter-Manchester and Exeter-London City. The flight-shaming movement, which has grown in recent months, encourages people to stop travelling by air, and this will hit these short haul trips, making them unprofitable for airlines like "Virgin Connect". So this is face-saving. It is often faster and more convenient to travel direct to a city centre, by train, rather than to an airport outside the city. Dutch airline KLM will reduce the number of flights it operates between Amsterdam and Brussels from 5 to 4 each day, from March 2020 by offering customers a seat on a high-speed train.
At Heathrow legal appeal hearings, lawyers for WWF UK say 3rd runway would violate climate rights of children
The High Court is hearing appeals, against the decision by the government to designate the Airports NPS, despite strong arguments - including those on carbon emissions, why it should be refused. The appeals (also one by "Heathrow Hub") are due to last 5 days, and are by the Mayor of London, four councils, and Greenpeace; also by Friends of the Earth; and Plan B Earth. Lawyers are arguing that the rights of children were not taken into account by the government when it approved the third runway. The Court has allowed the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to submit documents arguing the planned expansion violates the rights of children and future generations under the UN convention on the rights of the child. Our children and grandchildren will face the greatest impact of the climate crisis. The High Court ruled in spring that the government’s decision to allow a 3rd runway was lawful. Since then, it has signed into law a commitment for the UK to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The intervention by WWF comes after young people spearheaded the biggest climate change protest in history last month, and follows Greta Thunberg’s challenge to world leaders that their inaction was letting down a generation.
Climate activists slam ‘shameful’ backing by Norwich City Council of Norwich Airport growth (and increased CO2) plans
Environmental campaigners have blasted the city council's endorsement of a plan for the future of Norwich Airport as "shameful" and "a fantasy". An aspiration to treble annual air passenger numbers at Norwich Airport to more than 1.4m by 2045 was backed by Norwich city council's cabinet at a meeting on 17th October. [Norwich airport had 538,578 passengers in 2018]. The plans were met with scepticism from Green Party councillors and people aware of the climate emergency, who attended the debate. The committee voted against a full council debate on the issue, which led Extinction Rebellion Norwich (XR) members criticise councillors for a lack of action. One XR member commented: "They won't allow a democratic debate - it's shameful." Another said: "They're living in a fantasy." The decision was called in, to the Scrutiny Committee, which which questioned why the environmental impact of the plan was deemed neutral, when it was obvious it would increase the carbon footprint of the airport. Regarding the expansion as providing economic benefit, but no environmental impact, was a "fundamental misunderstanding". The airport has been asked to provide evidence at the next masterplan review of what steps they will take to reduce the airport's carbon impact.
Outside Court for legal appeals, John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor, says fight against Heathrow 3rd runway on verge of victory
Speaking to the protest gathering outside the High Court, before the start of the legal appeals against Heathrow expansion, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell considered that the campaigns against the runway plans were on the verge of victory; the situation had moved on from when the legal challenges started, as the UK has now both declared a climate emergency and legislated for a net-zero emissions target. He praised campaigners outside court for their persistent actions over many years, and said: “I think legislatively things have moved and politically, with the current campaigning by Extinction Rebellion, the pressure is on all politicians to recognise this is a project that cannot stand.” Five legal challenges were brought against the Secretary of State for Transport, in March. Two were entirely on grounds of climate change (Friends of the Earth and Plan B Earth). The court dismissed the challenges on 1st May, and appeals have been allowed for four of them. Opening the appeal, Lord Justice Lindblom said the hearing would raise matters of obvious importance, which would be of interest to a national and international audience. Much hinges on whether the correct UK carbon targets, and commitments under the 2015 Paris agreement were properly taken into account when approving the 3rd runway.
Willie Walsh says Heathrow runway unlikely to go ahead, due to rising environmental concerns
Willie Walsh, boss of BA's owner IAG believes the £14bn (or is it £32?) 3rd runway at Heathrow is unlikely to go ahead due to a growing backlash over the environment. He said the huge project is likely to fall flat despite finally winning approval from Parliament last year. He said: "I think it is a bigger challenge today than it was a year ago. And I can’t see it getting any easier. Two years ago I would have said it was probably 60/40 that it would go ahead. I’m probably 60/40 against it going ahead at this stage. I wouldn’t rule it out completely." Mr Walsh said that the huge costs involved, coupled with the carbon emissions from an extra 700 plans in the air every day after the new runway opens in 2026, will make it increasingly difficult to pull off. “They are really going to struggle to justify the environmental impact, when the economic argument to expand the airport gets undermined by the cost of the expansion. I think the next six to 12 months are going to be critical."
Government response to CCC advice on how the UK will achieve net-zero; woefully poor on cutting aviation CO2
The Government has produced "The Government Response to the Committee on Climate Change’s 2019 Progress Report to Parliament – Reducing UK emissions". It is very weak on aviation, stating: "The Aviation 2050 Green Paper was published in December 2018 and proposed accepting the CCC’s long-standing planning assumption that for an economy-wide target of an 80% emissions reduction, aviation emissions in 2050 should be no higher than those in 2005 (i.e. 37.5 MtCO2e). It also proposed a requirement that airports’ planning applications for capacity growth must demonstrate that their emissions do not impact on our ability to meet carbon reduction targets." No mention of the UK zero carbon target, ie. 100 % cuts, not the 80%. It says: "Following the aviation advice we received from the CCC in September 2019, we intend to consult on how we are going to achieve a sustainable growth of the aviation sector and update our position on aviation and climate change." While the CCC recommended formal inclusion of international aviation and shipping emissions in the Climate Change Act net-zero target, all the DfT says is it is "minded to include these emissions in domestic legislation at a later date, subject to future progress in ICAO."
Huge expansion plans by all UK airports mean carbon cap would be greatly exceeded
The UK aviation sector has massive expansion plans, that would take its carbon emissions way above even a lax future cap. UK airports are planning to expand almost three times faster than the government's climate change advisers, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), say is sustainable. Sky News has done an analysis, which shows the "masterplans" for 21 of the country's biggest airports show they intend to add 192 million passengers to the 286 million that already use their terminals, over the next 10-20 years. That's a growth of 67%. It far exceeds the ceiling of "at most 25%" that the Committee on Climate Change has told the Department of Transport is the limit for sustainable growth if the UK is to meet its commitment for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Heathrow plans for almost 50 million more passengers per year (it had about 80 million in 2018). Gatwick hopes to add 24 million passengers to the 46 million per year it now has. Southampton hopes to expand from 2 million to 5 million passengers by 2037 - an increase of 151%. Doncaster Sheffield airport, wants passenger numbers to grow from 1.2 to 7.2 million. Belfast City airport wants to almost double the number of passengers to four million over the coming years. And so on.
Government CO2 net zero commitment challenged in High Court, on Heathrow expansion NPS
A cross-party group of politicians will join claimants, campaigners and residents outside the High Court on the morning of Thursday 17th October as the legal challenge against the proposed expansion of Heathrow continues, with the Government’s new target of net zero emission by 2050 a key element of the judicial review. The Court of Appeal will be hearing the challenges from Local Authorities, the Mayor of London and Greenpeace as well as Friends of the Earth, Plan B Earth and Heathrow Hub. The challenges are being made against the decision to designate the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS). One ground is the incompatibility of the expansion plans with the UK’s climate change commitments. The previous challenge was dismissed by the High Court on a technicality as the Government had not incorporated the Paris Agreement into law. The Climate Change Act (2008) has now been amended to incorporate a target of Net Zero by 2050, which places an even more pressing demand upon Government to limit the expansion of carbon intensive infrastructure. The No 3rd Runway Coalition said: “It’s now vital for Government to pause plans for Heathrow expansion, to reassess airport capacity strategy for the whole country.”
Imperial College report for the CCC says regulations are needed, on marketing and advertising of high-CO2 flights and holidays
A report, by Dr Richard Carmichael of Imperial College, London, was commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), to look at behaviour change, public engagement and the UK Net-Zero target. It made a number of recommendations, one on advertising of flights. It says: "Advertising and marketing of holiday destinations and airlines also stimulate demand for flying and help set norms and aspirations about flying. Advertising and packaging for alcohol and tobacco has long been tightly controlled in view of their health risks, and gambling marketing must warn about irresponsible betting. More responsible flying could also be encouraged by new regulations for the marketing and promotion of flights and holiday destinations by requiring that carbon footprints of flights are stated in the advertising material. This could raise awareness and begin to change the norm of unproblematic unlimited flying." Recommendation: "Encourage more responsible flying by mandating that all marketing of flights show emissions information expressed in terms that are meaningful to consumers (e.g., as proportion of an average household’s annual emissions now and under Net Zero)."
Polling reveals 64% of Britons are concerned about the climate impact of Heathrow 3rd runway, and only about 25% back it
A poll conducted by YouGov Plc., for Friends of the Earth (FoE), showed that 64% of people, after being told the potential benefits and negatives impacts of the Heathrow 3rd runway plans, were concerned about its climate impact. The survey also showed that only 1 in 4 people (25%) support the plans. The online survey's total sample size was 2,017 adults and fieldwork was undertaken between 4th - 6th October 2019. Numbers were weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). The 50% planned increase in the number of flights at Heathrow (about 700 more movements than now) would mean almost 50% more carbon emissions, that would all but destroy any chances of the UK meeting its targets for cutting CO2 emissions and fighting climate breakdown. The poll results come as FoE prepares to take its legal case against Heathrow’s 3rd runway plans to the Court of Appeal on climate grounds. The court will hear an appeal against the High Court’s decision that the government had not breached its sustainable development duties by allowing the expansion of Heathrow. The hearing begins on Thursday 17 October and is expected to last six days.
Report for the CCC recommends not only a levy on number of flights someone takes, but their length (and seat class)
A report written by Dr Richard Carmichael from Imperial College London, for the Committee on Climate Change, sets out several important recommendations on how to reduce the demand for, and the carbon emissions from, air travel. One recommendation is to impose a frequent flyer levy, that not only takes account of the number of flights a person takes in a year, but the distance travelled (and thus the carbon emitted). This should also include class of ticket bought, as premium classes cause the emission of much more carbon than economy seats. The levy would help discourage long-haul flights: as most flying is for leisure, some shift from long-haul to short-haul destinations would be expected, delivering further emissions reductions. Averaging-out flying habits over a longer period than one year would also be fairer: a 3-4-year period, for example, could mean a traveller could take a long-haul trip without incurring a substantial levy if they took few other flights during the rest of the period. The complexity of administering this levy need not be onerous, though would need a central database storing total miles flown in the accounting period under a passport number.
Imperial College report for the CCC says Air Miles schemes, which needless encourage frequent flying, should be banned
Air miles schemes should be axed as they encourage jet-setters to take extra flights in a bid to maintain “privileged traveller status”, according to a report by Imperial College, London, commissioned by the government’s climate change advisers, the Committee on Climate Change. Encouraging those who already fly a lot, to fly even more, is completely the wrong way to try to cut the carbon emissions from aviation. The report says: "The greatest beneficiaries of aviation’s generous tax treatment in the UK (it is exempt from fuel duty and zero-rated for VAT) are therefore those who pollute most and could most easily afford to pay more. The norm of unlimited flying being acceptable needs to be challenged and, as a very highly-polluting luxury, it is suitable to taxation." It also recommends: "Introduce regulation to ban frequent flyer reward schemes that stimulate demand". And: "Raise awareness and encourage more responsible flying by mandating that all marketing of flights show emissions information expressed in terms that are meaningful to consumers." Also: "Introducing restrictions to ‘all-you-can-fly’ passes and loyalty schemes which offer air miles would remove incentives to excessive or stimulated flying."
Offsetting by passengers on flights won’t get us to net zero, says AEF in response to government offsetting consultation
The Department for Transport’s held a consultation "Carbon offsetting in transport: a call for evidence" which closed on 26th September. The consultation outlined a proposal to require all air travel providers and other providers of ticketed travel to give passengers the option to buy a carbon offset for their journey. The Aviation Environment Federation did a response, in which they agree with the CCC's view that "the UK should not plan to meet is climate change obligations using international offset credits." They also agree with the EU’s decision to exclude international offsets from its ETS. There are few good quality carbon offsets available, and very few deliver CO2 reductions beyond what would have happened anyway. In the not-too-distant future, when all countries and sectors are cutting their emissions, there will not be many spare credits available. AEF say: "But a key argument against offsetting is that it risks distracting from the need to rein in aviation demand in order to tackle emissions." People think that having bought a cheap offset for a few ££s means that's all OK, and they can book another flight. It delays real cuts in aviation emissions, that can only be achieved by the industry not expanding.
IAG now rattled by growing awareness of carbon emissions from flying, and possibly lower passenger numbers
The airline industry is feeling under threat, from growing awareness across society - and it many other countries - that its carbon emissions are a problem. It fears there will be a drop in passenger numbers, if the concept of "flying shame" catches on, and if more people decide to fly less. So the industry is fighting back, with claims about how it is a "force for good" in the world, and how it is working really, really hard to reduce its emissions. Doing everything it can, other than actually not trying to keep growing. Willie Walsh admits aviation will keep on burning huge amounts of fossil fuel for decades, as there are no real alternatives (other than very tiny amounts of alternative fuels). He admits that the only solution is carbon offsets, as the emissions from aviation rise, and so at best emissions are net, not gross. Increases in aviation carbon just wipe out the cuts made elsewhere. The industry like to keep emphasising that the cost of flying must not be raised, putting it out of reach of the poor - but ignores the solution, that a frequent flyer levy could be imposed, giving each person a free flight per year, with escalating tax on subsequent flights. Most flights are taken by people who fly several (or many) times per year. IAG wants to give the impression of being a leader in carbon responsibility ...while continuing with "business as usual" flying as much as it can.
Travel industry told, by “Responsible Travel”, that they must encourage their customers to fly less, and only fly if necessary
At the ABTA Travel Convention in Tokyo, Tim Williamson, director of marketing and content at Responsible Travel, told delegates he couldn’t “sugar coat” his message that “we all need to fly less and we need to encourage our customers to fly less”, in order to tackle the challenge of climate change. He said: “Given that I’m talking to travel companies, that’s a difficult message, but if we’re going to stop the planet heating above two degrees, I can’t see how you can do it without flying less.” Also that a reduction in flying was key to lowering emissions created by travel and he warned “we need to act now ...We’ve not done nearly enough in the last ten years on carbon.” He told the Convention that carbon offsets are also “a very murky world”, and voluntary offsetting is not enough - and that the answer may lie in a carbon tax on aviation. He claimed turning Air Passenger Duty (APD into a kind of emissions fee, combined with raising rates to discourage people from flying unless necessary, could “fund sustainable aviation”. A delegate gave the warning to the audience to “Change before you have to.”
Extinction Rebellion protests at London City Airport, to highlight the threat of its higher CO2
As part of the Extinction Rebellion protests in London, as well as in around 60 cities around the world, London City Airport was a target for action. The intention to disrupt the airport, the plans were announced well beforehand. Many XR people got into the airport, causing disruption in a non-violent manner. A smartly dressed man, who had bought a flight ticket for an Aer Lingus flight, got onto his plane and then refused to sit down. He "walked down the aisle, delivering a lecture on climate change"; this caused about two hours delay to the flight. Another, a Paralympic cycling medallist James Brown, who is visually impaired, also had a ticket for an Amsterdam flights, but when approaching the plane door, instead climbed onto the roof of the BA plane About 50 arrests were made at the airport, including those who had blocking the airport entrance or glued themselves to the terminal floor. There were delays to some flights. The airport was chosen for the action because of the glaring incompatibility of the government's legally-binding commitment to be net carbon neutral by 2050, with expanding the aviation sector. Many of the flights from London City are leisure, (skiing, city breaks, beach holidays, etc) not for business.
Independent legal advice says the 2018 decision on Stansted Airport expansion should be reconsidered by Uttlesford Council
Stop Stansted Expansion say the 2018 Stansted Airport Planning Application should be considered entirely afresh. That's the verdict of leading planning barrister Paul Stinchcombe QC in an independent legal opinion prepared for Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE). In the interests of transparency the full (25-page) legal advice is now published today and will be available online at http://stopstanstedexpansion.com/ The QC's opinion sets out the key precedents in planning law and confirms that Uttlesford District Council (UDC) is lawfully entitled to reconsider the entire Planning Application even if there have been no material changes in circumstances or any relevant new considerations. However, a number of new material factors which have arisen since the Application was provisionally approved last year mean there is not only an entitlement to reconsider, but an obligation to do so. The QC's advice explains that, provided there are good planning reasons, the new Planning Committee could quite lawfully and reasonably reach a different planning judgment from the former Committee who, by the slenderest of margins provisionally approved the Application last November.
BA flight ‘declares emergency’ after leaving Heathrow, then flies across whole of London for emergency landing
On 3rd October, British Airways Airbus A319 flight BA1496 to Glasgow was forced to turn back to Heathrow, after declaring an emergency 9 minutes after take off. According to reports, no Pan-pan signal was declared but the pilots 'were wearing oxygen masks'. The flight was scheduled to leave London at 9.40pm, but took off at 10.20pm. The plane took off towards the west, turned north and circled round London, did a loop around east London, before approaching Heathrow - flying right across the middle of London, over tens or hundreds of thousands of people - to land safely on the southern runway. A the time of the emergency, the plane was at approximately 10,000ft. The reason for the emergency has not yet been released. This brings back memories of a flight in May 2013 that had an engine problem (caused by faults on maintenance, due to technicians been too tired....) which caused one engine to catch fire. The plane flew right across London, visibly trailing smoke all the way, using just one engine. There are many more flights that return to Heathrow with problems, about which we never hear. These raise serious concerns about the location of SUCH a busy airport - let alone its plans to increase numbers of flights by 50%.
Skeleton arguments by Plan B Earth for their legal appeal against government approval of the Airports NPS
The legal appeals against the decision of the High Court, to reject the legal challenges against the Secretary of State for Transport (SST) decision to designate the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), starts on 17th October, at the Appeal Court, in the Strand. The ANPS gave approval for a 3rd Heathrow runway. One of the four parties who are appealing is Plan B Earth, on grounds of the increased carbon emissions that the runway would produce. The Plan B skeleton argument has been publicised, and this says the SST and the court below proceeded on the false assumption that “Government policy relating to … climate change” was confined to a) (The minimum target established by CCA s. 1 as it was then, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 compared to a 1990 baseline) and that b) (a commitment to introduce a new UK target in accordance with the Paris Agreement (a commitment which has now been implemented into law, via a change to CCA s.1) should be disregarded. Also that neither the SST nor the court below, have advanced any explanation for disregarding the Committee on Climate Change's clear position on this issue. "If the court below had given proper account to these matters, and properly considered the advice of the CCC, it would have been driven to the conclusion that the ANPS was fundamentally flawed and that it should be quashed."
Islington Council agrees motion on opposition to Heathrow Expansion & the introduction of concentrated flight paths over Islington
Islington Council has agreed a motion, to oppose the expansion of Heathrow, and the introduction of concentrated flight paths over Islington. This was debated by the Council on 26th September. The Council believes: That expansion of Heathrow is not compatible with the climate emergency recently declared by the UK Parliament and by this Council. And That noise impacts from additional flights over London would have a negative impact on the health and quality of life of Islington residents. It therefore resolves to: Oppose expansion of airport capacity in London if the Government cannot demonstrate that it is accommodated within the emissions budget that the CCC recommends for aviation in 2050, as well as other environmental limits, such as air quality. Make representations to London City Airport and the CAA calling for a fairer distribution of flight paths in London. Make representations to the Government urging UK Aviation Noise policy to be brought into line with WHO recommendations. Register as an ‘Interested Party” in the Development Consent Order Process for the proposed expansion of Heathrow. Investigate joining the No Third Runway Coalition as a local authority member
Windsor and Maidenhead residents show up the unverifiable claims made by Rob Gray, Heathrow’s Director of Community & Stakeholder Relations
In response to a letter in the Maidenhead Advertiser by Rob Gray (who used to be the head of the astroturf group, "Back Heathrow" and is now Director - Community & Stakeholder Relations at Heathrow), making a number of dodgy statements about Heathrow expansion, several residents have sent in great responses. A few quotes: "He says that the Expansion project will only be permitted if it can be delivered within strict and legally binding environmental targets – but he does not say that Heathrow’s carefully chosen word ’target’ relates to an unenforceable aspiration which is entirely different to “enforcement’’. Mr Gray fails to admit that most of the current targets are not met today and this would be virtually impossible to remedy with an addition of at least 54% more flights." And "After substantial costs of pollution, congestion, noise and health ill-effects, the DfT's own report shows the overall benefit is practically zero and could easily go negative. Heathrow is real motivation is to increase the £800 million in dividends sent last year to foreign Chinese, Qatari, Singaporean, Spanish and Canadian investors, whilst over the previous 10 years they paid only a total of £24 million in corporation tax to HMRC." See the three letters.
Badly thought-through aviation carbon targets, involving biofuels, risk massive deforestation to grow palmoil and soya
A new report shows that the aviation industry’s attempts to cut its carbon emissions (caused by encouraging more and more people to take more flights....) are likely to lead to a dramatic increase in demand for palm oil and soy for aviation biofuels. They suggest the amount of tropical forest that would be taken for this could be 3.2 million hectares – an area larger than Belgium. The aviation industry hopes to be able to use as much alternative fuel as possible, and hopes this will be classed as lower carbon than conventional kerosene jet fuel. These hopes are unrealistic. To try to prevent climate destabilisation from worsening, the world needs as much forest as possible left standing, intact and health. The last thing we need is forest being cut down, in order to produce fuel for planes - largely for hedonistic leisure travel. It makes no sense to destroy so much forest, and its biodiversity, for such an inessential reason. The report says the only technology currently operating at a commercial scale to make bio-jet fuel is the ‘HEFA’ (Hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids) process using vegetable oils and animal fats. The cheapest and most readily available feedstocks for HEFA jet fuel are palm oil and soy oil, which are closely linked to tropical deforestation - not to mention competition for land for human food.
Climate perks: new scheme encouraging employers to give staff extra paid holiday days, to travel overland, not by plane
Travel habits may be starting to change, as climate awareness - and our sense of personal responsibility for it - are growing. A survey by Trainline indicated about two-thirds of Brits want to try to try to choose more sustainable options. But people still want to travel a lot, and a constraint is time time travelling overland takes - compared to air travel. A new initiative, the the 10:10 climate action campaign, called Climate Perks, is being launched, to encourage employers to help staff take lower carbon forms of transport for their holidays. That means giving them a few extra paid days holiday, on which to travel. This can empower staff to act on their values. In exchange, employers receive Climate Perks accreditation in recognition of their climate leadership. The carbon emissions from travelling by train or coach are far lower than those for the same trip by plane - they might be a quarter or a third of those by plane. Even a [non-gas-guzzler ...!] car, with 4 people in it, has far lower CO2 emissions than those people all flying. And there are benefits of appreciating the distance travelled, and stopping off at places en route, to visit them too. The journey becomes a valuable part of the holiday.
Increase in numbers trying to cut the amount they fly could reduce plane sales by Airbus and Boeing
The Swedish concept of "flygskam" or "flight shame" appears to be spreading. A survey by (bank) UBS of more than 6,000 people has revealed that a growing number of travellers in Europe and America have already reduced the number of flights they took over the last year, because of heightened environmental awareness. Around 25% of flyers in France, Germany and the U.S said they had reduced flights. Only 16% of Brits (16%) said climate change had encouraged them to take one less flight. It may be that over 25% are now “thinking about it,” when asked if climate worries could affect travel plans - up from 20% in May. Global air travel has been grown by between 4% and 5% a year, so overall numbers are doubling every 15 years. UBS is expecting higher costs of flying, and growing climate concern, could reduce intra-European traffic growth over the next 20 years to 1.5% per year versus the 3% per year currently estimated by Airbus. The number could be 1.3% growth in the US, compared to 2.1%, over the next decade or so. That could have a big impact on aircraft manufacturers, cutting profits.
Heathrow might get over £1 billion per year from its congestion charge, at £29 or more per day per vehicle
Heathrow could make £1.2 billion a year from a congestion (vehicle access) charge levied on drivers arriving at the airport by car, according to analysis. Heathrow has committed to expanding without any extra cars on the road. The new charging, that might be introduced when (or IF) a 3rd runway opened - which the airport hopes would be in 2026 - might grow by 2040 to yield as much as £3.25 million per day. The charge, is set to cost £29 a day, based on today’s prices, then rising. As many as 65,000 vehicles would pay the charge each day. It would eventually be levied on all cars, including those with the lowest emissions, and is designed to act to encourage drivers to choose public transport to get to and from Heathrow. In reality, there would not be enough bus and train capacity to deal with all the extra passengers. The number needing to travel by public transport might be 140 million more than now - a 75% increase. There is likely to be no way for drivers in the area, not associated with the airport, to avoid being charged. Heathrow says then money it gets (why does Heathrow get to keep it?) from the charge "will help to improve sustainable transport and keep passenger charges affordable..."
More direct Eurostar services to be created, including western France and German cities – helping cut flights
At present, travellers to Amsterdam by Eurostar have a direct trip on the way out, but have to change at Brussels on the return, for security, customs and immigration checks. This is now to change. Direct services will start, between Amsterdam and St Pancras on December 15th. In future these checks will take place at Dutch stations. For London – Amsterdam passengers, security and customs checks take place before boarding at St Pancras, and that will continue. Netherlands Railways (NS) and Eurostar are working to complete facilities such as segregated platforms and waiting facilities, so security and immigration checks can be transferred to Rotterdam Central and Amsterdam Central. Another change, helping more travellers to use rail rather than flying, is that Eurostar plans to merge with another operator, enabling direct train services and an integrated network covering 5 countries. With the new system, a direct rail journey from London to Bordeaux would take about four-and-a-half hours. There would also be direct trains to Cologne, Düsseldorf, Essen, Aachen and Dortmund. Already in summer there are trains to Marseilles. The number of passengers across the combined network might rise by by two thirds over the next 10 years, from 18.5 million to 30 million.
FoI data from the DfT shows 1% of English residents take 20% of overseas flights
igures obtained from the Department for Transport, through a FoI request, indicate that just 1% of English residents are responsible for nearly 20% of all flights abroad. These figures have not bee n published before. The DfT survey of transport and passengers, also showed that the 10% most frequent flyers in England took more than half of all international flights in 2018. However, 48% of the population did not take a single flight abroad in the last year. The new findings bolster calls for a frequent flyer levy, a proposal under which each citizen would be allowed one tax-free flight per year but would pay progressively higher taxes on each additional flight taken. John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, also endorsed the idea of a frequent flyer levy. “It makes it easier for families to fly once a year, but the escalating tax on further flights means that the people responsible for most of the problem are the ones who end up paying most of the tax – or, ideally, flying a lot less." Sian Berry said: “A progressive tax on the most frequent flyers is a fair policy that most people would come behind if the government put it forward.” It was realised 4 years ago that about 70% of flights are taken by about 15% of UK residents. See more at A Free Ride.
Heathrow expansion dealt huge blow by Committee on Climate Change aviation carbon advice
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has advised the Government that aviation will become the biggest source of carbon in the UK by 2050 and that expansion at Heathrow leaves very little room for growth at any other airport. In the letter, CCC Chair Lord Deben states that demand for aviation will need to be reduced and policies implemented to help limit that demand. The CCC state that Government need to reassess its airport capacity strategy to ensure that the increase in air travel demand by 2050 is half what is currently predicted. They suggest that a frequent flyer levy would help to curb the demand for growth or alternatively Government could raise taxes on airlines or restrict airport capacity growth. In a direct blow to aviation industry claims of technological solutions to aviation’s carbon problem, the CCC states that zero-carbon aviation is highly unlikely to be feasible by 2050. It estimates that aviation emissions could be reduced by around just 20% through improvements to fuel efficiency, some use of low carbon fuels, and limiting demand growth. Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: "The Government must now commit to amending the Airports National Policy Statement in light of the climate emergency.”
Committee on Climate Change advice to the Government on aviation: it must be included in the UK net-zero target
The advice from the Government's statutory advisors on climate issues, the CCC, to the Government, says it is important that the carbon emissions of international aviation and shipping (IAS) are formally included into the UK net-zero target. This needs to complement international action to reduce aviation carbon. The CCC letter, from its Chairman Lord Deben, says the aim should be for international aviation to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and this should be reflected in the Government’s forthcoming Aviation Strategy . "It means reducing actual emissions in the IAS sectors" and the CCC considers this "is likely to require some use of greenhouse gas removals (GGRs) to offset remaining emissions." The limit of 30 MtCO2 per year, by UK aviation, requires demand growth of no more than 25% compared to 2018. That would only be possible if there are significant improvements in aircraft efficiency, maybe 10% of low carbon fuels, and some increased flight charges. But the UK is aiming at net zero by 2050. The CCC says aviation will have to pay to capture some CO2 from the atmosphere, and that only offsets that actually remove CO2 - rather than trying to stop more being emitted, would be acceptable.
Committee on Climate Change advice to government on aviation: flying will have to become more expensive
In a letter to Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport, Lord Deben, Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC - the government's statutory advisor) warns that flying will have to become more expensive, especially for frequent flyers, to avoid climate chaos and keep the UK within its carbon targets. The letter also warns that going ahead with a Heathrow 3rd runway would all but rule out airport expansion in the rest of the country. Demand for aviation will have to be reduced, in order that aviation carbon is kept under some degree of control, while the UK has a zero carbon target for 2050. Ways demand could be reduced might be increased APD, new levies on frequent flyers and changes to air taxation relative to rail and road. Aviation is likely to become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK by 2050. The CCC says the government "should assess its airport capacity strategy in the context of net zero. Specifically, investments will need to be demonstrated to make economic sense in a net-zero world..." In other words, does it make sense to build another Heathrow runway, when future demand for air travel will have to be limited. The CCC's Chairman, Chris Stark said: “But it’s very important that the government is honest about aviation emissions.”
Global airlines’ CO2 emissions rising up to 70% faster than predicted by ICAO
Worldwide CO2 emissions from commercial flights are rising up to 70% faster than predicted by the UN, according to analysis by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). They found that CO2 emitted by airlines increased by 32% from 2013 to 2018, and was about 918 million tonnes (for passengers + freight) in 2018. This rate of growth is higher even than the projections by ICAO. ICCT says: “The implied annual compound growth rate of emissions, 5.7%, is 70% higher than those used to develop ICAO’s projections that CO2 emissions from international aviation will triple under business as usual by 2050.” The UK has particularly high aviation CO2 emissions, per capita - being responsible for 4% of global aviation CO2 emissions, behind only the US (24%) and China (13%), and the whole EU (18%). The only plan ICAO has to cut aviation carbon is an “aspirational goal” to make all growth in international flights after 2020 “carbon neutral” by buying carbon offsets from other sectors (effectively cancelling out carbon cuts made elsewhere). Small efficiency gains have been made, of 1 - 2% per year, but are dwarfed by industry growth rates of over 5% per year. Our Grant Shapps is waffling about electric planes .... which will NOT solve the problem.
Redbridge councillors agree to oppose ‘detrimental’ London City Airport expansion plans
Redbridge Councillors have agreed to oppose (43 : 10) London City Airport's expansion plans and express serious concern about the "detrimental effect" of noise and air pollution on the health and wellbeing of Redbridge residents. Proposing the motion, Councillor Sheila Bain and Councillor John Howard spoke about the "profound noise and environmental impact" the proposals will have on residents, particularly those living directly under the flight paths. The motion also asked councillors to note a lack of evidence to support the claims that noise pollution, air quality and emissions will not be affected and the lack of adequate consultation by London City Airport with residents affected by the proposals, most of whom are unaware of the consultation taking place. Councillor Paul Donovan said: "City Airport needs to think again, listen to what people are saying and realise that whilst they may need to make more money, that the environment, health and welfare of those of us living below these flight paths is more important."
Jeremy Corbyn urged to block all airport expansion under radical plan to slash carbon emissions by 2030
Labour could end all airport expansion in the UK under radical plans drawn up by party activists to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2030. With Corbyn saying climate change is one of his top priorities, his supporters hope to push their proposals to a vote at the Labour conference next week, to make them official policy. There are at least 7 motions to the conference, submitted by local branches, asking for an end to more construction and growth of airports. Environmentally aware Labour members "specifically want to see radical policy on the climate and if you’re talking about net zero by 2030...one of the less radical things, to help decarbonise the economy, will be not building any more airports." Separately, Labour for a Green New Deal, a prominent grassroots campaign group, has claimed that "opposition to airport expansion should be as natural to the Labour Party...as support for new green jobs.” Labour party members are being asked to boycott the many events at the conference sponsored by Heathrow and Gatwick airports (they always sponsor conference stuff, hoping to gain favour...). The problem for Labour is the unions, Unite in particular, which have members working in the aviation sector..
Ealing Council demands Heathrow pay up £190 million to offset the impact of a 3rd runway
In its response to the Heathrow consultation, Ealing Council has said it will do everything it can to oppose the expansion of Heathrow Airport - unless it is given £190 million for mitigation measures, investment and new transport links. Ealing Council said the current plans would create unacceptable levels of noise and pollution for its residents. "The council is demanding a £190 million package [it was £150 million in October 2016] of mitigation and investment for the borough, should expansion go ahead. This includes getting better insulation for home owners to combat noise and increasing the catchment area covered by the scheme. The council also wants new investment to improve public transport, so more airport passengers and employees can travel to the airport by greener means, reducing air pollution locally.” Other demands included greater investment in skills and employment - and also a commitment to a total night time flight ban, except in emergencies. The Council Leader said there has to be a balance between economic benefits and the very real noise and environmental impacts on local people, and “Despite some positive engagement, we haven’t really seen much movement on some of the concessions we’ve been seeking.
Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) announce a major campaign to challenge Gatwick’s Master Plan.
Under the banner Gatwick's Big Enough community groups around Gatwick have joined forces with GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) to call Gatwick to account over their Master Plan growth proposals. The airport plans to grow to be the size of Heathrow today, with an increase in flights in the next 10 years to 390,000 pa (1,050 or more per day), and passenger numbers to 70 million passengers per year (190,000 or more per day). By contrast the current numbers are around 283,000 flights in 2018, and 46 million passengers. That growth will bring increased misery to thousands through noise, pollution and impacts on local infrastructure. They also mean a massive increase in CO2 emissions caused by the additional flights estimated at an increase of almost 1 million tonnes CO2 (circa 37% increase) per annum by 2050. The new campaign group is already challenging Gatwick's attempts to bypass full scrutiny on its main runway growth plans through use of the Planning Permitted Development processes. It has made a submission to the Planning Inspectorate for Gatwick's use of its emergency runway to be fully used. It is also planning challenges to plans for a 3rd runway.
Rival scheme, Heathrow Hub, estimate true costs of Heathrow runway could be £61 billion, by 2050 (not £14 bn)
The rival scheme, to try to build a 3rd Heathrow runway - Heathrow Hub - have put together figures indicating the final cost of Heathrow's 3rd Runway Plan could be £61 billion by 2050. That is in contrast to the £14 billion claimed by Heathrow itself and even the £32 billion assed by IAG. Heathrow Hub say the cost of the initial phase, included in Heathrow’s current consultation, could be as much as £37.7 billion, when it is supposedly completed in 2026. The figure of £14 billion is based on 2014 prices, 5 year out of date, and assumes a pared down scheme with no new terminal capacity. Heathrow’s current consultation shows a completely different scheme, which would cost far more. There is no clarity on how Heathrow would bridge the M25 (12 lanes wide at that point) and what it would cost. Over 5 years, there are now higher costs from inflation and higher land acquisition and relocation costs. Heathrow Hub say Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps should announce a review of the project. They want the CAA to make Heathrow provide proper figures on costs. The CAA disclosed pre-planning application spending by the Airport has tripled to £2.9bn. The Hub's scheme would, of course, also cost more than they estimate now ...
YouGov poll indicates about 67% of UK adults appreciate that amount of flying should be restricted
A YouGov poll of 2,000 adults in the UK found that about two-thirds of people in the UK think the amount people fly should be reined in to tackle climate change. The poll indicated about 28% said air travel should definitely be limited, with 38% said it should probably be restricted. Just 22% felt there was no need for limits, and 11% said they did not know. The poll was commissioned by the Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST), partly in the light of the publicity created by Heathrow Pause, in drawing attention to the nonsense of expanding Heathrow and increasing UK flying, when we are in a climate crisis. The poll findings of 66% of people believing flying should be restricted is much higher than a few years ago, and signals a shift in social attitudes. This has happened because of more informed media coverage of climate issues, and more understanding that the climate is changing already. The polling also found that 48% of people had become more worried about climate change in the past year, up from around 25% in 2014. Whether people will actually cut the amount they fly remains to be seen - people prefer to opt for smaller changes ...
Bristol Airport expansion cycle protesters halt A38 traffic near airport entrance
The new local group, opposed to expansion of Bristol Airport, partly on grounds of carbon emissions but also due to noise and other local impacts, has held a protest cycle ride. The group of about 70 cyclists met up close to the airport and then cycled in convoy along the busy A38. They temporarily brought roads around the airport to a halt in a protest against expansion plans, by riding in convoy to the airport and then repeatedly cycled around a roundabout close to the entrance. The lunchtime protest caused queues of between two and three miles in both directions. Unbelievably, the airport tries to claim its expansion to 12 million annual passengers by the mid 2020 will cut CO2 - as slightly fewer people would drive to London airports, if they fly from Bristol. They would in fact just fly more. The group support taking the "flight free pledge" not to fly in 2020, as a way to get people to think more carefully about travel and their lifestyle choices. The airport has submitted plans for the expansion and North Somerset Council is expected to decide on the expansion later this year.
Complaint submitted to Advertising Standards Authority about misleading Ryanair emissions advert.
A complaint has been made to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about an advert Ryanair has placed in newspapers saying it is "Europe’s lowest fares, lowest emissions airline" on the grounds that it is systematically misleading about the airline's carbon emissions. While that may be true in terms of carbon emissions per seat kilometre flown, it is certainly NOT true for the airline as a whole. Ryanair is in fact now the 10th largest carbon emitter in Europe, on an assessment of power stations, manufacturing plants and airlines. Its emissions were around 10 million tonnes CO2 in 2018, up 6.9% on 2017. The complainant says the "unqualified statements" in the advert combine to make the advert "comprehensively misleading as to the impact of both past and future expansion of low-cost air travel on carbon emissions, an expansion which was, and is still, being led by Ryanair."
Wokingham council poised to change stance to opposing Heathrow 3rd runway, as local Labour launches petition against it
Wokingham Council is poised to change its stance over a 3rd Heathrow runway - it had previously been in favour of it, but now the council leader realises the damage it would bring. It is utterly in conflict with the council having declared a climate emergency recently. “Wokingham Borough Council has declared a climate emergency. We only have 10 years to take drastic action. If we’re really serious about climate change, we must object.”Separately Wokingham's Labour group leader has launched a petition calling on the council to ditch its support for Heathrow expansion as "it is bad for the environment and bad for the Thames Valley and we do not want it." ...“We are in a Climate Emergency – encouraging more flights will make it harder to win the fight against climate change....The expansion of Heathrow will concentrate even more economic growth in the Thames Valley and increase the demand for housing here.” The council's position has changed, because "things have moved on since five years ago.”... "Few, if any, of our communities will escape noise and many will be affected seven days a week."
Interesting breakdown by T&E of the hidden subsidies of airlines in Europe, that allow flights to be SO cheap
An interesting inquiry by Transport & Environment looks at how flights within Europe can be so cheap. It emerges that there are many hidden subsidies, which enable a flight to be so much cheaper than the same trip by train. In their example, they consider the trip from Amsterdam to Toulouse. The cost of the air ticket by Air France-KLM would be €80, and €81.65 with some extra charges. The total of the subsidies came to €86.24 in subsidies, and then another €43 in state debt. That consists of: airline tickets being VAT exempt, a difference of €7.35 per person. €45 per person is invested in the infrastructure to keep Schiphol Airport accessible. Border control costs €3.50 per person. The pipelines to get kerosene to Schiphol cost €0.05 per person, and the tax exemption for kerosene is €25 per person. The total amount of small extra subsidies was estimated at €0.25 per person. The EU contributes €1 per person to the flight, in particular to reorganise the airspace. And KLM gets free emission rights worth €4.14 per person. The €86.29 in subsidies does not include the Dutch public debt, which increases by €43 per person because of state investment in Air France-KLM.
Heathrow wants the £4 bn APD revenue (paid because aviation pays no VAT or fuel duty) to boost ‘green’ aviation fuels
Heathrow's avarice and self-interest appear to know no bounds. Aside from the immense cost to public health from the increased noise and air pollution of its plans for a 3rd runway (equivalent to bolting another large UK airport onto the Heathrow site....) the huge cost to the taxpayer for the necessary improvements to surface access infrastructure, if it expands, and so many other costs - like destroying villages, Heathrow wants yet more. The Treasury has repeatedly said that the aviation industry in the UK pays Air Passenger Duty (APD) BECAUSE that makes up, to a small extent, for the income lost to the Treasury each year, because the aviation sector pays NO fuel duty and NO VAT. The money is NOT there to give the aviation industry a boost. But Heathrow wants the approximately £4 billion raised each year from APD to be given back to the industry, so it can try to find a way to produce jet fuels that are allegedly "sustainable" and "lower carbon" that convention jet fuel. The problem for the aviation industry is that, other than worthy-sounding pronouncements about "the ambition of a net-zero carbon aviation industry by 2050" etc, they have no actual plans of any means by which to do that. APD funds should NOT be given back to aviation.
Yet another “first” household & commercial waste to aviation fuel plant planning application – Velocys, Shell, BA
Altalto, a collaboration between Velocys, British Airways and Shell, has submitted a planning application for a plant that turns waste into so-called "sustainable" aviation fuel. The proposed plant near Grimsby would take hundreds of thousands of tonnes of household and commercial solid waste destined for landfill or incineration. That would be converted into fuel, to be used by the aviation industry (some could be used for road vehicle fuels...). The scheme is claiming it would "reduce reduce net greenhouse gases by 70% compared to the fossil fuel equivalent." The company says the fuel also improves air quality, with up to 90% reduction in particulate matter from aircraft engine exhausts and almost 100% reduction in sulphur oxides - but gives no explanation how. It also claims the process produces less air pollution that if the waste was incinerated or landfilled (but gives on details). Usual blurb from British Airways (desperate to try to make out that aviation will emit less CO2 in future, while continuing to grow) about "Sustainable fuels can be a game-changer for aviation..." blah blah... BA had proposed a similar plant in Essex which was cancelled due to lack of funding in 2016.
£125 million more UK public money going to fund aviation research to (possibly, eventually) minimally cut CO2 emissions
The aviation industry repeatedly gets money from the UK government, to help it try to find new technologies, or new fuels, that might slightly cut the carbon emissions of flights. Instead of the industry funding this research itself, it always wants public money to help - money from taxpayers that could be better used. If the aviation sector really wanted to cut its carbon emissions significantly, it would stop attempting to grow as fast as possible. If the government was serious about cutting aviation CO2, it would introduce measures to make flying more expensive and less attractive, in order to cut demand. But instead, money is spent on technologies that just - basically - involve continuing with "business as usual" and carrying on flying as much as possible. Hopes of magical future technologies, or fuels, just postpone the day when they have to "bite the bullet" and reduce aviation growth. Now the UK government is spending another "£125 million in the Future of Flight Challenge, supported by an industry co-investment of £175 million, to fund development of technologies including cargo drones, urban air taxis and larger electric passenger aircraft." Fiddling while Rome burns....
Local opposition growing to expansion plans by Southampton airport
A group within Southampton Friends of the Earth has set up a campaign to oppose Southampton Airport expansion. Despite the Government's recent commitment to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, there are many airport expansion applications across the UK. This expansion cannot enable the aviation sector to meet even its current, easy, carbon target - let alone the much more stringent one required for a zero-carbon Britain by 2050. The airport will probably submit its planning application to extend the runway by 170 metres to Eastleigh Borough Council in the next few weeks. The scoping report and Master Plan have received approval in principle from Southampton City Council. Twyford Parish Council has objected, due to a proposed increase of flights over the village. Eastleigh Greens are likely to be objecting as well. Friends of the Earth Southampton are currently putting together a petition to Southampton City Council to ask them to re-think their support for airport expansion, given that the Government is asking for net zero carbon by 2050. Campaigners started a group here to oppose the proposed expansion but it has not got a name yet. People interested can get in touch via the local FoE group email@example.com
Evan Davis “The Bottom Line” programme on aviation industry CO2 – basically “there is no plan”…
Evan Davis has done an edition of the BBC programme "The Bottom Line" on aviation and its claims about cutting its carbon emissions. His interview is revealing, in making clear how empty the industry's claims of reducing its CO2 in future really are. Sector representatives admit it has broken its own pledges to grow carbon neutrally and lacks firm plans to achieve it by 2050. They talk about changing the sort of planes that fly, though ignoring that any new plane model that could fundamentally cut CO2 emissions per passenger is decades away, and all planes remain in service for perhaps 30 years. There is foolish over-optimism that electric planes might eventually transport enough passengers to make a difference - but it is decades away. All the current changes they are mentioning cut CO2 by far smaller amounts than the anticipated annual growth of the industry. As Evan says, "But this is sort of hot air…we’re used to from the aviation industry: ‘we’re all taking this very seriously, we’re signing up to these targets, by the way we missed it the last time we did it, but we’re ever more ambitions in the target we’re going to sign up to… there’s no plan.’ "
What will be the impact of the UK ambition of “Net Zero” on the Airports NPS?
Lawyers, BDB Pitmans, for whom airport planning is an area of work, have commented on the change by the UK to a net zero carbon target by 2050 - and its effect on the aviation sector. They say the 1990 baseline was 778 million tonnes of CO2. With the 80% cut target, until 27th June, the UK had to cut CO2 emissions to 155.6 million tonnes by 2050. It now has to be reduced to 0 tonnes. The government understands that: "Achieving net-zero GHG emissions for the UK will rely on a range of Speculative options that currently have very low levels of technology readiness, very high costs, and/or significant barriers to public acceptability." One change that will be needed is for people to fly less. The legal challenges in March 2019 against the Airports NPS had grounds relating to carbon emissions, but these were dismissed, on the basis of developments like the Paris Agreement had not yet being translated into UK law. Now the Appeal Court will hear the legal challenges, and as the CO2 target has been changed, presumably the conclusions of the NPS are now vulnerable. The Sec of State for Transport will need to review the NPS, considering whether there has been a "significant change in any circumstances."
Mayor of Newham’s challenge to London City Airport’s expansion as “fundamentally flawed, due to lack of clarity & information”
Campaigners have welcomed a demand by the mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, to halt London City Airport's consultation on expansion with more daily flights - until it shows how it will tackling noise and CO2 emissions. City Airport's Consultation Master Plan suggests almost doubling the number of daily flights, with more early morning and late evening. The airport insists its consultation will continue till 20th September. The mayor called the consultation "fundamentally flawed because of lack of clarity and information" in a letter to the airport's chief executive. She calls on the airport to halt the public consultation immediately until it publishes the "omitted technical details". "The significance of the mayor's move cannot be overstated. Newham is the planning authority for the airport," said Hacan East chairman John Stewart. Newham Council which declared a "climate emergency" earlier this year, and is seeking more evidence about the airport's plans to tackle CO2 emissions and air pollution. A huge number of people are already badly affected by aircraft noise. Newham already has a large number of deaths, occurring prematurely, due to air pollution. London City airport growth - pollution from aircraft - would only add to that, as well as the noise assault.
Plan B Earth skeleton argument for Heathrow legal Appeal in October – that Grayling’s designation of the NPS was unlawful
The legal challenge by Plan B Earth is one of the four that will be heard at the Appeal Court from the 17th October. They have published their skeleton argument, which says, in summary that on 27th June 2019, the UK carbon target was amended by statutory instrument to read “at least 100%” cut by 2050 (ie. net zero) rather than the previous target of an 80% cut. Plan B say the "Secretary of State [Grayling] proceeded on the false premise that the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Government’s commitment to introducing a net zero carbon target in accordance with the Paris Agreement were “irrelevant” considerations for the purposes of s.5(8) of" the 2008 Climate Change Act. And the Secretary of State "chose to ignore these developments and proceeded as if there had been no material developments in government policy relating to climate change since 2008 and as if no change were in contemplation." And "The basis of the Appellant’s claim that the designation of the ANPS was unlawful, and that it should be quashed, is that the Secretary of State approach to these matters was fundamentally flawed."
Heathrow legal challenge Appeals to be live-streamed from the Court of Appeal (from 17th October)
On 23rd July 2019, the Court of Appeal ruled that there were grounds for appeal for all four of the legal judicial reviews, challenging the Governments support for the expansion of Heathrow. These will take place at the Court of Appeal, from 17th October, for 6 days, and will be live-streamed. On 1st May 2019, the High Court dismissed the judicial review claims made by five separate parties that the Government's Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), as approved by Parliament in June 2018, was unlawful. Paul Beckford, Policy Director of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, the leading campaign organisation opposing the expansion of Heathrow, said: "This is excellent news for transparency. It is vital that the public get the opportunity to hear that the Government chose to proceed with expansion at Heathrow because the former Secretary of State for Transport (Grayling) did not consider the Paris Agreement relevant. The fact that a net zero target has now been included in the Climate Change Act makes the climate case against expansion even stronger."
AEF explains why Gatwick expansion adds to UK’s aviation CO2 headache – at least 1 million tonnes more CO2 per year
If Gatwick was allowed to increase its number of flights and passengers, that would be a huge increase in its carbon emissions. Already the UK aviation sector is not on track to stay under even the outdated cap of 37.5MtCO2. That was when the UK was aiming for an 80% cut in carbon emissions, compared to 1990, by 2050. But now the UK has signed up to zero carbon - ie. 100% cut - by 2050. The corresponding carbon cap for aviation would then be more like below 30MtCO2 by 2050. As the ongoing growth, from incremental increases in flights and passengers from most UK airports, will take the UK aviation sector well over the 37.5MtCO2 limit, let alone the 30MtCO2 cap. So there is absolutely no room for a Heathrow 3rd runway, or the semi-new-runway at Gatwick - achieved by making use of its emergency runway for much of the time. The AEF has pointed out that Gatwick's Masterplan is for 390,000 flights per annum by 2032/33, around 39% more than in 2018. Gatwick carefully avoids giving any CO2 estimates in future, let alone to 2050. Extrapolating the carbon emissions from 2017 estimates by the DfT, it is likely that Gatwick's carbon emissions would rise by about 1Mt CO2 per year, to 3.6MtCO2 (or more, if Gatwick has a larger % of long-haul flights in future) if it uses its emergency runway as a second runway.
Heathrow gets £9M payout from DfT for HS2 work at Old Oak Common affecting Heathrow Express
In mid-July, before he left the job, Transport secretary Chris Grayling signed off on a £9M payout to be handed to Heathrow Airport to prepare for HS2. The pre-emptive payment from the DfT to Heathrow is compensation for knocking down a rail depot at Old Oak Common where Heathrow Express trains are kept. The £9M figure was reported in Heathrow Express’ annual accounts. It is understood that the sum will be paid irrespective of whether or not HS2 gets the go ahead, with the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson in charge. A DfT spokesperson said the compensation would be part of “a series of agreements to secure the future of the Heathrow Express service, while enabling the construction of a new HS2 station at Old Oak Common”. For the £9 million, Heathrow Express "agreed to vacate its train care depot at Old Oak Common to make way for the development of HS2.” In the Lords, on 24th July (the day Boris became PM), Lib Dem Baroness Elizabeth Randerson asked the DfT if the £9 million was still being paid, and the then Transport Minister Baroness Vere replied that "Work continues on HS2 and that £9 million was part of that work."
London Assembly – wholly opposed to Heathrow expansion – urges people to respond, rejecting 3rd runway plans
The London Assembly is totally opposed to a 3rd Heathrow runway. They have set out clearly 5 key reasons why it should be opposed, and are asking Londoners to reject the plans. They point out that the Heathrow consultation is confusing, and very difficult indeed for anyone who is not an expert to fill in. The Assembly says: "We are gravely concerned that Heathrow is prioritising the interests of the airline industry and passengers over and above the wellbeing of Londoners, who are going to be the most affected by the expansion." The plans would mean unacceptable levels of noise, air pollution, carbon emissions and amounts of road traffic. The extra noise is likely to harm health and well-being of thousands of people. As the consultation is too hard to respond to, using the online or paper forms, the Assembly suggests that people send a short message to the Heathrow email address firstname.lastname@example.org The text they suggest - vary it however you wish - is "Heathrow expansion fundamentally goes against the UK’s commitment to cut carbon emissions and improve air quality in the capital. It’s going to make air pollution worse, increase carbon emissions and increase noise, and we don’t support it. I stand with hundreds of others calling for it to be CANCELLED."
AEF produces extensive guide to understanding how the planning system can influence airport development
The AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) has published a guide explaining the role of the UK planning system in controlling development at airports and airfields, and how planning conditions have been used to limit the impact of operations. The guide, in plain English, outlines provisions and policies in the planning system that are relevant for airport development projects. The Town and Country Planning Act (TCPA) applies to smaller scale developments, whilst the Planning Act (2008) has introduced a new process applicable to larger infrastructure projects, like extending or adding runways. AEF says national policy imposes very few meaningful environmental limits on airport operations or expansion, and successive governments have been reluctant to intervene. That means it is largely up to local councils to negotiate controls or limits. An exception is that Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick airports have been “designated” for noise regulation by the Government. Some of the issues covered are those relating to smaller airports; permitted development rights; "established use" rights; conditions and planning agreements; Section 106 Agreements; the stages of the planning application process; the Airports National Policy Statement; and the Development Consent Order process for the largest developments.
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, hints at scrapping Heathrow expansion and “taking a really close look” at whether it stacks up
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has hinted that the Government could scrap Heathrow expansion, in his first public utterances on the topic in his new job. He told Sky News that “there are questions about whether the whole plan stacks up” and that Heathrow are going to need to “make sure they bring in enough income to justify the billions of pounds spent on it.” Mr Shapps also mentioned the upcoming legal challenge appeal, starting on Thursday 17 October. He said “there are of course court cases to do with emissions, that sort of thing so what we’ve said is we’ll watch that process very carefully and in the meantime I’ll be having a really close look at whether figures stack up or whether building more capacity, another runway there, would add to the charges to such an extent that it doesn’t.” Rob Barnstone, from the No 3rd Runway Coalition said: “Whether it is Heathrow’s overconfidence of being able to deliver the necessary funds for this project or the catastrophic environmental impacts, it is becoming clearer than ever that a third runway won’t be able to be delivered on time or budget and certainly does not fit within the Government’s environmental commitments of net zero emissions by 2050.”
IPCC report on Climate Change and Land; growing crops for biofuels just increases the problem
The IPCC report on Climate Change and Land has stressed the importance of humanity not continuing to do so much damage to the land, but growing crops on so much of it, or removing natural vegetation to provide grazing for animals. It emphasises that we need to reduce the amount of land that humanity is using, and let land store and sequester carbon. There is also the added point, made by George Monbiot, that a real calculation of the amount of carbon produced by agriculture - and destruction of the natural vegetation (eg. tropical forest) should look at the opportunity cost of that land; how much carbon would have been saved by leaving it in its natural state. So the carbon emissions are not just those from food production - but also the loss of the natural carbon sink. The emphasis on the extent to which humanity is increasing climate breakdown via agriculture shows how using land to produce biofuels is adding to this problem. Using land to grow biofuels competes with land for growing food crops. Biofuel plantations may lead to decreased food security through competition for land. In addition, BECCS will probably lead to significant trade-offs with food production.
Key facts about Heathrow 3rd runway: total EXTRA CO2 emissions would be about 183 MtCO2 between 2022 – 2050 (above staying with 2 runways)
Heathrow is attempting to make out that the carbon emissions to be caused by its 3rd runway would be insignificant. They would either not be counted in UK totals; or they would all be offset by airlines and so "vanish". They also ignore all non-CO2 impacts. Or they would in some other miraculous ways be offset by various untested, unproven technologies. These are the key facts people need to realise: Heathrow's own figures show a total of 173 MtCO2 MORE carbon emitted, over 2022-2050, with the 3rd runway than without building it. The emissions could reach 25MtCO2 per year from flights alone. The increased CO2 would be as much as 9MtCO2 per year more, in the peak year (2035) than with 2 runways. The total extra CO2 from more surface access transport would be 7MtCO2 over that time period. The extra CO2 from all the construction work would be 3.7MtCO2, to build it all. The total of all that would be 183MtCO2 MORE carbon produced in total (flights, surface access + construction) than if the runway was not built. The estimates may be on the low side, as Heathrow has factored in future carbon efficiencies. Heathrow has taken no account of the fact that we now have a net zero target for 2050. The CCC has now said the total cap for UK aviation CO2 should be no more than 31MtCO2. Not the earlier 37.5MtCO2 it had recommended earlier.
4.4 billion air trips taken world wide in 2018; number was 2.63 billion in 2010
IATA data show more Britons travelled abroad last year than any other nationality, when 126.2 million air trips were made by Brits - which is 8.6%, roughly one in 12, of all international air travellers. The UK was followed by the USA (111.5 million, or 7.6% of all passengers) and China (97 million, 6.6%). In total there were 4.4 billion air passenger journeys (that does not mean that number of people flew - many take multiple flights, and even in rich countries, many people do not fly at all, or not in any one year). The 4.4 billion is an increase of 6.9% compared to 2017. The number was 2.63 billion in 2010. There were 1.674 billion in 2000. The load factor on average across airlines was only 82%. IATA's Director General, Alexandre de Juniac, does admit there is "an environmental cost that airlines are committed to reducing." But any possible future cuts in aviation CO2 are tiny, dubious, and far ahead. In 2018, Asia had 1.6 billion passengers, (37% of market share), which grew by 9.2% over 2017. Europe had 1.1 billion passengers ( 26.2% of market share), up 6.6% over 2017.