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France’s Vinci completes takeover of majority stake – 50.01% – in Gatwick
French construction and transport concession group Vinci sealed a deal to take a majority stake in Gatwick airport. This was first announced in December 2018. Vinci formally completed its £2.9 billion deal to buy a 50.01% stake in Gatwick. Vinci took advantage of a Brexit-related hit to UK asset prices to buy the stake - its is President Nicolas Notebaert said he did not think that Brexit would change Gatwick's prospects. There are tourists who want to come to the UK, and even more Brits want to fly out on cheap holidays - which is what Gatwick caters for. The acquisition gives Vinci, which already runs 45 airports in 12 countries, access to the world's largest metropolitan aviation market. It is now the second largest airport operator in the world, behind Spain's Aena but it has overtaken French rival ADP. Gatwick hopes to expand, by using its emergency runway as a 2nd runway. It said"a consultation response summary and final master plan will be published later in 2019." Local group, CAGNE, commented that the noise burden from Gatwick flights is already too high, day and night, and should not be allowed to increase.
T&E found the EU sat on data showing benefits of ending airlines’ tax break on jet fuel
A leaked report for the European Commission shows that taxing aviation kerosene sold in Europe, by duty on all departing flights to all destinations of €0.33/litre, would cut aviation emissions by 11% (16.4 MtCO2). It would have no net impact on jobs or the economy as a whole while raising almost €27 billion in revenues every year. Unlike road transport, airlines in Europe have never paid any excise duty on the fuel they take on at EU airports. Airlines are not even taxed on domestic flights where taxation barriers were lifted in 2003. In contrast, jet fuel taken on for domestic aviation has been taxed for many years in countries such as the US, Australia, Japan, Canada and even Saudi Arabia. European member states have, since 2003, had the power to start taxing kerosene uplifted for flights within Europe by using bilateral agreements., but have failed to do so. Over 20 EU states don’t tax international aviation at all (at least the UK has APD). Aviation CO2 emissions grew 4.9% within Europe last year – while emissions from all other industries in the ETS fell 3.9%. CO2 from flying in Europe has soared 26.3% in the last five years – far outstripping any other EU emissions source. With realisation about the reality of climate breakdown, this increase cannot be allowed to continue.
Climate emergency realisation in UK to cause review of Heathrow expansion – climate change may limit future UK flying
The government (DfT) has admitted that concerns over climate change might restrict the growth of flying in the UK. The government's statutory advisors, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) recently said the UK's planned increase in aviation would need to be curbed to restrict CO2. Now a senior civil servant, Caroline Low (in charge of Heathrow expansion at the DfT) has told Plan B Earth that means ministers may have to review the UK's aviation strategy (due to become a white paper later in 2019). The aviation strategy is currently out to consultation, till 20th June. Plan B says the level of climate concern is so high that the decision on Heathrow expansion - the Airports NPS - should be brought back to Parliament. (It was voted for in June 2018, with carbon issues glossed over so MPs were unaware of the extent of the problem). The DfT hopes expanding Heathrow would create economic growth etc. When the government first laid out proposals for increasing aviation, the UK had an overall target of cutting CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050. But the CCC now recommends that Britain should adopt a target of net zero emissions. Growth of aviation needs to be constrained to fit within a Net Zero target. Caroline Low said the DfT will now have to give aviation carbon emissions "careful consideration" and even look at whether the ANPS should be revised.
Senior DfT civil servant confirms aviation CO2 issues to now be “given careful consideration” for ANPS review
Tim Crosland, Director of Plan B, wrote on 2nd May to the government's lawyers, asking for clarity on how Heathrow expansion would be assessed against the UK target of Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, including emissions from aviation. In a response on 8th May from Caroline Low, the senior DfT civil servant working on Heathrow expansion, she confirms that: "...the department will carefully consider this request against the statutory criteria set out" in sections of the 2008 Planning Act. And "As well as giving careful consideration to the Net Zero report and the declaration of environment and climate emergency, mentioned in the request, it may be necessary to consider the Committee on Climate Change's recommended policy approach for deviation which, the Committee has stated at chapter 6 of the report, will be provided to the department later in 2019 and any relevant decisions taken by the government in the coming months as a result. These decisions are likely to include decisions on relevant policy being developed as part of Aviation 2050: The future of UK aviation, which is currently the subject of consultation. At the end of this consideration, the department will provide advice and a recommendation to the Secretary of State, to enable him to take a decision on whether the statutory criteria for a review of part or all of the ANPS are met, and whether or not it is appropriate to carry out such a review."
London Borough of Southwark joins No 3rd Runway Coalition
The London Borough of Southwark has today become the latest local authority (joining Richmond, Wandsworth, Windsor & Maidenhead, Hillingdon and Hammersmith & Fulham) to join the fight against Heathrow Expansion. Its residents get a great deal of noise from Heathrow aircraft already, and that would get much worse with a 3rd runway. Cllr Richard Livingstone, Cabinet Member for environment, transport management and air quality for Southwark, said: “We are happy to be joining the No 3rd Runway Coalition, to stand alongside other groups, organisations and individuals, in opposition to a third runway"... Southwark councillors are already concerned about the noise, and also now the carbon emissions. With the Westminster Parliament now joining the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, London Assembly and over 500 councils around the UK in declaring a climate emergency, it is clear that the unconstrained growth of carbon intensive infrastructure is no longer politically palatable. And it is no longer just environmental campaigners who are considering the proposed expansion of Heathrow to be the totemic issue in the battle against climate change, but mainstream politicians too.
Heathrow Hub appeals High Court judgment that rejected its legal challenge to the ANPS
Heathrow Hub, the independent proposal for expanding Heathrow Airport via an extension to the existing Northern Runway, has started proceedings to appeal the High Court judgement handed down on the 1st May 2019, which refused a judicial review. The DfT, Chris Grayling and Heathrow hoped the ruling would clear the way for Heathrow to get on with its plans. But now 3 of the other 4 claimants are also appealing - the councils, Friends of the Earth, and Plan B. Heathrow Hub is majority owned by Anthony Clake, a senior partner at Marshall Wace, a global hedge fund in London. Heathrow Hub has been advised that it also has grounds for appeal, and has applied for permission to do so. They cite the legal flaws as including: "The court did not set out the legal test of overriding public interest or acknowledge that the burden of discharging it lay with the secretary of state. Furthermore, it did not allow Heathrow Hub to address the court on this matter resulting in a clear error of law. The role of the court in a judicial review is to review the exercise of discretion by the decision-maker, not to exercise the discretion itself.”
Hillingdon and the other 4 Councils seek permission to appeal Heathrow ruling
Following the Divisional Court's decision on 1 May 2019 to dismiss the legal challenge brought by Hillingdon Council and others, expert legal opinion has been sought by them in relation to whether there are any grounds to appeal this decision. There is no automatic right of appeal and permission to appeal is needed, in the first instance, from the court which heard the legal challenge. Therefore, an application for permission to appeal is being made to the Divisional Court on behalf of Hillingdon Council and the other local authorities involved in the legal challenge (Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith & Fulham, Windsor & Maidenhead) - it will be supported by Greenpeace and the Mayor of London. The appeal is on 2 specific grounds which both have their origin in European Law. 1). Relating to the Habitats Directive, and 2). the relationship of the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) to the councils' Local Plans, and the noise assessment and metric used by the government, under the SEA Directive. If the Divisional Court refuses the application, the councils can apply for permission to appeal directly to the Court of Appeal. Plan B and Friends of the Earth are also appealing, on different grounds. The councils have always known this would be a long slog ...
Plan B to appeal against the Court’s judgment on Heathrow
Plan B Earth is to Appeal against the decision of the Judges, on 1st May, to reject the legal challenges by the five councils etc, by Friends of the Earth, Plan B Earth, and Mr Paul Spurrier (as well as Heathrow Hub). Plan B Earth has published its application for permission to appeal against the judgment of Hickinbottom LJ and Holgate J . "The Appellant wishes to challenge the Secretary of State’s decision ... to designate the Airports National Policy Statement (“the ANPS”) in support of the expansion of Heathrow Airport under the Planning Act 2008 (“the 2008 Act”), on the basis of his failure to give proper consideration to the climate change impacts of the proposal. Plan B mention specific errors, including that the "Court erred in law in treating the minimum target of 80% greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2050, established by the Climate Change Act 2008 (“CCA”) as precluding Government policy which implied emissions reduction of greater than 80%: The Court proceeded on the basis that “Government policy relating to … climate change” could not differ at all (or at least could not differ materially) from the base level of the emissions target set out in the CCA. That approach is fundamentally flawed."
European elections: Top candidates for EU President demand tax on (aviation) kerosene, to help deal with CO2 emissions
Both the conservative Manfred Weber [German politician] and the social democrat Frans Timmermans [Dutch politician and diplomat] want to tax aircraft fuel. They are the main candidates to be the next EU Commission President, after Jean-Claude Junker steps down later in May. But they are divided on the CO2 tax. Both want to abolish the tax benefits for aviation fuel. Airlines currently do not pay fuel tax on their fuel, due to historic international agreements. The injustice leads to lying being significantly cheaper than other means of transport. "The preference of the airline business must be ended." Then the train would also have better chances in the competition. Frans Timmermans wants to tax kerosene "unconditionally and quickly"... "If it fails at the international level, we have to introduce the tax EU-wide." They disagree on whether carbon should be taxed, due to difficulties in protecting the poor. The German Union parties have so far no uniform position on the CO2 tax. But Timmermans wants a European tax on CO2, and said the next President must make climate protection a top priority and push the transformation of the economy in the next 5 years.
Scottish government has decided not to remove APD – tax-free flying is inconsistent with policies to cut CO2 emissions
The Scottish Government has decided to scrap plans to cut Air Passenger Duty (APD). The tax (just £13 for a return flight to anywhere in Europe) is paid by any passenger leaving from a UK airport. Aviation pays no VAT on tickets and there is no duty of jet fuel. The Scottish government had wanted to reduce the tax by 50% initially, before eventually abolishing it. This has been threatened since 2016. Cutting APD would have the effect of making air tickets a little cheaper, so increasing the number of flights taken - and therefore the CO2 emissions from Scottish airports. Edinburgh airport said the number of extra passengers at Scottish airports could be one million. Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said reducing air departure tax was "no longer compatible" with Scotland's climate targets, and all sectors have a contribution to make to meeting the challenge of climate change. Cutting the tax would possibly slightly increase the number of visitors flying to Scotland, but the increase in the number of Scottish people flying abroad would be higher. Nicola Sturgeon declared a "climate emergency" in her speech to the SNP conference last month. Cutting the tax would have been entirely inconsistent with that.
Edinburgh Airport launches new flight path plans
A new attempt to change flight paths at Edinburgh Airport has been launched. Their earlier controversial proposals were thrown out by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in October 2018 after it deemed the differences between the consultation and the final proposals were "too significant". West Fife residents and politicians had raised their concerns during the process as it was feared the plans would mean more planes overhead, with more noise and pollution. Fears were also expressed that one of the proposed new routes would mean that North Queensferry would have flights going over it 365 days a year. The airport has now submitted a Statement of Need to the CAA in a renewed effort to modernise the existing routes which they say currently rely on 1950s technology. The new flight paths would use the new technology to fly very accurately, all along exactly the same route. This is sold to the public as minimising the number of people affected (it affects a smaller number, but severely) and minimally cutting CO2 emissions, if planes fly a marginally shorter route. The noise problem would be great for those intensely affected, especially at peak times of day - like early morning. Residents have to keep battling the airport ....
Uttlesford decision on Stansted: New councillors mean an opportunity for a fresh approach
The previous council at Uttlesford voted through expansion proposals for Stansted Airport, in November 2018, but the Chairman's casting vote. It then came to light jhat at least some of the councillors had either not read, or had not understood, even the most basic information about the application. Now with the council elections in early May, there has been a huge re-shuffling. Local group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) says this left no doubt as to its dissatisfaction with the incumbent administration. The Conservatives retained just 4 out of their 24 seats, making this proportionately the largest loss by any ruling party in any District Council in the entire country. The 5 members of the Council's Planning Committee who voted in favour of the Stansted Airport planning application last November are no longer councillors, whereas the 5 who voted against were all re-elected. Voters were unhappy that an unpopular administration had attached greater priority to the commercial interests of Manchester Airports Group than to the wellbeing of local residents. SSE now looks forward to re-establishing a constructive dialogue with the Council.
IPBES report on global biodiversity loss. Comment on impact of tourism
The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has published a report on the serious global loss of biodiversity. IPBES says: "Long-distance transportation of goods and people, including for tourism, have grown dramatically in the past 20 years with negative consequences for nature overall. The rise in airborne and seaborne transportation of both goods and people, including a threefold increase in travel from developed and developing countries in particular, has increased pollution and significantly raised invasive alien species... Between 2009 and 2013, the carbon footprint from tourism rose 40% to 4.5 gigatons of carbon dioxide and overall 8% of the total greenhouse-gas emissions are from transport and food consumption that are related to tourism. The demand for nature-based tourism, or ecotourism, also has risen, with mixed effects on nature and local communities, including some potential for contributions to local conservation in particular when carried out at smaller scales."
Plan B Earth writes to Government lawyers, requesting a review of the ANPS under Section 6 of the Planning Act
After the High Court rejected all the legal challenges against the DfT's backing of the 3rd Heathrow runway, Tim Crosland (Director of Plan B Earth) has written to the government's legal department to request review of the ANPS (Airports National Policy Statement) under section 6 of the Planning Act 2008. This is in light of the approval by Parliament of a motion declaring a climate and environmental emergency. In addition, there has now been the publication of the advice to the UK government from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), on how the UK should aim for net zero carbon by, or before, 2050. The ANPS was designated on the assumption that it was premature to speculate on the implications of the Paris Agreement for the UK carbon target for 2050. That assumption has now been overtaken by events. The CCC's report recommends that the Government implement a target of net zero GHG emissions by 2050 (which implies net zero CO2 emissions even earlier than that). It is now clear that the viability of Heathrow expansion must be assessed against the target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Tim asks that the government lawyers clarify the position on this rapidly, to assist those considering appeals to the judgement.
Councils that brought legal challenge re. Heathrow say Londoners face added noise and long-term health impacts from Court decision
Councils say the High Court’s failure to quash the government’s Airport National Policy Statement (ANPS) backing Heathrow expansion could bring long-term damage to the health of millions of Londoners. They warn that large areas of London and the Home Counties will be affected by noise from the new north-west runway. The court has refused all the applications for judicial review of the ANPS essentially because it has decided that at this policy stage the decision to support a third runway at Heathrow needs to only meet a low level of judicial scrutiny. All the damage caused to life and health and the environment by a third runway and its associated traffic (damage causing air pollution, noise pollution and contributing to climate change) will have to be more closely scrutinised at the DCO stage. Objections to a third runway must be heard then and any decision to approve it will be open to challenge through the courts. The councils will continue to explore every avenue possible to protect their residents from the health and environmental consequences of a third runway. Hillingdon "has set aside sufficient funding to defend our environment and the health and wellbeing of our people for however long it takes to do so.” See the comments of the Council Leaders.
Comment by Prof Kevin Anderson on the CCC report, in relation to aviation CO2
Kevin commented: "Although the CCC have not detailed their choice of UK carbon budget, read between the lines and it is clear they see this fair Isle receives a disproportionately large slice of the global carbon pie. Such colonialism is then exacerbated by passing a significant burden for reducing today’s emissions onto our children – and subsequently their children. These future generations will need to invent and deploy planetary-scale technologies to suck 100s of billions of tonnes of ‘our’ emissions out of the atmosphere. This generational transfer of responsibility enables the CCC to maintain a thriving aviation sector and leave unquestioned the huge inequality in who is responsible for most of UK emissions. What’s not to like – business as usual, albeit with a sizeable green twist, and influential high-emitting groups left unencumbered by policies tailored towards their carbon-intensive lifestyles. More disturbing still, clever use of the CCC’s report will see it used to support Heathrow expansion, shale gas developed and even ongoing offshore oil and gas exploration."
CCC Net Zero Report: Aviation emissions to rise a little bit less fast than now … probably … speculative …
The CCC has produced its report on how the UK should aim for zero-carbon GHG by 2050. There are a lot of mentions of aviation (most copied on this page, for ease of reference). The CCC advice is that aviation emissions must not rise as much as they are on track to do. International aviation emissions must be fully included in carbon targets, not just taken account of, as currently. They must be in the the 6th budget period (2033-37), on which the CCC will advise next year. So people will not be able to keep increasing the amount they fly by quite as much ... But as it is a "hard to treat" sector, the CCC knows aviation will be emitting more CO2 than any other sector by 2050. The CCC’s "Further Ambition" scenario, setting out a pathway to net zero GHGs, anticipates that the aviation sector will still be emitting 31MtCO2 in 2050 (the current limit is 37.5MtCO2 per year). The CCC sees the use of synthetic fuels perhaps being 10% by 2050. It also hopes equivalent carbon, as produced by aviation, will be removed from the atmosphere through measures such as ‘direct air capture’ or BECCS, to be paid for by the aviation industry. But measures such as tree planting will not be enough. There will be a need to limit increases in air travel demand, but no ideas how to do that. The CCC will says it "will write to the Government later this year on its approach to aviation, building on the advice in this report."
CCC report to government: Phase out greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to end UK contribution to global warming
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has produced its report to government, on how the UK should aim to become zero-carbon by 2050. This comes over 10 years after the Climate Change Act was passed, and higher ambition is now needed than the earlier target of an 80% cut on the 1990 level by 2050. The world is on course for a temperature rise of 3 - 4°C later this century unless drastic action is taken. Net-zero in the UK would lead the global effort to try to limit the rise to 1.5°C. The CCC hopes its targets can be achieved with known technologies, though it places a lot of faith in capturing carbon - not done on any scale at present. The CCC says the changes should be put into law as soon as possible, ideally before September 2019. There are current policies moving in the right direction, but "these policies must be urgently strengthened and must deliver tangible emissions reductions – current policy is not enough even for existing targets." ..."The Committee’s conclusion that the UK can achieve a net-zero GHG target by 2050 and at acceptable cost is entirely contingent on the introduction without delay of clear, stable and well-designed policies across the emitting sectors of the economy. Government must set the direction and provide the urgency."
MPs make history by passing Commons motion to declare “environment and climate emergency”
MPs have passed a motion making the UK parliament the first in the world to declare an “environment and climate emergency”. The symbolic move – recognising the urgency needed to combat the climate crisis – follows a wave of protests launched by the Extinction Rebellion strikers in recent weeks. Jeremy Corbyn called for the motion to “set off a wave of action from parliaments and governments around the globe”. He added: “We pledge to work as closely as possible with countries that are serious about ending the climate catastrophe and make clear to US president Donald Trump that he cannot ignore international agreements and action on the climate crisis.” Theresa May had decided not to whip her MPs against Labour’s motion, and instead encouraged them to be out campaigning ... to avoid voting. [What a government....] Michael Gove said the government recognises “the situation we face is an emergency”, but stopped short of meeting Labour’s demands to officially declare one. Caroline Lucas said "words are cheap - we need urgent action. So to be clear: you can’t declare a climate emergency AND continue business as usual - fracking, building new runways, industrialised farming etc."
Comment by Plan B Earth and Extinction Rebellion, on Judges’ rejection of Heathrow legal challenges
The High Court dismissed all the legal challenges to the Government’s plans to expand Heathrow, including the claims brought by Friends of the Earth and Plan B on the grounds of inconsistency with the Paris Agreement on climate change. Tim Crosland, Director of Plan B and a legal adviser to Extinction Rebellion, said: “...it is increasingly difficult to see how the Government’s reckless plans to expand Heathrow Airport can proceed. Following the recent Extinction Rebellion protests there is widespread recognition that we are in a state of climate and ecological emergency. The Court has upheld Chris Grayling’s surprising contention that the Paris Agreement is “irrelevant” to Government policy on climate change. It ignored the fact that the Government stated in May last year that it planned to decarbonise the economy by 2050. Instead it accepted Grayling’s argument that the CCC considers the current target of 80% emissions reductions by 2050 to be consistent with the Paris Agreement. Tomorrow the CCC is expected to expose the fallacy of that position by recommending that the Government implement a target of net zero by 2050,... Since that recommendation is obviously inconsistent with the expansion of Heathrow, presumably the plans will now need to be reviewed."
Judges reject judicial review challenges against DfT’s Heathrow 3rd runway NPS
The judges at the High Court have handed down their judgement, which was to reject all the legal challenges against the DfT and the Secretary of State for Transport, on the government decision to approve a 3rd Heathrow runway, through the Airports NPS (National Policy Statement). The judges chose to make their ruling exclusively on the legality, and "rationality" of the DfT decision, ignoring the facts and details of the Heathrow scheme and the NPS process - or the areas where relevant information was ignored by the DfT. In the view of the judges, the process had been conducted legally. They threw out challenges on air pollution, surface access, noise and habitats - as well as carbon emissions. The latter being on the grounds that the Paris Agreement, though ratified by the UK government, has not been incorporated into UK law, so the DfT did not have to consider it. The Paris Agreement requires countries to aim for only a global 1.5C rise in temperature, not 2 degrees (as in the current UK Climate Change Act). Read comments by Neil Spurrier, one of those making a legal challenge. There are now likely to be appeals, perhaps even direct to the Supreme Court.
HEATHROW EXPANSION JUDICIAL REVIEW VERDICT Wednesday 1st May at 10 am at the High Court
Judgments on the legal challenges to the Government’s decision to permit Heathrow to apply for the expansion of its airport with a new 3rd Runway, will be announced at the High Court on Wednesday, 1 May, at 10am The presiding judges, Justices Hickinbottom and Holgate, will be handing down judgments on the judicial review claims made by 5 separate parties that the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), as approved by Parliament in June 2018, was unlawful. Four of the claimants’ cases relate to undue consideration being given to the environment, noise and climate change. Regardless of the Justices’ pronouncements, it is expected that appeals will be made against the judgments - whether by defendant (the government) or claimants. Even if the judgments were to find in favour of the Secretary of State for Transport (DfT), and these were to then survive the appeals process, this is unlikely to mark the end of legal battles to expand Heathrow airport. Heathrow’s application for its Development Consent Order - DCO (the detailed planning application, which Heathrow is expected to submit in 2020) – is also certain to attract legal challenges.
Grandmother complains after Southend airport expansion means 50 planes a day taxi at end of her garden
More planes using Southend airport have been causing noise nuisance and distress to local residents. A grandmother has complained as planes now taxi at the end of her garden, and there are 50 jets a day coming within 150ft of her fence. She says the planes going past, sometimes as often as every 20 minutes, with the noise and fumes, have left her and her husband miserable. "You can't have a conversation in the garden with anyone because you can't hear them. When we are inside with the door closed we have to pause the TV until the plane has gone past. We worry about our grandchildren coming around and the enjoyment of having people over for BBQs is ruined. I love my garden and used to do a lot of gardening but now it is all spoilt with the noise and the smell." She has complained to the airport numerous times and is concerned the problem could worsen this summer when runways are expected to get busier. It is very unsatisfactory when residential housing is as close to the taxiways as it is at Southend, and the quality of life of the residents is greatly reduced.
“You did not act in time” on climate: Greta Thunberg’s full speech to MPs… expanding airports is “beyond absurd”
The 16 year old climate activist from Sweden, Greta Thunberg, addressed MPs in Parliament. It was a remarkable speech, pulling no punches and telling the MPs they had to start taking action properly. A few quotes: "The UK is, however, very special. Not only for its mind-blowing historical carbon debt, but also for its current, very creative, carbon accounting.... Since 1990 the UK has achieved a 37% reduction of its territorial CO2 emissions, according to the Global Carbon Project. And that does sound very impressive. But these numbers do not include emissions from aviation, shipping and those associated with imports and exports. If these numbers are included the reduction is around 10% since 1990 – or an an average of 0.4% a year, according to Tyndall Manchester. ...And the main reason for this reduction is not a consequence of climate policies, but rather a 2001 EU directive on air quality that essentially forced the UK to close down its very old and extremely dirty coal power plants and replace them with less dirty gas power stations. And switching from one disastrous energy source to a slightly less disastrous one will of course result in a lowering of emissions.... The UK’s active current support of new exploitation of fossil fuels – for example, the UK shale gas fracking industry, the expansion of its North Sea oil and gas fields, the expansion of airports as well as the planning permission for a brand new coal mine – is beyond absurd."
Swedish flygskam (or flight shame) is spreading across Europe – Finland, Germany … Brits yet to catch on….
Fears about climate change have led many to rethink the way they travel and, in Sweden, there is a new word - flygskam (flying shame) - for the shame associated with flying, knowing the carbon emissions it causes. The subject has come higher up the agenda with the vast protests in Central London by Extinction Rebellion, since Monday 15th April. And there are protests in many other cities and countries. The Swedes are now travelling a bit less by air, and a bit more by rail. But it’s not just the Swedes racked with guilt about their carbon footprints. The Finnish have invented the word "lentohapea", the Dutch say "vliegschaamte" and the Germans "flugscham", all referring to a feeling of shame around flying. Brits are lagging behind ... The Swedish rail company reported 32 million passengers in 2018, a good increase. Many understand that flying has a huge negative climate impact, and there are other words associated with this: “tagskryt” (train bragging) and “smygflyga” (flying in secret). The 16 year old Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg, started the world wide movement of school strikes, to draw attention to climate change, only travels by train to meetings in other countries.
“Be the change you want to see”: How individuals (not only governments) are vital in cutting global CO2 emissions
What can we do in the face of the climate emergency? Many say we should drive less, fly less, eat less meat. But others argue that personal actions like this are a pointless drop in the ocean when set against the huge systemic changes that are required to prevent devastating global warming. Research from a PhD researcher into Environmental Leadership (Cardiff University) shows that doing something bold like giving up flying can have a wider knock-on effect - by influencing others and shifting what’s viewed as “normal”. These effects were increased if a high-profile person had given up flying, such as someone in the public eye. Far from the small actions by individuals having no impact, they are important. The role of people, in changing their lifestyles, cutting their carbon emissions and environmental footprint, is as big as that of governments or major corporations. But significant lifestyle changes by individuals need to be encouraged by effective government policy. It has to be both - policies, government action etc PLUS actions by individuals. Millions of them. Behavioural change has the potential for far greater emission reductions than the political pledges made under the Paris Accord.
Because the adults of today have ignored the climate crisis, today’s children face lives with tiny carbon footprints
Children born today will have to live their lives with drastically smaller carbon footprints than their grandparents if climate change is to be controlled. Previous and existing generations have emitted nearly all the CO2 to get the world to 1.5C or 2C, so future generations will have to severely and rapidly cut the emissions from flying, meat consumption, heating, hot water and other activities in their lifetimes. An analysis has shown this means the new generation will have lifetime carbon budgets almost 90% lower than someone born before 1950. The figures suggest 734 tonnes CO2 is the lifetime budget for limiting global warming to 1.5C for someone born in 1957; 405 tonnes if born in 1987; 86 tonnes if born in 2017. This dramatically highlights the burden inherited by today’s children, an issue at the heart of the global school strikes for climate. A spokesman for the UK Student Climate Network said: “Those in positions of power – from politicians to business leaders – that have benefited from a much higher lifetime carbon budget [and all those flights] have a duty to act to ensure a liveable planet for current and future generations. Without appropriate action, those in power are sacrificing our tomorrow for their today.”
“Flight Free” blog – “Why we stopped carbon-offsetting our flying, and then stopped flying”
New campaign "Flight Free" is asking people to sign up and pledge not to fly in 2020 (or ideally not in this year either ....) We need people to choose to cut their flying voluntarily, because government is never going to introduce measures to cut demand for air travel - it would risk displeasing too many voters. The Flight Free website has blogs by people who have pledged not to fly, or have already given up flying. One comments on their past flying: "...going on adventures to the other side of the world was one of our treats. We thought we’d earned it. We felt like responsible tourists, keen to explore local cultures and wildlife. Happy to tip local guides and to buy hand crafted items direct from local artisans ...". And then "We started carbon offsetting our flying. Planting trees that would absorb our CO2 and pump out oxygen in the process. It was a win, win. We felt better for a year or two. In effect we had thrown money at the problem but we hadn’t gone through any radical change of behaviour and we were still enjoying the same experiences, from wildlife safaris to snorkelling with turtles". Then they gave up flying: "This is a Climate Emergency and we need to change our behaviour individually and collectively now."
West Sussex County Council votes to do more on climate – but Gatwick airport intends to instead vastly increase its CO2 emissions
West Sussex County Council has agreed unanimously to back an amended motion pledging action on climate change. South East Climate Alliance campaigners hailed this as a potential ‘tipping point’ for the area. Two of the commitments made were to try to make the C County Council itself carbon neutral, and encourage residents and businesses to do more to help tackle climate change. Council members were invited to make personal pledges on things like saving water and energy, and making low carbon journeys (air travel not mentioned specifically). Louise Goldsmith, Council Leader, said: " ... we really do need everyone young, old and not so old and all businesses to come together and do their bit to become more sustainable..." CAGNE attended the meeting, and Sally Pavey commented that aviation issues were included in the debate - Gatwick airport is in West Sussex, and is probably the largest carbon emitter in the area (about 4.5 million tonnes of CO2 per year). Cllr Liz Kitchen and Cllr Bill Acraman, raised the issue of Gatwick expansion, which would hugely increase the airport's carbon, undoing any good done by local carbon cuts by individuals, businesses or the council.
Gatwick will get a Brüel & Kjær system to provide better flight and noise info for local people
Gatwick says it will soon improve the technology it uses ,so local residents can get information on the details of planes using the airport. It will be using the EMS Brüel & Kjær system, also used by Heathrow. The website is due to be available in a few months. The system will also allow noise complaints to be submitted via an automated telephone line, which has been a key request from local communities for several years, since this was withdrawn by Gatwick and they had made complaining about noise very difficult. There will be "up to" 23 new noise monitoring terminals in surrounding areas, to monitor noise levels. These can then be presented in real time alongside flight information from the airport radar and other airport systems. Gatwick hopes this will be preferred by local people, and provide them with better information. Also that airlines might "use the data to analyse how they might improve the performance of their flights in terms of track keeping and noise." A Gatwick public affairs person said "... we know that some residents are concerned by the impacts of aircraft noise."... and Gatwick hopes it will " improve our engagement with communities that are negatively impacted by aircraft noise.”
SSE takes Communities Secretary James Brokenshire to JR on Stansted expansion, including its CO2 emissions
Campaign group, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) say they will use latest EU figures showing Ryanair as one of Europe’s biggest polluters in their latest judicial challenge. Currently about 21 million of Ryanair's 130 million passengers in 2018 travelled via Stansted. Ryanair has the highest CO2 emissions (for intra-EU flights) of any European airline. Its flights emitted 9.9 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, up 6.9% on 2017, and up 49% over the past 5 years. SSE say the added argument of the vast carbon emissions, to only be hugely worsened by expansion to 43 mppa, is another reason why the planning consent by Uttlesford council, for the airport expansion, should be called in for determination by the government. The Communities Secretary James Brokenshire has said his reason for not intervening was that the application does not involve issues of "more than local importance." Carbon emissions are indeed of much more than local significance - it is a global issue. Brian Ross, from SSE said: “You can’t just allow local authorities to approve an increase in carbon emissions as they like. There needs to be national co-ordination.”
Ryanair the biggest but not fastest growing EU airline CO2 emitter – whole airline sector emissions rising very fast
The carbon emissions of 8 airlines for intra-European flights grew even faster than Ryanair last year. Low-cost airlines Jet2 (20% up); TAP (>12% up); EasyJet, Finnair, Wizz (up about 11%); Vueling and Norwegian (over 8%) and Lufthansa all increased CO2 emissions faster than Ryanair, though Ryanair has the highest emissions on European routes in 2018. Transport & Environment (T&E) says the top 10 growing polluters show that aviation’s runaway emissions are a huge problem. But governments have left airlines untaxed and under-regulated compared to other transport. Emissions from intra-European flights account for 40% of the aviation CO2 – the remaining 60% comes from flights to destinations outside Europe. Those are entirely unregulated, not being part of the EU ETS. Aviation regulators are consistently underestimating the extent of the emissions growth in their planning forecasts. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) anticipated a 3.3% increase in carbon emissions on flights within Europe last year, but official data shows they grew 4.9% – or 1.1 megatonnes of CO2 more than expected.
Ryanair’s carbon emissions within Europe make it the EU’s 10th largest emitter
Ryanair has become the first non-coal company to join Europe’s top 10 biggest carbon emitters, according to EU ETS figures. That is for flights within the EU. Ryanair declared 9.9 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, up 6.9% on 2017 and up 49% over the last 5 years. The only larger emitters of carbon within Europe are power stations. Andrew Murphy, the aviation manager at T&E said: “When it comes to climate, Ryanair is the new coal. This trend will only continue until Europe realises that this undertaxed and under-regulated sector needs to be brought into line, starting with a tax on kerosene and the introduction of mandates that force airlines to switch to zero-emission jet fuel.” Emissions from airlines, have risen over 25% since 2014, outpacing all other transport sectors. EasyJet was 31st on the list, after an 11% rise in emissions in 2018. Prof Kevin Anderson at the University of Manchester, said: “Ryanair use new and efficient aircraft rammed to the rafters with passengers, illustrating how technology alone cannot reconcile aviation’s rocketing emissions with the Paris climate commitments...we need to drive down the demand for aviation."
ICAO blocks any critics on Twitter and describes comments on aviation and climate as “fake news”
The UN's International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is dismissing factual critiques and blocking Twitter accounts that raise concerns about the climate change impact of flying, accusing them of “fake news” and “spam”. A number of campaigners and researchers complain they have been barred from following @ICAO on Twitter, including famous and respected climate scientist, Kevin Anderson. ICAO’s combative approach to public engagement has drawn wider criticism, with environmental journalists describing it as “spectacularly ill-judged” and “self-defeating“. On Wednesday, Steve Westlake, a behavioural scientist at Cardiff University, shared a screenshot showing Icao had blocked him. It came after he responded to 3 ICAO tweets by sharing a comment from Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg arguing most airport expansions were incompatible with meeting international climate goals. That analysis is uncontroversial. Aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions. AEF commented that "Climate leadership should always begin with open and transparent debate about the issues and challenges, so this is worrying."
Heathrow finally shortlists 18 areas as possible sites for its 4 “logistics hubs” – out of the original 65 possible areas
Heathrow has - for several years - been dangling the carrot of being one of 4 "logistics hubs" around the UK, for its expansion plans, to over 65 possible sites. It was a way to get local support from MPs, councils, business etc. It has now made a list of 18 shortlisted sites that "remain in the running to help deliver the infrastructure project". So that leaves 47 sites disappointed and let down. Heathrow makes out that these are going to bring "jobs and economic opportunities up and down the country years before the additional trade and tourism that will follow from unlocked runway capacity." And it will be "sustainable" due to "transporting assembled components in consolidated loads." The sites shortlisted have "showcased a strong base of local support, their area’s thriving supply chain, convenient connectivity links and the potential to tap into a skilled workforce." So those 18 shortlisted are still kept on tenterhooks, to see if they might get lucky, eventually. In the autumn, they will have the opportunity to pitch to the airport for their chance to become one of the final 4 construction centres, to be announced early next year, ahead of work [possibly, bearing in mind all the legal and planning hurdles] "starting in 2021".
Kings College research: Teenage psychotic experiences more common in areas with high air pollution
A new study (in JAMA Psychiatry) by researchers at Kings College London has found it is likely that teenagers living on polluted roads are about 40% more likely to be psychotic. There seems to be a connection between the air pollution and why adolescents in cities are twice as likely to suffer psychosis as those in rural areas. It is not proof that the pollution causes psychosis, but it adds to mounting evidence that NOx and particulates can do far-reaching damage to the brain and lungs. They may contribute to the development of dementia and depression, as well as possibly harming the unborn foetus, by entering the placenta. The recent study used data on 2,232 teenagers in England and Wales who were asked about psychotic experiences, such as whether they heard voices or felt they were being watched. About a third had such experiences. While most will grow out of them, these teenagers are at higher risk of going on to suffer full-blown psychosis. The answers were compared with detailed modelling of pollution levels at the teenagers’ homes. The link remained significant even after adjusted for class, drug use, family history of mental illness etc. Heathrow is a huge source of air pollution, from its planes and associated road traffic.
EU labels palm oil in diesel as unsustainable – it causes deforestation
The European Commission today decided that palm oil is not a green fuel and should not be promoted because it causes deforestation. The use of palm oil in diesel, which is driven by the EU’s renewable energy targets, will be gradually reduced as of 2023 and should reach zero in 2030 although exemptions remain. Europe’s federation of green transport NGOs, Transport & Environment (T&E), said the labelling of palm oil as unsustainable is a milestone in the fight to recognise the climate impact of burning food for energy. However, in a bid to placate palm oil producing countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Colombia, the Commission introduced a number of exemptions, so some palm oil could still be promoted as a “green” road fuel. The Commission also failed to classify soy, a major contributor to deforestation worldwide, as unsustainable. The EU is the world's 2nd largest importer of crude palm oil; over half of it (around four million tonnes) is currently used to make ‘green’ fuel.
New AEF briefing: Why Heathrow can’t solve its carbon problem (and the trouble with offsets)
The Government and Heathrow are trying to pretend that adding a 3rd runway, increasing the number of flights by around 50% (many or most to long-haul destinations) somehow is not a climate change impact problem. Now in an excellent new briefing from the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF), "Why Heathrow can't solve its carbon problem (and the trouble with offsets", they explain how the carbon emissions cannot just be wished away and there are no mechanisms currently proposed to properly deal with them. Heathrow has a "roadmap" on how it aspires to be "carbon neutral". AEF says the roadmap "does little more than recycle existing – inadequate – measures to limit aviation emissions" and their briefing sets out why the plan falls short. AEF says: "...almost all the proposed actions involve Heathrow riding on the coattails of other Government or industry initiatives." ... and "The kind of offsetting that CORSIA will deliver ...isn’t designed to deliver a zero emissions target but instead to reduce emissions, at best, to half of what they might have been. ... the idea that offsetting makes a tonne of CO2 from aviation “neutral” is misleading."
Flybe’s Newquay link with Heathrow takes off courtesy of taxpayer PSO subsidy (£6.2m over 8 years)
From next weekend people flying between Newquay and Heathrow will get a £5 subsidy each, from UK taxpayers. There will be 4 flights per day both ways. Newquay airport is not particularly near anywhere - other than surfing beaches. The service will be Heathrow’s only subsidised service, run under a public service obligation (PSO). PSOs are defined under European aviation regulations as “scheduled air services on routes which are vital for the economic development of the region they serve”. That means for routes where there is not enough demand to even half fill a small regional aircraft and that to attract a commercial operator to fly the route, the government has to provide a financial incentive. The cost to the taxpayer over 4 years for this will be £3.4 million. (For 180,000 pax per year that works out at £5 each. But there were only <93,000 pax in 2013). The pendulum is swinging back to Heathrow, however.Heathrow has set aside a £10 million fund to incentivise domestic airline route development - needed to persuade regional MPs to back the runway.
Stop Stansted Expansion to start legal challenge to government decision not to call in expansion application
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has confirmed that it will commence legal proceedings to challenge last week's decision [20 March] by the Communities Secretary James Brokenshire not to intervene in the decision by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) to approve the expansion of Stansted to 43 mppa. Brokenshire said his reason for not intervening was that "the application does not involve issues of more than local importance". SSE considers this conclusion to be completely wrong. In the next month or two, Stansted is expected to overtake Manchester to become the UK's 3rd busiest airport. The noise, air pollution, community health and road traffic impacts of Stansted are felt far beyond the borders of Uttlesford, and the 3.7 million equivalent tonnes of carbon dioxide attributable to Stansted flights this year will have significant adverse global impacts. SSE will apply to the High Court for a JR of Brokenshire's decision. SSE solicitors have written to UDC pointing out that it would be inappropriate for UDC to issue any decision in relation to the airport planning application whilst these legal challenges are pending. SSE already has an outstanding JR application against the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, over his decision of 28 June 2018 to allow the airport planning application to be determined locally by UDC.
Heathrow’s Fly Quiet results reach new heights of improbability
Heathrow has this week (22nd March) belatedly published the results from its Fly Quiet & Green programme for Q4 2018. In this scheme Heathrow assesses 7 different aspects of environmental performance, but it only publishes a single, numeric "Fly Quiet points" score for each airline. That published score is the sum of the Fly Quiet points awarded to the airline for each of the 7 metrics. But that part that is far from transparent, with the 7 numbers per airline not made public. The results put out by Heathrow do not make any sense, and do not appear to properly reflect the actual noise. Rather, they appear to be manipulated to make noise levels look lower than they really are. This time around instead of giving the airlines an average score of around 750 out of (optimum) 1000, as with previous quarters' results (already grossly inflated), Heathrow has hiked the average score by over 8% to 813 points. The expected average (mean and median) score should be around 500. But not content with inflating the scores even more than usual, Heathrow has also inexplicably excluded 5 (China Southern, El Al, Korean Air etc) of its 50 busiest airlines from the results - but added others instead.
Summary of the hearings into the legal challenges against DfT approval of Heathrow 3rd runway
The hearings at the High Court, into the legal challenges against the government's decision to press for a 3rd Heathrow runway, were complicated. They were hard to follow, even with daily transcripts - as there were constant references to text in documents in "bundles" that the public are unable to see. Neil Spurrier, who individually brought one of the legal challenges, and is a solicitor, has done a user-friendly summary of some of the key points that came up. Four of the challenges were largely on environmental grounds (the 5th was a rival runway builder, Heathrow Hub). Neil gives a brief summary of some of the points on noise, air pollution, carbon emissions, and economic benefit including comments on the response by the government's barristers and their attempts to brush aside the criticisms. The judges may make their judgement in about May - there will probably be a few days notice before hand. As well as the summary, there are some notes made during the hearings, to help clarify some points.
Heathrow to start procuring contractors for demolition, site clearance, utility diversions etc by end of 2019
Heathrow's expansion programme director Phil Wilbraham says the airport will begin procuring construction partners at the end of this year, [assuming it passes the hurdle of the legal challenges, which ended on 22nd March ....]with construction of the 3rd runway scheduled to begin in 202. Contractors will be sought for a range of disciplines including demolition, site clearance and utility diversions. The plan is to start to procure teams at the end of 2019: "We are going to start in 2021, so we will need contractors on board next year to work with the designers and to ensure that the construction planning is done really well in advance of starting the main construction work. ... Initially we will be starting with demolition, site clearance and utility diversions. Then we will go into a major civil engineering project which will be around things like earthworks. We have got a lot of earth to move around underneath the runway. We will be moving roads like the M25, the A4 and the A304. We are moving some rivers as well.” Heathrow is “confident” legal challenges would ultimately fail and have no impact on the airport’s construction timetable.
Grayling’s team at DfT deliberately tried to conceal information about Heathrow 3rd runway noise, which might have risked “further scrutiny”
A totally damning, ‘smoking gun’ memo has been located, showing how DfT staff in November 2017 were keen to avoid information showing how bad Heathrow noise would be - and how many people would be affected - with a 3rd runway. The Times reveals how DfT staff plotted to cover up warnings about the extra aircraft noise, with a 6-page document sent to Chris Grayling (Transport Secretary) recommending blocking a plan to tell millions of households (up to 13 million people) about the extra noise they could face from a 3rd runway. Grayling and the DfT claim publicly that a 3rd runway could be introduced with fewer people affected by plane noise even with 265,000 more annual flights - which, of course, beggars belief of anyone with half a brain. The DfT memo wanted to avoid alerting people to the noise problem, for fear that would cause "disruption" and "public debate" and "further scrutiny" and “unnecessary controversy” before the parliamentary vote on the NPS (in June 2018). The memo included a map that reveals DfT officials knew well how badly vast swathes of London and southern England (and Grayling's own constituency) would be badly affected. Disgraceful DfT behaviour.
Hampstead and Highgate, with few flights overhead now, due to get bad levels of Heathrow noise
Heathrow wants to expand its operations to fly over areas with little aviation activity at present, including over north west London. The local paper for Hampstead and Highgate says that Hampstead is 500 ft above sea level and, in Heathrow’s first phase of expansion, (it wants an extra 25,000 flights per year in a couple of years from now - if permitted) it may be exposed to flights at 2,500 to 3,500 ft. The noise levels would be over 60 to 65 decibels (dB) - more than the level of background noise in a busy office - from 6am every morning. Highgate may be in the same position. That might work out as a flight overhead every 2.5 minutes between 6am and 7am and one every 10 mins thereafter from 7am to 11.30pm. If there is then a 3rd runway, there could be a flight every minute, with the noise of most being above 65dB. The negative effects on health, (from noise and air pollution) and noise impacts on the education of children are well known. The paper says: "That Heathrow is pushing ahead with expansion despite these impacts beggars belief." While more studies need to be done on the health risks of aviation noise, it is a serious concern for residents accustomed to zero noise who are then subjected to noise above 65dB at least 40 times a day
Government (James Brokenshire) rejects ‘call in’ of Stansted Airport planning application to increase passengers from 35m to 43 mppa
The Government has decided not to ‘call in’ Stansted Airport’s planning application to increase passenger numbers, which was approved by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) last year. In February 2018, Stansted Airport owners, Manchester Airports Group, submitted a planning application to UDC that sought permission for the airport to increase the annual passenger number from 35 to 43 million per year. UDC granted this planning permission in November 2018, by a narrow vote of the Planning Committee, only won by the Chairman's casting vote. The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire, has now written to say the decision by UDC is correct, saying: "... the application does not involve issues of more than local importance justifying the secretary of state’s intervention.” That is, of course, wrong as planes using Stansted fly over a wide area. Brian Ross from campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) said the planning consent still faces a legal challenge from SSE, versus the transport secretary in the High Court, which began last September. The case has been on hold for 4 months, pending the decision, but SSE is now takin legal advice on whether to widen the basis of its legal challenge.
Open letter from 90 academics to European governments – carbon offset markets (eg. CORSIA) will not effectively cut carbon
There is an interesting letter from 90 academics calling for governments to withdraw support from new carbon offset markets - with a specific reference to the UN Corsia scheme for aviation emissions. The academics call on European governments that care about climate change to withdraw their support for the creation of a new doomed carbon offset market at the COP25 this December. The proposals for carbon offsets are entirely unable to meet necessary criteria, needed to ensure they actually succeed in "offsetting" carbon. The letter says: "Yet, beyond the well-known issues of excess permits and frauds, it has also been demonstrated that carbon markets have major conceptual flaws that cannot be fixed, such as the inability to provide a reliable price signal or the fact that the climate impact of offset projects is not calculable....It is well documented that carbon markets have failed spectacularly in achieving their environmental objectives and that many carbon offset projects have a devastating social impact. In spite of this evidence, carbon markets remain the main policy tool to address climate change in Europe, based on the misguided hope that they will work “once the price is right”."
Austrian higher court approves construction of 3rd runway at Vienna Airport, refused on climate & noise grounds in Feb 2017
The Supreme Administrative Court in Austria has approved construction of a 3rd runway at Vienna Airport. The court overturned appeals made by local residents and environmental groups on the basis of noise complaints and environmental impact of the runway. Opponents had successfully argued that noise would be a problem across urban Vienna. Also that it could not be justified on climate change grounds. But the airport appealed - and has now won. It says the noise will not be a problem as there will not be landings over the Vienna city area during normal operations, and it aims at "decreasing noise pollution in the area." There are the usual claims that it will "reduce delays, fuel consumption, and noise by abolishing allotment patterns and queued aircraft during peak hours". Back in February 2017 a court said the increased greenhouse gas emissions for Austria would cause harm and climate protection is more important than creating other jobs. Also that the ability of the airport to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by its own measures were not sufficient, and emissions would rise too much. All now forgotten, it seems. Making money trumps climate stability.
Evidence on air pollution, given to the High Court hearings on a 3rd Heathrow runway, by Neil Spurrier
Neil Spurrier, a solicitor from Teddington, made one of the 5 legal challenges against the Secretary of State for Transport's decision to approve a 3rd Heathrow runway, through the Airports National Policy Statement. The legal hearings from the councils, the Mayor of London, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Plan B Earth and Mr Spurrier took place between the 15th and 19th March. There are transcripts of each day's proceedings here. Neil addressed the issue of air pollution in particular, and the emissions of NO2 and particulates from planes themselves. He made important points, such as that air pollution is known to spread much, much further from an airport than the 2 km that the DfT has tried to use. Also that there is evidence of possible damage to the foetus from particulates found in placentas of people affected by air pollution, and that the government should not be risking the health of future generations. He made the point, on ultrafine particles, that merely because they have not been specifically studied (being part of the wider category of PM 2.5), is no reason for the government to discount them or consider their impact to be negative. The absence of evidence is not enough to avoid the precautionary principle. Read the full transcripts for details.
Heathrow Airport Holdings will announce the appointment of Ruth Kelly (was Labour Transport Secretary) to its board
Heathrow Airport Holdings will announce the appointment of Ruth Kelly to its board this week. Ruth Kelly, the former Labour transport secretary, (2007 - 8) is to join the board of Heathrow Airport's parent company as it attempts to clear the remaining hurdles to the construction of its £14bn third runway. She will become a non-executive director of Heathrow Airport Holdings next month. She briefly worked for HSBC Holdings after stepping down as an MP in 2010, now sits on the board of the Financial Conduct Authority. "Her appointment will strengthen Heathrow's political connections at a critical juncture". This "revolving door" is just another to add to the long list: In September 2015 Vickie Sheriff became head of communications for Heathrow airport, having earlier worked for the Prime Minister, in 2013, with a dual role as official deputy spokesperson for the Prime Minister and head of news at Number 10. Heathrow’s director of PR, Simon Baugh, left the airport in 2015 to work at the Department for Transport to take the role of head of communications. Earlier Tom Kelly in 2009, who had worked for Tony Blair went to BAA as head of comms. There are several other examples.
An assessment by Carbon Market Watch of credit providers for the aviation offsetting scheme
Carbon Market Watch has produced a report that assesses credit providers for the ICAO CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme - which aims to compensate the growth in CO2 emissions from international aviation above 2020 levels, starting in 2021. Offsets should " offset programs will be screened against the eleven new Program Design Elements," (one of which, for example, is: "Program Governance: Programs should publicly disclose who is responsible for administration of the program and how decisions are made." Carbon Market Watch conclude that "no program can yet operate in a manner which complies with all the eligibility criteria. Some will need to update and improve certain parts of their protocols or methodologies, but all are hampered by the lack of clarity on international accounting rules to avoid double counting of emission reductions. The present assessment also highlights that the Program Design Elements are not sufficient to exclude credits with no environmental value, and that a rigorous application of the second set of criteria, the Carbon Offset Credit Integrity Assessment Criteria, is necessary and will require analysis of specific methodologies and projects."
2019 Spring Statement – how getting passengers to pay for carbon offsets is not the answer
In the Chancellor's Spring Statement, there was a mention of launching a call for evidence on offsetting transport emissions, in the hope of encouraging more travels (not only air passengers) in a vain attempt to "neutralise" their climate impact. Hammond said this would explore how travel providers - including airlines - could potentially be required to "offer genuinely additional carbon offsets so that customers who want zero carbon travel have that option can be confident about additionality". Some airlines already offer offset schemes alongside flight bookings, but take-up is about 1%. So they are not working. The Aviation Environment Federation warned offsets can never be the solution to aviation's carbon problem. "In order to meet the tough goals that states signed up to in the Paris Agreement, all countries will in any case need to reduce emissions close to zero in the coming decades, leaving little scope for any country or sector to sell their emissions reductions to airlines or air passengers by way of offset schemes," it pointed out. All that offsetting means is that carbon savings genuinely made in other sectors are cancelled out by more carbon emissions from transport (especially aviation). It just negates the carbon savings. That does nothing to cut the emissions from the transport itself, especially aviation.
Heathrow 3rd runway unlawful, says Friends of the Earth, as DfT failed to consider the need for stringent CO2 targets
Friends of the Earth have accused the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, of acting unlawfully when he agreed to the 3rd Heathrow runway, in the Airports NPS. Their lawyers at the High Court legal challenge hearings the DfT failed to consider the full impacts of climate change and the need for more stringent targets to avoid catastrophic global warming. “Friends of the Earth is concerned that the expansion of Heathrow by adding a 3rd runway will jeopardise the UK’s ability to make the very deep reductions in greenhouse gases that are necessary to prevent global warming from causing catastrophic, irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems." The Court heard that the government knew when it approved the third runway that the Paris agreement, which UK ministers have signed, was likely to involve more stringent emissions targets than domestic law required under the 2008 UK Climate Change Act. David Wolfe QC, for FoE, said ministers were told by the Committee on Climate Change in January 2018 that as a result it was “essential that actions are taken now to enable these deeper reductions to be achieved”. But Grayling pressed on regardless, ignoring the advice.
Spring Statement: there is to be a consultation about possible offsets for passengers for their CO2 emissions
The section relevant to aviation, under the heading "Clean growth" states: "The Budget 2018 set out how the government is accelerating the shift to a clean economy, building on the Industrial Strategy, Clean Growth Strategy, and 25 Year Environment Plan. The Spring Statement builds on this commitment: (several bullet points, of which the one relating to transport is: "to give people the option to travel ‘zero carbon’, the government will launch a call for evidence on Offsetting Transport Emissions to explore consumer understanding of the emissions from their journeys and their options to offset them. This will also look into whether travel providers should be required to offer carbon offsets to their customers." Note, this is not only mentioning aviation. And nothing is settled, till there is the consultation - no date given for that. [ All this seems to mean is nothing whatsoever to cut demand for air travel. Most offsets are useless, and do not achieve cuts in carbon. (Aviation CO2 emissions are added to the atmosphere, cancelling out whatever savings were achieved by the offset created elsewhere). AW note].
At Heathrow legal hearings, Court told Grayling left thousands of people in the dark over the impact of Heathrow flight paths if expansion allowed
Chris Grayling left thousands of people in the dark over increased noise pollution from an expanded Heathrow by under-stating the impact of new flight paths. At the High Court hearings, lawyers for five London councils, the London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Greenpeace claim this amounts to a breach of the law under which the Transport Secretary should have identified all areas that might be affected. The Councils say that instead of an environmental report showing which communities were going to be hit by noise from flights, Mr Grayling only published "indicative flight paths." They say "The flight paths were drawn in such a way that the numbers of people affected were minimised. This meant the health and environmental costs of the north west runway were understated." Maps compiled by the councils suggest as many as 1 million more households will be affected by planes at 7,000 ft, or below, with decibel levels of at least 65, (equivalent to a vacuum cleaner in a room). A vast circular area stretching from Didcot in the west, Dartford and Romford in the east, Tring, Harpenden and Welwyn Garden City to the north, and Godalming, Leatherhead, Epsom and Copthorne - and many more places - to the south would be affected. The NPS failed to deal properly with the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion.
How the UK government misled Parliament on Heathrow expansion and climate change
A new briefing from Friends of the Earth, West London, (FoE-WL) sets out how the government misled Parliament on the CO2 emissions that would be generated if a 3rd Heathrow runway was allowed. In its National Policy Statement (NPS) presented to Parliament in June 2018 the DfT said expansion could "be delivered within the UK’s carbon obligations ..” FoE-WL says unfortunately, there is no evidence to support that assertion. The advice on CO2 from the UK aviation sector is that it should not be above 37.5MtCO2 in 2050. But the DfT's own figures show this being exceeded. A 3rd runway would increase CO2 emissions by about 3.3MtCO2 per year. This information was not disclosed in the NPS presented to Parliament. Instead, data was buried in the mass of ‘supporting information’ (as usual). All the government has to offer is slight carbon efficiency gains per plane in future, and some use of biofuels (highly dubious) - and "carbon offsetting". In reality there is no global trading system of any sort on the horizon, let alone one which would offset aviation’s increase with genuine reductions elsewhere. It is unlikely the UN's CORSIA scheme, which the UK government is placing its trust in, will be effective.
Severe impact of 3rd Heathrow runway on residents laid out in High Court hearing
The Government's approval of a third runway is being challenged at the High Court by a coalition of councils, residents, environmental charities and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. Representing five London boroughs, Greenpeace and Mr Khan, Nigel Pleming QC said the plans could see the number of passengers using Heathrow rise to around 132 million, a 60% increase. Mr Pleming said: "The new development, if it goes ahead, will add, in effect, a new airport with the capacity of Gatwick to the north of Heathrow" and that the adverse effects and consequences for local residents of such an expansion are "bound to be severe". The legal challenges (other than the one by Heathrow Hub) say the Government's National Policy Statement (NPS) setting out its support for the project fails to properly deal with the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion. The claimants argue the NPS is unlawful and should be quashed, which would mean the Government would have to start the process again and put it to another vote in Parliament. Scores of demonstrators gathered outside the court ahead of the hearing, addressed by MPs, Council leaders and campaigners. All are determined that this runways is NOT going to go ahead. The hearings will last for 2 weeks.
Judicial reviews into government approval of Heathrow 3rd runway plans begins on 11th March
London’s High Court will on Monday 11th March begin a judicial review into the government’s approval of a third runway at Heathrow airport, with local authorities, environmentalists and rival bidders arguing the £14bn scheme should be scrapped. Five legal challenges to the decision are being heard together, including one brought by a consortium of local authorities (Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Windsor & Maidenhead), Greenpeace and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, on the grounds of air quality, climate change, noise pollution and transport access. The negative impacts of Heathrow already affect many councils, and those would get far worse with planned expansion to have 50% more annual flights. John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: “Governments are very happy to talk the talk when it comes to protecting the air we breathe and the climate we all share, but unfortunately getting them to walk the walk often takes legal action.” There is also a legal challenge by Heathrow Hub, which wants to build a 3rd runway by extending the current northern runway, rather than adding a runway further north. The hearings are expected to last about two weeks, with the judgment being reserved.
How Heathrow has been getting away with paying so little tax to the UK government
UK tax rules have allowed airports like Heathrow to pay far less tax than they should. It is estimated that Heathrow's foreign owners have been able to get a tax break of perhaps £120 million per year from the UK government. And the airport’s shareholders (which include the governments of China, Qatar and Singapore - with only 10% by the USS being British - .have paid themselves about £3 billion in dividends in 5 years. Rules on how firms can cut tax bills due to large debt interest payments began in 2017, but the Treasury has given an exemption for infrastructure projects like Heathrow. The think-tank, Taxwatch, said: “In the case of Heathrow, the benefits of the exemption appear to flow overwhelmingly to the owners of the company.” ..."The company was bought using a huge amount of debt. Instead of paying back the debt themselves, the new owners managed to push this liability on to Heathrow, making the company liable for large interest payments... The large debt repayments wiped out the company’s pre-tax profit.” Revenues at Heathrow have risen to £2.9billion but its owners have paid little corporation tax, due to massive debts. Between 2007 and 2014 the group reported a total pre-tax loss of more than £2 billion, and paid just £15 million in corporation tax. In the past 3 years it declared pre-tax profits of more than £1 billion, leading to corporation tax payments of £122 million (ie. £70 million in 2018 and £53 million in 2017.
Heathrow issues €650m bond, to borrow more money, weeks before Brexit deadline
Heathrow Airport has placed a €650m (£558.9m) bond with only weeks to go before the UK is due to leave the European Union. The 15-year bond was backed by current and new investors, which were mostly European, and reached an order book in excess of €2.8bn (ie. there was demand of that amount). Heathrow said the high demand for the bond "shows investor confidence in Heathrow's expansion plans and resilience ahead of Brexit." The bond means Heathrow hopes to extend the duration of its debt portfolio - ie. taking more time to pay it all back - for its 3rd runway expansion plans. It said the funds will be used on day-to-day corporate spending. The airport's director of treasury and corporate finance, said: “The transaction delivers on our strategy of further diversification, longer duration and stronger liquidity." Heathrow hopes, at the earliest, that the runway might open in 2026 - but it has a large number of hurdles to overcome before them, including the long DCO (Development Consent Order) process, that is the equivalent of a planning application, but for a vast project - with the decision taken out of the hands of the local authority, and made by government instead (a process devised to avoid the sort of long delays they had on Terminal Five).
ICAO working on rules to at least ensure its CORSIA carbon credits for aviation are not double-counted
Rules to avoid double-counting of CO2 emissions cuts in offsets to be used by the aviation sector through the (weak, ineffective) ICAO CORSIA scheme, are considered to be a step forward by some campaigners. But proper assurances are needed to meet aviation's climate pledges, so the claims of (sic) "carbon neutral growth" mean something. ICAO negotiators have agreed rules to prevent double-counting of carbon credits used to offset airline emissions. As air traffic growth outpaces efficiency improvements, airlines will be expected to pay for emissions reductions in other sectors to offset the climate impact. In one of its secretive meetings, ICAO has adopted broad criteria to ensure those carbon offsets are not also counted towards national targets - and they actually represent extra CO2 emissions savings. Campaigners are also calling for an age limit on eligible carbon offsetting projects and transparency around the way the rules are put into practice. There is a huge pool of dormant projects under the UN’s CDM that could, in theory, meet demand from airlines for carbon offsets. But most of those would continue cutting emissions, even without being used by aviation. So they are not additional.
Epsom & Ewell Borough Council sends highly critical response to Heathrow’s expansion plans – inflicting hugely more aircraft noise on them
Epsom & Ewell Borough is an area that is currently overflown by Heathrow planes at about 6,000 and 7,000 feet. Its Council has submitted a robust response to Heathrow's airspace change consultation, furious about the vastly worse noise burden with which the borough is threatened. The proposals would perhaps mean additional flights operating as low as 3,000 feet at a frequency of up to 47 flights per hour for arrivals, and 17 flights per hour for departures. Even the extra flights, in the short term, through IPA, could result in 25 flights per hour operating as low as 3,000 feet between 6am to 7am and 6 flights per hour at other times. Cllr Eber Kington, Chairman of the Council's Strategy & Resources Committee, said the changes could mean a four to five-fold increase in noise levels in addition to the significant additional impact from the frequency of flights overhead and the impact on air quality. Cllr O'Donovan complained at how bad the consultation was. Residents are angry that their own MP, Chris Grayling, is pushing for these hugely damaging noise impacts on his own constituents and voters - with inevitable decrease in local quality of life.
Heathrow in 2018 made 58.8% of total revenue from aeronautical; 24% from retail (which includes 4.24% – £126 million – from car parking)
Heathrow has reported a retail revenue increase of 8.6% to £716 million in the year ended 31 December 2018 compared to a year earlier. Total revenue in the period rose 3% to £2,970 million. Retail is 24.1% of that. It was 22.9% in 2017 and 22% in 2016). Retail revenue per passenger was £8.94 (up 5.8% from £8.45 in 2017, which was up 4.5% on 2016. Heathrow says growth in retail income was due to increased passenger traffic in the period to 80.1 million (up 2.7% from 78 million in 2017, which was up 3.1% on 2016) and Heathrow's new "call to gate initiative - which increases passenger dwell time in the departure lounge." The amount of income from car parking, which is included in retail, was £126 million in 2018, (up 5% on the £120 million in 2017, which was itself up 5.3% on 2016.) Car parking made up 17.6% of total retail income in 2018, and 18% in 2017). Car parking income was £114 million in 2016 and £107 million in 2015. Heathrow made £128 million in 2018 from "other retail" which "reflects a significant increase in advertising income from improved utilisation of advertising spaces."That was up 17.4% from £109 in 2017, and £110 million in 2016. Aeronautical income was £1,745 million in 2018, 1.7% up from £1,716m in 2016. Aeronautical income was 58.75% of total revenue in 2018, and was 60.53% of total revenue in 2016 when it was £1,699 million.
Heathrow’s shareholders get £500m as profits rise (including income of £126m from car parking)
IAG, the owner of British Airways, is angry that Heathrow has paid out £500 million in dividends to its foreign investors while charging its airline customers more. IAG says the dividend payments – now totalling £3.5 billion since 2012 – make Heathrow more costly for airline passengers (so slightly deterring them from flying perhaps). Heathrow said "It is right that our shareholders receive returns in record years and it will ensure we expand whilst keeping airport charges close to 2016 levels." Heathrow's top shareholders include the Qatar Investment Authority, Singapore's GIC and the China Investment Corporation. Its largest single investor is Spain's Ferrovial. The only UK shareholder is the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) with a 10% stake. Heathrow's figures out last week show revenue growth of 3% to £2.97 billion in 2018 with 80.1 million passengers (up 2.7% from 78 million). Car parking income was £126 million (up 5% from £120 million in 2017). Retail revenue per passenger was £8.94 (up 5.8% from £8.45 in 2017). Total retail income was £716 million (up 8.6% from £659 million in 2017). Heathrow paid £70 million (2017: £53 million) in corporation tax.
Council leaders say Grayling’s claim a 50% larger Heathrow, with new flight paths, will mean fewer people affected by plane noise is a giant con
Heathrow's own noise maps in its current "consultation" show vast areas in and around London to be negatively affected by aircraft noise from Heathrow, if it was allowed 25,000 more annual flights or a 3rd runway. Many areas of the capital and the home counties that have not previously suffered jet noise, could be getting up to 47 flights per hour overhead. Many areas not currently overflown could have planes over them as low as 3,000 feet. Some areas currently somewhat overflown will get more planes going over them, and at lower altitudes. Heathrow deliberately keeps the details vague. In October 2016 Grayling promised parliament that “fewer people will be affected by noise than is the case today” after the third runway was built - even though there would be than 250,000 extra flights a year, equivalent to bolting an additional airport almost the size of Gatwick onto the existing site. Affected councils are challenging the government decision in the courts, starting on 11th March. Ravi Govindia, the Tory leader of Wandsworth council, said the public had been the victims of a “giant con”: “It beggars belief that people will believe Chris Grayling in his assertion that no more people will be affected." The DfT commented that "We absolutely refute these claims and are confident that fewer people will be affected by noise pollution under the new flight paths planned." (sic)
Heathrow expansion plan involves large number of low planes over lovely, tranquil (now) Richmond Park
Richmond Park has been known for its rich wildlife and tranquil landscape for hundreds of years, but the proposed expansion of Heathrow would mean hundreds of aircraft flying at low altitude it. Maps of the new flight paths, from Heathrow's consultation, show the extent of proposed air traffic over Richmond Park, with some aircraft flying as low as 300 metres (1,000ft). Current flight paths to Heathrow are not routed directly over the park. The consultation documents indicate that - with a 3rd runway - up to 47 arrivals per hour and between 17 and 47 departures would fly directly over the park (a SSSI and national nature reserve) at below 900 metres. Heathrow’s flights are currently capped at 480,000 a year, but it wants to increase this by 25,000 in 2021 and further to around 720,000 when/if the 3rd runway is built. The noise and pollution from the planes overhead would be disastrous for the sensitive wildlife and the tranquillity. The Park is visited by more than 5.5 million people per year. Thousands of nocturnal animals – including 11 of the UK’s 17 bat species, (all protected by law), as well as little owls and tawny owls – will be threatened. This is just another "price that Heathrow is demanding of residents, so that it can increase its operations" by 50%. It is "simply disproportionate and unacceptable.”
Study confirms that relying on outdated CDM carbon credits to compensate aviation emissions will do nothing for climate action
The UN's new, very weak, scheme to attempt to do something about global aviation CO2 emissions is starting soon. It is the "Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation" (CORSIA). Countries have been trying to locate cheap, plentiful carbon credits that airlines can use. The process is secretive. One type of carbon credit being considered comes from the CDM, (Clean Development Mechanism) a carbon market established under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to allow rich countries to meet their climate targets at a cheaper cost. This climate tool has generated a lot of controversy around its failure to reduce emissions, as well as negative impacts it has had on local communities and the environment. The problem is that there is a huge supply of "junk" CDM credits, far larger than the amount aviation would need. These junk credits are often from projects to cut CO2 emissions which would happen anyway. If these junk credits are the ones the aviation sector uses, the effect would be an increase in global CO2. There is also the problem that while all credits are far too cheap to be effective, the junk ones are even cheaper - so not costing airlines enough to in any way be an incentive to limit their CO2 emissions.
Highways England warned Heathrow (spring 2018) about problems (including driver distraction) with the M25 being in a tunnel under the 3rd runway
Highways England has said that Heathrow’s possible 3rd runway over the M25 may lead to more accidents because of drivers being distracted by aircraft landing on a large bridge above them. The sight of huge passenger planes landing (or even taxiing) could cause motorists to take their eyes off the road. Highways England has told Heathrow to introduce measures to “reduce driver distraction” on the affected section of the M25, which is Britain’s busiest stretch of motorway - 6 lanes in each direction at that point. This could include lengthening the tunnel under the runway or simplifying the road layout. Heathrow was also told to consider the “landing zone of aircraft”, suggesting they should avoid arrivals directly over the road itself. The intention is to lower the M25 by 7 metres, while raising the runway slightly. Highways England is also concerned that there is a high risk of “fatigue damage” to the tunnel caused by aircraft as big as the A380 and Boeing 747, on the runway above it, so it could have a reduced lifespan. They also say the runway must be “raised enough to avoid the M25 having a gradient of more than 3% which would cause lorries to move slowly, leading to congestion. Heathrow was told this in spring 2018. The full details will be published for public consultation in June.
Heathrow and airlines agree deal to increase load factors, so more passengers (more money towards expansion costs)
Heathrow has done a deal with airlines, to increase numbers and passengers and its profits. The deal will extend the current regulatory settlement to 2021 and includes an incentive for airlines to grow passenger numbers. Airline moves to fill their existing aircraft could result in further reductions to airport charges and will "help unlock affordable growth." (Jargon!) The aim is to get higher load factors for the planes, as Heathrow's are below IATA averages. Getting more passengers per plane will mean there might be slightly lower costs per head, in landing charges - and more passengers in total. So Heathrow hopes to "share" the costs of its expansion plans between more people ie (jargon) "releasing funds to drive investment and growth." The CAA has "supported the negotiation of the commercial arrangement and is expected to launch a public consultation on the solution in the coming weeks." " If airlines at Heathrow reached global averages for filling aircraft there is an opportunity to reduce passenger charges by 10-20% against what they might otherwise be, in addition to helping Heathrow meet the Government’s affordability target for expansion". The CAA has said Heathrow must keep its landing charges low. This will help it do so. More passengers per plane.
GMB union (keen on the 3rd runway) calls on Heathrow to force airport contractors to pay living wage (which they do not)
GMB – the union representing many staff at Heathrow (that strongly backs a 3rd runway) – has urged it to force contractors to pay their employees the living wage, after the airport announced the busiest year in its history. Revenue climbed by 3% last year to £3 billion, and £2.3 billion was raised from private investors across 7 currencies (up from £1 billion in 2017). Adjusted profit before tax was £267 million, up 23% on 2017. The airport also said airport charges fell 1% to £21.78. Last year, GMB welcomed the airport’s announcement that all contracted staff working at Heathrow will be paid the London Living Wage of £10.55 per hour by 2020. But contractors have been slow to back the commitment. Over the past 3 years GMB have led the campaign for ensuring all staff at Heathrow, both direct and contracted, are paid the London Living Wage. GMB's regional organiser for aviation and Heathrow, Perry Phillips said Heathrow's profits mean "that success is built on the back of 1000s of workers who keep the airport clean, safe and operational. Yet despite these blockbuster results, many of them don’t earn enough to live on, enough to make sure their rent is paid and their families are fed. That can’t be right.
Greta Thunberg: EU needs a minimum of 80% CO2 reduction by 2030 (not 40%) and that must include aviation & shipping
The remarkable Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg, says the EU cannot just "wait for us to grow up and become the ones in charge". She told political and business leaders in Brussels that the EU should double its climate change reduction targets to do its fair share in keeping the planet below a dangerous level of global warming. She started doing a solo school strike, in Sweden, on Fridays outside the parliament, to try to draw attention to the problem of climate change - and how no real action is being taken to combat it. The school strikes have spread around the world, with tens of thousands of students taking part. We need a fall in global carbon emissions soon. The EU intention to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels. Greta told them this is not going to keep global warming below 1.5C. “This target is not sufficient to protect the future for children growing up today. If the EU is to make its fair contribution to stay within the carbon budget for the 2C limit then it needs a minimum of 80% reduction by 2030, and that includes aviation and shipping.” Greta said "When people talk about the climate strikes … they talk about almost anything except for the climate crisis... They don’t want to talk about the climate crisis … they just want to change the subject.”
Report by Biofuelwatch shows aviation biofuels could not be produced at scale from wastes and residues – palm oil would be used instead
A new report about aviation biofuels, published by the environmental NGO Biofuelwatch, exposes the strict limits to the amount of such fuels which could be sourced from wastes and residues - as well as their adverse indirect impacts. ICAO wants to get large amounts of biofuel for the aviation industry, in an effort to claim the fuel is "low carbon". In reality, the report confirms, the limits to the amount of suitable wastes and residues would make it impossible for airlines to avoid virgin vegetable oils – especially palm oil – if they were to start using biofuels on a large scale. The report focusses on WorldEnergy’s refinery in California, until now the only one to regularly produce biofuels for aircraft. So far all of the biofuels made at the Paramount refinery have been made from tallow, which is a residue from slaughter houses. Given the scarcity of tallow, WorldEnergy is now planning to diversify into Used Cooking Oil and a corn oil residue from corn ethanol refineries. There are only limited amounts of these. To scale up their use of biofuels, airlines would resort to palm oil, and this would be disastrous for the climate, for forests, the wildlife they support, and for forest-dependent communities.
Packed hall attend Teddington Action Group meeting to discuss Heathrow’s Airspace Consultation
Over 300 people attended a meeting organised by the Teddington Action Group (TAG) to discuss Heathrow's Airspace Consultation, and urge residents to respond by 4th March. Among the speakers, Paul McGuinness (Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition) reminded the audience that these were the first details of how Heathrow plan to break the promises made to communities at the time its 5th Terminal was built – that the airport would accept a cap of 480,000 per year and never apply to build a 3rd runway: "... by any reasonable standards, what Heathrow is demanding communities to endure so it can increase flights by over 50%, is wholly disproportionate". Speakers explained how massive the noise impact would be on Richmond and Twickenham. Stephen Clark said: "Easterly departures will carry more planes along concentrated flight paths, at lower altitude, while arrivals traffic would now fly above them simultaneously". Physicist Dr David Gilbert, explained how the DfT assessment of noise had significantly underestimated its impact, and how Richmond residents living under the proposed Independent Parallel Approaches (IPA) will be subjected to continuous, unbroken days of noise.
Fungal blooms on the River Crane may be caused by pollution from Heathrow outfall
Local voluntary group, the Friends of the River Crane Environment (FORCE - or Citizen Crane) keep an eye on the river Crane, which flows past Heathrow. They monitor the water quality, oxygen levels and invertebrate numbers. It appears there is a current problem with blooms of pale grey brown sewage fungus on the river bed found immediately downstream of the Heathrow outfall. In the past there have been numerous incidents of water pollution caused by the use of glycol to de-ice planes. This then gets in to water balancing reservoir, and hence into the River Crane. Algal blooms are formed, due to the pollution, reducing the water's oxygen and thus harming, or killing, creatures in the river. Heathrow is thought to have recently installed a £17 million water treatment system, and it had been hoped this would end the pollution incidents caused by glycol. However, it does not yet appear to be working as expected. FORCE will continue to monitor the situation closely and will also request a statement from Heathrow.
A new site for the Colnbrook Lakeside incinerator located – how much is Heathrow going to pay?
A new site has been identified for a replacement facility for the UK's largest residual waste incinerating facility, in Slough. Lakeside "Energy from Waste", which is operated by Grundon Waste Management and Viridor, have announced plans to develop proposals for a replacement facility west of the Iver South Treatment Works, around 600 metres north west of the current location. The owners of the site have been working with Heathrow to identify the new site. The facilities will need to be moved, as the current site would be demolished to make way for a possible third runway. Site studies and environmental assessments are being carried out, which will form a part of the planning application. Upon completion, more information will be presented at a public consultation in the spring. This consultation is separate from the current Heathrow Aerospace change consultation, and then the Heathrow Expansion consultation in June. The planning process will be a long one, needing new environmental permits etc. It is difficult to get planning consent for an incinerator, as people dislike having potentially very harmful emissions (including dioxins) in their local air, from the burning of the vast range of substances in domestic etc waste. It is unknown how much Heathrow will pay for the relocation of the incinerator.
ICAO’s environment committee comes up with some standards for new aircraft, years ahead
The meeting of the ICAO "Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) in Montreal has ended. The committee's purpose is to try to reduce and limit the environmental damage done by the aviation industry (noise, air pollution, carbon emissions). It has not been very successful to date. This meeting has agreed on an Aircraft Engine Standard: "A new stringency level that would limit the emissions of non-volatile Particulate Matter (nvPM) from aircraft engines was agreed. The ICAO standard is expected to drive technologies to address non-volatile particulate matter, which in the long run will minimise their potential environmental and health impacts." ie. for planes yet to be built, with any impacts decades ahead. At least admitting the problem of PM particles produced by planes. On noise ICAO said: "The meeting also delivered ...improvements of aircraft noise up to 15.5 dB below Chapter 14 limits for single-aisle aircraft by 2027, NOx emission by 54 per cent relative to the latest ICAO NOx SARPs and fuel efficiency up to 1.3% per annum can be expected for the new aircraft entering into production." Again, for new planes, with no real impact for decades. On CORSIA they said CAEP had agreement (not spelled out) on how to assess life-cycle CO2 emissions reductions for biofuels or other lower carbon fuels. ie. not a lot.
Letter from Lord Deben, Chairman of the CCC – to Grayling on “Aviation 2050” the DfT’s aviation strategy green paper
In a letter to Chris Grayling, dated 12th February, Lord Deben provides the Committee on Climate Change's views on the current aviation strategy green paper consultation, Aviation 2050 – The future of UK aviation. [the aviation green paper]. He says "You will be aware that my Committee has been asked by Ministers to offer advice on the implications of the Paris Agreement for the UK’s statutory framework, including when ‘net-zero’ emissions can be achieved. A stronger UK target would require more effort from all sectors, including aviation. We intend to provide an updated view on the appropriate long-term ambition for aviation emissions within our advice on the UK’s long-term targets. We will publish our report in spring. Following that, we will write to you directly to set out the implications for the Aviation Strategy." It also says: "The final white paper should further clarify that this will be met on the basis of actual emissions, rather than by relying on international offset credits." And "Achieving aviation emissions at or below 2005 levels in 2050 will require contributions from all parts of the aviation sector,... It will also require steps to limit growth in demand. In the absence of a true zero-carbon plane, demand cannot continue to grow unfettered over the long-term." Read the whole letter.
Chiswick, Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush, etc residents horrified & stunned by likely impact of Heathrow proposed airspace changes
Residents from Chiswick, Shepherds Bush and Hammersmith were stunned to hear that their area would experience 25,000 extra flights by 2022 - and a further 260,000 by 2026 if a 3rd Heathrow runway were ever to open. Over 300 residents turned out to a heavily over-subscribed meeting, organised by the No 3rd Runway Coalition, to learn how the plans for airspace change at Heathrow will drastically impact their area. The meeting also heard from local MPs Ruth Cadbury and Andy Slaughter, Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council Stephen Cowan, as well as local campaign groups Chiswick Against the Third Runway, Bedford Park Society and Hammersmith & Fulham No 3rd Runway. The airport is currently consulting across west London (and wider) on how future operations at the airport would work with a 3rd runway, with a range of options put forward for consultation. By the end of the meeting there was outrage as people understood the impacts, and the extent of the noise nuisance, that is proposed for the communities of Chiswick, Stamford Brook and Ravenscourt Park. Those changes could start within a few years. It is vital that people who will be newly, and very negatively affected, respond to the consultation, stressing their strong opposition.
Dutch Sec of State for Finance says an EU airline tax needed to limit low-cost flights
The Dutch Secretary of State for Finance, Menno Snel, has said the EU needs an airline tax to disincentivise consumers from using low-budget airlines for frequent travel. Mr Snel is to make his pitch for an EU-wide tax at a meeting of European finance ministers, as a way to curb aviation CO2 emissions. He said: “We need to come up with some ideas. It’s not sustainable that we fly for a weekend with some friends all around Europe, when we could do it with the train.” Using the example of a €19 return ticket from Amsterdam to Berlin, he said: “[People] understand it’s not a fair price right now.” Mr Snel said the tax could complement emissions reduction programs like the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) and the UN's CORSIA. He said just having a carbon price does not mean there cannot ALSO be taxes on flights. Aviation is an under-taxed sector, paying no fuel duty and no VAT. He understands that CORSIA itself is not sufficient to even dent aviation carbon emissions, and more taxes on flights are needed - on a global scale. Mr Snell will suggest an EU-wide minimum ticket tax, above which individual countries could charge more. EU tax initiatives require unanimity to be adopted.
Critics attack secrecy at UN’s ICAO CAEP committee, tasked with cutting global airline CO2 emissions
A UN ICAO committee, Committee on Aviation and Environmental Protection (CAEP), with the job of cutting global aircraft carbon emissions (an issue of global concern) is meeting secretly, for discussions dominated by airline industry observers. The committee always meets behind closed doors; the press and other observers are not allowed in (unlike other UN committees). The committee's agenda and discussion documents are not released to the public or the international press. Anyone who leaks documents being discussed faces “unlimited liability for confidentiality breaches”, according to ICAO rules. The only non-governmental body not linked to the airline industry allowed into the meeting is the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA), made up of a small group of international environmental NGOs. Transparency International says “Agencies which set common global standards for large, international industries have to be transparent in order to prevent capture by corporate interests ... " A key concern is that the committee wants to certify biofuels, that are definitely NOT environmentally sustainable, as low carbon. And also fossil oil, produced using solar energy - also NOT a low carbon fuel. The committee needs to be open to public scrutiny.