planes plane-over-roof StopAirportExpansiontshirt BRITAIN HEATHROW AIRPORT EXPANSION


* * * * main Heathrow news stories * * *

UK Government loses 3rd air pollution case brought by ClientEarth, as judge rules air pollution plans ‘unlawful’

Environmental lawyers ClientEarth have won a 3rd case against the UK government over the country’s illegal and harmful levels of air pollution. In a ruling handed down at the High Court in London, Judge Mr Justice Garnham declared the government’s failure to require action from 45 local authorities with illegal levels of air pollution in their area is unlawful.  He ordered ministers to require local authorities to investigate and identify measures to tackle illegal levels of pollution in 33 towns and cities as soon as possible – as 12 of the 45 are projected to have legal levels by the end of 2018. He said: “The Environment Secretary must ensure that, in each of the 45 areas, steps are taken to achieve compliance as soon as possible, by the quickest route possible and by a means that makes that outcome likely.”  This will be of great embarrassment to ministers, as it is the third time that they have lost an air pollution court battle. ClientEarth commented:  “The problem was supposed to be cleaned up over 8 years ago, and yet successive governments have failed to do enough … government must now do all it can to make that happen quickly.”  The area around Heathrow has high NO2 pollution levels, often over the legal limit,  and it is unlikely that there could be a 3rd runway without a serious risk of air quality deteriorating.

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Airlines tell Transport Committee of their alarm over ‘blank cheque’ for Heathrow 3rd runway

At the final oral evidence session by the Commons Transport Committee, looking at the Airports NPS (ie. plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway) airline representatives and the CAA were questioned.  Key people from British Airways, Virgin and easyJet urged MPs to secure details from Heathrow on costs before voting to approve a runway.  Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG, told MPs that the true cost of Heathrow expansion is likely to be “grossly” higher than the £14.3bn the airport has cited, and there is no clarity or transparency on the plans. Airlines do not want higher landing charges, and it is unclear how Heathrow could pay for its expansion without higher charges. The airlines want guarantees on costs. MPs commented that it was hard for MPs to vote for (or against) the runway, when vital details on costs and financing are not available – and even the main airlines don’t know if they back the scheme. Willie Walsh said parliament should not trust Heathrow; he had “zero confidence” that a third runway would be delivered on time and within budget – there were not even any clear plans for what is to be built yet, nor for the M25.  Walsh added: “When we’ve asked for disclosure … what they are saying is ‘trust us. Give us your approval and support’. I don’t trust them and you shouldn’t, either.” And higher charges risked making an expanded Heathrow too expensive and a “white elephant”.

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Heathrow study on “respite” shows there is no clear definition, and no clarity on what it means, or whether it helps

Heathrow, and the supporters of its plans for a 3rd runway (increasing the number of planes using the airport by up to 50%) has been enthusiastic about the concept of “respite” from plane noise. This is the idea that people will be less unhappy about the amount of plane noise, if they get some predictable times when they are spared the noise.  During those times, the noise is over other people (and vice versa). Heathrow has a Respite Working Group (RWG), set up in October 2014,  and it commissioned research to show if respite would be effective. The long awaited report has been published (though it was finished in May 2017 …) and it merely confirms the vagueness of the concept, and therefore how little confidence anyone has in it reducing the upset, distress and annoyance caused by unwanted plane noise.  The study might have been expected to a). define what respite actually is (in terms of amount of noise, duration, time of day).  b). what amount of respite is actually valued by overflown communities. Instead we have no certainty of when someone is getting “respite.” Does it mean no plane noise at all?  Or a bit less plane noise than usual, if the plane is a mile or two away rather than overhead? Does it mean half an hour without planes, or 8 hours without planes? And so on.  The RWG just wants more research ….

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“If we’re going to offset airplanes’ CO2 emissions, we should at least do it right” – blog by Andrew Murphy (from T&E)

The global aviation industry hopes to be able to be able to continue growing, fast, and emitting ever more carbon – while claiming this is all “offset” by carbon credits from elsewhere. In an excellent article, Andrew Murphy from T&E explains some of the problems, and why what is currently on offer is not even near to being effective.  The UN scheme for aviation CO2 is called CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) is already very weak, as it only aims to offset CO2 above 2020 levels . That is far short of what the Paris agreement requires. And because participation in CORSIA is voluntary, the scheme will fall short of this 2020 target. Offsets are so cheap and the target is so weak that the resulting cost will also do nothing to incentivise greater efficiencies from within the aviation sector.  But offsetting itself has huge problems: 1). There is no proper way ICAO can enforce CORSIA and ensure airlines and states abide by the rules.        2).  There is little guarantee with many sorts of offsets, the cheapest in particular, that they deliver any real CO2 reductions. And 3).  There are serious questions about the use of alternative fuels, as if airlines are allowed to count the use them against any offsetting obligation. So the sustainability rules for alternative fuels need to be as tight as they are for offsets.  ICAO is consulting on its standards till the 5th March.

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Transport for London may join legal challenge against Heathrow runway, due to lack of clarity on surface transport

Transport for London (TfL) are the expert body on transport issues for London. They have long been very concerned about the surface access problems a 3rd Heathrow runway would cause. They now say the government could face a legal challenge, if there is no better clarity on the matter.  TfL would join the legal challenge of the 4 councils. TfL director of city planning, Alex Williams, said he had not seen evidence from the DfT or Heathrow to support the airport’s claim that the public transport mode share of its passengers of 50% by 2030 would be achieved, or how airport traffic could be kept at current levels. By contrast, the analysis by TfL on the matter is completely transparent. Alex said: “If no-one’s prepared to share information or substantiate their case about how you can deliver those mode share targets…then you’re just heading straight for a court hearing, because we’re at loggerheads and no-one’s prepared to share that information or have that technical discussion about the merits of the case.” About 40% of Heathrow passenger trips are now on public transport, and TfL estimates this number would need to rise to 69% by 2030, for Heathrow to meet its pledge of no extra traffic on roads near the airport. TfL says the Southern and Western Rail Access schemes rail schemes are “essential” if there is a 3rd runway.

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Extra costs to local authorities, and huge doubt about chance of relocating Lakeside incinerator, if 3rd runway went ahead

If the 3rd Heathrow runway was to go ahead, the Lakeside incinerator would have to be demolished. The Lakeside Energy from Waste (EfW), a joint venture between Grundon Waste Management and Viridor, processes non-recyclable waste from more than 12 local authorities including Kingston, Croydon, Merton, Sutton and Richmond. It produces 37MW of low carbon energy, which is enough to provide power for around 56,000 homes, a town roughly the size of Slough. Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith said the cost of moving the incinerator “would be many hundreds of millions of pounds. No one will want it in their backyard so the planning process will be complex and lengthy, and in the absence of a replacement, local authorities will be forking out around £50m a year in extra landfill taxes. This is yet another huge and unplanned cost associated with Heathrow expansion, a project that is already deeply uneconomic and anticompetitive.”  On February 5, before the Commons Transport Committee, Heathrow’s CEO John Holland-Kaye said it needed to be dealt with “sooner rather than later” but gave no further information. It has no plans, and no alternative site has been found. The No 3rd Runway Coalition said the estimated cost of relocation is £500million or more than £700million should the plant be forced to close.

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Non-CO2 climate impacts of aviation mean it is 2 – 3 times more damaging than the industry claims

While IATA considers global aviation accounts for about 2% of man-made CO2 emissions, this is a serious underestimate of the sector’s impact on climate change. According to Professor Dr Volker Grewe, a researcher on atmospheric physics at Delft in Holland, air transport’s contribution to climate change is roughly 5%. This is because in addition to emitting CO2, aircraft flying at altitude impact the atmosphere in various ways which have a large, albeit transient, additional warming effect. The main contributors of aviation-induced radiative forcing are: CO2, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and contrail/cirrus cloud formation. As are the contrails and resultant cloud formation which trap radiation escaping from the Earth, and the effect is very significant.  However, the effect is smaller in some parts of the globe than others, so small reductions in the non-CO2 impact could be achieved from a bit of re-routing. Optimising the speed and cruise altitude also help a bit. However, the EU emissions trading system for aviation ignores non-CO2 impacts. Brussels NGO T&E says the non-CO2 impacts should be included. “When aviation was included in the ETS in 2008 the directive in fact called on the European Commission to assess the non-CO2 impacts and propose action. Nothing transpired but this call was renewed in the revisions to the directive agreed last year requesting the Commission to assess and propose by 2020. The time to act is well overdue.”

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Economic advisors, Prof Peter Mackie & Brian Pearce respond to Heathrow questions by Transport Select Cttee

As part of their inquiry into the plans for a Heathrow 3rd runway, in the Airports NPS, the Transport Select Committee wrote on 16th January – with a list of questions – to two economic experts, Professor Peter Mackie, (Institute for Transport Studies, Leeds University) and Brian Pearce (Chief Economist, IATA UK) who advised the Airports Commission (and who were critical of the way the Commission worked out alleged future economic benefits of a Heathrow runway). Mackie & Price have replied in some detail, and some of their comments can be seen below. Asked about the economic impact of the airport not being full in 2 -3 years, but (as John Holland-Kaye has said) over 10 – 15 years, they say: “…that ought to be reflected in the capacity model and profile of shadow costs over time.”  Asked about carbon costs, they say: “… we cannot comment either on the probability of a fully effective international carbon trading scheme being in place in the timeframe, nor on the striking price of carbon and its trend over time.”  And on Heathrow landing charges they say the DfT’s main case assumes “the benefit of the reduced shadow cost will be fully passed through to travellers while increases in landing charges to fund the infrastructure will be absorbed by airlines. This particular combination seems a bit unlikely.”

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Grayling makes key admissions on serious problems with a 3rd Heathrow runway, at Transport Committee hearing

Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, made several assertions when he appeared before the inquiry on the Airports National Policy Statement, held by the Transport Select Committee on 7th February.  When questioned about Heathrow’s regional connectivity, he confirmed that many of the domestic routes, promised by Heathrow, would not be commercially viable and would require taxpayer funded Public Service Obligation (PSO) subsidy orders, if they were to ever materialise.  Grayling also confirmed that, although up to 121,000 residents around the airport would be expected to suffer the impact of the further air pollution concentrations, likely to flow from the extra flights required to meet the DfT’s own recently updated passenger demand forecasts, the government was yet to undertake any work to assess those impactsMr Grayling also confirmed that there would be a ‘real risk’ of non-compliance on air quality, were Heathrow to expand, and that the Government’s own analysis expects that risk to be heightened in the years 2026 – 2030.  He also confirmed that the 3rd runway would mean a reduction in respite from noise, for adversely impacted residents. Details with extracts on these points from transcripts at the link below.  Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway coalition commented on the NPS that “To proceed on the basis of evidence that unravels, on scrutiny, would simply be unacceptable”.

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Manchester airport infuriated by Holland-Kaye claim that Manchester area “needs” Heathrow for business

Giving evidence to MPs at the Transport Select Committee, on the proposed  3rd runway, Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye claimed those living in areas like Greater Manchester ‘needed Heathrow’ to sustain business links with the world. But Andrew Cowan, CEO of Manchester Airport, has accused him of making ‘misleading claims’ about its importance to Manchester passengers – and the UK economy. Holland-Kaye also claimed that the services Manchester had won – like Cathay Pacific’s direct route to Hong Kong – were thanks to Heathrow trail-blazing the route first. He tried to make out that Heathrow has a ‘unique’ position in providing long haul routes to countries like China, despite Manchester’s existing Beijing route along with Guangzhou and Shanghai services in the pipeline. Heathrow clams these are vital for business, despite admitting most passengers are not on business – they just facilitate more flights to destinations where business might be done. Heathrow always says, as its mantra, that “only” Heathrow can provide “connectivity” to world destinations. Andrew Cowan said Heathrow continues to make misleading claims about its benefit to the UK economy, and Heathrow “is far from being unique in connecting UK businesses to global markets.” Manchester is important for the Northern Powerhouse, jobs in the north and rebalancing UK economic growth.

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John Holland-Kaye appears before Commons Transport Committee for grilling on 3rd runway problems

Heathrow’s chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, appeared before the Commons Transport Select Committee to give evidence for their inquiry into the proposed 3rd runway (the Airports NPS inquiry). He tried to defend claims that the runway, and 50% more flights, would result in a cut in road traffic connected with the airport. He tried to insist the airport’s pedges on air quality levels would be met if a 3rd runway went ahead.  The comments came after Tory MP and committee member Huw Merriman said that a number of airport commitments had “somewhat unravelled”.  Heathrow are trying to persuade MPs etc that they have a “triple lock” on the problem of air pollution, and it had a “strong plan” to deal with traffic levels. He blames road vehicles, nothing to do with Heathrow, for local air pollution – and gave confusing evidence about whether Heathrow could, or could not, count the number of vehicle journeys associated with the airport.  (If they cannot count them, then cannot confirm they have not increased …).  Asked if he could make a “firm commitment” that landing charges would not increase, Mr Holland-Kaye told MPs: “At this stage I couldn’t….” And he blathered when asked by Lilian Greenwood about the financial benefits of Heathrow, if it only reached a 50% increase in flights over 10 – 15 years, not just a few.

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British Airways owner IAG wants break up of Heathrow monopoly, with separate companies managing terminals

British Airways’ owner IAG (Willie Walsh) has called on government to break up Heathrow’s “monopoly” of infrastructure, suggesting to the CAA that other companies could run the different terminals to create competition and cheaper flights for consumers.  IAG, which is Heathrow’s largest customer, said the airport’s planned expansion could allow independent firms to create and run new terminals more effectively than Heathrow’s current owners, with lower costs to airlines – and better cost control. IAG is desperate for charges by Heathrow not to rise, to pay for its runway etc.  Walsh said: “Heathrow’s had it too good for too long and the government must confirm the CAA’s powers to introduce this type of competition. … This would cut costs, diversify funding and ensure developments are completed on time, leading to a win-win for customers.”  BA runs a terminal at JFK airport in New York and there are European examples at Frankfurt and Munich airports. Heathrow has a real problem, becoming ever more clear, with funding for its expansion plans. Chris Grayling has said Heathrow landing charges (already some of the world’s highest) “should be kept as close as possible to current levels.”  A vote is due to be held this summer in the Commons on the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS).

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European Environment Agency: Reducing CO2 emissions from aviation ‘requires systemic change’ to cut demand

The EEA (European Environment Agency) says reducing CO2 emissions from Europe’s aviation and shipping industries requires systemic change, rather than simply improving efficiency. In a new report they say a massive shift in innovation, consumer behaviour and the take up of more ambitious green technologies to power aircraft and cargo ships are crucial. Both aviation and shipping have grown fast in recent years, and by 2050, the two are anticipated to contribute almost 40% of global CO2 emissions unless further mitigation is taken. Incremental small improvements in fuel efficiency will not be enough. For air travel, changes in lifestyle and culture are needed eg. more shift to rail and less demand for material imported material goods. Governments have a key role to play. The role of continuing subsidies to the aviation industry is important in maintaining high demand for air travel. There needs to be a change to the “attitude-action gap” whereby expressed “environmental  awareness by individuals does not translate into reductions in flight demand.” … “there will be a need for wider conversations around the types of lifestyle that will help enable sustainable mobility”. They are not convinced aviation biofuels will be anything more than minimal.  Not just expanding the sector with new runways etc.

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PCS union reiterates its view that Heathrow job claims cannot be trusted, and 3rd runway would be too damaging

Tahir Latif, of the PCS (Commercial and Public Services Union) had a letter in the Evening Standard, reiterating his union’s view on Heathrow. Responding to a letter from Sam Gurney, of the TUC, backing the runway because of potential job gains, Tahir said: “Sam Gurney’s support of a 3rd runway at Heathrow glosses over many issues. There are serious doubts over the jobs claims in terms of the number, quality, duration and conditions, and similar concerns about where and to whom the economic benefits would accrue. Unions that oppose the runway are as keen to protect their members’ jobs as the TUC but recognise the massive environmental impact that will result from 250,000-plus additional flights per year. Instead of inflicting large-scale environmental damage, we need to demand job creation that retrieves the UK and London from its wretched environmental performance — not worsens it.”  In the past the PCS has said they oppose the 3rd runway as there is little real evidence supporting the extravagant promises made about jobs. Although the PCS wants to “protect Heathrow jobs whether or not the airport expands, the environmental impact of a 3rd runway would be too serious. PCS advocates sustainable transport and the creation of new jobs in that growing sector.”

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Crossrail (Elizabeth Line) has problems and may go over-budget, not helped by Heathrow only paying £70m (not £230m)

The management of Crossrail have issued a major alert that the £14.8 billion line (the Elizabeth Line) might not open on time and is at risk of blowing its budget. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said problems with software on new trains and an electrical explosion in east London, when engineers tried to switch on the high-voltage power, have caused “real, serious challenges.”  Stations such as Bond Street, Paddington, Liverpool Street, Woolwich and Whitechapel — where there have been major construction problems — are behind schedule. Crossrail chairman Sir Terry Morgan admitted the line was “very close” to exceeding its budget. Costs are increasing rapidly in the rush to try and open on time. The line will link Reading and Heathrow with Shenfield and Abbey Wood once fully opened by the end of 2019.  The central section of the line, between Paddington and Abbey Wood via two new tunnels under central London, is due to open in December 2018. Heathrow was initially asked to contribute £230 million. But it managed to argue that it would only derive small additional benefit as it was “full” so is only paying £70 million. In reality, Heathrow has a lot of extra terminal capacity and its number of passengers rises annually, even with no 3rd runway. Heathrow had 75.7m passengers in 2017 compared to 72.3m in 2013.). So the taxpayer is having to shoulder the financial costs, which Heathrow should have paid.

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TfL Surface Access Analysis of Heathrow possible 3rd runway warns of congestion and over-crowding that would be caused to surface transport

Transport for London (TfL) has raised concerns over the impact Heathrow expansion will have on the capital’s transport network, warning over significant crowding. In its surface access analysis (Jan 2018) TfL says a 3 runway Heathrow is expected to result in an extra 170,000 daily passenger and staff trips compared to now. While Heathrow has “pledged” that there would be no new airport related traffic on the roads compared to today, that can only mean a higher % of passengers using public transport. TfL has raised concerns over the feasibility of this – and what it will mean for London’s public transport. In order to achieve no rise in highway trips, TfL says around 65-70% of trips would need to be on public transport. That would work out as a 210% increase on journeys at present.  TfL believes a 3-runway Heathrow would probably generate 90,000 extra vehicle trips along with another 100,000 extra public transport trips each day. That is likely to mean bad over-crowding of roads for non-airport users. In the morning peak for travel, there would be a 3 – 5% rise in average highway journey times across west London as far in as Westminster. For rail passengers it would mean “significant levels of crowding” on the Elizabeth Line, Piccadilly Line and Windsor lines.

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Heathrow criticised by key London councils for jumping the gun, with its inadequate consultation, on Government 3rd runway decision

The latest consultation from Heathrow is ‘jumping the gun’ – according to Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor & Maidenhead councils.  The Leaders of 3 councils have slammed Heathrow for holding a consultation when the Government are yet to make a decision on whether or not the airport should be expanded at all.  Parliamentary scrutiny on the Governments proposals is still underway, with a vote by MPs due later this year. As part of this process, tens of thousands of people have already had their say, making it clear that expansion at Heathrow is not deliverable. The Leaders argue that any expansion of the airport would have a devastating impact on West London  – causing immense damage to the environment and people’s health, tear communities apart, see an unacceptable rise in noise and air pollution, and potentially cost taxpayers £15bn.  The latest Heathrow consultation fails to recognise any of this well documented feedback. Confusingly, this latest consultation is also seeking residents’ initial views on how airspace and flight paths should be designed in the future (concentrated or less concentrated…)  The councils view is that the noise burden is too high now and all efforts should be made to minimise the number of people impacted by noise. Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, said: “I find the fact that Heathrow seem to think this is a done deal absolutely appalling.”

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Important points demonstrating how the Heathrow 3rd runway is far from certain, at Westminster Hall debate

On Wednesday 24th January, Vince Cable MP secured a debate in Westminster Hall, on the issue of the 3rd Heathrow runway plans and Heathrow’s current consultation on their expansion hopes. Some of the MPs who spoke were Ruth Cadbury, Zac Goldsmith, Andy Slaughter, Karl Turner and Stephen Pound. They expressed serious reservations on issues of cost to the taxpayer, cost of surface access transport improvements, increased noise, uncertain air pollution, uncertain CO2 emissions, uncertain economic benefits and uncertain links to regional airports. Quotes from the MP contributions are shown below. Just a couple include: Zac Goldsmith (Richmond Park) (Con) – “one problem with the consultation is that we know that hundreds of thousands of new people will be affected by noise, but we do not know which hundreds of thousands, because the Government and Heathrow have yet to tell us where the new flight paths will be, which renders the entire consultation process entirely disingenuous, if not dishonest? It is a bit like saying, “We’re going to put a new incinerator in your constituency, and we’d like to ask people their opinion, but we’re not going to say where it’ll be put.” Surely the entire basis of the consultation’s legitimacy has a question mark hanging over it.”  And Andy Slaughter – “Getting these glossy pamphlets through the door, as one does on a regular basis from Heathrow, sends the subliminal message, “This is a done deal. Get used to it. Get what you can out of it by way of mitigation.” It simply is not good enough.”

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Heathrow premature “consultation” demonstrates NOT how inevitable the 3rd runway is, but just how absent any details are

The Heathrow consultation (17th January to 28th March) is vague in the extreme. It purports to be a consultation about how the airport should expand with a 3rd runway. But no government permissions for this has even been given yet, with a vote in Parliament and several legal challenges to be undergone before there is any certainty there will be any 3rd Heathrow runway. The consultation’s main purpose appears to be to give the impression to politicians, business people, the public, the affected communities etc that the runway is a “done deal” and is definitely going ahead; Heathrow is just sorting out some details. That is NOT the case. As the consultation makes manifestly clear, rather than sticking to details of the recommendations of the Airports Commission (on noise increases, night flight curfew periods, location of runway, means of getting over the M25 and so much else) Heathrow is not sticking to this, but trying out other options – which were never part of the Commission’s scrutiny.  Far from making the runway look inevitable, the numerous areas in which there is no certainty of Heathrow’s plans demonstrate immense weaknesses. The consultation is aimed at trying to make the runway planning appear sensitive to public opinion. It is in fact far more underhand than that, and highly unlikely that consultation responses – other than endorsing what Heathrow wants – would even be given more than passing consideration.

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Glasgow airport consultation on flight path changes, modernising for satellite navigation

Glasgow airport has a consultation currently (ends on Friday 13th April) on changes in future to its flight paths.  The airport says: “… it is our intention to request permission from the CAA to implement these new procedures which will minimise the amount of time aircraft queue, both in the air and on the ground,” and make some minimal fuel (CO2) savings. It is claimed changes are needed to cope with increased passenger numbers and airspace congestion, and are part of the UK Future Airspace Strategy (FAS) driven by the CAA, due to the change to satellite based navigation.  Ground navigation aids currently used by Glasgow Airport will be decommissioned in 2019. There will be a number of drop-in sessions for the public. Feedback will be presented to the CAA before the necessary approval can be granted. The Scottish Green Party commented that the proposals would see an increase in flights over areas including parts of Kilbarchan, resulting in more noise pollution for local residents. They are urging people to respond. “The projections show that parts of Renfrewshire will see the biggest increase in noise. Edinburgh Airport’s recent attempt to ignore the views of communities backfired spectacularly, so Glasgow Airport would be wise to listen to the concerns of those living in Renfrewshire carefully.” New flight paths were strenuously opposed at Edinburgh airport.

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Heathrow consultation: their suggestions of how to deal with M25, tunnel, bridge, altered junctions etc

As part of its consultation on its proposed 3rd runway, Heathrow has a section on what it hopes is done with the M25, so the runway can go over it.  This is a very expensive and complicate operation, and Heathrow is keen to cut the cost. The proposed runway will cross the M25 between Junctions 14 and 15 (J14 and J15) and will affect the operation of J14 and J14a, but not J15.  Other than moving the motorway a long way west, the options are tunnelling or bridging. Heathrow says: “Our current thinking is to re-position the M25 carriageway approximately 150 metres to the west, lower it by approximately 7 metres into a tunnel and raise the runway height by 3 to 5 metres so that it passes over the M25 between J14a and J15. The motorway will then re-join its current route. ...We believe this approach is the most deliverable as it would allow construction to proceed while the existing M25 motorway remains in operation. This minimises impacts to road users and has the least overall impacts on communities during construction and long-term operation.”  And they say the 3rd runway will mean more traffic will want to pass through junctions 14 and 14A, so they will need to be expanded. Illustrations show some different options.

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Rival “Heathrow Hub” expansion scheme considers legal action against Government, on altered Heathrow airport plans

The backers of the “Heathrow Hub” rival Heathrow expansion scheme are considering legal action against the Government in the wake of the airport’s move to propose potential revisions to its plans. Heathrow Hub, fronted by former Concorde pilot Jock Lowe, has criticised the Government for allowing Heathrow to now consult on new ideas for its 3re runway because this could change the eventual scheme from what was originally submitted and considered by the Airports Commission. Heathrow’s consultation (started 17th Jan, ends 28th March) is considering 3 different runway options, two of them for a 3,200 metres and one at 3,500 metres, slightly differently sited. This is in spite of the Government’s own documents on the expansion stipulating the need for a runway of “at least 3,500 metres”. Heathrow has to try to keep costs down, as its airlines are bitterly opposed to the cost of its proposals. The consultation also outlined potential plans for how to deal with the runway crossing the M25 motorway. Heathrow Hub said if it did launch legal proceedings, it would aim to get the money it spent submitting its proposals for expansion to the Government refunded. Heathrow airport said it thought that “providing some flexibility on the specification of the precise runway length would not undermine the NPS and its objectives”.

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After 50 year battle, French government abandons plans for new Nantes airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. Victory!

It has finally been announced, by Edouard Philippe (Prime Minister of France) that the proposed new airport for Nantes, at Notre-Dame-des-Landes (NDDL), has been abandoned.  President Emmanuel Macron and Edouard Philippe have buried the project, which has been seriously criticised for its cost and its environmental consequences. The leaders see the airport as impossible to build because of the fierce opposition by around half the population, so it just a constant source of division. Instead the executive backs re-development of the current Nantes-Atlantique airport, south of the city of Nantes, which will be modernised and have its runway lengthened. That would help a bit to lessen the noise from the flight path that goes over part of the city. The Prime Minister has also announced an expansion of the airport of Rennes-Saint-Jacques and a development of high-speed rail lines between the West and Paris airports. Opponents of the NDDL scheme are jubilant – the battle has lasted almost 50 years, and they almost lost on several occasions. But Edouard Philippe said the “zone to defend” (ZAD) will be cleared, so it is no longer a lawless area with blocked roads etc.  Those occupying it will have to leave this spring, and the land be returned to agricultural use

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Heathrow begins public consultation on general topics relating to its 3rd runway plans

Heathrow has launched its public consultation on some aspects of its hoped-for 3rd runway.  It runs till the 28th March, and the airport will be putting on a number of public information events. Details of those are at  The consultation is very vague and general, and is looking initially at a range of topics, on which is has produced “information papers”. These topics are:  Airspace Principles the Development Consent Order  process the Environmental Impact Assessment  Property Policies and generally their Emerging Plans   

There is little to reassure those horrified by the implications of a 3rd runway, whether in terms of its social, economic or environmental impact. There is nothing, for example, to give any certainty on air pollution.  AEF Deputy Director Cait Hewitt commented: “The key environmental barriers to expansion will need to be addressed by Government. On air quality, the scale of the problem means that any measures that Heathrow may be proposing will be pretty much irrelevant.”

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Committee on Climate Change – reiterates its need for aviation demand increase to be 60% at most (cf. 2005 level)

The Committee on Climate Change has produced its assessment of the UK’s Clean Growth Strategy.  Its key findings are that thought the Government has made a strong commitment to achieving the UK’s climate change targets, policies and proposals set out in the Clean Growth Strategy will need to be firmed up, and gaps to meeting the 4th and 5th carbon budgets must be closed. The CCC says, on aviation: “The government should plan to limit UK aviation emissions to the level assumed when the fifth carbon budget was set (i.e. around 2005 levels by 2050), supported by strong international policies. Emissions at this level could be achieved through a combination of fuel and operational efficiency improvement, use of sustainable biofuels, and by limiting demand growth to around 60% above 2005 levels by 2050.” And while their recommendation was “A plan to limit UK aviation emissions to the level assumed when the fifth carbon budget was set: around 2005 levels by 2050, implying around a 60% potential increase in demand, supported by strong international policies” there has been NO progress made.  They also say: The Government have committed to publish a new Aviation Strategy by the end of 2018. This will need to include a plan to limit UK aviation emissions to the level assumed when the fifth carbon budget was set (i.e. around 2005 levels by 2050, likely to imply around a 60% potential increase in demand), supported by strong international policies.”

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Evidence of falling numbers of Heathrow passengers on domestic flights casts further doubt on 3rd runway promises

The case for expanding Heathrow was dealt yet another blow this week as figures reveal the number of domestic passengers using the airport falling by 9% – almost half a million. Data from the CAA shows 471,000 fewer domestic passengers travelling through Heathrow Airport in 2016 compared to 2015. This compares to growth in domestic passenger at every other London airport, including 272,000 (8%) at Gatwick in the same period. The Government’s backing for plans to expand Heathrow was given on the basis of “support new connections to the UK’s regions, as well as safeguarding existing domestic routes”.  The 8 existing domestic routes offered by Heathrow now are: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen, Belfast City, Manchester, Newcastle and Leeds Bradford. Heathrow proposed a further 6 new routes to Belfast, Liverpool, Newquay, Humberside, Prestwick and Durham Tees Valley to be added – but only if it gets a 3rd runway.  It is likely that the survival of so many new domestic routes, despite a marginal decrease in passenger charge which the airport announced recently, would be put into serious doubt without a form of Government subsidy. No proposals to provide financial assistance to these routes currently exist.

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BEIS minister admits UK aviation CO2 emissions will not be kept below necessary 37.5MtCO2 level

Replying to a parliamentary question from Zac Goldsmith, BEIS minister Claire Perry revealed that there is no government intention to stick to the limit of 37.5MtCO2 by 2050, as recommended by the government’s advisors, the Committee on Climate Change. Zac Goldsmith’s question:  “To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to page 85 of the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy, what estimate he has made of the actual and projected emissions for the aviation sector for (a) 2030, (b) 2040 and (c) 2050; and what estimate he has made of the required level of aviation emissions if emissions from transport need to be as low as 3 Mt by 2050.”  Claire Perry’s reply: “Latest BEIS data shows that carbon dioxide emissions from UK departing flights in 2015 were 34.5 Mt.  DfT’s October 2017 aviation forecasts give CO2 emissions from UK departing flights of between 36.6 and 45.7Mt in 2030; between 36.3 and 45.1Mt in 2040; and between 35.0 and 44.3Mt in 2050, depending on demand scenario and airport capacity options. The Government will set out its strategic approach to the aviation sector in a series of consultations leading to the publication of a new Aviation Strategy for the UK. The Strategy will consider what the best approach and combination of policy measures are to ensure we effectively address carbon emissions from aviation.”

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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. …

So much for “carrot” of increasing domestic air links …. to get 3rd runway support …

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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Letter to the newspapers, from the No 3rd Runway Coalition, on the news of the cuts to flights between Heathrow and Leeds Bradford airport:


Dear Sirs,

Amongst other unrealistic pledges to win backing for their third
runway campaign, Heathrow’s “promise” to increase the number of
domestic routes, from 6 to 14, has been primarily designed to win the
support of regional airports, businesses and politicians.

And although some of these regional figures do appear to have fallen
for it, the snag is that such a promise can never be in Heathrow’s
gift. Because – as has been amply demonstrated by BA’s announcement
that it will reduce its Leeds Bradford to Heathrow connection by 10
flights a week – regional connectivity can only be determined by
airlines, and not by the airports which they use.

Regional businesses which contributed to the CBI’s 2016 report
“Unlocking Regional Growth” would seem to understand this. For, while
recognising the need for better links to international markets, they
also stated that flights need to fly directly to centres of trade and
commerce (rather than relying on a transfer at a hub, such as
Heathrow, before reaching their destination).

BA’s decision on its Leeds Bradford/Heathrow service doesn’t only
demonstrate this truth. 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.

Paul McGuinness
Chair, No 3rd Runway Coalition

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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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.”

One carol adaption went (to the tune of Ding-Dong Merrily on High): “Sir Howard Davies [Airports Commission] was a lie/And no way independent/Fingers in the Heathrow pie/And property development/No-ooooo-oooooo-oooooo/ Ifs and buts/There will be no third runway.”

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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.” Details at link below.

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10 years after Heathrow 3rd runway was built  …..              all great !   (watch the film ..)

Don’t miss it ! Fabulous new mini video from No 3rd Runway Coalition @NoR3Coalition about the …. benefits … of Heathrow to local people.
[ The vision 10 years after the 3rd runway opened …. ]
Enjoy it.   Share it. Far and wide.   It’s far too good to keep to yourself !
#no3rdrunway #stopheathrowexpansion

Guidance from the No 3rd Runway Coalition on how to respond to the DfT 2nd Heathrow 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   or by email to

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Heathrow have announced two ‘consultations’ starting 17th January 2018, which they label 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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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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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 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.

Arora scheme below:

Heathrow NW runway scheme below:

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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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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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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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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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From DfT data (Oct 2017) showing minimal Heathrow economic benefits to the UK, over 60 years   ( P 44 of DfT Updated Appraisal Report) 

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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Rival Heathrow expansion consortium, Arora, upbeat as Government opens door to competition on building 3rd runway etc

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 (p7)  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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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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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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No 3rd Runway Coalition letter to Chris Grayling, asking him to ensure adherence to Civil Service Code, correcting Heathrow 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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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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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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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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Airlines & ICAO: “stop dodging the Paris Agreement”

Great short film from FERN (an NGO that works on trade, investment and forests). It shows the utter idiocy and danger of allowing the global aviation sector to continue expanding its carbon emissions every year, while other sectors must make huge carbon cuts.  The alternative is that humanity does NOT manage to cut carbon emissions, and has instead to deal with devastating climate change and its unknown (but inevitably dire) consequences. ICAO should not be helping to perpetuate the situation in which aviation is permitted to indefinitely increase its emissions.

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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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 night. 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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Cross-party MPs express opposition to 3rd Heathrow runway – and short debate in Parliament questioning its economic and environmental impact (by Ruth Cadbury MP)


Cross-party group of MPs today, opposed to the Heathrow 3rd runway, outside Parliament. Included Zac Goldsmith, Rupa Huq, Andy Slaughter, Ruth Cadbury, Vince Cable, Adam Afriye, Tom Brake and John McDonnell. They are not letting the government get away with blandishments about Heathrow’s environmental impact, nor the cost to the taxpayers – or many of the other deeply questionable arguments put forward by the DfT and the airport to justify its 3rd runway plans. And the Labour group is solid in its opposition.  Photo organised by the No 3rd Runway Coalition.  There was a short debate in Parliament, on the Economic and environmental impacts of airport expansion  (on Parliament TV starting 11.00.50 and endng 11.30.25 )

Residents across many areas negatively affected by Heathrow protest against 700 MORE planes per day, if 3rd runway was allowed

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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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.”    Consultation link

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Lancet Commission prompts critical Heathrow air pollution question

With the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health reporting that air pollution is responsible for 8% of all deaths in the UK (50,000 annually, and an increase of 25% on previous estimates), the poor air quality surrounding Heathrow has again been cast into focus. Importantly, it is not just the existence of pollutants, but the proximity of their source to populations that damages health.  Heathrow, which sits within the UK’s most densely populated residential region, not only has the highest level of aircraft emissions. It is close to the M3, M4 and M25 (motorways, much of whose traffic services the airport), and regularly fails to meet Air Quality legal limits for NO2.  Meanwhile there is growing evidence that London exceeds WHO recommended limits for Particulate Matter, thought to be responsible for 45% of air pollution related deaths. Studies have identified higher risks of stroke, respiratory and cardiovascular disease (for both hospital admissions and mortality) in areas close to Heathrow. Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition said: “This report highlights yet again one of the many reasons why expanding Heathrow can’t happen. Its proximity to people. There could be no worse place to concentrate yet more pollution.”

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Stansted Airport lowers growth target from 44.5 million to 43 million per year

Stansted Airport has scaled-back its expansion plans, saying it will achieve is growth ambitions without seeking any increase in the number of flights it is allowed to handle. Stansted current has permission for 35 million passengers per year, while it currently has about 25 million. But the airport said in June that  it ‘urgently’ needs the cap to be raised to 44.5 million. Stansted is now saying it wants the cap raised to 43 million, not 44.5 million – and they can accommodate that growth by use of larger planes. They say they can get to 43 million passengers without increasing the noise “footprint” that is already authorised under the current capping arrangements. Stansted is hoping to get a lot of growth in passenger numbers, in the time before (if it ever happens) a 3rd Heathrow runway is built. Stansted hoped to get the growth to 44.5 million passengers, about 9 million more than now, through on a regular planning application – rather than having to go through the more rigorous National Infrastructure process, that would be needed for a 10 million passenger increase. Local campaign Stop Stansted Expansion said: “People shouldn’t be hoodwinked by Stansted Airport’s spin doctors. The new planning application would still mean an extra 1,800 flights a week compared to today’s levels.” There will now be more feedback sessions by Stansted during November, before a final planning application to Uttlesford Council early in 2018.

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Aviation biofuels plan would use palm oil and ‘destroy rainforests’ – warn 200+ environmental organisations

A new plan to accelerate production of biofuels for passenger planes has drawn stinging criticism from environmentalists who argue that most of the world’s rainforests might have to be cleared to produce the necessary crops. Aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions, with an 8% leap reported in Europe last year and a global fourfold increase in CO2 pollution expected by 2050. To rein this back, the industry is hoping for what it (unrealistically) calls “carbon neutral growth” by 2020 – to be met by biofuels, and offsets. The “green jet fuel” plan would increase the use of aviation biofuels to 5m tonnes per year by 2025, and 285m tonnes by 2050 – enough to cover half of overall demand for international aviation fuel. This is three times more biofuels than the world currently produces, and advanced biofuels are still at too early a stage of development to make up the difference. Environmentalists say that the most credible alternative fuel source would be hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), even though this would probably trigger a boom in palm oil plantations and a corresponding spike in deforestation. The vast use of palm oil for aviation biofuels would destroy the world’s rainforests, vital to life for local people and the habitats of endangered species such as orangutans. Over 200 environmental organisations are urging ICAO to scrap its misguided biofuels plan.

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Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG (with over half Heathrow’s slots) again says its expensive 3rd runway plans are “a ridiculous glory project”

Willie Walsh, the boss of British Airways’ parent company, IAG, has again lambasted Heathrow’s expansion plans as a “ridiculous glory project”. He said the £17.6bn plan to build the 3rd runway (just £200 million for the runway itself – not counting the M25 problem) could lead to a “completely unjustified” increase in airport charges, which airlines would have to charge to passengers, denting demand etc. IAG (which owns Iberia and Aer Lingus) have over 50% of Heathrow landing slots.  IAG wants a 3rd runway, though it would increase its competition, but they want a cheap no-frills scheme – and have backed the £7 billion cheaper scheme promoted by Surinder Arora.  The Heathrow scheme requires the demolition of the BA HQ at Waterside in Harmondsworth and IAG could end up effectively paying its own compensation through increased charges levied by Heathrow.  Willie Walsh also said IAG’s new long-haul, low-cost brand Level might one day fly from Heathrow. At present, the subsidiary operates just two aircraft from its base in Barcelona. He hopes it will have 30 planes by 2022, and fly to destinations currently off the BA route map, like secondary cities in China.

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BEIS “Clean Growth Strategy” admits aviation CO2 cannot be kept below 37.5MtCO2 – it has no plan on aviation carbon

The government’s long-awaited Clean Growth Strategy has been published by BEIS setting out how it plans to deliver the carbon reductions needed by the Climate Change Act. BEIS  claims that “This strategy sets out our proposals for decarbonising all sectors of the UK economy through the 2020s.” But there’s a huge hole in the strategy – there is no plan for aviation CO2. Despite the Committee on Climate Change repeatedly asking for details of how the sector will keep to within is recommended cap of 37.5MtCO2 pear year, BEIS has been unable to provide any. The Clean Growth Strategy now gives up on the 37.5MtCO2 target, and anticipates the aviation sector emitting 44 MtCO2. Worse than that, in its calculations it lumps in shipping with aviation in that 44 MtCO2 – which presumably is simply an error. The strategy document just says the government “has not reached a final view on the appropriate level of aviation emissions in 2050.” There is not only no policy to limit aviation carbon to  the 37.5MtCO2 level, but also no clue how all other sectors could make even greater carbon cuts, to allow for the higher aviation emissions. Cait Hewitt, of AEF, commented that as the government has no proposals or answers on limiting aviation CO2, and there should not be a new Heathrow runway until or unless these are clear.

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Philip Hammond admits, to Treasury Cttee, that no deal on Brexit could have serious impacts on flights to and from UK

Chancellor Philip Hammond has become the first Cabinet minister to admit leaving the EU without an agreement could ground all flights from the UK to Europe.  Giving evidence to MPs on the Commons Treasury Committee, the Chancellor said that was “theoretically possible” and a failure to reach agreement with the EU would halt air traffic between Britain and the 27 member states on March 29, 2019. However, he did not believe that would happen, and a deal on air travel would be struct regardless as it would be in the mutual interest of both sides. It would be necessary to make decisions so there is no interim period with no deal. He said: “What I am not proposing to do is allocate funds to departments in advance of the need to spend it.”  All flights within the EU for the last 25 years have been governed by the “EU Internal Market for Aviation” – known as “open skies”. This allows any EU airline to fly between any two EU airports, subject to slots being available, and has worked since 1992. When the UK leaves the EU, there are no WTO rules to fall back on, and the UK would need to negotiate an entirely new treaty with the EU for any flights. All flights from the UK to the US are governed by the Air Transport Agreement between the EU and USA, and this would also need to be re-negotiated.

[So it is especially inadvisable for the UK government to be planning future aviation expansion, with absolutely no idea of future bilateral aviation deals, with US, EU etc]

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Britain’s toxic air – especially PM2.5 particulates – ‘could cause dementia and diabetes’

The Commons health committee has warned toxic air could contribute towards dementia and even diabetes, as well as lung and cardiovascular effects. A new Inquiry  by 4 parliamentary select committees, in to UK air pollution, has been started. Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, chair of the health committee, said: “…. new evidence suggests that they [particulates] could also contribute to diseases as disparate as dementia and diabetes.”  The 4 committees launched a similar Inquiry in March, ending on 12th May. However, the General Election was called, and finally committees were re-constituted in September, with different membership. The Chair of the Transport Committee was Louise Ellman, and is now Lilian Greenwood. She commented that  “Real change is possible if Government leads from the front to co-ordinate an effective response to one of the biggest issues of our time.”  The mechanism by which PM2.5 particles could increase dementia may be through a critical Alzheimer’s risk gene, APOE4, interacts with air particles to accelerate brain ageing but the science is unclear. The mechanisms by which diabetes risk is raised are also unclear. Heathrow hopes to overcome its major air pollution difficulties by a switch to electric vehicles. However, these still produce particulates from tyre and brake wear, so do not solve Heathrow’s problem.

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4 Commons Committees (Health, Transport, EFRA and Environment) re-launch joint inquiry on UK air pollution

Four Parliamentary Committees have re-launched their joint inquiry into improving UK air quality – for one month. The Committees are Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Environmental Audit, Health, and Transport. They started a similar inquiry in March, which ended on 12th May.  In July 2017, after UK courts twice ruled that the Government’s plans to cut air pollution were inadequate, the Government released a new air quality plan. The new cross-party inquiry will examine whether this new plan goes far enough, and fast enough to both meet legal limits and to deliver the maximum environmental and health benefits. The Chair of the Health committee, Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, said there are concerns that air pollution may not only cause lung and heart problems, but possibly dementia and diabetes too. Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said local authorities do not believe the Government’s plans for air pollution are adequate. Air pollution needs to be tackled by m any government departments across Whitehall working together. The joint Inquiry will hold Ministers from key Departments to account, on the effectiveness of plans to reduce air pollution. The huge role of road transport in lowering air quality is recognised. The Inquiry ends on 9th November.

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Heathrow consultation on its plans delayed as CAA hopes to reassure airlines on lower 3rd runway costs

The Times says Heathrow’s plans for a 3rd runway have been delayed until at least December, or early 2018, as the airport tries to cut £6 billion from the cost.  A report by the CAA said that Heathrow’s proposals would be published for consultation “no earlier” than December. This had been expected by August. The CAA report was distributed to airlines, and said that Heathrow was working on revised proposals designed to cut £6 billion from the previous £17.6 billion budget. Heathrow’s attempts to cut the cost is to reassure airlines like British Airways and Virgin Atlantic over “gold-plated” facilities planned for Heathrow expansion – that airlines fear they would have to pay for. Airlines fear higher landing charges, leading to higher fares, knocking their profits and even driving some airlines out of Heathrow.  Heathrow has already publicised cuts to its plans, like delaying Terminal 6 and an underground passenger transit system to limit the expense. The problem of how to get the runway over the M25 has not been resolved, but it would be cheaper to do a bridge over the motorway rather than a proper tunnel, as the Airports Commission had expected. The airlines want Heathrow to “make available more mature information/data on costs and benchmarking before [the consultation].”

The Times article adds:

“In a further disclosure, the report confirmed that airlines operating from Heathrow were being required to sign gagging clauses — non-disclosure agreements — preventing them sharing information about the third runway.”

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Monarch failure: Government to pay bulk of repatriation costs – perhaps £60 million

The government will pick up the cost of repatriating the majority of Monarch Airlines’ passengers following the collapse of the airline and its sister Monarch Travel Group. Flights returning 110,000 passengers from overseas will cost about £60m, according to the CAA.  [ie. yet more cost to taxpayers from the aviation industry]. The CAA confirmed the Air Travel Trust fund will pay only the cost of repatriating and refunding Atol-protected customers. CAA deputy director of consumer protection David Moesli said: “The government will pay. The Air Travel Trust is only covering the Atol-protected customers. However, the government has said it intends to recover the money from other parties.” The operation will bring home passengers, using aircraft from 16 different carriers, including British, North American and Qatari. The CAA insisted it had not sent Monarch into bankruptcy by refusing to renew its Atol licence. The CAA expects debit card issuers to join credit card issuers in refunding customers’ bookings, although there is no legal requirement for them to do so. The closure of Monarch will lead to nearly 1,900 job losses and is the largest ever closure of a UK airline. The reasons for its collapse are “depressed prices” in the short-haul travel market, fewer tourist trips due to terror attacks in Tunisia, Turkey and Egypt, increased competition, and the weak pound meaning many costs eg. fuel were higher.

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EasyJet hoping to fly electric planes within a decade – reality is very limited, and a long time ahead

EasyJet has announced that it is hoping to fly planes powered by batteries rather than kerosene to destinations including Paris and Amsterdam within a decade. EasyJet has formed a partnership with US firm Wright Electric, which is developing a battery-propelled aircraft for flights under two hours.  It has all sorts of hype about the difference this will make to carbon emissions etc. However, the weight problem of batteries imposes limits on distance a plane could fly.  Jet fuel is around 50 times more energy dense than the best lithium batteries we have now. It seems extremely unlikely they could get a fully electric passenger aircraft carrying 120 passengers on 300 mile journeys in service in 10 years? It is more likely that the aircraft will use some kind of hybrid power system, using batteries to provide a boost on take-off, but then running engines using power from an on-board generator during flight (or vice versa). And it will take a lot more than 10 years for them to be in regular service. The short flights on which these could be used would be precisely those where rail (especially high speed rail) is a good alternative. Routes without a rail option might be Southampton to Dublin or Bristol to Paris. It is likely to be the kind of fake ‘aspiration’ to allow an uninformed public to believe that there is, or could be a green version of aviation. It is peddling false dreams, to let the industry continue with “business as usual” avoiding real cuts to CO2 emissions.

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Packed Labour fringe meeting hears from John McDonnell, Andy Slaughter and Leonie Cooper on Heathrow runway air pollution problem

While Heathrow airport continued shmoozing any Labour party MP it could, with its corporate hospitality at the Labour Conference in Brighton this week, anti-runway campaigners raised concerns about high air pollution levels from Heathrow.  A packed fringe meeting, standing room only, organised by the NO 3rd Runway Coalition, was addressed by John McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington. John was extremely busy during the Conference but had found time to open the meeting on a subject close to his heart. Aside from his long-standing and determined opposition to a 3rd Heathrow runway, to protect his constituents, he was emphatic that the runway could and would never meet the 4 tests Labour have set. These tests refer to environment and economic aspects of the expansion. On air quality alone, the airport already generates high pollution levels, and these could only worsen with another 50% more flights.  Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter also spoke convincingly on the low chance the runway would even actually be built, because of the catalogue of serious problems. Leonie Cooper, Chair of the GLA Environment Committee reiterated the seriousness of the air pollution problems around London, the harmful impacts on childrens’ lungs, and the determination of Mayor Sadiq Khan to get improvements.

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Frustration as Gatwick continues to blight communities with noise – new independent noise survey for residents

The Chair of CAGNE, representing communities affected by Gatwick noise in West Sussex and Surrey, has met senior members at the DfT to raise concerns about the continuing problems.  A year on from the formation of the Gatwick Noise Management Board (NMB), Gatwick continues to ignore the people most impacted by aircraft noise, day and night 7 days a week – with no respite.  CAGNE says Gatwick airport continues to focus on areas that already have respite from plane noise, with some seeing a decline in aircraft movements according to data from the CAA. To get a better picture of the problem, CAGNE has now launched an independent survey questionnaire for residents. It is being circulated to CAGNE members, parish and town councils via the CAGNE Council Aviation Forum. It is also being sent to MP in affected constituencies, asking them to encourage residents to  take part in the survey.  It is a huge concern for those already affected by the airport that Gatwick continues to push for a 2nd runway, (even if there is a 3rd Heathrow runway) and CAGNE will be attending the Conservative Party Conference to ensure that the community’s voice of frustration at Gatwick’s continued blight is heard.

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CAA rejects Edinburgh Airport’s application for flight path change due to “Technical and Coordination” issues

Edinburgh airport’s planned new flight path has been put on hold after the CAA announced it was halting the process.  The CAA’s decision – which is very unusual – is understood to relate to technical aspects of the proposal, as well as a delay in receiving elements of the submission. It is not yet clear what this means for local communities that are affected by the airport and its noise, but the CAA decision is welcomed by local noise campaigners. This was the first Airspace Change proposal, by Edinburgh airport, which anticipates many more. Local group, Edinburgh Airport Watch (EAW) said that during the 2 year consultation process, multiple flaws and errors by the airport were identified at every stage. It remains to be seen whether the CAA will require a new application by Edinburgh airport to be determined under the CAA’s new rules for Airspace Change, rather than the old ones.  Many people under newly concentrated flight paths have been experiencing much worse plane noise, in the past few years.  EAW says the airport now has fewer aircraft movements than 10 years ago, and new routes are not needed. They want the airport to “learn from their past mistakes, and start a proper, meaningful and respectful dialogue with Communities that leads to substantial improvements.”

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Criticism that Government’s Heathrow NPS leaflet was “mere propaganda” justified, says judge

The comms team at the DfT has been criticised over a promotional leaflet extolling the virtues of a 3rd runway at Heathrow, which has been branded as a “hard sell”. The retired judge, Sir Jeremy Sullivan, asked to assess and oversee the quality of the DfT consultation said criticisms of propaganda in the DfT’s NPS Heathrow consultation leaflet were justified, but the consultation was otherwise well run.  Sir Jeremy was critical of the mass-produced leaflet, which went to about 1.5 million homes. There was inadequate information in the leaflet about consultation events, and it was unduly biased in favour of the runway.  He said that it “fell short” of best practice and criticisms that it was “mere propaganda” on behalf of Heathrow were justified. “The headline points, as presented in the leaflet, did give the impression of a ‘hard sell’ for Heathrow.” … “It would have been much better if a more neutral leaflet had been distributed, giving more information about the addresses of the local events.” The DfT said they were analysing over 70,000 responses, which “will be fully considered” before the NPS is presented to Parliament for a vote next year.

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Excellent AEF analysis: Why Heathrow’s sustainability strategy “Heathrow 2.0” doesn’t quite cut it on carbon emissions

Heathrow produced a plan it calls “Heathrow 2.0” in an attempt to persuade MPs that its hoped for 3rd runway would be environmentally “sustainable” and its carbon emissions would all be offset, producing a “carbon neutral” runway. In a masterful rebuttal of the Heathrow 2.0 document, the AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) sets out clearly why this plan falls very far short of its ambition. It is likely that Heathrow hopes its document will be enough to give MPs who are poorly informed on UK carbon emissions the assurance they need, to vote for a 3rd runway. However, AEF points out that even if the airport itself tries to be “zero carbon”, that is only around 3% of the total carbon emitted by all Heathrow flights – so a sideshow. AEF explains how offsetting CO2 emissions by Heathrow planes is not an acceptable way or effective way to deal with the problem. Indeed, this is the advice given consistently by the government’s climate advisors, the CCC.  Offsets will just not be available in future decades. The Heathrow 2.0 document pins its hopes on the UK plan, CORSIA, but this does not achieve actual cuts in aviation carbon and Heathrow has no plans to do anything practical to cut emissions. The key problem is that the UK has no strategy for limiting aviation emissions to a level consistent with our obligations on climate change, though the CCC and the EAC have repeatedly asked for one.

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Chris Grayling announces the launch of a further consultation in the Airports National Policy Statement process, later this year

Transport Minister, Chris Grayling, has announced that there will be a further short period of consultation on the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), about a Heathrow 3rd runway. The date of the consultation is not known, but it will be this year. The initial consultation on the NPS was between 2 February and 25 May this year. Some 70,000 responses were received, which the DfT is plodding through. Now there is further evidence on air  pollution and the DfT feels it necessary to consult on this. There is also more evidence on air travel demand forecasts, which the DfT had said it would release months ago, but has not yet done so. Grayling says the new consultation is partly as documents could not be publicised during the purdah period in the run-up to the June election (that was disastrous for the Tories). In his statement Grayling says “This government remains committed to realising the benefits that airport expansion could bring, [note, could not would] and I can confirm that we do not expect this additional period of consultation to impact on the timetable for parliamentary scrutiny of the NPS.” The Times considers this added need to consult, and the potential embarrassment of the air travel forecasts, could put the Heathrow process back by a year – with the vote on the NPS in the Commons not taking place till 2019. But this is merely speculation.

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GACC Chairman – Brendon Sewill – to retire after 27 successful years in the role

Brendon Sewill, chairman of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, is to retire on 15 October.  He has been chairman since 1990, and has masterminded successful campaigns against a second Gatwick runway in 1993, in 2003 and again in 2013-16. Brendon says: ‘Campaigning to protect the environment around Gatwick for so many years has been exciting and immensely worthwhile.  I have been fortunate to have had such strong support from our committee, from all our GACC members, from local councils and from our local MPs.’  Brendon is now 88 and feels that is a suitable age at which to reduce his commitments.  He will be sorely missed by his colleagues, for his untiring and hugely expert campaigning over more than 27 years.  His connection with Gatwick goes back a long way.  As a child he attended the 1936 opening of Gatwick – with grass runways and biplanes.  As a young man he was a member of the Gatwick Protest Committee which in 1952-54 opposed the construction of the existing airport. Brendon Sewill CBE has had a distinguished career with numerous high level and responsible positions, including being an advisor to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on economics.

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Heathrow spent almost £1.25 million advertising on TfL properly alone in the year to June 2017

Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request show Heathrow Airport spent over £1million advertising on TfL property in the year leading up to the June 2017 general election. Details obtained by campaign group Friends of the Earth reveal that in the 12 months up to 8th June, Heathrow spending on TfL property was £1,244,434. Gatwick Airport spent a total of £255,342 in the same period.  The No 3rd Runway Coalition say that whilst the Government announced its own preference for the Heathrow scheme in October 2016, the amount spent by the airport over the period reinforces the view that Heathrow still has some way to go to convince parliament to support its proposals for a 3rd runway. A vote in parliament on the Airports National Policy Statement (for the 3rd runway) is expected in the first half of 2018. Heathrow is uncertain about whether it really can persuade MPs that its deeply environmentally damaging, and economically doubtful, runway plan can succeed – hence the need for so much advertising spend. Rob Barnstone, Coordinator of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “If Heathrow have spent over a million pounds with one organisation, I wonder how much money has been spent across the board. It is alarming that a company the size of Heathrow can buy support in this way.”

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Labour opposition could try to block Heathrow 3rd runway in the Commons

Labour could vote against plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway, in a move that could see the plan blocked by Parliament. Senior allies of Jeremy Corbyn told the Financial Times that he and colleagues are almost certain to oppose the 3rd runway in a Commons vote – on environmental grounds. This means the plans for the £16.5billion runway are at significant risk, because as many as 60 Tory MPs are also opposed to the expansion of Heathrow. It could leave PM Theresa May dependent on the support of the Scottish National Party and rebel MPs, as she tries to push the plans through Parliament.  Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, and Justine Greening, the Education Secretary, have been given a free vote on the issue (the vote may be some time after June 2018) because of their long standing fierce opposition to the runway. John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, is a vociferous opponent of the scheme. The position of Labour is that the runway would have to pass four rather vague tests – and unless the bar for each is set ludicrously low, the Heathrow runway cannot pass any of them in any satisfactory manner. The issue of the high levels of air pollution, damaging the health of thousands of people near Heathrow, is a serious one for Labour. There are also probably insuperable problems of plane noise, and increased CO2 emissions.

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How Heathrow’s new runway would be funded, (higher landing costs, more costs to taxpayer) – all unclear

Heathrow’s plans for a 3rd runway, and associated building, are due to cost the airport at least £18 billion (not including unexpected over-runs and engineering problems etc). Heathrow now wants the right to make airlines and passengers contribute to any unexpected higher costs. The CAA controls the amount Heathrow can charge airlines. Heathrow has asked the CAA to factor in a huge array of risks from building the 3,500 metre runway across the M25 into the charges it is allowed to claw back from carriers. Heathrow keeps insisting its landing charges would remain close to current levels, aviation experts said there are few credible alternatives to charging users more. IAG believes the huge construction costs will lead to charges doubling to landing charges per passenger, from about £40 now to £80 for a return ticket. Heathrow is mainly owned by overseas investors. As well as higher than expected costs of construction, there are risks such as lack of interest from airlines in taking up the new landing slots; financial markets turning against the airport, leading to a downgrade of its credit rating; higher debt costs; and politics. There is real fear that if the Heathrow expansion project was allowed, the costs – many £ billion – might fall on the taxpayer – if the enterprise becomes a bit of a white elephant. The Airports Commission and DfT have said little about this massive risk to the public finances.  [Links to many other recent stories on Heathrow’s funding problems at link below].

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Algal biofuel production is neither environmentally nor commercially sustainable – blow to aviation hopes

Modern biofuels have been touted as a greener alternative to petrol and diesel since the early 1900s. Professor Kevin Flynn, of Swansea University, says though it seems like a good idea on paper, and they do work – their use and production doesn’t come without problems. The first generation of biofuels – mainly ethanol made from plant crops – and second generation, derived from plant and animal waste streams, both led to concerns about competition for land and nutrients between biofuels production and food production. It was with a lot of hope, and hype, that production of the third generation of biofuels was started. Unlike their predecessors, these biofuels are derived from algae, and so in theory the food vs fuel dilemma of crop-based biofuels would be solved. Huge sums of money have been spent trying to get the algal marvel to work, refining the engineering process, electrically lighting the crop – which grows in a liquid suspension – harvesting and draining it. However the hype has been misplaced.  Research has found that the production of algal biofuels is neither commercially nor environmentally sustainable. The attainable production levels are a fraction of those that were claimed. The algae cannot produce enough oil, without vast areas, or vast input of fertilisers etc. The process cannot be scaled up adequately.

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Luton Airport plans further growth to 25 million passengers (not just 18 million) within 10 years

Luton Airport is planning to expand to 25 million passengers, in a move campaign groups are arguing could increase noise pollution above Hertfordshire. Luton is planning significant expansion, while NATS says the skies over south east England are overcrowded and close to saturation. Neil McArthur of local group, Harpenden Sky, submitted a Freedom of Information Request which revealed that the LLAL planning strategy is for steady growth to 25 million passengers within 10 years. This represents nearly a 40% increase over the current planning limit of 18 million passengers, which was agreed by Luton borough council.  Residents who live under flight paths in St Albans, Harpenden and elsewhere in Hertfordshire have made multiple complaints to the airport about plane noise, due to a new routing system which has narrowed the flight paths and concentrated the noise over a smaller area. Over the past year, noise complaints have increased from 191 in the first quarter of 2016, to 1,849 in the first quarter of 2017. Neil said the airport is not being properly managed, and changes are being rushed through too fast. Andrew Lambourne, from campaign group LADACAN (Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise) said the airport’s focus is entirely on growth for airlines, giving no mention of making the :airport a better neighbour to local communities.

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Heathrow plans to cut building costs of its runway plan, to keep fares low, by not adding new terminal

Heathrow has said it will – allegedly – guarantee to effectively freeze passenger landing fees when [if] a 3rd runway is built, by scrapping plans for a new terminal. The cost for the whole planned expansion is about £17.6 billion, and Heathrow knows it will have trouble raising all this and paying for changes to surface access transport. The government does not want air fares to get any more expensive. So Heathrow now says it will knock “several billion” pounds off the cost of its plan by abandoning facilities such as an additional terminal. The terminal would require a huge subsurface baggage handling system and an underground passenger metro system, which was estimated to cost £1 billion alone. They instead suggest extending Terminals 5 and 2 and phasing the expansion work over as long as 20 years, to control costs. The main airline at Heathrow, IAG, is not prepared to pay higher charges to fund inefficient expansion, that is unnecessarily expensive. The amended expansion plans by Heathrow will be put out for a public consultation later in 2017.  The publication of the final Airports National Policy Statement [the consultation on it ended in May 2017] setting out the Government’s position, and a subsequent House of Commons vote, are expected in the first half of 2018 with the vote not before June. Heathrow hopes to cut costs in every way it can, and get in the necessary funds by attracting many more passengers, even if paying hardly more than they do now – about £22 landing fee – each.

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Anti 3rd runway campaign puts on “Bare necessities” display at Theresa May’s Maidenhead festival

Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE), a local campaign group made up of residents opposing the plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway, attended the Maidenhead Festival 22 and 23 July. They had a fun but serious message – fighting for the ‘bare necessities’ that Heathrow expansion would threaten. The theme of the need for “the bare necessities of life” took centre stage at the group’s pitch to local residents at the annual festival, with essentials including: – the right to a settled home,  – air free from pollution,  – good health,  – quiet time for essential rest,  – a planet safe from climate change.   SHE believes all these would be put at risk with a 3rd runway, and to get the message across, three members wore distinctive bear costumes for the day – to highlight the ‘bare necessities’ theme.  The extra 260,000 planes per year that would use an expanded Heathrow would serious noise problems for tens  of thousands in the area, worse air pollution, and huge strain on local housing caused by the displacement of the two villages of Harmondsworth and Longford nearby. The negative impacts on her constituency should be a matter of concern to Theresa May, its MP. The previously opposed the runway, but is now prepared to sacrifice her residents’ quality of life, for the slightly desperate attempt by this weakened government to show “Britain is open for business” post-Brexit, by backing a highly dubious, costly, damaging, runway project.

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UK air traffic controllers NATS warn of over-crowded skies – so they must “modernise” systems

The skies in the south east of England are among the most crowded anywhere in the world. And the government wants a new Heathrow runway, and expansion in numbers of flights at all other airports. But NATS, the UK’s National Air Traffic Control Service, says their ability to deal with this surge is being stretched to the limit.  The air traffic controllers warn that UK skies are running out of room amid a record number of flights. Friday 21st July is likely to be the busiest day of the year, as Brits take off for their foreign holidays.Air traffic controllers expect to manage a record 770,000 flights in UK airspace over the summer – 40,000 more than last year.  NATS can only deal with the stunning number of flights anticipated if they get drastic modernisation in the way aircraft are guided across UK airspace. Otherwise there would be delays (and the industry does not like delays – they affect profits). The DfT has put out a consultation on how it will expand the UK aviation sector, and has had to mention noise as one of the inevitable consequences of the intended increase in numbers of flights.  NATS needs airspace to be modified, with more concentrated flight paths. But the DfT, the CAA and NATS still have no clear idea (other than platitudes) how to manage the increased noise, without creating noise “ghettos” or noise “sewers” where the amount of aircraft noise is, frankly, above what people should be expected to tolerate.

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Cross-party MPs form new APPG group to question the case for Heathrow 3rd runway

A new cross-party group of MPs against the expansion of Heathrow Airport has been launched in Westminster. The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) has been set up to bring together politicians opposing a 3rd runway and scrutinise the issues related to proposed expansion.  Reflecting the cross-party opposition, the group is co-chaired by Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park – and Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford and Isleworth, with Vince Cable MP for Twickenham as treasurer and Baroness Jenny Jones as vice chair.  Zac Goldsmith says the group will “question the case for a 3rd runway at Heathrow.”  He added: “The political support for the campaign against expansion is growing and the delay to the vote on the National Policy Statement (NPS) reflects the concern the government has about the possibility of defeat.”  Ruth Cadbury does not believe expansion is “deliverable” and there are “… far too many unanswered questions on key issues that affect our communities including the complete absence of information about flight paths, the questionable quality of the noise mitigation offer, the costs of the surface access improvements and the financial liabilities that will ultimately be picked up by taxpayers.”  The vote in the House of Commons on the Heathrow NPS will not be until about June 2018, due to the setback for the Tories of the June general election.

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DfT launches consultation on its Aviation Strategy, out to 2050 – closes 13th October

The DfT has launched – for consultation – its plans to develop a new UK Aviation Strategy, “to help shape the future of the aviation industry to 2050 and beyond.”  The DfT strategy is to support future growth in the aviation industry (which it claims “directly supports 240,000 jobs and contributes at least £22 billion to the UK economy each year.” With no mention of the money it takes out of the UK too …]  One issue is possible new forms of compensation for noise or designing targets for noise reduction. The document looks at how all airports across the country can make best use of existing capacity, and expand the industry. Chris Grayling said: “Our new aviation strategy will look beyond the new runway at Heathrow and sets out a comprehensive long-term plan for UK aviation. …. [it] also recognises the need to address the impacts of aviation on communities and the environment.”  The consultation closes on 13th October.  ie. a large part of it is over the summer holiday period. On environment it just says the strategy “will look at how to achieve the right balance between more flights and ensuring action is taken to tackle carbon emissions, noise and air quality.” Consultations on various aspects of the strategy will run throughout 2017 and 2018 and will be followed by the publication of the final aviation strategy by the end of 2018.

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Aviation to be a key priority for UK government in run up to Brexit

Ministers consider aviation as a “top priority” in Brexit negotiations, and the UK government hopes to get new flight rights with 44 countries to replace the EU framework governing where airlines can fly. There will be a new UK aviation strategy (there is currently no proper UK aviation policy, with the government hoping to get a 3rd Heathrow runway first, before working on policy for all UK airports). Access to the aviation markets of the EU countries, the US and Canada, where market access is via EU-negotiated agreements. The aviation industry is very concerned about what agreements on aviation will be made, post-Brexit, on where airlines can fly etc. They face huge risks to their businesses and profits.  It has also emerged that UK aviation safety is controlled by EASA, a European body under the jurisdiction of the European Court. The government said its aviation strategy will consider the [alleged] need for further growth beyond expansion at Heathrow, and noted that “a number of airports have plans to invest further” to cater for air passenger growth. The DfT wants more intensive use of existing capacity at all UK airports, and says airports with planning restrictions hoping to take forward plans to develop beyond those restrictions will need to submit a planning application, with environmental issues such as noise and air quality taken into account.

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DfT confirms numbers of night flights – till 2022 – at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted will not be cut

Changes to the night flights regime, at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted have been delayed for several years. The DfT has now produced its Decision Document on the issue. Anyone expecting meaningful cuts in night flights, or noise from night flights will be disappointed. There is no change in numbers, and just some tinkering with noise categories.  The DfT says night flights from Heathrow will continue until (if) the airport is expanded, and it just hopes airlines will be using slightly less noisy planes. Pretty much, effectively, “business as usual.” Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, said he had to “strike a balance between the economic benefits of flying and the impact on local residents.” The DfT objective is to: “encourage the use of quieter aircraft to limit or reduce the number of people significantly affected by aircraft noise at night, while maintaining the existing benefits of night flights”. But it says: “Many industry responses welcomed the recognition by government of the benefits night flights offer and highlighted the importance of night flights to the business models of airlines, for instance by allowing low-cost airlines to operate the necessary minimum amount of rotations a day, or the benefits to the time-sensitive freight sector through enabling next day deliveries.”

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Vote on Heathrow 3rd runway delayed (due to election that went so wrong for the Tories) till probably June 2018 – not end of 2017

A vote by MPs on the 3rd Heathrow runway has been postponed until 2018, due to the disruption caused by the snap General Election in June. Transport secretary Chris Grayling said the publication of the final Airport’s National Policy Statement (NPS) setting out the position of the government and the ensuing House of Commons vote will not take place until 2018.  The original intention had been to get the vote in December, or perhaps January 2018. Grayling said:  “The timing of the election, in particular the need to re-start a select committee inquiry into the draft Airports NPS means we now expect to lay any final NPS in Parliament in the first half of 2018, for a vote in the House of Commons.” He added that a further update would be provided following the House of Commons summer recess.  The Co-ordinator of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, Rob Barnstone, representing MPs, local authorities and campaign groups opposed to Heathrow expansion said: “Postponing this decision once again shows that the government are worried not only about losing a parliamentary vote, but also that their aviation strategy will simply be in tatters. As the weeks and months go on, we’re seeing even greater support for our campaign against Heathrow expansion. By the time this vote comes before Parliament, if at all, we are confident that MPs will vote it down. Heathrow expansion is not deliverable.”

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Airport hotel tycoon, Surinder Arora, wants Heathrow runway built soon – but a bit cheaper

A wealthy hotel tycoon, Surinder Arora, has submitted plans for a 3rd Heathrow. He has been a long time backer of a runway, and says his plan would be £5 billion cheaper than what Heathrow is offering (costing £17.5 billion). He has put his proposal to the government’s public consultation on Heathrow (the NPS consultation actually closed on 25th May.) Heathrow has been trying to find ways to make their runway + terminal scheme cheaper, as the airlines are not keen on paying the higher charges that would be needed. Ticket prices would rise. (ie. lower airline profit). The Arora Group’s proposals include altering the design of terminal buildings and taxiways, and reducing the amount of land to be built on.  They know the alterations to roads, including the M25 and the junction of the M25 and the M4, are massive problems and “threaten deliverability” of the runway project. They therefore want to “shift the runway”. Where to?  All this shows how very uncertain the runway plan has become, and the immense doubts – especially on money. Heathrow said they would welcome views on various options  “in the public consultation later this year.” The plans must first be assessed by the Commons transport committee, be amended by the DfT and then voted on in Parliament …. it is not a quick process.

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Heathrow plans to charge motorists £15 to enter ‘congestion cordon’ around airport to tackle toxic air

Heathrow knows it has an insuperable problem with air pollution if it was allowed a 3rd runway. Levels of NO2 are already often illegal, in many places. Now Heathrow is considering imposing a new “H-charge” on motorists who arrive or leave the airport by car. This is intended to reduce air pollution, and get more passengers to travel by rail (already pretty crowded). The idea is for a charge of £10 – 15 for everyone, including taxis and public hire vehicles, for each trip.  Not surprisingly, avid backers of the Heathrow runway like Sir Howard Davies and Lord Adonis think the charge is a great idea. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is understood to believe that some form of low emission zone around the airport will be needed. The government has made (rather hard to believe) assurances that a 3rd runway would only be allowed to operate if it can do so within air quality limits. (Which it cannot). Most of the NO2 and particulate pollution in the area is from road vehicles; a high proportion of those are Heathrow associated; a proportion comes from planes. The exact proportions are not known – yet. Heathrow likes to give the impression hardly any is from planes (not true). Heathrow airport says it will consult on the proposals for charging, and details of how it might work  – but it is seen as a “last resort” to tackle its air pollution problems. It would be very, very unpopular with travellers and taxi/Uber drivers.

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Stop Stansted Expansion warn people not to be hoodwinked by deceptive displays about airport’s growth plans

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has issued a warning to residents across the region not to be hoodwinked by Stansted Airport’s smoke-and-mirror exhibition and biased consultation survey on its further expansion plans. Both appear designed to trick people into thinking that further Stansted expansion in passenger number will be painless and sustainable. They make these claims, even before the environmental impacts have been assessed. The displays are deliberately misleading, and SSE says people should be very sceptical. Brian Ross, SSE’s deputy chairman, said the displays are all about spinning the positives and saying nothing about the negatives.” People attending the exhibitions need to ask searching questions, like explanations about the proposed increase in flight lights compared to today. And  and passenger movements compared to the position today.  This, say SSE, reveals a very different picture from the one being put forward by Stansted’s bosses who have been making the false claim that the extra passenger numbers will only lead to “approximately two extra flights an hour”.  In reality the proposal would mean an extra 2,000 flights a week compared to today’s levels – 285 per day.  That means an increase from on average of a plane every 2¼ minutes, to a plane every 85 seconds.  Stansted current has permission for 35 million passengers per year, while it currently has about 25 million. But the airport says it ‘urgently’ needs the cap to be raised to 44.5 million.

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71% of votes in the election, in constituencies affected by Heathrow, were for anti- 3rd runway candidates

Analysis of the 8th June general election results, done by the No 3rd Runway Coalition, in constituencies affected by Heathrow, found that over 70% of votes were cast for anti-3rd runway candidates. The analysis also confirms that 68% of votes cast for the Conservatives, and 65% for Labour, were for candidates who oppose the Heathrow runway.  Plans for the runway have been thrown into serious doubt since Theresa May failed to win a majority she was expecting. The breakdown of the election results underlines just how unpopular Heathrow expansion really is – not just by a large number of Mrs May’s own Tory MPs but by the majority of voters too. Two key Cabinet ministers — Boris Johnson and Justine Greening — are fiercely opposed to expansion plans, as are most Conservative MPs in London seats. With the majorities of both Boris Johnson and Justine Greening severely slashed at this election, these new figures suggest both Cabinet Ministers could lose their seats next time if Theresa May were to press ahead with Heathrow expansion. Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park & North Kingston, is one of the most vocal campaigners against a 3rd runway. His seat was the only Conservative gain in London at this election – narrowly winning with just 45 votes. Were the Government to press ahead with Heathrow expansion, his would be another seat that the Conservatives could very likely lose.

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Letter sent by ChATR (Chiswick) to all new Cabinet members expressing concern on Tory backing for 3rd runway

ChATR, Chiswick Against the Third Runway, have written to all the new Cabinet ministers since the election, to express their grave concern at the Conservative manifesto promise to build a Third Runway at Heathrow – and to urge them not to support these proposals. They ask: “How can this government lend support to a development that knowingly harms public health? There is a weight of evidence against the Third Runway showing the adverse effects of noise, pollution and sleep deprivation. It seems utterly bizarre to us that this government has endorsed a scheme that benefits foreign shareholders at the expense of millions of Londoners who will suffer these very serious and well documented health consequences.” … They say:  “Poorer communities nearer the airport and working families under new & existing flight paths, trapped by debt, mortgages, stamp duty costs or other reasons will suffer the most. It seems quite wrong that the inequalities and injustices of airport expansion, which have been repeatedly raised by the affected communities, are being simply brushed aside for an, as yet unproven, marginal economic gain.”  And the DfT now acknowledge that the economic benefit (without including the carbon costs) of Heathrow is only about £6-7 billion over 60 years. Read the whole letter.

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Gatwick continues to press for 2nd runway, taking advantage of government weakness on Heathrow runway

Gatwick is again saying it wants a 2nd runway, after it has increased its annual number of passengers to over 44 million. Gatwick hopes to exploit possible indecision by government over the Heathrow 3rd runway, continuing to claim (very dubiously) that its 2nd runway would be “financeable and deliverable”. Gatwick said its number of passengers has risen, so far this year, by 7.7% compared to the same time last year. The vast majority of Gatwick travellers are on short haul leisure trips to Europe, but it hopes to get more long haul holiday travellers to the USA and the middle east or far east. It remains largely a “bucket and spade” airport. Gatwick wants to persuade government that its 2nd runway would be a useful alternative to Heathrow, which is used by most business travellers to destinations in the Far East and the Middle East. Since the June 2017 election and the loss of a proper Tory majority, the government will have increasing problems pushing through an unpopular Heathrow runway, with opponents such as Boris Johnson – and Jeremy Corbyn. Stewart Wingate, chief executive of Gatwick, says he can build long haul routes and they can see future passenger demand and “we stand ready to deliver should the government give us the go-ahead.” In reality, Gatwick is in the wrong place, and has surface access transport far below the standard that would be needed for a 2 runway airport.

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Lord Adonis: Hard Brexit could halt Heathrow runway plans, as investors won’t risk the money in UK

National Infrastructure Commission chairman, Lord Adonis, says UK must maintain ties with EU to save key projects such as Heathrow 3rd runway and HS2.  He said a hard Brexit would spell the end for the 3rd Heathrow runway. Heathrow airport was keen, before the referendum in 2016, for the UK to remain in the EU. While Heathrow, since the referendum, has argued that Brexit makes its 3rd runway ever more important, Andrew Adonis said private investment in infrastructure would be off the table unless Britain could maintain ties with the EU. He said that a host of major projects including HS2, Crossrail 2 and HS3 rail links between northern cities, as well as universal broadband and mobile services, would be under threat but particularly those that rely on private funding.  “These decisions on Brexit have a crucial bearing on infrastructure. Business will not invest for the long term if they think Britain is going down the tube. It’s as simple as that.” And “If we were to go for a hard Brexit which severs Britain’s trading ties with the continent I think we could be heading for a calamity as a country.”  The cost of the expansion at Heathrow would be about £17.5 billion (with Heathrow only paying about £1 billion towards surface access). They are trying to find cost savings. The money needs to come from its range of foreign investors, the biggest two of which are a Spanish Ferrovial (25%) consortium and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund (20%).

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Andrew Adonis, Chair of National Infrastructure Commission, urges government to get on with Heathrow runway

Lord Andrew Adonis, chair of the UK National Infrastructure Commission, has urged the government to show it is committed to getting a 3rd Heathrow runway built.   He wants to reassure backers of the runway that the current woeful political instability in government will not delay the project. The FT says Lord Adonis (a long time backer of the runway) considers it “essential” – but though it was in the Tory election manifesto, it was not mentioned in the (watered-down) Queen’s Speech. The Airports National Policy Statement is due to be considered by the Transport Select Committee (when it is re-convened) and then voted on in the House of Commons – perhaps early 2018. Andrew Adonis has urged Theresa May to get the vote as early as possible; that would be May 2018 “to send out a positive signal to business”… that “Britain is open for business.”  He considers (with the problems on Hinckley Point C power station) that getting the runway built would be “the “acid test” of the government’s commitment to infrastructure investment.”  But the parliamentary vote is far less certain that before the election, and Theresa May is not likely to remain Prime Minister for long. If Boris Johnson became PM, he has always been vehemently opposed to the runway. There remains huge uncertainty about the whole scheme.

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Mayor of London publishes draft Transport strategy for consultation – not in favour of Heathrow runway

The Mayor of London has published his draft Transport strategy for consultation.  It states: “A three-runway Heathrow, however, would have severe noise and air quality impacts and put undue strain on the local public transport and road networks, and alternative airport expansion options should be considered. London’s growth is important, and it must be made to work for all of the city’s current and future residents.”  And  Policy 20: “The Mayor will continue to oppose expansion of Heathrow airport unless it can be shown that no new noise or air quality harm would result and the benefits of future regulatory and technology improvements would be fairly shared with affected communities. Any such expansion must also demonstrate how the surface access networks will be invested in to accommodate the resultant additional demand alongside background growth.”  Also Proposal 96: “The Mayor will seek a commitment from Government to fund and deliver within an appropriate timescale the extensive transport measures required to support the expansion of Heathrow.”   The consultation closes on 2nd October 2017.  It can be found here.  People responding do not have to answer every question, but can say if they agree or disagree, and whether the Mayor should consider other aspects.

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Stop Stansted Expansion brands airport expansion plans as premature and opportunistic

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has condemned Stansted Airport for insulting the intelligence of Uttlesford District Council (UDC) and the community at large by claiming that its latest expansion proposals will have “no significant adverse environmental effects”.  SSE’s Chairman Peter Sanders has further stressed the need for the council not to be hoodwinked by the airport’s spurious claim and to ensure a comprehensive, honest and thorough assessment of all the environmental impacts that would result from major expansion.  The statement comes following the airport’s formal notification of its intention to submit a planning application later this year to seek permission to grow to an annual throughput of 44.5 million passengers and 285,000 flights. This compares to last year’s throughput of 24 million passengers and 180,000 flights.  If approved, this would mean an extra 20 million passengers and an extra 104,000 flights every year blighting the lives of thousands across the region. Stansted hasn’t even started to make use of its 2008 permission to grow from 25mppa to 35mppa.  Even by its own projections, the airport doesn’t expect to reach 35mppa until 2024 although the credibility of its forecasts is questionable given its wildly inaccurate record on this front.

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New report shows Scot Gov plan to cut aviation tax will damage Scotland and mainly benefit frequent fliers

A new report published by Scottish Green MSPs shows that the Scottish Government’s plan to cut aviation tax will cost the Scottish public purse hundreds of millions of pounds and put £47.3million into the pockets of businesses.  It also shows wealthy frequent fliers stand to gain hugely more from the tax cut than regular travellers.  This week the Scottish Greens will make a final attempt to amend the Air Departure Tax Bill at Holyrood so that instead of rewarding wealthy households and corporations and a highly-polluting industry, any new tax regime encourages a reduction in aviation and a shift towards cleaner forms of transport. The report finds that much of the benefit of the planned cut will accrue to those living in Scotland’s central belt; only 6% of all international flights by UK residents are taken by children, so the SNP’s claim that this policy will help “families” is highly misleading; such a generous tax subsidy for business flights within the UK will harm rail travel by incentivising a shift towards air travel; and reducing the cost of air travel will lower the cost of taking holidays outside of Scotland relative to holidays within Scotland, “cannibalising” holidaymakers from Scotland’s domestic tourism industry and worsening the deficit between what we spend abroad and what visitors spend here.

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Campaigners point out that cutting Scottish air tax benefits rich households and corporations the most

Plans by the Scottish Government to reduce and then abolish Air Passenger Duty (APD) in Scotland are “predominantly a tax giveaway for Scotland’s wealthiest households and corporations”, according to a new report. The study by the Fellow Travellers campaign group against high carbon emitting air travel found 70% of Scotland’s richest households stand to benefit from the proposed cut, compared to 30% of the poorest.  A Scottish air departure tax is set to come into force from April 2018 if passed by parliament, replacing APD. The SNP wants the tax cut by half by the end of this parliamentary term, with the charge to be scrapped when resources allow, claiming it will improve connectivity and create economic benefits. However, the Fellow Travellers report found that, based on official figures, halving the tax would lead to £189 million in lost revenue for Scotland by 2021/22.  It says:  “The SNP’s commitment has fired the starting gun for a race to the bottom on air passenger taxes in Great Britain. Any competitive advantage conferred on Scotland’s airports from a reduction in these taxes will be short-lived.” …. “This is predominantly a tax giveaway for Scotland’s wealthiest households and corporations.”  APD currently brings in about £300 million per year. That could pay to employ 11,500 nurses. Or fund a year of childcare for 54,000 children. Or convert every bus in Edinburgh to being fully electric.

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Tory MPs say Heathrow runway ‘not going to happen’ following hung parliament

Conservative MPs have warned that a manifesto pledge to expand Heathrow will not go ahead, following Theresa May’s failure to secure a majority in the election.  As many as 40 of the Prime Minister’s own MPs are against the building of a 3rd runway.  Labour are divided on the issue and their election manifesto only committed the party to expand Britain’s airport capacity, with four conditions; the proposed Heathrow runway cannot meet those conditions. Zac Goldsmith, the Tory MP for Richmond – re-elected in June – tweeted: ” Heathrow expansion… not going to happen.”  He told The Sun: “Heathrow expansion already faced huge obstacles, not least a very strong legal challenge by Local Authorities and appalling air pollution implications.” Both Mr Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, and Justine Greening, the Education Secretary, are ardent opponents of a Heathrow third runway. The campaign, No 3rd Runway, canvassed candidates before the election and found 31 out of London’s 73 MPs were opposed to the runway, many posing for photos endorsing their pledge to oppose it.  The number of opponents would far outweigh Mrs May’s waver thin Commons majority potentially provided by the DUP.The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is opposed to it. The new Minister for London, Greg Hands, is opposed to it.

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Election fallout: will government plan to get 3rd Heathrow runway be hit?

The Conservatives are set to form a minority government, which could affect a range of transport issues from Heathrow expansion to road schemes even if the Conservatives remain in Government. Although Theresa May intends to continue as prime minister, with the support of the DUP, we are now entering a time of uncertainty. Anti-Heathrow expansion campaign group HACAN has done its own research on MPs, showing that 31 of the capital’s 73 MPs are known to oppose the runway. HACAN chair John Stewart said: ‘Once the views of all London’s MPs are known, it is highly likely that a majority will be opposed to Heathrow expansion. Of themselves they may not stop it but they could act as a very awkward bloc to a new runway ever seeing the light of day, particularly given the fact that the new Government doesn’t have a majority of seats in Parliament.’ Rob Barnstone, coordinator for Stop Heathrow Expansion, the group representing residents opposed to the project, claimed the failure of the Conservatives to win a majority in the Commons has created less certainty on issues including the third runway at Heathrow. He said: “The Government were relying on a large parliamentary majority, including many new and loyal backbenchers, to push through a third runway. “Now that Theresa May’s gamble has rendered her anything but a conquering hero, the future of the project looks much less certain and potentially in jeopardy.”

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Around 42% of London MPs (since the election) oppose a 3rd Heathrow runway

List from John Stewart, Chair of Hacan, (the main residents’ group working on Heathrow noise issues) of the MPs known to be, or believed to be, opposed to a 3rd Heathrow runway. So far they number 31 MPs out of the total of 73, and more details may be added when the information is known. In the 2005 election, the Conservatives had 306 seats. In the 2010 election they had 330 seats. Now in the 2017 election, the Conservatives have 318 seats. The party wants to get the 3rd Heathrow runway built. The Conservatives may form an alliance with the Irish DUP, which has 10 MPs and is a firm backer of the 3rd runway. That alliance would take the Tories to 328 MPs, which is 3 above the key number of half the MPs in the Commons (650). The hung parliament will make it harder for the government to force through highly contentious, and widely unpopular polices like the runway.

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Heathrow now considering (not tunnel or bridge) but cheaper series of “viaducts” over M25

Heathrow has a huge problem in how to get a runway over the busiest, widest stretch of the M25. The original plan was a full 14-lane tunnel about 2,000 feet long. Then there were plans for a sort of bridge over the road. Even those would be prohibitively expensive (Heathrow says it would only pay £1.1 billion on roads etc). Now there are plans, by Phil Wilbraham, who oversaw the construction of Heathrow’s terminals 2 and 5, to build a cheaper system. It would be 3 parallel bridges across the M25, with narrow ones for taxiways at the side, and a wider one for the runway in the centre. The plan is for a 2 mile long runway, to take even the largest planes. The main airline at Heathrow, British Airways, suggested a runway about 1,000 feet shorter, that would not need to cross the motorway, but that might not be able to take A380s, and would mess up the flight patterns. The earlier “bridge” concept would have meant the runway would be on a slight slope, to get over the motorway. The cost of moving the thousands of tonnes of earth would be immense, and it is thought Heathrow has had to reconsider. The airlines do not want to have to pay for the building costs of roads etc associated with a 3rd runway. The government does not want to force Heathrow to pay, as this would mean increasing the cost of flying – and reduce demand at Heathrow.

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Another response by Sir Jeremy Sullivan on the NPS, showing his oversight is not satisfactory

ir Jeremy Sullivan was given the task, by the government, of monitoring the DfT consultation on the draft Airports NPS. People can write to him with concerns about the process. Some very unsatisfactory responses have been received. One person wrote to say: “One of the boards at the consultation displays said the following: “Expanding Heathrow is estimated to deliver additional benefits to passengers and the wider economy up to £61 billion over 60 years.” In the absence of explanation, any normal person (one who has not obtained and studied the detailed evidence) would take this to mean that there is an overall economic benefit from Heathrow expansion. In fact this is not the case. The £61bn is GROSS benefits, the benefits without any of the costs being subtracted. If costs are subtracted the NET economic benefit, according to the DFT, is £0.2bn to £6.1bn. That is, 10 to 300 times smaller. …. This is not a matter of content, which you have stated you will not consider. It is a matter of balance, objectivity and not misleading the public in a consultation.” And the reply? “Whether statements such as those which you mention in your email are/are not ‘misleading’ is a matter of opinion. This is precisely the kind of point that you can make in response to the consultation.” ie. washing his hands of his responsibilities in this task. Nobody else is overseeing his overseeing of this very poor consultation.

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Client Earth taking UK government back to court for 3rd time over inadequate air pollution plans

Environmental lawyers who have defeated ministers twice, on UK air pollution improvements, are going back to court to try to remove ‘major flaws’ from government’s air quality plans. Environmental lawyers, Client Earth, are taking the government to the high court for a 3rd time. They have inflicted two humiliating defeats on the government over previous plans, which the court ruled did not meet legal requirements. ClientEarth had requested improvements to the latest plan (published on 5th May) from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) but were refused, prompting the new court action. James Thornton, chief executive of Client Earth, said: “The law requires the final plan to bring air pollution down to legal levels in the shortest time possible. These flaws seriously jeopardise that timetable. These are plans for more plans, what we need are plans for action.” Client Earth says the most effective way to reduce NO2 pollution is by discouraging polluting vehicles from entering cities and towns. However, the DEFRA consultation states that charging zones should only be the option of last resort, after measures such as removing speed bumps and encouraging cycling have been tried. However, those measures would have insufficient effect. Government is reluctant to penalise drivers of diesel vehicles, who bought them in good faith.

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No mention of backing for Heathrow runway in SNP manifesto (despite backing last year)

The SNP manifesto has come out, and despite the party saying last year that it backed the 3rd runway at Heathrow, there is no mention of it this time. There is a whole section on aviation policy, (p. 26 ) but no mention of the runway. This is significant, coming only 7 months after the memorandum of understanding the SNP signed with Heathrow. (October 2016). The manifesto outlines that the SNP will press the UK Government to commit to the Open Skies Agreement in the Brexit negotiations, expand direct international connectivity, protect existing connections within the UK and press the UK Government to secure an exemption from air passenger duty on flights to and from the Highlands and Islands. On airspace policy, the SNP back the need to reform UK airspace and more community engagement in the formation of flight paths in future. The SNP backing for the Heathrow runway was based on economic forecasts that were wildly exaggerated and misleading, (the “up to £147 billion benefit to all the UK over 60 years” claim )and which even the DfT knows were wrong. The actual benefit to the UK is more likely perhaps £6 billion (over 60 years). The promises of new jobs etc are also now seen to have been inflated and misleading. Why would an independent Scotland want to depend on air freight going via Heathrow?

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British Airways could have to pay £100m compensation bill to passengers due to its huge IT failure

British Airways could face a bill of at least £100 million in compensation for its passengers affected by the cancellations and delays caused by its IT systems failure. The problem, perhaps caused by a loss of electric power, which then lead to most systems not working, resulted in BA flights around the world being unable to take off, passengers unable to check in, even the website not working. The problem affected Heathrow the most in England, as the largest base for BA. Gatwick was also affected. In total about 1,000 flights were affected, with problems likely to last several days more, while systems are fixed and planes get back into the right places. As this computer fault is entirely the fault of BA (and not any sort of “act of God”) BA will be liable to pay full compensation, to anyone delayed over 3 hours. The airline was particularly busy as it was the start of the school half term, and also a Bank Holiday weekend, with people flying for weekends away. The GMB union said the problem had been caused in part because BA made many good IT staff redundant in 2016, to save money. They instead outsourced the work to India. Besides the huge cost of compensation (and improving its IT resilience) BA will have suffered serious reputational damage, with many saying they would avoid ever flying with BA again.

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IAG warns the “costs and complexity” of bridging M25 could be major problem for Heathrow runway plans

British Airways’ owner International Airlines Group (IAG) estimates bridging the M25, close to the M4 junction, would cost £2 billion-£3 billion. The Airports Commission suggested the cost could be higher, with £5 billion for local road upgrades, including the tunnel. The Commission said Heathrow should pay for these, as part of the cost of building its runway. The cost and complexity of somehow putting the runway over the busiest, widest section of motorway in the UK are considerable. IAG, as by far the largest airline at Heathrow, does not want to be charged for this work, which would mean putting up the price of its air tickets. IAG says there is no detailed risk and cost analysis of the airport’s plans on what to do with the M25, though a bridge is cheaper than a tunnel. Willie Walsh said: “Airlines were never consulted on the runway length and they can operate perfectly well from a slightly shorter runway that doesn’t cross the M25.” He wants Heathrow to build a shorter runway of 3,200m rather than 3,500m that does not require going over the M25. But that would mean the motorway directly at the end of the runway, in the worse danger zone. IAG says: “We will not pay for a runway that threatens both costs and delays spiralling out of control and where critical elements of the project could be undeliverable.”

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Enough is enough when it comes to aircraft noise say community groups from across the UK

Statement delivered to Number 10 Downing Street

A large number of community groups, representing hundreds of thousands of UK residents, delivered a statement to Number 10 demanding that the next government takes action to reduce aviation noise and emissions. The groups are seeking a new policy on aircraft noise and tough regulation of the aviation industry that balances the interests of people living near airports and under flight paths with the demands of the industry for more flights. Charles Lloyd of the Aviation Communities Forum said: “Anyone who lives near an airport expects some noise. But the changes caused by new concentrated routes – motorways in the sky – and the growth in flight numbers are having unacceptable affects on people’s lives, up and down the country. … For far too long the aviation industry has been unaccountable and able to do virtually what it wants in the skies. The industry has little interest in its impact on people on the ground and there’s no proper regulation to hold it to account. The Government’s hands-off attitude needs to change: communities near airports and under flight paths are no longer willing to be ignored. … Frustration is reaching a boiling point: people can’t sue the industry because its exempt from noise laws, there’s no noise regulator to turn to, the industry plays pass-the-parcel if you try to get things changed and they don’t even have to pay compensation if they destroy your health or the value of your house.” Read the full statement.

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Heathrow and Crossrail in legal dispute over how much TfL would have to pay to use 5 miles of track

Crossrail (the Elizabeth line) is a £15 billion train line designed to cross London from west to east, bringing relief for commuters, but it seems it may not now stop at Heathrow because of a legal row with the airport’s owners over fees. Heathrow has its lucrative Heathrow Express service runs partly on a 5-mile stretch of track, built and paid for (over £1 billion) by the airport. The Crossrail link into Heathrow would run on this section of track. It is an expensive (£25 per ticket) route, and Heathrow’s foreign owners want to recoup past spending on the private train line with an “investment recovery charge” of £570 for every train that uses the track, plus extra fees of about £107 per train. But the Elizabeth line, by contrast, will be in line with the fares that apply across the rest of the capital’s transport network. The opening of the new Crossrail service to Terminals 1, 2, 3 and 4 is expected to throw the financial sustainability of the existing Heathrow Express into question, though Heathrow insists it would continue to run alongside the Elizabeth Line. Heathrow’s owners are now in dispute with the Office of Rail and Road, which sets track access charges, over the amount that TfL, which runs the Elizabeth Line, will need to pay to use the track. The hearings were held earlier this year and a High Court judgment is expected within weeks.

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Boris Johnson says he disagrees with Tory plan to build Heathrow runway – as “very difficult to deliver”

Boris Johnson, who once pledged to lie down in front of the Heathrow bulldozers to block the 3rd runway, has been completely silent on the matter, since being made Foreign Secretary. But he has now made a short comment expressing his opposition to it – the constituency he wants to win back, Uxbridge & South Ruislip, is badly affected by Heathrow flights. He said that the runway would be ‘very difficult to deliver’ because of noise and pollution concerns. “I don’t think it’s the right solution. I’ll be honest with I think it’s very difficult to deliver. I just think noise pollution, the vehicular pollution, the air pollution, these are things that really have to be addressed.” The Tory manifesto says they “… will continue with the expansion of Heathrow Airport.” He told LBC that “The position is the one I was arguing as Mayor and as Foreign Secretary. That remains unchanged.” LBC’s Political Editor then asked him: “Has Theresa May got it wrong?” But Mr Johnson was whisked away before he could answer. In October 2016 Theresa May told all Cabinet Ministers “…. no Minister will be permitted to campaign actively against the Government’s position, nor publicly criticise, or call into question the decision-making process itself. Ministers will not be permitted to speak against the Government in the House.”

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Heathrow fares badly in party manifestos – small, limited reference in Tory manifesto

By inserting only a small and limited reference to Heathrow expansion in the Conservative Manifesto (published on 18th May) is interpreted as meaning the Tories are leaving themselves room to drop the proposed runway, if necessary. The manifesto only says: “…We will continue our programme of strategic national investments, including High Speed 2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and the expansion of Heathrow Airport – and we will ensure that these great projects do as much as possible to develop the skills and careers of British workers.” The No 3rd Runway Coalition, set up earlier this year, includes over a dozen campaign groups, parliamentary candidates, local authorities and NGOs, working together to oppose Heathrow expansion. The Coalition believes the weak reference could indicate recognition of the insurmountable challenges that expansion at Heathrow faces including poor air quality, climate change, noise reduction, surface access difficulties and costs to the public, and the demolition of thousands of homes. The Labour manifesto only said the party “recognised the need for additional capacity in the south east” and it would “guarantee that any airport expansion “adheres” to Labour’s four tests. The LibDems made an explicit commitment not to support a 3rd Heathrow runway, or one at Gatwick or Stansted.

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UK government must not use international climate deal as a “smokescreen” with which to force through Heathrow runway

WWF is urging the next UK Government to come up with a credible climate plan for aviation – not just offsetting. They say the UK should not merely depend on the ICAO deal (very weak) as a “smokescreen” to pave the way for adding a 3rd Heathrow runway. The proposed new runway would make Heathrow the UK’s largest single source of greenhouse gases and increase emissions 15% over the limit for aviation advised by the Government’s independent expert advisers, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). The UK government hopes the ICAO deal for a global offsetting scheme agreed in Montreal last October – called CORSIA – would allow it to ignore aviation CO2. But the new WWF report Grounded explains ten problems with this approach. These include a weak target well short of the ambition of the Paris climate agreement and ignoring the non-CO2 pollution from planes, which probably almost doubles their overall global warming impact. The ICAO CORSIA scheme is no panacea for limiting the climate change impacts of airports expansion. The CO2 emissions from use of a new runway cannot just be offset. Instead government Ministers need to come up with a credible plan for limiting UK aviation emissions before making any decisions on allowing an extra (intensively used) runway (largely used for long haul flights). Otherwise, with no plan to deal with the huge increase in greenhouse gas emissions poses a very real threat to the UK’s legally binding climate change commitments.

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The Institute of Directors want government to allow two new runways – not just Heathrow

The Institute of Directors (IOD) are firmly convinced that people should fly more, and so the south east needs more runway capacity. They appear to be entirely convinced by the publicity Heathrow has put out about the alleged benefits a 3rd runway would bring. But they want more than just one runway. The IODs wants the government, after the 8th June election, to build two more runways, and a follow-up Airports Commission be established. They want a fast-track commission be set up immediately to recommend locations for two additional runways within a year. Plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway need the draft National Policy Statement to be voted through parliament, perhaps early in 2018 and then several years of planning process. At the earliest the runway might be in use some time after 2025. Numbers of air passengers are rising quickly, as flying is so cheap and the moderately affluent in the UK get richer. The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry has also called for the next government to enable a 2nd runway at Gatwick to help create a “megacity”. While Gatwick was shortlisted as a candidate for a new runway by the Airports Commission, other airports such as Stansted and Birmingham would be likely to push hard should a future opportunity emerge.

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Stop Stansted Expansion calls on CAA and NATS to reverse 2016 flight path change, that are causing noise misery

SSE says National Air Traffic Services (NATS), who develop flightpaths for Britain’s airports, should reverse changes made last year. The changes to flightpaths are causing “noise misery.” The changes, introduced in February 2016, have led to a doubling of flights using the easterly Clacton departure routes and led to more than four times the number of complaints about aircraft noise (4,000 in 2016 compared to 760 in 2015). NATS and the CAA are conducting a review of the changes, to assess the impacts and benefits against what was expected when the plans were introduced. SSE noise adviser, Martin Peachey, said: “Whenever there are changes to flight paths there are always winners and losers but in this instance it seems that the only winners are the airlines. There must be more equitable outcome so that local residents do not pay a high price in terms of increased noise misery.” The changes were opposed by residents at public consultation, with 82% of those who responded, but were nevertheless approved by the CAA and implemented in February 2016 because there were judged to be benefits for airlines, in terms of fuel savings and time saving. Any minor benefits for airlines are far outweighed by the additional noise misery being inflicted upon local communities. SSE is urging local residents to make their views known to NATS.

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Inadequate draft DEFRA air quality plan remains silent on Heathrow 3rd runway impact on NO2

Defra’s new, very weak (due probably to trying not to upset owners of diesel cars in the run-up to the election) air quality plan is not likely to achieve air within legal NO2 limits in parts of London before 2030. A 3rd Heathrow runway would increase levels of NO2 in an area that has remained persistently in breach of legal limits. However, the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) point out that the draft plan does not mention the airport, with emissions associated with a 3rd runway apparently not even modelled. AEF Deputy Director Cait Hewitt said, while we are waiting to see what legal action is taken on UK air quality: “In the meantime ministers are hoping to lock in parliamentary support for Heathrow expansion by the end of the year, despite new forecasts indicating that London may still be non-compliant with air pollution limits by 2030, and despite knowing that a third runway, due to open mid-2020s, would make the problem worse. The process for approving Heathrow expansion should be halted immediately, and reconsulted on only once an effective and legally compliant air quality plan is in place, so that the impact of a third runway can be properly assessed.” Forecasts from both the Airports Commission and the DfT show that expansion would act to further increase NO2 due to extra emissions from aircraft as well as associated passenger and freight traffic on the roads.

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Draft Government plans to cut NO2 pollution are woefully inadequate, having limited impact

The government was forced to publish its draft Air Quality Plan consultation (closes 15th June) on 5th May, having tried to delay it till after the election. It has not impressed campaigners for lower NO2 in our air. The plan has been criticised for being “woefully inadequate” and containing measures that would make only slight improvements. There is a planned scrappage scheme for a year, but this would only be for 15,000 vehicles (9,000 diesel and 6,000 petrol). The plan would replace these vehicles with electric Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles (ULEVs). It would cost the government money. There are plans to get more vehicles retrofitted, with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology for buses and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and LPG technology for black cabs. But it would only be for around 6,000 buses, 4,400 black cabs, and 2,000 HGVs by 2020. Across the UK. There could be more incentives to buy both battery operated and plug-in hybrid electric ULEVS.  And also hopes to change driver behaviour to drive more smoothly, remove speed humps, or cut speed limits.  All sound sensible ideas, but would have minimal impacts on the vast numbers of UK road vehicles. There are around 160,000 vehicles per day on the M4 near Heathrow, and around 263,000 on the M25 near Heathrow. It will take more than the government’s current proposals to make more than a tiny dent in all that NO2 air pollution. There is no mention of airports in the Defra document.

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Govt under pressure on 3rd runway air pollution – Heathrow just “confident” on future “exciting breakthroughs”

The UK Government is under increasing pressure to clarify how a 3rd Heathrow runway could be delivered without breaching air quality and CO2 dioxide emissions targets. In February the parliamentary EAC issued a report that called on the Government to produce a new air quality strategy “to determine whether Heathrow Airport expansion can be delivered within legal air quality limits”. It also said the Government “must not allow our air quality standards to be watered down as a result of leaving the EU”, and urged clarification on what a post-Brexit air quality national plan would look like. The UK needs to ensure EU air quality targets won’t be quietly dropped. The government’s draft NPS has made vague assurances that “final development consent [for a third Heathrow runway] will only be granted if the Secretary of State [for Transport] is satisfied that, with mitigation, the scheme would be compliant with legal air quality requirements”. However, there is no clarity on what that means. They surely would not prevent Heathrow using its runway, after spending so much money building it. Heathrow just says “Although we don’t have all these solutions yet we have a strong history of innovation and we’re confident that the next 10 years will hold even more exciting breakthroughs than the last.” ie. fingers crossed it all just – possibly – might be OK ….

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Major new coalition launched to fight Heathrow 3rd runway

A major new coalition has been launched to fight the proposed 3rd runway at Heathrow. The coalition is formally backed already by 18 local campaign groups, including to name a few, Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE), HACAN, Teddington Action Group (TAG) and recently formed BASH Runway 3 (based in Brentford). More groups are expected to join in the coming weeks. The coalition also has the support of 5 local authorities as well as leading politicians from all main parties. The aim of the coalition is to put additional pressure on the Government to drop plans for the runway, building upon the work of existing opponents including campaign groups, local authorities and MPs. It will provide opponents of the runway a platform, allowing them to work effectively together – including support from MPs to the heroic local Councils challenging Heathrow in the courts. The coalition will work to highlight issues – including noise, air pollution and economics – with the DfT’s current, deeply flawed, consultation on the Heathrow National Policy Statement (NPS). Though the DfT has held 20 consultation exhibition events across west London, Berkshire and Surrey, considerable numbers of residents were left disappointed that there was no information on locations of new flight paths, and that will not be presented until much later in the process.

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Four Select Committees launch an unprecedented joint inquiry into air pollution

MP’s from four Parliamentary select committees have combined forces to launch an unprecedented joint inquiry on air quality to scrutinise cross-government plans to tackle urban pollution hotspots. The Environmental Audit Committee, Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Health, and Transport Committees will hold four evidence sessions to consider mounting scientific evidence on the health and environmental impacts of outdoor air pollution. The Government has lost two UK court cases about its plans to tackle the key pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The High Court has ordered the Government to publish a draft new clean air plan to tackle NO2 by 24 April, with a final plan by 31 July. The European Commission has also threatened enforcement which could see the UK pay millions of pounds in fines if the Government does not within two months take steps to bring 16 UK zones within legal pollution limits. Louise Ellman, Chair of the Transport Committee (dealing with the draft NPS on Heathrow), said emissions from vehicles are a significant problem and the standards that governments have relied on have not delivered the expected reductions.: “We will be asking what more can be done to increase the use of cleaner vehicles as well as to encourage the use of sustainable modes of transport.”

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Blast from the past … January 2009 …                            from Theresa May’s own website

“Theresa speaks out against government’s decision to approve a third runway at Heathrow

16 January 2009

Theresa May has spoken out against the Government’s plans to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport, which were approved by the Transport Secretary yesterday. The plans will result in an increase in flights over the local area, affecting thousands of people in Maidenhead and the surrounding area.

The Transport Secretary, Geoff Hoon, has stated that an additional 125,000 flights would be allowed each year but failed to rule out even bigger increases. Speaking in the House of Commons, Theresa questioned Mr Hoon, saying:

“As a result of today’s announcements, my constituents face the prospect of a reduction in their quality of life with more planes flying overhead, restriction in driving their cars locally and a far worse train service in Crossrail. I hope that the Secretary of State recognises that as a result of today’s announcement, nobody will take this Government seriously on the environment again. On a very specific point, when terminal 5 was announced, the then Secretary of State promised us a cap on the number of flights a year of 480,000. The Government have now broken their word, and this Secretary of State is playing the same game. In today’s statement he says: ‘I want there to be a limit on the initial use of the third runway so that the increase in aircraft movements does not exceed 125,000 a year’. That is an aspiration, not a commitment. Will he now say that it is a commitment, how it will be put in place and why my constituents should believe him today any more than they believed the previous Transport Secretary who put a cap on flights?”

Commenting afterwards, Theresa said: “I know from all the letters and emails I get that many local people will be devastated by the Government’s decision. A third runway will result in thousands of additional flights, increased noise and more pollution for thousands of people. The Government’s promises on the environmental impact of this are not worth the paper they are written on – there are no planes currently on the market that would allow them to meet their noise and carbon dioxide targets.”

“As I suspected all along, the Government paid no attention to the opinions expressed by members of the public and have decided to push ahead with expansion despite all the environmental warnings. We need a better Heathrow, not a bigger Heathrow.”

Theresa welcomed the Government’s decision not to proceed with ‘mixed mode’ operations at Heathrow, which would have increased the number of flights even before a third runway is built. She said, “Although this decision is welcome there are no guarantees as to how long the Government’s commitment will last, particularly given the way in which previous promises have been broken.” ”  

Click here for link to article on Theresa May’s website …

EAC REPORT   Environmental Audit Committee says government should not permit Heathrow runway without strict conditions

The EAC report’s conclusions say: “The Government should not approve Heathrow expansion until Heathrow Ltd. can demonstrate that it accepts and will comply with the Airports Commission conditions, including a night flight ban, that it is committed to covering the costs of surface transport improvements; that it is possible to reconcile Heathrow expansion with legal air pollution limits, and that an expanded Heathrow would be less noisy than a two runway Heathrow. In each case – climate change, air quality and noise – it needs to set out concrete proposals for mitigation alongside clear responsibilities and milestones against which performance can be measured. It should report regularly to Parliament, through this Committee and others, on progress. The Government should not avoid or defer these issues. To do so would increase the risks of the project: delay through legal challenge, unquantifiable costs resulting from unclear responsibilities, economic risks through constraint of other sectors to meet increased aviation emissions and longterm costs to public health from the impact of air pollution and noise.”

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EAC on PAYING FOR SURFACE ACCESS  Environmental Audit Committee says Heathrow must fund the infrastructure improvements necessary

One of the conditions that the Airports Commission suggested should imposed on a Heathrow runway was that the airport should pay most of the cost of the additional surface transport infrastructure. Heathrow has repeatedly said it is not willing to pay more than about £1 billion, though the costs are estimated by Transport for London to be £15 – 20 billion. The Environmental Audit Committee report says: “Before the Government decides to go ahead with Heathrow expansion it should set out its assessment of what would be required in terms of infrastructure improvements, agreed responsibilities for funding and milestones for completion. This should be part of a wider transport strategy for West London to minimise the risk of unintended consequences. The Government must make a binding commitment that Heathrow will fund the infrastructure improvements necessary to accommodate an expanded Heathrow.” The government has said it will not pay, with Richard Goodwill stating in October that: “…. the Government has been clear that it expects the scheme promoter to meet the costs of any surface access proposals that are required as a direct result of airport expansion and from which they will directly benefit.”

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EAC on NOISE Environmental Audit Committee says Government must ensure a 3-runway Heathrow is genuinely no noisier than with 2 runways

The Environmental Audit Committee report looked at noise, as one of the issues that need to be revolved, if the Government wants to approve a Heathrow runway. The EAC says the current metrics that average noise are inadequate. They do not account for peak noise events, and may “ignore a swathe of people who are overflown infrequently but loudly.” “These metrics need to be measured against international standards such as WHO recommendations and inform a change in Government policy on aviation noise.” A new Independent Aviation Noise Authority will “need a more up to date understanding of people’s attitudes to noise if it is to be credible. One of the first tasks of such a body should be to undertake a survey of people’s attitudes to aviation noise.” The EAC says the government has to show “whether an expanded Heathrow would be noisier or less noisy than a two runway Heathrow at the same point in time.” On night flights the EAC says: “The Government should publish a plan, including a series of binding milestones, to deliver the proposed ban as part of any announcement to proceed with expansion at Heathrow…” And even if there is no 3rd runway, an Independent Aviation Noise Authority and a Community Engagement Board should be set up, to address the rock-bottom level of trust local people have in the airport.

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EAC on AIR QUALITY Environmental Audit Committee says Government must ensure legal air pollution limits can be met and maintained

The Environmental Audit Committee report on a Heathrow runway, says in relation to air pollution: “Before the Government makes its decision, it should make its own assessment of the likely costs of preventing an adverse impact on health from expansion at Heathrow and publish it.” Also that the government should not consider a new runway merely if air quality could be worse elsewhere in London than in the Heathrow area. The government will need to demonstrate that legal air pollution limits can be met and maintained “even when the expanded airport is operating at full capacity. Heathrow’s existing air quality strategy should also be revised to meet the new targets. Failing this, Heathrow should not be allowed to expand.” As for not using the new runway if air quality is too poor: “The Government should not approve expansion at Heathrow until it has developed a robust framework for delivery and accountability. This should have binding, real-world milestones and balance the need for investor certainty with assurances that a successor Government cannot set the conditions aside if they become inconvenient.” In distinguishing pollution from the airport, or from other sources: “The Government must establish clearly delineated responsibilities for meeting air quality limits before deciding to go ahead with the scheme” to avoid future legal and commercial risks.

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EAC on CARBON  Environmental Audit Committee says Government must act by 2016 to ensure aviation carbon cap is met

The Environmental Audit Committee report says the Airports Commission said the CCC (Committee on Climate Change) was the expert in this area, not it. Therefore the EAC says: “The Government cannot credibly rely on the Commission’s analysis as evidence that Heathrow expansion can be delivered within the limits set by the 2008 Act …..We recommend that the Government give the CCC the opportunity to comment on the Commission’s forecasting of aviation emissions and the feasibility of its possible carbon policy scenarios. The Government should act on any recommendations they make. … Before making any decision on Heathrow expansion, the Government should publish an assessment of the likely impact on the aviation industry – particularly regional airports – and wider economy of measures to mitigate the likely level of additional emissions from Heathrow. …any Government decision on airport expansion should be accompanied by a package of measures to demonstrate a commitment to bringing emissions from international aviation within the economy-wide target set by the 2008 Act. They should also, as a minimum, commit to accepting the CCC’s advice on aviation in relation to the 5th carbon budget, introducing an effective policy framework to bring aviation emissions to 2005 levels by 2050 no later than autumn 2016….”

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TfL confirms extent to which Airports Commission underestimated Heathrow runway impact on surface access

TfL Heathrow fully utilised road trips

On 10th November, the GLA Transport Committee had a session looking at the implications for surface access – road, rail and Tube – if there was a 3rd Heathrow runway. There was a presentation by Richard De Cani (Transport for London’s Managing Director – Planning). The meeting was described as a “well mannered mugging” of the Airports Commission’s (AC) analysis of the situation. The AC did not assess the impact of a fully utilised 3rd runway, with 148 mppa; instead they only looked at the situation in 2030 with 125mppa. That might mean 70,000 more trips per day than estimated by the AC.They also did not take into account how recent employment forecasts will increase demand even further, or increased vehicles needed for expanded air freight capacity. TfL estimates it would cost between £15 and £20 billion to improve the transport infrastructure needed to get all passengers to and from Heathrow, with a 3rd runway. Unless this is spent, the road congestion and the rail congestion even by 2030 would be “some of the worst that we currently see in London.” It would “impact quite significantly on the whole performance of the transport network across west and south west London.” If there was a congestion charge, the impact on public transport would be even higher (perhaps 90,000 more trips per day than estimated by the AC).  See the full presentation. 

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Analysis by AEF shows economic impact of Heathrow runway likely to be minimal, or negative. Not £147 billion (over 60 years)

The Airports Commission has claimed,in its final report (1st July) and the media has uncritically repeated, that a new north-west runway at Heathrow would deliver up to £147 billion benefit for the UK (over 60 years). Now the AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) has done some critical analysis of the Commission’s various documents and figures, to elucidate what the actual economic impact on the UK economy might be. This is complex stuff, and making sense of the various facts (often in different documents at different dates) is not for the faint hearted. However, AEF shows that claims of £147 billion do not take into account the environmental or surface access costs associated with a new runway. The Commission’s own economic advisers have criticised the analysis (not done with the usual “WebTAG” model used by government) for double counting and questionable assumptions in relation to the indirect benefits associated with increased seat capacity. Using WebTAG, it appears – using the Commission’s own data – that there could be a net cost to the UK economy of – £9 billion over 60 years. Not a benefit at all, once all environmental and surface access costs are factored in. With some ‘wider economic benefits’ included, the benefit over 60 years would still be only £1.4 billion (not £147 billion), as quoted in the Commission’s own final report.

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Forget “vital business connectivity” – Air travel makes you happy, says the Airports Commission. That’s why we need another runway

The Airport Commission (AC) changed its arguments sharply between its 2013 interim report and the final document. Initially the idea was that there was a need for a runway because of a rising need for business air travel, and vital business routes. Interestingly, in its final report, the AC – realising that the demand for business flights is not growing – has switched to saying it is good for leisure travellers. At Heathrow only at most 30% of passengers are on business, the majority are on holiday, and the rest visiting friends and relatives (VFR). The AC says because air travel and holidays make people happy, put them in a better of mind and give a feeling of well-being, a runway is needed so we can fly even more than we already do. This runway if ever built would, unavoidably, be mainly used for ever more leisure trips. Nothing to do with emerging economies or connectivity, unless the business people help make fares cheaper for the tourists, and vice versa. Having an annual holiday is associated with greater happiness. Whether taken by plane or other modes of travel. Nobody will be surprised. People who are able to take holidays tend to be happier than those that do not. (People involuntarily living with the adverse impacts of an airport may have lower well-being and be less happy).

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Supreme irony of the hottest July day on record at Heathrow


Hottest July day on record as temperatures reach 36.7C at Heathrow. The previous record was 36.5 °C on 19th July 2006 in Wisley, Surrey. Roads melted and trains were cancelled. Urgent health warnings were issued and paramedics dealt with a surge in calls amid fears the hot weather could result in deaths. Wimbledon recorded the hottest day in its history as players sweltered in the searing heat of Centre Court. The London Ambulance Service said it had seen call-outs to people fainting increase by more than a third (35%) compared to the same day last week. Britain’s trains were blighted by delays and cancellations as Network Rail imposed speed restrictions on some lines amid fears the metal tracks could buckle under the searing heat.

And yet, as a supreme irony, this was the day the Airports Commission advocated building a 3rd runway at Heathrow, knowing the extra carbon emissions this will generate will mean putting the UK’s climate targets at risk. The heat wave is the sort of weather that scientists expect would be come increasingly common, as global CO2 levels rise.


CCC confirm UK air passenger rise of 60% by 2050 only possible if carbon intensify of flying improves by one third

The Committee on Climate Change has reported to Parliament on progress on the UK’s carbon budgets. They say: “Under the current rate of progress future budgets will not all be met.” Carbon budgets do not currently include emissions from international aviation and shipping, but these are included in the 2050 carbon target. The government will review aviation’s inclusion in carbon budgets in 2016. In 2012 the UK’s international aviation emitted 32 MtCO2, and domestic aviation 1.6 MtCO2. The CCC and the Airports Commission say a new runway can fit within climate targets, but their own figures show aviation growth exceeding the target for decades. Growth in passengers of “around” 60% above 2005 levels could only fit within the carbon target if there is an improvement in the carbon intensity of aviation of around one-third by 2050. The Airports Commission’s own interim report says there can only be 36% growth in flights by 2050, to stay within targets. They say any more growth than that should not happen, “unless and until” there are the necessary technology improvements, cutting aviation emissions. But neither the government, nor the CCC, nor the Airports Commission can pin down what these will be, or when they will happen. UK aviation emissions remain the highest in Europe. CCC and AC aviation CO2 projections to 2050

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Green organisations tell Sir Howard Davies that allowing another runway jeopardises UK climate goals 

8 NGO logos for Airports Commission letter

November 1, 2013      

Eight of the key environmental organisations in the UK have written an open letter to Sir Howard Davies, Chairman of the Airports Commission, to express their concern about the Commission’s “emerging thinking” that more runway capacity is needed for the south east, as expressed in Sir Howard’s speech on 7th October. They have serious concerns about how adding a new runway could be compatible with UK climate targets, and they call on the Commission to demonstrate how its recommendations will avoid gambling on our future ability to meet the UK climate target. The NGOs say the Committee on Climate Change’s analysis concluded that stabilising UK aviation’s emissions at their 2005 level could translate to a maximum 60% growth in the number of passengers at UK airports. They set out 4 key arguments why no new runway capacity is needed even if passenger numbers are permitted to grow by up to 60%. They also urge the Commission to retain a “no new runways” option in its deliberations as the best way of achieving the targets set in the UK Climate Change Act. The eight green NGOs which have signed the letter are: Aviation Environment Federation; Campaign for Better Transport; Friends of the Earth; Greenpeace; RSPB; Stop Climate Chaos; The Woodland Trust; WWF-UK. Click here to view full story…

Aviation now contributes 4.9% of climate change worldwide

Work by the IPCC now estimates that aviation accounted for 4.9% of man-made climate impacts in 2005. This contrasts with the 2% figure that is constantly quoted by aviation lobbyists, and 3% which the same authors quoted two years ago. They have now revised their estimates with 2 important changes: including for the first time estimates of cirrus cloud formation and allowing for aviation growth between 2000 and 2005. The effect of these is to increase aviation’s impacts to 3.5% without cirrus and 4.9% including cirrus. 23.5.2009  More  …

Committee on Climate Change.

4th Carbon Budget UK should commit to a 60% cut in emissions by 2030 as a contribution to global efforts to combat climate change.

Aviation emissions must be no higher in 2050 than in 2005, and to do this, all other sectors must cut by 85% by 2050 to allow aviation to grow by 60%

The Committee on Climate Change today recommended a Carbon Budget for 2023-27 and a target for emissions reductions in 2030 – halfway between now and 2050. The recommended target for 2030, to cut emissions by 60% relative to 1990 levels (46% relative to current levels), would then require a 62% emissions reduction from 2030 to meet the 2050 target in the Climate Change Act. The Carbon Budget says international aviation and shipping should be included, and it is vital that UK aviation emissions in 2050 are no higher than in 2005.  Also that, as technologies to cut aviation emissions are not readily available, other sectors of the economy will need to cut by 85% in 2050 in order to let aviation grow by 60%.  7.12.2010  More ….. . . .