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Latest news stories:

Bim Afolami, MP for Hitchin & Harpenden, says Luton Airport expansion plans to 38 mppa ‘unsuitable’

Conservative Bim Afolami, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, has said the proposed expansion of Luton Airport is both "unsuitable" and "unsustainable", and its growth would be "Bedfordshire's gain - Hertfordshire's pain" in terms of noise and pollution. The airport, owned by Luton Borough Council, published its ambitious growth plan - to expand not only to 18 million annual passengers, but to 36 - 38 million  - in December. It hopes to reach the 38 million by 2050 with 240,000 flights a year, using its one existing runway. The local geography is such that adding a second runway would be virtually impossible - slopes. Mr Afolami told a Westminster Hall debate on Tuesday that he "was not against airports" and "recognised the jobs and economic growth the airport brings to the UK and to Luton" ....but "The proposed expansion to more than double Luton's passenger numbers is both unsuitable to the local area and unsustainable in the context of the constraints that exist in rural Hertfordshire.  Luton is just not the right place for an airport of the proposed size of 38m passengers." However, Transport Minister Paul Maynard said that the airport was already "actively engaged" in local consultation.

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Jo Johnson (Boris’ brother) moved to DfT as Transport Minister – role re. Heathrow not yet clear

Jo Johnson (MP for Orpington) has been moved from his job as universities minister following a row over the appointment of Toby Young to the new universities regulator. Theresa May’s decision to appoint Jo Johnson as a transport minister  at the DfT also sets up a potential conflict between him and his brother, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, over the expansion of Heathrow. Jo Johnson has replaced John Hayes as Transport Minister, so it is possible he will have responsibility for expanding Heathrow.  Jo Johnson expressed his opposition to a 3rd Heathrow runway in 2011. John Hayes was expert in avoiding giving answers to any question on Heathrow.  The DfT website just says:  "Jo Johnson was appointed Minister of State at the Department for Transport and Minister for London on 9 January 2018. Jo was Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation from July 2016 to January 2018. He was elected Conservative MP for Orpington in May 2010 and re-elected in May 2015."  Boris Johnson has been a longtime vocal critic of a 3rd Heathrow runway.  Jo Johnson has also been appointed minister for London ahead of what could be tough local elections in the capital in May this year for the Tories.

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BA to cut flights between Heathrow and Leeds Bradford from 20 to 10 per week – they are not profitable

British Airways says its flights from Leeds Bradford Airport to Heathrow are being cut by 50% “to match demand”. The changes are due to start in summer 2018.  BA has not been making money on these flights. A spokesman for Leeds Bradford Airport said the cut in BA flights from 20 to 10 per week was a blow to their hopes that Heathrow’s ongoing runway expansion plans would have attracted more people to Yorkshire. “As the international gateway for Yorkshire and given our continued support for a 3rd runway at Heathrow, this news is disappointing for the largest region in the UK.  .... “We hope the people of Yorkshire will still fully support the route, enabling us to prove to British Airways that the largest region in the UK can support a viable and profitable service going forward.”  The Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, Paul McGuinness commented that the pledges Heathrow had made to increase its number of domestic links are not credible. It is not in the gift of an airport to determine which air links exist - that is up to airlines, which will only fly routes that are profitable, unless they receive continuing subsidies to run routes at a loss. "It also reminds us of the short-sightedness of those who have been lulled into supporting Heathrow's campaign to concentrate (yet again) all the best tax payer funded infrastructure in the already, disproportionately well endowed South East of the country."

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Luton airport now hoping not only for 18 million annual passengers, but up to 38 million

Luton airport is planning to increase its annual number of passengers to 18 million, from around 15 million at present. Work is under way to achieve this, with new buildings, new taxiways etc. However, the airport is now saying it plans to take advantage of an apparent shortage of runway capacity in the south east, in the coming decade, to try to grow to 36 - 38 million annual passengers.  This has come as a surprise to many. Only two weeks earlier an airport senior manager was asked what happens when Luton reaches 18mppa, and he said they would flat-line as the terminal could not cope with any more people. The Chairman of LLACC (the Consultative Committee) did not about it either. Also, LLAL (the arm of Luton BC that owns the airport) recently purchased a huge tract of land nearby (Wigmore Park) and said it would not be used to expand the airport but to diversify business-land investment. However it appears that the airport may be planning a new terminal on the land, as the only way to achieve new growth aspirations.  Hertfordshire County Council are doubtful about the expansion, raising many possible negative impacts for the area, including surface access traffic. 

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London City airport has no air passenger growth in 2017, compared to 5% in 2016 and 18% in 2015

London City Airport has announced flat passenger numbers for 2017 with no growth. Compared to that, passenger numbers rose by 5% in 2016 (with 2% rise in ATM s) and rose by 18% in 2015 (compared to 2014) with ATMs up 13%. So a very definite slow down now.  There were some 4,511,100 passengers in 2017 , down from about 4,536,050 in 2016. A spokesperson for the airport said the dip was due to "a variety of factors", including some airlines choosing to move flights to other airports, "reflecting the more challenging economic environment". CityJet trimmed the size of its operation, while other airlines cut some routes. The busiest route from London City was Amsterdam in 2017, followed by Edinburgh, Dublin, Zurich and Milan. London City Airport plans to expand, with 7 new aircraft stands, a parallel taxiway to maximise runway capacity, and a terminal extension to make room for more passengers, with completion in 2021. The project was originally expected to cost £400m, but that has now risen to £480m.  The airport hopes for greatly increased passenger numbers, as it adds "much needed" capacity at peak times. 

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Heathrow spin on cutting (by a tiny further amount) its charges for domestic air passengers

Heathrow has put out a rather coy press release, crowing about how it is cutting charges for domestic air passengers. The aim is to encourage more to fly on domestic routes to and from Heathrow. They say they are cutting the charge by £15 per passenger, but carefully avoid giving the current or future figure.  The charge per passenger is probably around £31 now, on domestic or European flights, and will be around £15. But no details are given. Earlier publications by Heathrow indicate they gave a £10 discount last year, so the £15 is only a small increase - but being used to generate positive publicity.  Heathrow knows the Airports Commission believed the number of domestic links to Heathrow would actually fall over time, with a new runway. Heathrow is desperate to get regional politicians to believe the 3rd runway would give them better flights to Heathrow, to get support for the vote in Parliament on the 3rd runway, some time in the first half of 2018. The only way Heathrow can support more domestic flights is by subsidising them, with a route development fund.  How long the airport would be prepared, once it has its runway, to continue the expensive subsidy is anyone's guess. The subsidy could be seen as anti-competitive, especially with (far lower carbon) rail travel.

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Speculation grows that GIP and the consortium of Gatwick owners will sell the airport soon

Gatwick’s private equity owners have had a £175 million dividend as speculation mounts over a sale of the airport. The dividend, paid in October 2017, was up from £125m a year earlier and followed 6 months of rising passenger numbers and profits.  Gatwick is owned by Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) and a consortium of investors, who bought it for £1.5 billion in 2009 from the former airports monopoly BAA.  They have improved the airport, attracting more airlines, and now have 44 million annual air passengers. That has increased the value of the airport to an estimated £6 - £8 billion. GIP also owned London City airport, which they sold almost 2 years ago for over £2 billion, making a huge profit. City experts believe GIP is now looking to sell one or both of its 2 remaining UK airports, Gatwick and Edinburgh - or at least reduce its stake.  A sale of Gatwick would be a vast profit. There is speculation that GIP would have sold Edinburgh earlier, but held back due to the German election and complications of Brexit. Gatwick is still keen to build a 2nd runway, but the government prefers a 3rd Heathrow runway. Consultations on that will continue in 2018, and Gatwick continues to press for its runway - as that would raise the selling price.

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Four important councils say DfT’s Heathrow 3rd runway inquiry “illegal because ministers are biased”

Four Conservative-run councils (Windsor & Maidenhead, Hillingdon, Richmond & Wandsworth) say pro-Heathrow statements made by Conservative ministers including Chris Grayling (Transport Secretary) could mean that the current DfT consultation on adding a 3rd Heathrow runway is unlawful. They say that “A consultation, to be lawful, must be approached with an open mind”. The intervention by the councils will increase and prolong uncertainty over the expansion of Heathrow - or any other new runway. The second consultation by the DfT (itself highly biased in favour of adding a 3rd Heathrow runway) on the expansion of Heathrow (the Airports National Policy Statement consultation) ended before Christmas. The four boroughs questioned the legality of the inquiry in their responses. Their submissions cite pro-Heathrow comments from Mr Grayling and Lord Callanan, the former aviation minister. The transport secretary said in October that the government was “aiming to give [the third runway] the formal go-ahead in the first half of next year” and that the expansion would “make a difference right across this country”.  The boroughs are members of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, which has long argued that expansion should be stopped.

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Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, gets home visit from carolling anti-3rd-runway campaigners

A group of residents facing the misery that would result from a 3rd Heathrow runway made a light-hearted festive protest outside the home of the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling by singing re-worded Christmas carols  -on the last night of the government Draft Airports NPS consultation. Only a couple of the campaigners knew the destination in advance so it wasn't until leaving Harmondsworth that everyone discovered they would be singing outside Grayling's house, his retreat from the daily grind of plotting the destruction of other people's homes.  Grayling himself was in Parliament at the time, and no family members appeared to be at home. The protesters drank mulled wine and festive drinks, and sang their own renditions of well-known carols, with suitably altered, anti-runway, words. A Stop Heathrow Expansion spokesperson commented "Looking down the drive from the road and seeing the sprawling detached house with it's huge Christmas tree displayed in the un-curtained front window, it is easy to see why our Secretary State has no comprehension of the misery he will inflict on others with a third runway." And they hoped Grayling would "spare a thought for people who face another Christmas under threat and reflect on their situation."

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Heathrow says it will cut costs of 3rd runway by £2.5 bn – not adding a new terminal

Heathrow has said it has identified options which could reduce overall cost of its 3rd runway  expansion plans by £2.5 billion, so the overall cost would be £14 billion. The reduced cost options, developed with input from airlines which want a lower overall cost, will be consulted on in January 2018. Savings would be by three things:  (1). Repositioning new buildings over existing public transport and baggage infrastructure. This includes building additional capacity at both Terminals 2 and 5 rather than a dedicated terminal or satellite building between today’s northern runway and the new northwest runway. (2). Technological advancements which reduce the amount of terminal space required to process passengers "without compromising" the passenger experience.  (3). More efficient phasing of capacity construction – incrementally increasing terminal capacity in blocks to better match growing demand. That means more planes would have to cross the northern runway, to get to the new runway.  Heathrow will be launching a 10-week public planning consultation which will run from 17th January to 28th March 2018. The consultation will be in 2 parts - the first on infrastructure design options, and the second on the future design principles for airspace around Heathrow.

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Heathrow seeks Chair for new “independent Community Engagement Board” – applications till 14th January

Heathrow and the Heathrow Airport Consultative Committee (HACC), have launched a campaign to recruit a high-profile Chair to head a new "independent Community Engagement Board (CEB)." Heathrow says the "CEB will take on the role of the current consultative committee and was a recommendation by the Airports Commission, drawing on best practice from European hub airports. ... The influential Chair will lead the CEB which will play an important role in building trust between the airport and its communities making sure that Heathrow delivers its commitments today and in the future. It will also play a crucial role during the planning process for the proposed expansion of Heathrow to check that communities are meaningfully engaged in Heathrow’s public consultations over the coming months and years."  The CEB is not only for local communities - it is to "play a key role in ensuring airport stakeholders, local authorities, communities, passengers and interest groups." Applications for the role are through Gatenby Sanderson, with the deadline for applications the 14th January 2018. "The Chair will be appointed by a panel representative of the existing HACC, government, Heathrow and a nominated community representative" ... The job of Chair will be two days per week, working for and paid by Heathrow, salary to be agreed. The Chair will lead the "CEB through its formative stages, setting strategic direction and overseeing the delivery of a work programme as well as creating a diverse board."

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Guidance from the No 3rd Runway Coalition on how to respond to the DfT 2nd NPS consultation. Ends Tues 19th Dec.

The DfT is consulting on its revised draft Airports National Policy Statement (NPS). This second consultation comes after an earlier one in February.  The deadline for the revised draft NPS consultation is Tuesday 19th December. The No 3rd Runway Coalition (NoR3Coalition) has put together some simple guidance for people trying to respond. There are dozens of documents in the consultation, most hard to locate, making responses very hard indeed for non-expert laypeople.  The consultation only in fact asks one question: "Do you have any comments on the revised draft Airports NPS or any of the documents set out in the table on pages 7 and 8?"  In reality, there is a great deal more that people should respond to. The NoR3Coalition has set out some key points on the issues of air quality, noise, economics, surface access, regional connectivity, health and climate change. People are encouraged to submit a response, in their own words. This need not be long or complicated, but just express key concerns.  Responses can be by the online form at https://runwayconsultation.dialoguebydesign.com/   or by email to  RunwayConsultation@dft.gsi.gov.uk  

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Flying home for Christmas? Carbon offsets are important, but they won’t fix plane CO2

Australians fly a lot, and though they are just 0.3% of the global population, they contribute 2.7% of global aviation carbon emissions. The peak month of air travel in and out of Australia is December, when people travel to see friends and family, or to go on holiday. An article by two Australian academics looks at whether carbon offsets do much to reduce the problem. They conclude that many schemes fail to offer scientifically robust explanations and accredited mechanisms that ensure that the money spent on an offset generates some real climate benefits. The main  problem is that the CO2 from the flight is still released into the atmosphere, despite buying a carbon credit. The concept of “carbon neutral” promoted by airline offsets means that an equal amount of emissions is avoided elsewhere, but it does not mean there is no carbon being emitted at all. Carbon offsetting will not reduce overall CO2 emissions. Trading emissions means that we are merely maintaining status quo.  However, a steep reduction in CO2 is what’s required by every sector if we were to reach the net-zero emissions goal by 2050, agreed on in the Paris Agreement. The CORSIA scheme comes into force in 2021, using carbon offsets, but ultimately the aviation sector, just like all others, will have to reduce its own emissions. This will most probably mean a contraction in the fast expanding global aviation market.

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Mediators on the proposed new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes submit report to government – a decision in January perhaps?

On 13th December the French government got the report from the three mediators, who are looking into the proposed project to build an airport in Notre-Dame-des-Landes (NDDL), north of Nantes. President Emmanuel Macron had announced that he would take a decision in January on this complex issue. The mediators had heard evidence both for and against the construction of a new airport on a site currently occupied by the project's opponents or the extension of the runways at the existing Nantes-Atlantiques airport. The mediators point out that both have disadvantages and there is no "perfect solution". Building a new airport would mean more urban sprawl and damage and destruction of an environmentally sensitive site, as the protesters and farmers who have occupied the site since 2009 have continued to point out. The main argument in favour of the new NDDL airport is increased noise for those under flight paths of the existing airport. The new airport would probably cost the French taxpayer up to €920 million, and extending runways at the existing airport might cost €545 million. At the NDDL site there are 650 hectares of farms, whose owners refuse to give up their land. In addition, the place is a wetland, home to a large number of protected species. Some of the facts and arguments are set out in these articles.

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Bristol airport hoping for expansion of long haul routes, to divert people in the south west from using London airports

Bristol Airport is planning a major expansion which could see it provide more long-haul routes for passengers from 2018, which it desperately wants.  Bristol has had some direct holiday flights this year to Florida and Mexico, and may get some to the Dominican Republic in 2018. The airport’s runway is certified for code E aircraft, which allows for trips to North America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and parts of the Far East. Daily departures to New York operated in the past, before being scrapped in 2010 due to the retrenchment of the airline market - but the airport hopes this could happen again. Major investment in the South West, including the development of Hinkley Point C in Somerset, is expected to further boost demand for business travel to and from the region. There have been recent initiatives to promote inbound tourism, eg. with VisitBritain, that just might bring in more overseas visitors. The airport is asking the public for their views on  3 separate scenarios which include the possibility of a new terminal, more car parks, more hotels and an ‘employment’ zone for businesses. Bristol hopes (unrealistically?) that their passenger numbers will increase by 10% every year. They want to provide flights that get residents in the south-west to use Bristol, rather than airports in the south-east (Heathrow and Gatwick), hence perhaps cutting some of the demand for Heathrow. 

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Heathrow have announced two ‘consultations’ in January 2018 which they labelled as the ‘next step in delivering expansion.’

Heathrow have announced two ‘consultations’ which they labelled as the ‘next step in delivering expansion.’ These will be launched on 17th January 2018, and will run for 10 weeks until 28th March.This is a separate consultation to the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement consultation, the second part of which closes on 19th December. The consultation will have two parts: the first will be on “infrastructure design options” and mitigation measures, while the second will focus on the future design principles for airspace around Heathrow.  There will be around 35 consultation events – details of these will be published after 17th January.  Paul McGuinness, chair of the No Third Runway Coalition, said the announcement was "disingenuous" and "To claim that the public are being consulted, when the only subjects up for discussion exclude the matters on which the public is most concerned, is little more than a charade." Mr McGuinness added that locals want to be consulted on "the flight paths for the extra 250,000 extra flights each year, and to learn which communities will start to be adversely impacted by aircraft noise for the very first time". Heathrow is trying to find ways to build the 3rd runway scheme, but at lower cost. It says part of the consultation will be about options like the "reconfiguration of the M25". 

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Heathrow air cargo at Christmas. Do items like Christmas lights, Calendars and dried flower need to be air cargo?

Heathrow is proud to boast about the amount of cargo it handles, in the run-up to Christmas. It publishes a chosen few of the statistics, for the month from 24th November to 24th December from a year earlier. These show the huge tonnage of items that are air freighted, but are not perishable - and presumably could perfectly well be transported to (or from) the UK by ship.  Heathrow says the data "reveals sharp spike in exports of seasonal essentials including Christmas lights, calendars, fish, lobster, and meat." The press release is a bit unclear about just how much of the cargo is exports, and how much is imports - or cargo in transit through Heathrow. But it celebrates air freighting items like books, Christmas lights, calendars and dried flowers (sic - dried, not fresh) for decorations. Heathrow only mentions the non-EU destinations for cargo. They are very proud of huge tonnage of salmon that is shipped abroad (salmon farming does a huge amount of environmental harm, which is increasingly becoming known to the public). Heathrow now also exports trout (also farmed) and lobster.  These are the items being flown over people's heads, as they suffer the noise of Heathrow's planes - or the items in lorries adding to local air pollution.  Essential??

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Brexit & aviation: Suggestions by T&E on what is the best scenario for the environment?

Since the creation of the European Single Aviation Market, the UK and its airlines have greatly benefited for decades from full access to the European market. This access will cease to exist on 29 March 2019 - in the absence of an agreement. Given the current state of Brexit negotiations, the possibility of not reaching a future deal on the aviation relationship would greatly harm the industry, consumers and, particularly, the environment. While the UK has expressed its desire to retain full access to the Single Aviation Market for its airlines after Brexit, it has failed to define how it wants to attain this. Full access is conditional upon accepting the whole body of EU law and recognising ECJ oversight. A new report by T&E makes 4 key recommendations if the UK wishes to retain the same level of access to the European aviation market which it currently enjoys. On the environment this says the UK must remain in the EU aviation Emissions Trading System (ETS). This would ensure a smooth transition and continuity on tackling climate change. Also, the EU State aid rules must continue to apply to the UK, so the UK cannot invest in airport infrastructure and operators to the detriment of the environment (and competition).

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Gatwick to increase size of the North Terminal Pier 6 to deal with more passengers

Gatwick plans to more than double the size of its North Terminal’s Pier 6 to keep pace with the rising number of passengers it is hoping for.  The pier is part of Gatwick's 5-year capital investment program, and will cost £180 million. Before work on the extension can start, however, two major enabling projects must be completed. These involve moving the stand for the Airbus A380 from its existing location on Pier 6 to a newly created stand on Pier 5 and widening and re-aligning a taxiway to allow A380s to move between the runway and the new stand. Gatwick's construction director said the scheme is "complex, as it is right in the heart of our airfield". The work will be done by US-based contractor Bechtel. Work is scheduled to start in 2018. in four phases, the last of which will be the building of the western extension of Pier 6. This is expected to be operational by the spring of 2022.

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UK signs new bilateral deal with China, for 150 return flights per week each (up from 100) – so more opportunity for regional airports

Britain has signed another bilateral deal with China, to increase the number of weekly direct flights between Chinese airports and UK airports. The number will rise from the current limit of 100 return flights per week by each country's airlines, to 150 flights - ie. a 50% increase. This is being hyped as a deal to "boost trade and tourism after Brexit." At present 8 airlines operate 9 routes between British airports and 5 Chinese cities — Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing and Qingdao. Ministers hope the added flights will boost opportunities for British companies in China, and increase income from Chinese tourists coming to the UK. In the first half of 2017 the number of Chinese tourists visiting the UK rose by 47% (compared to the first half of 2016) with 115,000 visits were made. Their spending increased to £231 million, up 54%.  Last year, Manchester airport launched the first direct regional flight between the two countries. Regional airports could now have more, if there is the demand.  Until October 2016, the limit was 40 return flights per week. In 2016, restrictions were also relaxed to allow for an unlimited number of cargo flights between the UK and China. Air China accounts for the highest seat capacity between the UK and China (30.2%), followed by British Airways (20.6%) and China Southern Airlines (12.5%).

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Study by Kings College and Imperial College finds PM2.5 air pollution may harm babies before birth, raising risk of low birth weight

Air pollution by PM2.5 particulates may be harmful to babies even before they are born. This is the finding of a new study (published in the BMJ)  by researchers at Imperial College and Kings College, London, among others. The PM2.5 particles are so tiny they can easily enter the smallest airways in the lungs, and get into the bloodstream. The researchers, using subjects from London, calculated mothers’ exposure to air pollution and traffic noise in various parts of the city from 2006 to 2010. Then they amassed data on birth weights of 540,365 babies born during those years to women who lived in those areas. The average PM2.5 pollution exposure was 14 micrograms per cubic meter. The researchers found that for each 5 microgram per cubic meter increase in PM 2.5, the risk of low birth weight increased by 15%. Low birth weight is a predictor of an increased risk for diabetes, heart disease and hypertension in later life. It is considered that there is no safe lower level for PM2.5 pollution, though the EPS in the USA uses a standard of 12 micrograms per cubic meter averaged over 3 years, and the WHO 10 micrograms as a limit. The lead author of the study said in London: "The current limits are not protecting pregnant women, and they’re not protecting unborn babies.”

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“We can live with this”: How Europe allowed Airbus to write its own CO2 rules

Transport & Environment (T&E) report that e-mail exchanges between the European Commission (EC) and Airbus show how the company was offered privileged access to the EU decision-making process, allowing it to write its own environmental rules.  Emails released to T&E after an 18 month-long appeal process confirm that when drafting CO2 rules for aircraft, the EC – the regulator – gave Airbus (the regulated company) – privileged access to the EU decision-making process and allowed Airbus to determine the EU position. The result is a standard which does nothing to cut carbon emissions. The CO2 emissions from aircraft are not regulated, which is a key reason why the sector's CO2 continues to soar. In late 2016 ICAO finally agreed a very weak global deal (CORSIA) that - under heavy influence from the aviation industry, requires them to make no changes to their plans. But instead of genuinely attempting to push Airbus and Boeing to speed up emission cuts and efficiency gains, the EU executive worked closely with Airbus to ensure the new rules would have no impact.  Andrew Murphy, from T&E, explains how Airbus got to write its own regulations, so the standards were in line with what suited Airbus. Instead, carbon policies need to be decided in a fair and transparent manner.

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Huge cost to many local authorities if Heathrow does not relocate Lakeside waste incinerator

The proposed Heathrow 3rd runway would require the demolition of the Lakeside waste incinerator. Heathrow has made no effort so far to ensure this is relocated. If there is a period without an incinerator, local authorities would have to spend many millions of £s on landfill tax (£86.10 per tonne) to dispose of waste that the Lakeside plant would have dealt with. In their submission to the Transport Committee, Grundon and Viridor say: "The revised draft NPS fails to address the planning policy vacuum that businesses like Lakeside face in trying to relocate in advance of Heathrow securing consent.This vacuum needs to be filled for the benefit of all of those businesses threatened by the new runway ... the draft NPS still fails to provide any explicit support for the relocation of the Lakeside EfW or the associated complex.  Indeed, if the Lakeside EfW and the waste complex as a whole were not replaced, given the lack of acceptable alternatives, the direct consequences would be disruptive and financially harmful to the local authorities that rely upon the services provided.  ... the revised NPS should state: The Government recognises the role of the Lakeside Energy from Waste plant in local waste management plans. The applicant should make all reasonable endeavours to replace the Lakeside Energy from Waste plant."

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4 main councils opposing Heathrow 3rd runway say it is unbuildable, due to noise and air pollution

Councils opposed to expansion at Heathrow have told the Transport Select Committee (TSC) inquiry into the Airports NPS that the most recent evidence published by the Government continues to demonstrate that a 3rd Heathrow runway could not be built without causing unacceptable air and noise pollution. They say that if ministers continue to support a 3rd runway, it will blight the area around the airport while failing to solve what they see as a "need" for extra airport capacity in the South East.  The councils point out that the DfT's 2nd consultation on the NPS fails to show how, with a new runway, the airport could meet air quality limits in an area where pollution levels are deteriorating. Councillor Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, said: "... it is clear that a third Heathrow runway is not deliverable within the new timescale of an opening in 2026. The shorter the timescale the more likely that illegal air pollution will result."  The councils have also warned the TSC that the Government’s refusal to allow more time for consultation on the new evidence (just 8 weeks, ending on 19th December) "supports the view that the Secretary of State has effectively made up his mind to support Heathrow and that this is affecting the fairness of the consultation."

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Labour Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald: “Heathrow is not a silver bullet for solving our air capacity constraints”

Andy McDonald said:  "Following the decision to leave the EU, supporting UK aviation has become more, not less, critical if the UK is to remain a global, outward-looking trading nation. A third runway at Heathrow remains subject to a Commons vote and, even if given the final go-ahead, it will not be completed for at least another 10-15 years.  Heathrow is not a silver bullet for solving our air capacity constraints.  We face capacity challenges here and now. That’s why more needs to be done to support connectivity into and out of other airports across the UK to unlock existing unused capacity, and develop the huge potential they have." Airports like Luton are keen to capitalise on the years before any new runway was built, if it ever happens. The CEO of Luton hopes of fast rising air passenger demand for years, and that the aviation industry "must be granted the conditions to help it capitalise on this growth potential ... If the UK is to fully realise the economic potential of the aviation industry, airports must be supported by better transport links." The East of England CBI says the "re-letting of the new East Midlands Rail franchise offers the opportunity to deliver more fast trains to Luton Airport by simply stopping trains that already pass through the station every day", which would help Luton serve more passengers. 

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Heathrow coach company fined £21,000 + for dumping toilet waste into River Crane

The Environment Agency (EA) has revealed that a Heathrow coach company has been fined for dumping toxic waste in the River Crane. Symphony Chauffeurs Ltd, based near Heathrow Airport, broke environmental law when staff poured waste into sewers, instead of taking the waste to an approved site for disposal.  The company has been fined and charged with allowing poisonous, noxious or polluting matter into the River Crane, between May 2015 and February 2016, and failing to provide the EA with documents relating to their activities. Responding to the news the Chair of Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) Jackie Clark-Basten, said: “We are glad about the outcome of this investigation by the Environment Agency.  Heathrow have a poor record of polluting the local area with hazardous substances (eg. de-icers like ethylene glycol, as well as cleaning fluids, paint, and kerosene) and yet in the Government’s draft National Policy Statement, they admit the likely detriment to local water quality with expansion, but also admit no work has been undertaken on this issue and it will only be undertaken at a much later stage in the process. The wider question that needs to now be asked is can we really afford to take the chance of further contamination of local water?”

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Willie Walsh says aviation climate goals through CORSIA insufficient

Aviation’s global climate goals are not enough in the long term, according to IAG boss Willie Walsh, who said the sector eventually faces being suppressed by governments if it cannot achieve environmental sustainability.  He believes that though having to submit to the CORSIA scheme will cost airlines some money, the alternative would be much more expensive. That is why the scheme has been accepted by most airlines - it allows pretty much "business as usual" for years. Walsh says all airlines will have to join the scheme in due course, by 2027, though the first years after 2021 are voluntary. He believes there are benefits for the airlines that join in the early days, gaining experience of carbon trading - for when all airlines have to take part and buy carbon credits. Walsh appears to realise that if the aviation sector does not get a grip on its rising carbon emissions, and make CORSIA work, it might face worse restrictions if the world tries to meet goals of the Paris Agreement. He does not believe CORSIA alone is enough in the longer term, and the industry will have to have great carbon reduction ambition for the future after 2035.

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Heathrow may back 3rd runway play by Arora, destroying even more homes than NW runway scheme

Heathrow have backed a new plan for a 3rd runway, which appears to cut construction costs for the scheme at the expense of the loss of even more homes and communities, in an attempt to persuade politicians to vote through the scheme in 2018. The scheme, proposed by the Arora Group is for a 500 metre shorter runway, a bit further east. It might cost £6.7 billion less than Heathrow Airport’s own North West Runway plan. John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s CEO, said : “it would not surprise us if we do something with him [Arora] as we expand the airport." The Arora plan would bring parts of Harlington inside the new airport boundary, along with the whole of Sipson. It would also leave Longford village boxed in and sandwiched metres between two runways. The total number of homes that would be set for demolition would be much closer to a thousand, even higher than Heathrow’s own proposal of 783 homes lost. The plan would bring the new airport boundary closer to the original scheme put forward by BAA in 2009, which was successfully defeated in the High Court. That plan proposed a 2,200-metre runway across Sipson and Harlington. Residents in the Heathrow villages are upset, as this causes yet more uncertainty, worry and fear about their future. 

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ClientEarth action means UK government will face 3rd court hearing – before February – over UK air pollution

A High Court judge has ordered a hearing in ClientEarth’s latest case against the UK Government, over illegal and harmful levels of air pollution in the country. Reflecting the urgency of the situation, Mr Justice Nicklin has expedited the case and it will be heard in the High Court before 23rd February next year.  This will be the 3rd such case against the government. After ClientEarth’s victories in the previous two, the Court ordered ministers to produce new plans to bring air pollution to within legal levels as soon as possible. This 3rd case challenges elements of the court-ordered plan produced by ministers after ClientEarth’s 2nd case in 2016. The government's current plans are too weak and too vague, and mean UK pollution levels will remain too high for years. CEO of ClientEarth, James Thornton said: “The government’s persistent failure to deal with air pollution in this country is nothing short of a scandal.” The grounds in ClientEarth’s case include the backtracking of the latest plan on previous commitments to order 5 cities to introduce clean air zones by 2020; and the plan does not require any action in 45 local authorities in England, despite them having illegal levels of air pollution. ClientEarth says the UK needs a national network of clean air zones.

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Holland-Kaye not ruling out Heathrow working with rival bid, by Arora, on building 3rd runway scheme

Heathrow CEO John Holland Kaye has said he is not ruling out some form of collaboration with the team behind the Arora group bid to build a 3rd Heathrow runway.  Surinder Arora, a rich businessman who owns 16 hotels, a golf course and his own private airfield, is the largest single landowner on the site marked for Heathrow expansion. In July he put forward a plan, with US engineering firm Bechtel, in which he claimed the expansion could be done for £12.4 billion (shorter runway, bit further east) – roughly £5 billion cheaper than Heathrow’s initial estimate. Heathrow has since altered its plans to bring down construction costs, as airlines and investors are opposed to the sky-high costs.  Now Heathrow may also try to work with Mr Arora’s company in some way. Holland-Kaye said: “It would not surprise us if we do something with him ..." but would not speculate on what. Heathrow and the Arora Group are currently working on two  Heathrow hotels. The 2nd DfT consultation on the Airports NPS (for the 3rd Heathrow runway) welcomed competing bids for the work and stated the Government did not have a preference for who constructed the 3rd runway as long as it met the specifications outlined by the Airports Commission.  Jock Lowe is still promoting his "Heathrow Hub" scheme, for an extended northern runway, which is claimed to cost around £10 billion.

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Large group of Dutch scientists demands end to crop-based biofuels in the EU

A group of 177 Dutch scientists have signed a letter urging the Netherlands to back a complete phase-out of crop-based biofuels at European level, calling them a “false solution to climate problems”. According to the EU's own data, the climate impact of biodiesel is on average 80% worse than fossil diesel.  The EU study found that crop-based biodiesel has on average 1.8 times the climate impact of fossil diesel, “and this number increases to 3 times more in the case of biodiesel from palm oil”.  Biodiesel accounts for 80% of all biofuels used in the EU, and around a third of this comes from palm oil, making drivers of cars and trucks the biggest consumers of palm oil in Europe. The remaining 20% is bioethanol, which is mainly made from home-grown crops such as sugar beet and wheat. The biofuels industry - predictably - is not pleased and claim the move would "slash investment in advanced biofuels." The push for ever more biofuels from plants is driving habitat and biodiversity loss, reducing areas’ resilience to local climatic conditions, undermining food security and increasing prices, and concentrating land in the hands of multinational companies at the expense of small-scale farmers. EU governments will discuss the future of biofuels at the Energy Council meeting on 18 December.  These fuels should never be allowed for the aviation sector.

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Safety report by consultants Ebeni says Heathrow 3rd runway could only be used part of the time, due to taxiway location

A report from engineering safety consultants, Ebeni, says Heathrow will not be able to expand to its promised 740,000 flights a year because of safety flaws involving its proposed 3rd runway. Heathrow needs to get the number of flights up, to pay for the massive cost of the runway and associated building, but Ebeni believes there could not be more than 700,000 flights per year, because the new taxiway (linking the 3rd runway to the terminals) at the end of the northern runway could interfere with departures. Ebeni’s aviation experts think the tail fins of large planes like the A380 or 747 are so high that they would infringe on the clearance space needed by planes taking off over them. Therefore that taxiway could be used only between departures on the northern runway, reducing the number of flights by 15 per hour. The Ebeni report was commissioned by Heathrow Hub, that wants to build a 3rd runway, but as a western extension of the current northern runway.  Ebeni also expect the Heathrow north-west runway scheme would would have a much worse noise impact on homes than Heathrow has suggested.  The full report is not available to the public, but Heathrow Hub's Jack Lowe is giving oral evidence to the Transport Committee on 4th December.

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Moody’s expects a slowdown in traffic growth at UK airports as airlines move capacity elsewhere

Moody's report on European airports in 2018 expects "strong" growth at most, though "significant event risks around Brexit could slow the pace of growth in passenger numbers in the UK."   This is the first time Moody's has assigned a separate outlook to the European airport sector. Previously, the rating agency had assigned an outlook to the overall European transport infrastructure sector, comprising the toll road, airport and sea port sectors. For air travel Moody's sees an improved economic environment, continued low fuel costs, relatively contained airfare inflation and growing airline capacity - so increasing the demand. They expect traffic growth of 5%-7% for continental airports but 3%-6% at UK airports. "This reflects the UK's more subdued macro prospects, as well as the decision by some airlines to move some capacity away from the UK to more profitable markets, such as Germany, resulting in lower capacity increases than those experienced in recent years."  While Moody's base case is for new aviation agreements to be put in place post-Brexit, in the most extreme case, if no new aviation agreements are reached, UK airports would be exposed to a sudden loss of air traffic rights covering around 80% of current passenger traffic volumes. [But the DfT is anticipating rapidly rising air travel demand, to justify building a new runway at Heathrow ... now in question?]

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Stevenage aircraft noise: Luton airport extends delayed landing gear trials

Planes flying over Stevenage on their way into Luton will continue to delay lowering their landing gear as part of an extended trial to reduce noise over the town.  Luton airport started the trial between May and June this year, with more than 75% of aircraft delaying their landing gear deployment – which cuts down drag and reduces noise for the areas that benefit. The trial started after discussions between the airport, Stevenage residents, town MP Stephen McPartland and Stevenage Borough Council. Over the trial period, Luton airport says average noise from aircraft reduced by 2.7dB at six nautical miles and 3.4dB at seven nautical miles from the airport, meaning (technically) that noise on the ground was reduced by an average of 50%. (In reality, 3 dB is the smallest change in noise the human ear can detect, and the "50%" reduction is just because noise is measured on a logarithmic scale .... that makes the cut sound far better than it is ....) But there has been a small but noticeable reduction in noise and communities that have benefited have asked the airport to continue running the trial. Luton airport has revised its arrival code of practice to include recommendations to delay the deployment of landing gear. Three airline operators have also amended their standard operating practices to include the recommendations.

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Mayor’s Draft London Plan, out to consultation, adamant that aviation’s noise, CO2 and air pollution stay within limits

The Mayor of London has put out for consultation the New Draft London Plan (ends 2 March 2018). There is an extensive section on aviation, with the Mayor adamant that the aviation sector, and any airport expansion, must stay within environmental limits. The Policy T8 Aviation (P 433 of the consultation document) sets out core principles. These include:   D. The Mayor will oppose the expansion of Heathrow Airport unless it can be shown that no additional noise or air quality harm would result, and that the benefits of future regulatory and technology improvements would be fairly shared with affected communities.  E. All airport expansion proposals should demonstrate how public transport and other surface access networks would accommodate resulting increases in demand alongside forecast background growth; this should include credible plans by the airport for funding and delivery of the required infrastructure.  F. Proposals that would lead to changes in airport operations or air traffic movements must take full account of their environmental impacts and the views of affected communities. Any changes to London’s airspace must treat London’s major airports equitably when airspace is allocated.  And C - the environmental impacts of aviation must be fully acknowledged and the aviation industry should fully meet its external and environmental costs particularly in respect of noise, air quality and climate change ...

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CAA invite anyone affected by aircraft noise to complete their survey – ends 5th January 2018

The CAA has a current consultation on aircraft noise, for those affected by it. The consultation started on 6th July and ends on 5th January. It is a short survey that is easy for individuals to complete on the basis of their own personal noise experience. The CAA says  it is "looking at how we can influence the aviation industry’s noise performance, and we would like to hear from people impacted by aviation noise to get a better understanding of what you would like us to do about noise." (Anything other than not allow more and more flights ....) The CAA says: "Answering these questions will help us to understand which areas people who are affected by aviation noise would like us to focus on, and therefore help to define our work programme. However, we will not always be able to act, and at the moment we are looking at how we use our existing powers to improve noise." ... "We intend to use this information to inform how we use our existing powers to improve noise performance in the coming years. If we believe that we, or another organisation, need more powers to influence the things that matter most to people, we will explain why this is the case when we publish a response."

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No 3rd Runway Coalition letter in Yorkshire Post: “Few benefits for regions if Heathrow is allowed to expand”

In a letter by the No 3rd Runway Coalition (NoR3)  in the Yorkshire Post, they explain how Heathrow has been conducting a variety of lavishly funded public relations exercises to counter the widely held perception that its expansion would be yet another South-East-centric project, which can only further entrench the UK's economic divisions. So Heathrow has claimed that a number of regions will become “logistic” hubs for the 3rd runway’s construction. Just 4 of these "hubs" will be chosen, but 65 regions are invited to bid - building up their hopes (and driving support for the runway). The NoR3 coalition say "By the time the 61 losers learn who they are, it is hoped that their regional leaders will have sold their souls, speaking up Heathrow expansion, to curry favour with the airport. Clever. But cynical. Equally contemptuous is the way in which Heathrow is using this stunt to claim economic benefits for the country, which is knows is not supported by the latest figures." The correct figures for economic benefits for the UK from the runway are tiny (NPV - when costs are taken into account - of just £3.3 billion, for all the UK over 60 years, or even a negative figure...) and it is likely any possible benefits will be for the South East. Not the regions. Regional business people need to ask serious questions of Heathrow (and the DfT) on the reality of purported jobs and investment.

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Northern Powerhouse APPG set up to rebalance UK economy as it is still too “London-centric”

MPs from across all parties have launched a group to "drive business, skills and economic growth" in the north of England. The Northern Powerhouse All Party Parliamentary group (APPG) aims to attract investment and highlight issues affecting the region.  (APPG's are used by MPs and others to raise awareness of a wide range of issues.) It was set up by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, a body chaired by former chancellor George Osborne. The Northern Powerhouse was a concept created by Mr Osborne in 2014 as an attempt to "rebalance" the UK's economy away from being dominated by London and the South East. Conservative MP for Carlisle John Stevenson - who chairs the new APPG - said it aimed to "increase investment in and awareness of the North as a place that drives business, skills and economic growth".  Andy Burnham said he wanted to see "a more wholehearted embrace of devolution" from both the Conservatives and Labour. The disparity between money spent on transport infrastructure between the north, and London and the south east, is stark. This is only being made worse by HS2, Crossrail and a possible Heathrow runway (that could need £5 - 15 billion - estimates vary - of public money) that then will not be spent elsewhere.

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Slough invites comment on its air pollution strategy – but gagging agreement prevents much mention of Heathrow …

Slough residents are being asked for their views on the draft Slough Low Emission Strategy (LES). Slough has high levels of air pollution that affect the health of residents. While several factors contribute to the borough’s air quality, the emissions from road transport vehicles are the most significant source - and much of this traffic is Heathrow-related. The strategy says it "recognises the challenges and opportunities that may arise from the construction of a 3rd runway at Heathrow." The Slough council draft LES supports its new transport strategy and forms part of the Slough Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP). It lays out an integrated, year on year plan to improve air quality up to 2025, "reducing vehicle emissions by accelerating the uptake of cleaner fuels and technologies."  The Slough Cabinet member for environment and leisure, said: “The health and wellbeing of our residents and the people who visit and work in Slough is paramount ...."  The strategy says it will "Link and compliment with a potential Ultra-Low Emission Zone at Heathrow." Slough signed an agreement with Heathrow in mid 2015, to get benefits from a runway, provided they always back the runway. "1.5  Slough Council’s Cabinet commits to publicly support the expansion of Heathrow Airport with immediate effect and until Heathrow is granted the DCO. " The council does not dare to complain!

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UK drone users to sit safety tests, and more powers police to seize drones, under proposed law

Drone users in the UK may have to take safety awareness tests under legislation planned by the government in spring 2018. Drones weighing more than 250g could also be banned from flying near airports, or above 400 ft, in a crackdown on unsafe flying. Police will also be given new powers to seize and ground drones which may have been used in criminal activity. The proposed bill has been welcomed by the pilots' union, BALPA, which has warned of near misses involving drones and aircraft,. There were 81 incidents so far this year - up from 71 in 2016 and 29 in 2015. In July a drone flew directly over the wing of a large passenger jet as it came into land at Gatwick which a report said had put 130 lives at risk. Owners of drones weighing over 250g (ie. all except cheap toy versions) would need to register and sit a test. There are already a number of rules from the CAA concerning drone use, but they are not being enforced effectively. The police said the draft legislation would give them the powers needed to tackle drones when they are being used for criminal purposes. The current rule is that drones should stay well clear of airports, without giving details. Government wants to encourage more use of drones for deliveries etc.

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Paris aircraft noise pollution: 17 municipalities join in the legal fight to get noise reduced

Seventeen municipalities in Ile-de-France, near Paris, are joining the appeal, against aircraft noise, before the Council of State filed by a group of associations.Conscious of the health impact of airborne noise on their fellow citizens, they support legal action and want the application of a European regulation on sound protection around airports. The 17 communes have joined the legal action taken in April by the "Association of Defense of Val-d'Oise against the air noise nuisances" (Advocnar) and the collective "Alert nuisances aerial" (ANA).  It plans to put in place Environmental Noise Prevention Plans (EFPPs) to limit the impact of air traffic on the population. On April 24, 2017 ADVOCNAR etc applied to the Conseil d'Etat for France to comply with European law concerning the reduction of noise related to air traffic around Orly airports, Roissy Charles-de -Gaulle and Le Bourget. They say the Ile-de-France is a region 10 times more populated than all other metropolitan areas in France, and concentrates half of the national air traffic. The European directive 2002/49 / CE needs the French State to engage in a real step of sustainable development, protecting the health and the sleep of the overflown populations, without calling into question the economic benefits of the presence of the 3 main Parisian airports.

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Autumn Budget: short haul APD unchanged. Slight rises for long haul from April 2018, especially premium classes + private jets

APD since 1st April 2017 for standard class tickets to destinations under 2,000 miles away is just £13. It will stay at £13 for any return flight (adults over the age of 18 only) of under 2,000 miles, (ie. all Europe etc) for the foreseeable future. The rate of APD for trips under 2,000 miles now is £26 for premium classes, and £78 for private jet. These rates for short haul trips will all remain unchanged.  For almost four in five air passengers, APD will have increased by just £3 between 1997 and 2020 – a period of 23 years. There will be very slight increases in APD, after 1st April 2018, for trips of over 2,000 miles. The increase for standard class will go from £75 now to £78.  The rate for premium class tickets will go from £150 now to £156 from April 2018, up to £172 from April 2019. The APD for business jets, for trips over 2,000 miles, will go from £450 now, to £468 from April 2018 and to £515 from April 2019.  So while Philip Hammond's Spring Statement on 7th March 2017 said: "Air Passenger Duty for 2018-19 will be uprated in line with RPI" there has been no change on flights to Europe. There are instead to be rises of about 10% in the APD for premium and private jet flights over 2,000 miles after April 2019. Overall the amount of APD expected to be raised by the Treasury are slightly higher than earlier estimates, with the amount being 3.3 billion in 2017-18; 3.5 bn in 2018-19; 3.6 bn in 2019-20; 3.8 bn in 2020-21;3.9 bn in 2021-22; and 4.0 bn in 2022-23.

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Heathrow promises it makes at its “Business Summits” – next in East Midlands
 – exaggerated & based on flawed projections

Heathrow is holding another of its "Business Summits" on 23rd November, in Derby. The aim of these is to excite regional businesses about how much they could benefit from the building of a 3rd runway. However, while Heathrow claims there would be huge financial benefits for the whole country - using wildly exaggerated figures, the reality is very different. Heathrow persists in using a crazy figure of "up to £211 billion" economic benefits, even the DfT's own reports indicate at most about £3.3 billion. That would be the "Net Present Value" over 60 years, for the whole of the UK, after taking off costs. The figure could be as low as minus (yes, a negative number) 2.2 billion. These are government figures, not numbers from anti-Heathrow campaigners.  The 3.3 bn figure translates to under 50p UK resident per year. (ie. £3.3 bn divided by 70 million).  It is difficult to see how such paltry benefits could "play a major role in boosting jobs and growth in the regions" outside of the South East, as Heathrow claims.  The CBI’s 2016 report "Unlocking Regional Growth" identified that businesses want direct flights to centres of trade and commerce (i.e. without transfer before reaching their destination); in other words, that it will be through direct flights to the closest airports that the Midlands will become better connected. Not via Heathrow.

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Judge rejects 3 legal challenges against proposed new 2nd runway at Dublin Airport

The High Court in Ireland has thrown out three challenges against plans for a 3,100 metre 2nd runway at Dublin airport. Mr Justice Max Barrett dismissed actions that arose over the runway plans, which Dublin Airport (DAA) wants so it can become an international hub, rivalling Heathrow. The judge dismissed an action by Friends of the Irish Environment, which claimed that the decision to grant planning permission was not in compliance with EU directives or the 2000 Planning and Development Act. The group also argued that the proposed runway would result in additional greenhouse gas emissions, which will increase the pace of climate change.  He also dismissed another claim on certain pre-construction works.  The judge's ruling said “laws matter, rules matter but mistakes happen” and in this case he was not exercising the court’s discretion to find in favour of the residents. The judge also dismissed an action brought by 22 residents, who said local Fingal council failed to consider or address their concerns about the 2nd runway's effect on their homes and land - though he said he respected the fighting spirit of the residents and “sympathised” with them in the predicament they found themselves in. The cases have been adjourned for a week to allow the various parties to consider the rulings, or if any will appeal. 

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“Stop Northolt” concerned Hillingdon Council not giving residents enough information on Northolt expansion

Local group, "Stop Northolt", aiming to end commercial flights at RAF Northolt, is furious with Hillingdon Council for what it considers one-sided coverage of the issue. Stop Northolt say the council’s own magazine, Hillingdon People (delivered 6 times per year to every home in the borough) featured an article about a Parliamentary debate on the Government's plans to spend £45m renovating RAF Northolt. In the debate, Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood said the Government had considered increasing commercial flights and indicated that expansion would benefit taxpayers. But the Hillingdon People article fails to include the minister’s concession that RAF Northolt would remain under-used by the military. ie. why is so much money being spent on renovations of the airfield? Stop Northolt is very concerned that the 10,000 commercial flights per year using Northolt are about to increase. They say the Government has admitted there is no military demand, "so this can only be to improve facilities for commercial flights, and they wouldn't spend that much money without wanting to get it back.” Hillingdon had not pointed this out, or the problem of increasing numbers of commercial flights. Stop Northolt was set up in April 2017, following an announcement that the MoD plans to close the airport for 8 months in 2018 to upgrade and strengthen the runway.

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Shadow Transport team visits Stansted Airport to hear about growth plans and hopes of improved rail

Shadow Transport Secretary, Andy McDonald MP, and Shadow Aviation Minister, Karl Turner MP, visited Stansted, to see how the airport is planning to make best use of its existing runway capacity and improve the UK’s global connectivity over the next decade. The airport wants shorter journey times and better reliability on rail services between London Liverpool Street and Stansted, to get in more passengers - to make use of its huge amount of spare capacity. The two shadow ministers were told about Stansted’s new employment plans through its MAG Connect initiative, to help areas of high unemployment. Stansted management have high hopes for making the airport more profitable. Its CEO said:  “Stansted can make a huge contribution to improving the UK’s connectivity with the rest of the world over the next decade, this will be vital as the country prepares to leave the EU and at a time when airport capacity is at a premium.”  Karl Turner said: “The national conversation on aviation centres on the issue of building a third runway at Heathrow but we face capacity challenges here and now. More needs to be done to support connectivity into and out of our other international gateway airports across the UK to unlock existing unused capacity, and develop the huge potential they have.”

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Rival Heathrow expansion consortium, Arora, upbeat as Government opens door to competition

The Telegraph reports that the government has said it welcomes competition in the construction of the nation’s airports. Hotel owner Surinder Arora had earlier this year proposed a cheaper way to build a Heathrow 3rd runway, cutting about £5 billion off the price. Government documents related to the expansion had previously assumed Heathrow would be in charge of the construction project and choose which contractors it wanted to help it fulfil the scheme. But the DfT says in the revised consultation on its Airports NPS (National Policy Statement) that it would welcome competing bids for the work. The NPS consultation says: “For the avoidance of doubt, the Airports NPS does not identify any statutory undertaker as the appropriate person or appropriate persons to carry out the preferred scheme.” And there could be “more than one application for development consent, dealing with different components individually”. The Telegraph believes a key difference, if a body other than Heathrow did the building, would be that the party behind the construction would receive the associated income it generates from passenger and airline charges, as well as retail rental payments. But there could be more risks, more costs etc.

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Blog by Canadian IRPP political studies academic: Rising air travel emissions “the policy options are limited”

"Unlike the shift towards electrification of automobiles and the growth of renewables, there are no good policy options on the table for adequately reducing emissions from aviation.  Sadly, the only genuine way to reduce our collective carbon footprint from long-distance transport – given available technologies – is to significantly cut down on passenger and cargo flights. ... Cut out air travel or continue contributing to the ongoing climate emergency faced by our home planet — this is the inconvenient juncture at which we have arrived. ... The number of air travellers globally has more than doubled in the last two decades, and forecasts expect demand for air travel to double again in the next two decades. The same story is true of world air cargo ...  Not only are global regulatory “solutions” like CORSIA a non-starter, but new technologies are also impractical or unlikely to work at the level of the jumbo plane. ...In the end, the only practical way to reduce our society’s emissions from long-distance air transport (while admittedly giving rise to social costs elsewhere) is to restrict the growth in demand for air transport. ... It’s going to take some political guts" [with any effective measure - like higher tax or capping growth in flight numbers- unpopular] so politicians are unlikely to try. But "Relying on technological innovation, other market forces, and a global system of carbon offsets will not solve the serious problem of growing GHG emissions from aviation" 

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Poland approves plans for a huge central airport to take 100 million annual passengers (x3 current number for the country)

The New Central Polish Airport is a proposed airport to be developed on a site between Lodz and Warsaw. The project has been subject of debate since 2006. However, the Polish government is expected to commence construction in 2017. The airport is expected become the hub of LOT Polish Airlines.  Preparatory works are scheduled for completion by the end of 2019, while the airport is scheduled to open in 2027 and aims to cater for 100 million passengers per year (there are about 34 million Polish air passengers now). The government hopes the nation’s air traffic will reach 94 million by 2035. The decision to build this airport reverses a strategy based on expanding smaller regional ports with the help of funds provided by the European Union. Poland is also seeking to strengthen trade links with China, marketing itself as a port of entry into the EU’s single market for Chinese producers. The plan poses risks for the 14 regional airports built or refurbished over the last decade with EU funds, of which a majority is already struggling to be profitable amid passenger traffic intensity that reached only a third of the bloc’s average last year. Under the government plan, the Warsaw Okecie airport would eventually be shut. No potential dates for the closing were given.

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Leaders of 4 main councils opposed to Heathrow favour a Gatwick runway, and tell residents to respond to NPS consultation

Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils have been campaigning against Heathrow expansion for more than a decade. They argue that expanding the airport will have a major impact on West London. The expansion will cause irreconcilable damage to the environment and people's health. It will cost tax payers as much as £20bn. The four councils are encouraging their residents to respond to the 2nd NPS consultation, about a possible 3rd Heathrow runway (deadline 19th December). This consultation is happening partly due to complaints from the councils that the DfT had withheld important new information from the public.  Cllr Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: "A third runway at Heathrow would be disastrous for Londoners...."  Cllr Paul Hodgins, Leader of Richmond Council, said:  "This is all about having a single trophy airport, instead of a network of airports that brings greater benefit. Over the past ten years people in Richmond upon Thames have voiced their concerns about the possible expansion of Heathrow in their thousands. We must not stop telling the government that Heathrow expansion is the wrong choice."  The leaders of the four councils back a runway at Gatwick instead, preferring to transfer the misery onto others, whose interests they do not represent.

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Transport for the North to become statutory body

Legislation to turn the Transport for the North (TfN) partnership into a statutory sub-national transport body - with legal powers and duties - was laid in Parliament on November 16. TfN consists of 19 local authorities, business leaders and 11 local enterprise partnership areas. Once approved, TfN would become a statutory body with effect from April 1 2018, with powers which would include producing a statutory transport strategy for northern England which the government must formally consider when taking funding decisions. It may be given more powers in future. The Rail North association of local authorities will become part of TfN, and work with the DfT to co-manage the Northern and TransPennine Express franchises. The DfT has confirmed £150m is being given to TfN for smart ticketing, £60m for Northern Powerhouse Rail and £50m to run TfN.  It is hoped that new powers for TfN will give it greater influence over national infrastructure decisions. TfN Chair John Cridland. ‘This is a 30-year transport strategy for the North that will help drive economic growth in the region and help to rebalance the UK economy." There has been a lot of anger about the imbalance in spending on transport in the UK, with London and the south east getting a huge proportion. Manchester airport sees itself as key, rather than just Heathrow.

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Obscure aviation climate deal – ICAO’s CORSIA – could undermine the Paris Agreement

A new Columbia Law School report reveals major shortcomings in how the UN aviation agency (ICAO) interprets transparency and public participation requirements. The 36 member countries of ICAO met for closed talks in Montreal to discuss rules on its carbon offsetting scheme - known as CORSIA. Established in October 2016, the new carbon market is intended to compensate for the industry’s emissions growth above 2020 levels. But in addition tot he Columbia Law School report, new Carbon Market Watch analysis warns that a careful design of the rules is necessary to avoid undermining the goals of the Paris Agreement. The ICAO process needs to allow proper public scrutiny, to avoid being of low quality and trying to use illegitimate offsets. So far a lack of public scrutiny has allowed ICAO to develop climate policy in isolation, and this has serious and direct implications for the Paris Agreement.  Unless there are clear rules for how CO2 reductions purchased by airline operators are accounted for, it is likely that there will be double counting of these  cuts - risking the Paris goals. So far ICAO has kept the outcome of political meetings and important documents relating to the development of the CORSIA locked away from the public domain. By contrast, the IMP and UNFCCC generally provide engagement opportunities to the public

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Michael Gove announces plans to consult on a new, independent body for post-Brexit UK environmental standards

Plans to consult on the creation of a new, independent body that would hold Government to account for upholding environmental standards in England after the UK leaves the EU have been set out by Environment Secretary Michael Gove.  He says Brexit gives the UK the opportunity to put the environment at the heart of policy making, while ensuring vital protections for our landscapes, wildlife and natural assets are not only maintained but enhanced. To help deliver a "Green Brexit", ministers will consult on a new independent, statutory body to advise and challenge government and potentially other public bodies on environmental legislation – stepping in when needed to hold these bodies to account and enforce standards. A consultation on the specific powers and scope of the new body will be launched early in 2018. Gove said:  "We will deliver a Green Brexit, where environmental standards are not only maintained but enhanced. ... we are setting out our plans to ensure the powerful are held to account."  Currently environmental decisions made in the UK – from improving air and water quality to protecting endangered species – are overseen by the European Commission, which monitors targets, scrutinises new legislation and takes action against illegal behaviour. The UK must ensure that key environmental principles such as the polluter pays underpin policy making.

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Clear message from residents at the Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) AGM: NO 3rd Runway

At a packed meeting in Harmondsworth, there were great contributions by local MP John McDonnell and Cait Hewitt, Deputy Director of the AEF (Aviation Environment Federation). John reiterated his certainty that the runway will not go ahead. He went through the many reasons, including air pollution, noise, carbon emissions and economics. And he emphasised the difficulties the government has with the politics, as so many constituencies are now marginal and so local issues (such as Heathrow airport impacts) would be key in a future election. John McDonnell said: “I’m into Parliamentary democracy, but I cannot allow this to happen to this area. The Government has responsibility to protect people and this project cannot happen”.  Cait Hewitt spoke about the insuperable problem of air pollution that a 3rd Heathrow runway would cause: “Government’s own recent forecasts show there is a high risk of a breach to air quality targets” ... “The Government is prepared to gamble on air quality to build a third runway." The AGM also heard about  problems of Heathrow withholding payments to those who have already sold up, and not paying all estate agent and moving costs. Residents do not trust Heathrow's pledges on compensation payments, in the event that they were forced from their homes.

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Protest at Lelystad airport (Netherlands) about its expansion, to take holiday flight pressure off Schiphol

Several hundred activists demonstrated at Lelystad Airport  in the Netherlands, against the planned expansion of the airport. They had placards, banners and horns to blast noise. Lelystad is scheduled to take over flights from Schiphol as of April 2019, when its runway extension opens. It will be taking some of the pressure off Schiphol, acting as an extra runway for holiday flights to European destinations. Local people are very worried that the 25,000 flights per year will cause a significant noise burden, and many people are horrified about the noise threat which they could not have anticipated years ago when they bought their homes. The protesters want the weather and environmental impacts re-calculated. There are due to be discussions with government agencies on flight path routes. In October 2017 the government admitted there had been errors in calculating the amount of noise, or how much noise each plane makes, but did not expect the errors to affect the chosen flight path routes or the airport opening in 2019.  A petition in September got 68,000 signatures, and while a huge number of people oppose the plans, some welcome the more convenient holiday flights the move to Lelystad would allow.

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Likely that ICAO aims to drastically weaken “sustainability” standards for aviation biofuel, under CORSIA

The European Commission and EU member states look set to agree to almost entirely remove sustainability criteria for bio jet fuel at the UN’s aviation agency (ICAO) Council meeting in Montreal.  ICAO hopes that extensive use of biofuels in future will enable aviation CO2 emissions to be reduced, so the industry's continuous growth will not be hampered. Biofuels could only be properly environmentally sustainable in tiny quantities, if stringent standards are adhered to. But now the countries gathered at the ICAO meeting plan to trash 10 sustainability points out of 12, which will mean that highly unsustainable biofuels would qualify for the aviation’s global carbon offsetting scheme, CORSIA.  These sustainability rules have implications beyond CORSIA because they will become the de facto global standard for biofuel use in the aviation sector. The 10 points would mean removal of rules on land rights, food security, labour rights and biodiversity protection. It is likely the 2 remaining are for a 10% greenhouse gas reduction target for biofuels compared to regular jet fuel, and a ban on crops grown on land that was deforested after 2009. The NGO Transport & Environment says this shows how the CORSIA scheme is a shambles, and the EU should withdraw from it.

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Carbon Market Watch recommendations for COP23 – CORSIA for aviation needs better transparency and clarity

"Carbon Market Watch" has made recommendations for COP23 (the UN global climate talks in Bonn). They say on aviation: "Don’t let aviation undermine the Paris Agreement.  In writing the Paris rulebook, it is essential to address the role of aviation and shipping, two sectors projected to take up to 40% of the carbon budget by 2050. This includes assessing both sectors’ ambition towards Paris goals in the Facilitative Dialogue and Global Stocktake and compatibility with the Paris Agreement on the Transparency Framework and accounting rules. The CORSIA is clearly not along term solution for aviation emissions in a world where all sectors must quickly reduce their own emissions. Without transparent, compatible rules, the CORSIA could end up increasing the overall emissions in the Paris Agreement by an equivalent of those from 817 coal fired power plants in a year." And they say aviation and shipping should be integrated into the preparation and review of mitigation action of states. There should be formalised cooperation between ICAO and the UNFCCC on avoiding double counting, and information on offsets going to CORSIA participants in reports and updates under the Transparency Framework. Information on ICAO and IMO activities should be included in the global stocktake.

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No 3rd Runway Coalition letter to Chris Grayling, asking him to ensure adherence to Civil Service Code, correcting factual errors

The No 3rd Runway Coalition have written the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, to point out that civil servants and Ministers need to adhere to the Civil Service and Ministerial Codes of behaviour.  These require correction of factual errors. The Coalition understand that, at Heathrow's recent Business Summits, the airport's publicity material about the estimated economic benefits of a 3rd runway has been misleading, claiming benefits far higher than the official Government figures published by the DfT.  Heathrow claims benefits, generated by the runway, of £211 billion for the UK over 60 years. However, the figures from the DfT indicated that the maximum gross benefit could be £74 billion, over 60 years, with a Net Present Valuation (i.e. after all costs have been accounted for) of somewhere between £3 bn and a LOSS of £2.2bn, over 60 years. The Coalition understands that civil servants have attended the Heathrow summits, and failed to point out this inaccuracy.  Also that DfT civil servants (and possibly Ministers) will be attending the Heathrow Business Summits of 8th November (at Heathrow) and 23rd November (in Derby). The Coalition is asking for assurance from Mr Grayling that any civil servants and Ministers attending will identify Heathrow's erroneous claims and correct them, by spelling out to summit attendees the Government's own figures.

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IATA head warns deadline for post-Brexit aviation deal is just 11 months away – October 2018

IATA director general, Alexandre de Juniac, has warned that Britain had no choice but to reach an air service deal with the rest of Europe, and fast. He said: "When the UK leaves the European Single Market, it will also leave the European Common Aviation Area. And when it breaks from the European Union, all traffic rights to the rest of the world associated with Europe will also be thrown into question. ... The basis of international aviation is bilateral air services agreements. There is no World Trade Organisation agreement to fall back on. For that reason, I don't see any alternative to a negotiated agreement. ... Time is precious. The Brexit clock is ticking towards a deadline of March 2019. But the aviation deadline is earlier. ... At a minimum, the flight schedules and seat and cargo inventories must be available at least six months in advance. So that puts the airlines' deadline at October 2018—just 11 months from now ... Get started. Don't step backward—people will not accept anything that turns back the clock on the achievements of the EU Common Aviation Area. And, lastly, don't underestimate the amount of work ahead as there are intense political and commercial interests at stake."  (He also wants Heathrow expanded fast ...)

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Stop Stansted Expansion say Government’s Aviation Forecast figures undermine Stansted’s claims on need for expansion

Claims by Stansted's management that the airport's growth potential over the next decade is being severely limited by the present cap on numbers at 35 mppa are being called into question by local campaign, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) following the publication of new Government figures. These numbers are in the DfT's forecasts, published as part of the 2nd consultation on the Airports NPS (ie. Heathrow runway). Stansted's owners, MAG, predict that it will be completely full by 2023 - and it therefore needs an increase in permitted numbers to be able to accommodate 43 million passengers in 2028. But SSE show that in the new DfT UK Aviation Forecasts, reveal this is wrong. The DfT central forecast for Stansted is that it should expect to handle just 31 million passengers annually by 2030, and 35 million by 2033.  Not by 2023. Stansted airport has been talking up the need for further growth - in anticipation of its application for planning permission from Uttlesford District Council in early 2018. And if there was a 3rd Heathrow runway, the DfT projects a decline in the number of Stansted passengers - from 24mppa in 2016 to 22mppa in 2030, and just 32 mppa by 2040. SSE say: "MAG's overstatement of potential demand to secure support for expansion is nothing more than an opportunistic ploy."

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ClientEarth launches new air pollution legal action against UK government

ClientEarth is taking legal action against the UK Government for a 3rd time, over its persistent failure to deal with illegal air pollution across the country. This comes just a year after ClientEarth’s High Court victory forcing ministers to develop plans to tackle the problem. The environmental lawyers said the Defra plans still fell far short of what was needed to bring air pollution to within legal limits as soon as possible. ClientEarth CEO James Thornton said they had no choice but to take legal action, to get clarity from government. ClientEarth names the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Transport Secretary and the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs in the Welsh Government as defendants. ClientEarth’s grounds for judicial review are: The latest plan backtracks on previous commitments to order 5 cities to introduce clean air zones by 2020;  2. The plan does not require any action in 45 local authorities in England, despite them having illegal levels of air pollution. 3. The plan does not require any action by Wales to bring down air pollution as quickly as possible. In order to avoid any further delay to ongoing work by Defra, DfT and local authorities, ClientEarth is not calling for the current plan to be overturned, but instead to be supplemented.

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For the love of Earth, stop travelling by plane – one of the best ways to cut our carbon footprint

Author Jack Miles, writing in the Washington Post, says we should cut down the amount we fly. He is writing as an American, and Americans fly a great deal - the country is huge, so many flights are domestic. Jack says:  "According to ... Christiana Figueres, we have only three years left in which to “bend the emissions curve downward” and forestall a terrifying cascade of climate-related catastrophes." ... "Staying home, in fact, is the essence of making a big difference in a big hurry. That’s because nothing that we do pumps carbon dioxide into the atmosphere faster than air travel." ... "There are 7 billion people on our planet, but the billion with the largest carbon footprint includes the most frequent fliers. I belong to the top billion. So do many of you." ... "So for the love of the Earth, our common home, our only home, start conducting more remote work meetings and training sessions virtually. Inform those jet-setting friends that you won’t attend their destination wedding in the tropics — you’ll send a gift in the mail. Tell that conference organizer that while you’re honored to be invited, you would prefer to participate in live online sessions instead. Start taking vacations by train or car, rather than flying to Paris or beyond. Explain to your ecological public interest group that the Galápagos will be much better off without you. "

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Leader of Hounslow Council, Councillor Steve Curran: “We’d like to see a better not bigger Heathrow”

Hounslow residents are being reminded they have just 6 weeks left to submit their views on the expansion of Heathrow to the DfT, through the government's revised draft Airports National Policy Statement which includes information on long-term aviation forecasts. The 2nd consultation on the draft NPS also provides some information on the impact of changes arising from updated noise analysis, a new air quality plan, government policy changes and responses to the first consultation. The deadline for the consultation is December 19th.  A 3rd Heathrow runway, with up to 50% more flights, would have a huge impact on Hounslow - and not only by the noise of flight paths over the borough. The Leader of Hounslow Council, Councillor Steve Curran, said: "Our position on Heathrow Airport remains, as it has always been, that we’d like to see a better not bigger airport. The government’s recommended expansion at Heathrow will have a huge impact on the residents and businesses of Hounslow. The council wants to ensure that issues of noise, pollution and additional congestion are properly addressed. ... I strongly urge all Hounslow residents and businesses to make sure they have their say online."

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Andy McDonald (Shadow Transport Sec) speech – more clarity needed from government on aviation policy

Some comments by Andy McDonnell, to the AOA conference:  "None of the Brexit policy papers covered transport - which doesn't reflect well on the government's priorities. ... Labour's view is that any new agreements for aviation following Brexit should replicate the status quo as far as possible including retention of access to the Single European Skies system and full membership of the European Aviation Safety Agency. ... Last month's revised public consultation into proposals for a third runway at Heathrow once again highlighted the urgent need for clarity on the future of airport capacity. ... Labour supports expansion provided our tests on capacity, emissions and regional benefits are met. In addition, expansion must be premised upon making better use of our existing capacity and developing a strategy to support smaller airports. ... we regret that aviation is not more prominent in either the air quality plan or clean growth strategy. Labour believes the Department for Transport needs to set out in more detail how it will deliver the provisions of the Climate Change Act within aviation. ... We believe that any changes [to airspace] should be made on the basis of noise impact and in full consultation with affected communities."

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Desirability of Ryanair’s £650,000 Scottish Government subsidy questioned

The independent paper, the "Ferret" in Scotland reports that the Scottish government agency Scottish Enterprise gave more than £650,000 to Ryanair, the airline at the centre of a staffing dispute that has resulted in thousands of flights from Scottish airports being cancelled this winter.  The grants were given to Ryanair in three parts, over the past 5 years. All three grants were to support Ryanair’s work at Prestwick, which is a struggling airport bought for almost nothing by the Scottish government.  Environmental groups have questioned whether the grants were compatible with the Scottish Government’s “world leading” climate change targets. Despite the subsidy Ryanair is choosing to cut many routes this winter until March 2018. Neil Bibby MSP, Scottish Labour’s transport spokesperson, said: “As Ryanair is also in receipt of taxpayer support from the Scottish Government, the SNP has a particular responsibility to ensure that basic legal requirements are met and that the airline is held to the right standards.  John Finnie MSP said: “Apart from lifeline routes to the islands, it’s hard to see how subsidising the aviation sector is compatible with the need to reduce CO2 emissions.”

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Heathrow 3rd runway ‘could delay’ the UK’s air quality compliance

Heathrow’s 3rd runway could harm efforts to stay under EU air pollution limits, a report published by the government has warned. An assessment by engineering consultancy WSP of the government’s 2017 Air Quality Plan, which was published in July following several legal battles with lawyers ClientEarth, said the proposed runway affect UK compliance with the EU’s Ambient Air Quality Directive. If the runway opened between 2026 and 2030 it is unlikely that concentrations of NO2 in central London would have fallen sufficiently to remove the risk of Heathrow negatively impacting EU limit value compliance. With government forecasts on air passenger numbers, and a lot of new evidence on air pollution, the DfT had to publish a fresh consultation on the revised Airports National Policy Statement on the 3rd runway scheme. The government said it was on track to publish final proposals for expansion at Heathrow in the first half of 2018, before they are voted on in Parliament. Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat Leader, said the fact the NPS consultation has had to be reopened shows the Government’s case remains deeply flawed. “It is difficult to see how a third runway can be delivered without breaching legal air pollution limits.

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Stansted will hold 3 “community feedback” events on its plans to rise annual passenger number to 43m

Stansted Airport is to host three community feedback events, about its revised proposals for future growth over the next decade. There was an earlier consultation in July about growth plans. The 3 events will provide people with a further opportunity to raise questions about how Stansted intends to grow, the impacts of that growth, and how it could make best use of its existing capacity. Currently Stansted has a planning cap on the annual number of passengers, of 35 million. It initially proposed this being raised to 44.5 million (just under the 10 million rise, that would require it to be dealt with an Nationally Significant Infrastructure project, but a different process) and has now reduced this to 43 million. Stansted claims this could be achieved without increasing the number of aircraft movements (= flights) that are currently permitted to operate each year or the size of the airport’s approved noise ‘footprint’.  A key issue for local people who would be affected by the expansion is noise, and just how much that would get, if an extra 8 million passengers per year were permitted. That would require planes being fuller, and also larger planes - which inevitably are noisier than smaller ones, even with new technologies to reduce noise.  Stansted will next submit the final planning application to Uttlesford District Council in early 2018.

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Airports NPS (Heathrow runway) – new inquiry launched by Parliament’s Transport Committee

The Transport Committee is to carry out an inquiry into the DfT's  revised proposal for an Airports National Policy Statement (NPS) - tabled by the Government on 24 October. The DfT consultation is to end on 19th December, after just 8 weeks.  The NPS must receive Parliamentary approval before Heathrow Airport can submit a development consent application to the Planning Inspectorate, which then makes a recommendation to the Secretary of State on whether planning consent should be granted. The Transport Committee (Chair is Lilian Greenwood) will run this second inquiry, as the work of the previous committee was cut short by the general election in June.  Some members of the committee have changed since before the election - and the previous Chair was Louise Ellman. This inquiry will specifically look at, and want submissions on, "whether the DfT's revised passenger demand forecasts and air quality assessments have been satisfactorily completed and are represented accurately in the final version of the NPS and Appraisal of Sustainability" - and on "whether any other changes to the NPS based on clarity intention and/or Government policy since February 2017 are suitable." The deadline for submissions to the Transport committee is Thursday 30 November 2017.

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Leader of Richmond Council: Government aviation strategy ignores Heathrow health impacts

The Leader of Richmond Council, commenting on the DfT's consultation on the draft aviation strategy (closed 13th October), says it tries to shut down any discussion on expansion at Heathrow and puts the demand for additional flights ahead of the health impact on communities affected by increased noise and worsening air quality. Leader Paul Hodgins, speaking on behalf of Wandsworth, Richmond, Hillingdon and Windsor and Maidenhead councils, said: “It is difficult to see what purpose the draft aviation strategy serves when, in it, the government is ignoring the problem of Heathrow. First we had a pro-Heathrow airport draft national policy statement with no details on flightpaths, out of date passenger demand figures, an economic case which doesn’t stand up and unattainable pollution limits. Now we have a national strategy that leaves out Heathrow.  Any serious attempt at a UK-wide policy must come before any policy on individual airports, including Heathrow."  He also said: “The Government should withdraw this partial and disingenuous strategy document, abandon its unjustified policy support for Heathrow and begin again with an approach that people can trust.”

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Insensitive Ad by “Back Heathrow” outside Sipson business (that 3rd runway would destroy) now removed

Heathrow lobby group, "Back Heathrow" were forced to remove an advert after it was placed outside a local business which would be destroyed if a 3rd runway were ever built. The advertisement, which appeared on Friday 27 October, proclaimed the number jobs that would be created if the airport was expanded – a highly controversial figure which even new evidence by the DfT is wildly over-estimated. [The DfT said in October 2016 that the 77,000 figure was wrong, and they recalculated the number of local jobs using a more plausible method. The number they came up with is up to 37,700 jobs. However, they continue to use the phrase "up to 77,000", which could be considered to be highly misleading.   See link ] The poster was placed right outside the local hairdressing salon, "Hair by Jackie". Ironically this business, like everything else in that part of Sipson, would be destroyed (Jackie would also lose her homes, as well as her business) if Heathrow was allowed to expand. So much for the jobs claims. Local campaign Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) believe the placing of the ad, at best, demonstrated a lack of understanding on the part of "Back Heathrow", or else total disregard for the community and small business owners.

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MPs on BBC “Sunday Politics” on huge Heathrow uncertainties – including on economic benefit

Zac Goldsmith, speaking on the BBC's 'Sunday Politics': “A lot has changed since the Airports Commission produced its report and that, don’t forget, was the bedrock of the government’s decision and the reason supposedly why the government made the decision that it made. But most of the assumptions made in that report have been undermined since by data on passenger numbers, on economic benefits and most of all, on pollution.” and  “In the free vote we could have had up to 60 MPs voting against Heathrow expansion. That’s the number that’s normally used and I think it’s right. In the circumstances where it requires an active rebellion, the numbers would be fewer. I can’t tell you what the number would be but I can tell you that there are people right the way through the party, from the back-benches to the heart of government, who will vote against Heathrow expansion.”  And Theresa Villiers said:  “At the heart of that private at private finance is passengers in the future but also the cost of the surface access is phenomenal. I mean, TfL estimates vary between £10 and 15 billion and there is no suggestion that those private backers are going to meet those costs, so this is a hugely expensive project and one that will create significant economic damage.”

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Airports’ climate programme relies on offsets excluded under EU laws – CORSIA must exclude “dodgy” offsets

Transport & Environment has found that airports are relying on offsets excluded under EU climate laws to help achieve their voluntary target of "carbon neutrality." Airports’ efforts to reduce their CO2 emissions are welcome, but not worth much if the offset project types being used are highly unlikely to deliver promised emission reductions  - and don't qualify for the EU’s emissions trading system (EU ETS). The claims of carbon neutrality therefore cannot be credibly maintained without serious reforms to this programme. Many of the offset types being used (cheap) were long ago ruled inadmissible by the EU due to concerns over their environmental integrity.  Airports are not required to publicly disclose which offsets they purchase. Athens airport relied on wind farm offsets originating in China – offsets which are unlikely to deliver additional emissions reductions (a necessary criterion) and are banned from the EU ETS. Andrew Murphy said: “Flawed programmes such as this are giving a green light to airport expansion and the resulting surge in aircraft emissions." The ICAO CORSIA programme will approve its offset rules later in November. These must exclude aviation use of the dodgy offset projects. 

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Heathrow expansion plan is reckless & shows shocking disregard for government health obligations

"The Government’s revised proposals for the expansion of Heathrow highlight how much damage would be caused by this reckless project. They reveal that Heathrow is already having a more detrimental impact on our air than we realised, with an estimated 86% of the toxic air in the surrounding area related to the airport — rather than the previously estimated 70%. It has also emerged that building a 3rd runway will increase toxic air pollution even more than originally predicted. As a result, the Government must rule out the possibility of a 3rd runway at Heathrow. But before the Gatwick PR machine leaps into action, it is worth pointing out that there is simply no need for a new runway in London. Every airport but one is operating under capacity, and the cases put forward by Gatwick and Heathrow to solve the manufactured “crisis” rely on vastly inflated job creation predictions. By continuing to pursue this strategy, the Government is displaying a shocking disregard for the UK’s moral obligation to tackle a genuine air pollution public health emergency."  Say the Green Party. And add in the Government’s inexplicable denial of information relating to the new flight paths that the new runway will create.

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Supersonic, super-rich (1% of the 1%), super-polluting: the next generation of business jets

Hundreds of supersonic jets could be flying businesspeople over Europe within ten years, but documents show the EU is preparing to cede oversight of their huge CO2 emissions. This CO2 must be regulated. Concorde, the world’s last commercial supersonic aircraft, generated x3  more noise, NOx and CO2 than today’s subsonic planes and contributed x5  more to global warming, due to the high altitudes at which it released its emissions. No CO2 regulations, either international or European, have so far been put in place for the next generation of supersonic aircraft, which ICAO expects to begin certifying by as early as 2020. The first planes could come to market by 2025, and new company Aerion making these jets hopes there is a market for about 600 supersonic business jets. One analyst called this market “the 1% of the 1%” of business travellers who can afford it.  It is likely that these jets would be twice – or even more – carbon intensive than a modern subsonic aircraft. The current lack of standards for supersonic jets is creating “a chicken and egg situation”, according to Tim Johnson, the director of the AEF.  Planes before proper standards are agreed, or proper standards first....

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HACAN East presents London City Airport with a 30th Birthday cake – it’s time for it to clean up its act

Campaigners at local group HACAN East want London City airport to stop growing, cap the number of annual flights & end concentrated flight paths, to protect residents from the noise and the pollution. Today was London City Airport's 30th birthday. Campaigners - dressed up as bakers -  presented the airport will a beautiful cake. They say that now it is 30 years old, it should CLEAN UP ITS ACT. The campaign wants London City to be a better neighbour - the airport is in a totally inappropriate location, surrounded by such densely populated areas that are home to so many people. The airport should NOT be allowed to grow further, as it affects too many people.  There is a moving film, with people affected by the airport speaking out. One lady says:  "We have lived in our house in Mottingham, SE 9, for over 35 years, Then last year without any consultation or warning we suddenly found we had low flying, noisy planes coming over our house from early morning till late at nights. These flights are devastating to me.  I sometimes hate living in my house and I want to move. But the thought of moving away from family and friends at this stage in our life is just too hard to do." A sad reflection on how aviation impacts people's lives.

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Residents across many areas negatively affected by Heathrow protest against 700 MORE planes per day

A number of areas already badly affected by Heathrow plane noise held photo shoots early today, to provide a graphic visual reminder of just how much worse the noise problem would be, if a Heathrow 3rd runway was built.  Links to photos of some of the actions below. It is likely that a 3rd runway would enable about 50% more flights per year. That translates to around 700 more planes, every day (350 more landings, 350 more take offs) with the runway. Though not all would go over the same areas, it means more planes and more noise for those under existing flight paths, and new intense noise pollution to many areas (details are not yet known) not currently overflown. The groups in areas already overflown, especially in areas near Heathrow, used 700 red cardboard planes, at their different locations - getting their message across "loud and clear" just one day after the DfT announced its second phase of consultation on the Airports NPS (National Policy Statement), which aims to press through the Heathrow 3rd runway. This consultation deals with air pollution, noise and passenger forecast data - none of which was properly available during the earlier NPS consultation that closed in May. The need for the 2nd consultation demonstrates just how weak the case for the Heathrow runway is, and the enormity of the hurdles it faces, including those on environmental issues.

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East Midlands Airport boss on plans for future expansion (hope to double passengers and triple freight)

East Midlands Airport (EMA) is owned by MAG, the Manchester Airports Group, and the 3rd largest after Manchester and Stansted. In its most recent accounts, revenue grew by 3.6% to £62.4m for the year to March 2017 – far behind Manchester airport’s 12.5% growth to £444.5m, but slightly above the 3% for Stansted, which had a £294.1m turnover. The airport's management hopes that being near Nottingham, Derby and Leicester, and with programmes such as HS2 and the Midlands Engine aiming to grow the local economy, it has growth prospects for the future. There are always hopes of connections to 2nd-tier Chinese cities such as Ningbo, where the University of Nottingham has a campus, India and the United States – possibly key markets in the post-Brexit world. East Midlands wants to double is passenger number, to 10 million - and almost treble the amount of freight to one million tonnes by around 2030 to 2035. It is the UK’s largest pure freight airport – for aircraft dedicated to carrying cargo – in the UK. (Heathrow has much more, but that comes as belly-hold cargo, in passenger planes).  EMA handles about 350,000 tonnes of freight and cargo through a 24/7 operation. Noisy planes fly all night.

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DfT publishes another 8 week consultation on the Heathrow NPS, showing further weaknesses

As stated in September, the Government has now published a second part of its consultation on the "Airports NPS", on building a 3rd Heathrow runway. The 8 week consultation ends on 19th December. This consultation contains updated air passenger forecasts which were not produced for the earlier NPS consultation (which ended in May). It also looks at air pollution issues, which were not covered properly before, and also noise. This consultation comes exactly one year since the Government announced it favoured a 3rd Heathrow runway.  The DfT is very aware of the problem Heathrow has with air pollution saying the runway means "there remains, however, a risk that the options could delay or worsen compliance with limit values, albeit decreasing over time."  Since the report by the Airports Commission, in July 2015, the arguments it put forward for the 3rd Heathrow runway have been seriously undermined - on economics, air pollution, carbon emission, noise, cost to the taxpayer etc. Yet Government tries to push on with it.  Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park, commented: “It is as if our politicians have been collectively hypnotised, but sooner or later reality will click and the project will be shelved once again.”

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Dublin: Planned new 2nd runway twist as IAA grounded on aircraft noise

Fresh complications are clouding the planned use of a new runway project at Dublin Airport after the Irish Government backtracked on proposals to put the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) in charge of enforcing an EU aircraft noise regulation.  New legal advice from the Attorney General's office has meant that it "would not be consistent with the principles of good corporate governance of the IAA as a whole" to appoint the authority as the competent body to enforce the legislation, contained in regulation EU 598/14. The decision has left the Department of Transport scrabbling for an alternative to the IAA.  The EU regulation was introduced to reduce the noise impact from aircraft arriving and departing at airports in the EU. Its implementation could have consequences for Dublin Airport, where passenger traffic is expected to hit about 30 million this year. The DAA, which controls Dublin and Cork airports, has almost finished site preparation work for the new runway, and a tender for the actual runway construction is expected to be awarded next year. The runway is due to be operational in 2021. Local residents and groups have mounted High Court legal challenges against the runway plans.

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Buyers of new homes near Schiphol airport to get official warnings about aircraft noise (to avoid future complaints)

People moving into new homes close to Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport will be warned about aircraft noise before they move in, and the warning will become part of sales contracts.  Agreement on an official aircraft noise warning has been reached between the Dutch junior infrastructure minister, Schiphol airport, airline KLM and local and provincial governments.  While no new homes are being built directly under flight paths, thousands of houses are being built in areas where noise is likely to be a problem - as aircraft noise is heard some way from the direct line of a flight path. In particular, 4,500 new homes are being built south-east of Amsterdam close to the Buitenveldert runway and there are other building projects in areas where aircraft noise will have to be taken into consideration. People are told they can then not complain about plane noise, so the aviation industry will not be faced with extra costs and further expansion of housing stock will be made possible. It has already been agreed that municipalities and provinces will point out the new residents to potential inconvenience. Municipalities will not submit requests to change the flight path routes. The aim is that housing can not block further aviation growth after 2020.

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