planes plane-over-roof StopAirportExpansiontshirt BRITAIN HEATHROW AIRPORT EXPANSION


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Chris Grayling says runway decision announcement “within weeks” – so maybe early September?

A decision on a new runway in the southeast could be made “within weeks” after the new transport secretary, Chris Grayling, who replaces Patrick McLoughlin, said the government had to “move rapidly” on the issue. Given the strength of feeling on the issue, it is unlikely that a decision will be taken during the parliamentary summer recess. MPs start their summer break on Thursday and return on September 5th. So a decision could be made between 5th and 15th September. Mr Grayling, interviewed yesterday on BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend, said: “I am very clear that I want to move rapidly with a decision on what happens on airport capacity. It is a decision that will be taken collectively by the government. “We have a quasi-judicial role so I’m not going to say today whether I prefer Gatwick or Heathrow … I’m going to look at this very carefully in the coming weeks.” He added: “What I’ll be saying to the business community today is I think we need to take a rapid decision to provide certainty on what’s going to happen and that will be my objective.” Patrick McLoughlin had said last month that a final decision was unlikely to be taken before October, but that was in the expectation of there being no new Prime Minister until September. Logically, it would take the new Transport Secretary many weeks to fully understand the brief, and the highlycomplex issues involved.

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Archive material reveals the extent of new Prime Minister’s opposition to a 3rd runway at Heathrow over many years

Campaign group HACAN has unearthed archive material, from Theresa May’s website, which reveals that the new Prime Minister has been a fierce opponent of a third runway at Heathrow, for many years. Her comments on Heathrow since 2008 are copied here. For example, in January 2009 in response to the decision by the Labour Government to give the go-ahead to a 3rd runway, she 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. …. We need a better Heathrow, not a bigger Heathrow.” And “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.” In March 2008 she said: “The Government needs to show that expansion is consistent with national targets for tackling climate change and cutting CO2 emissions,” She has also consistently expressed concern about night flights.

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Heathrow Airport expansion in doubt after Theresa May promotes critics to top cabinet posts

A 3rd Heathrow runway appears increasingly unlikely after Theresa May appointed to her Cabinet a series of opponents to it. Justine Greening, the new Education Secretary, has said building another runway at Heathrow is not a “smart decision” while Philip Hammond and Boris Johnson have also been opposed. Chris Grayling, who is now the Transport Secretary, replacing Patrick McLoughlin,has voiced few public opinions on airport expansion in recent years – though probably privately backed Heathrow in 2009. He will now help oversee the decision on whether Heathrow or Gatwick is chosen for expansion. Whether the option of not choosing either, which would be the sensible decision, is also being reconsidered is not known. Both David Cameron and George Osborne were keen on a Heathrow runway – indeed it was likely that a decision to approve it would have been taken days after a “Remain” vote in the EU Referendum – are now both just backbenchers. Boris Johnson, who has said he would “lie down in front of the bulldozers” if Heathrow built a runway, would face calls to resign if he remained in a Cabinet that backed the project. Philip Hammond, the new Chancellor, said last year: “London’s role as an international air transport hub can be maintained without additional runways at Heathrow. A second runway at Gatwick, plus enhanced transport links between the airports and better transport links to London will create a ‘virtual’ hub airport, maintaining Heathrow’s role in the local economy without expanding it.”

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SSE tells Stansted airport to publish the evidence it is using to try to restrict compensation claims

Following the publication by Stansted Airport of the process it will adopt to deal with long overdue compensation payments for local residents, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has accused it of unreasonably seeking to deter thousands of local residents who may well have a valid compensation claim, from even submitting one. As part of its ‘Guide to Residents’ on submitting compensation claims, Stansted has published a map which shows an incredibly small ‘eligibility area’ – with no explanation as to the basis for this. SSE says there is absolutely no legal basis for eligibility for compensation to be thus restricted. The law only requires claimants to demonstrate that the value of their property has been reduced by physical factors (noise, air pollution etc.) arising from the airport expansion. This came about because of infrastructure that enabled the airport’s passenger throughput to triple in the space of the 8 years leading up to 2007. The limited area includes just a few hundred homes, but the full area includes many thousands of homes that have lost a significant amount of value. Stansted residents have only received any compensation for expansion much earlier, in the 1990s. SSE is advising people not to be deterred, and it will be asking Stansted for a lot more clarification of the legal basis for its attempt to limit claims.

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Around 25,000 attend a massive protest against the Pointless New Airport – Notre-Dame-des-Landes

At another of the massive protests organised by the campaigners against the new airport, there were some 25,000 people, from across France. They came again, in huge numbers, from the 200 or so support committees across France and Belgium, who work to block the new airport. John Stewart attended and his blog about the event explains just how pointless the plan is to move the airport to this new site, closing down the existing Nantes airport, which is not even full. The new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes has become the most controversial environmental project in France. It is causing the Government of Francois Hollande a major headache. The (non-binding) referendum held on 26th June voted by a small majority for the new airport, but much of the pro vote was from areas some distance to the north, perhaps hoping for jobs or easier trips to the airport on holidays. The new airport is not being built to cope with high demand, or to avoid flights over Nantes. The economic case is very weak. Opponents feel the new airport is largely an ego project for local politicians. Work has to start before February 2017, when the planning consent runs out. There are fears there will be violent scenes – perhaps this autumn – when the army is likely to be called in to evict those defending the ZAD area. And all for such a pointless, seriously environmentally harmful, project with little real justification.

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Howard Davies makes more dodgy, unjustifiable, claims about necessity of building a 3rd Heathrow runway, regardless of Brexit

After the Brexit vote, there are very real uncertainties about the demand for air travel in future decades. Agreements need to be worked out between the UK and Europe, and this includes the Open Skies agreement between the UK and the US. These could take several years to work out. The Airports Commission gave absolutely no consideration to the possibility of Brexit. However, instead of sensibly deciding to delay a runway decision, Sir Howard Davies (as ever appearing oblivious of the many and serious deficiencies of his Commission’s report) is pushing hard, in the media, for a Heathrow runway. These claims are dangerous. Howard Davies says the economic case for a 3rd runway has been strengthened by the Brexit vote; “there are already signs of a slowdown in inward investment, which the project would help to offset.” .. The UK “needs some forward-looking decisions to create a sense of momentum, and the construction industry….will soon need the work.” Some businesses see not building the runway as “a symbol of a lack of interest in Britain’s links with the wider world.” He says a Brexit choice is “presented by our competitors as an insular move. An early runway decision would do a lot to offset that impression. I hope the cabinet can be brought to see that argument as soon as possible… ” … “If you say your strategy is to be a global trading nation reaching out to China and India, but actually you aren’t prepared to provide any airport capacity for people to land here, then that’s a joke.”

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Ground-breaking seminar on aircraft noise and mental health to be held in House of Commons

A ground-breaking seminar discussing the impact of aircraft noise on mental health was held in Parliament on 4th July. The seminar, by HACAN and the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) explored the issue. Hosted by Dr Tania Mathias, MP for Twickenham, the seminar heard from Dirk Schreckenberg, one of the authors of the seminal NORAH study which looked at the link between noise and health at Frankfurt Airport. The study found negative effects on both mental well-being and on depression, from plane noise – especially in people experiencing increased levels of noise. A resident from West London, Chris Keady, spoke about his own history of mental problems, and the impact of high levels of aircraft noise on him. Not enough is known about the impact of exposure to aircraft noise, especially loud noise, often repeated, at different times of day and night, on mental health and stress levels. The evidence suggests that people who already have mental health issues can find aircraft noise particularly disturbing. There is a real problem if there is no escape from the noise, and people feel powerless and impotent against this imposition. We need a constructive dialogue involving noise experts, politicians, campaigners and the aviation industry to give proper consideration to this issue. Matt Gorman from Heathrow Airport also spoke at the event.

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Biggest destruction of British heritage since the Blitz if Gatwick expands – new report

Campaigners against Gatwick expansion have highlighted the extent of the devastation that a 2nd Gatwick runway would cause to important buildings of great British heritage value, as well as demand to local history and environment. Unveiling a new report, the groups say Gatwick’s own submission to the Airports Commission detailed 17 listed buildings which would be destroyed. These include some of Britain’s finest examples of medieval architecture. The launch of the report was held at Rowley, a former residence of Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard, which is among those “requiring removal”, according to airport plans. The new runway would require the irreversible loss of the last remnant of the ancient village of Lowfield Heath, which was recorded in the Domesday Book in 1068. The groups behind the new report on the threatened heritage damage are CPRE (Sussex, Surrey and Kent branches), the Woodland Trust, the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, and Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions. Brendon Sewil commented: “Gatwick seek to wallpaper over the sheer level of destruction it would cause to our British heritage. This is a major stand against Gatwick on one of the historical sites that its proposal would destroy. It would be far more damaging than HS2.”  Short video of the launch + speakers

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Government announces that a runway decision is postponed, and left to the next  Prime Minister

The government has announced that the decision on whether to build a new south east runway will be left to his successor as Prime Minister. It is believed that this means Heathrow will not be getting a 3rd runway, any time in the foreseeable future. Downing Street sources say David Cameron sees no point in making a runway decision that would almost certainly be overturned by a successor. Patrick McLoughlin, the transport secretary, said in the Commons:  “Being realistic, given recent events, I cannot now foresee that there will be an announcement until at least October.” He and George Osborne wanted David Cameron to take the decision in favour of Heathrow before leaving office. Boris had been expected to stand as a candidate to be Prime Minister, but has not done so. The most likely next PM may be Theresa May, whose position on Heathrow is described as “nuanced.”  The Times understands that civil servants in the DfT recommended a Heathrow runway, having believed the (flimsy and guarded) promises by Heathrow on noise and NO2. Gatwick may feel it has a slightly better chance, but with Brexit the demand for air travel may be lower in coming years.  There will be several years of negotiation to establish arrangements for  UK airlines with the EU, and Gatwick deals mainly with cheap European holiday flights. Replies  were made in the Commons to MPs’ questions, by Patrick McLoughlin.

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Nantes referendum: 55% majority in favour of new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes  – opponents ACIPA fight on

There was a referendum in the Loire-Atlantique département on 26th June, with the question whether people backed the moving of the current Nantes-Atlantique airport south of Nantes, to a site north of Nantes, at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. Finally the voting was 55% in favour of the move. The area to be destroyed for the new airport is good farm land and valuable wetland habitat, and there has been fierce, determined opposition to the project for years. The local opposition, focused through ACIPA, was deeply critical of the way the referendum was organised. They believe areas other than just those in Loire-Atlantique should have been consulted. Some of these areas would be opposed to the move, and some have to contribute public funds towards it. The government wanted the poll as early as possible, as there is a “declaration of public utility” lasting till October, so work has to start by then. The prime minister, Manual Valls, made a statement as soon as the referendum result was known, that “the government will implement the verdict.” Those backing the new airport want to clear the protesters living illegally on the ZAD, some of the land on which the airport would be built, moved away soon, so clearing work can start. ACIPA said this result was just one step in their long struggle against the airport, and their struggle now continues.

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Early decision on a new south-east runway thought unlikely, due to Brexit – and Cameron resignation

There is much speculation and uncertainty about what will happen on the runway situation, and whether – or how much – it will be delayed. A leak was inadvertently made to PoliticsHome on 22nd (not intended to go out till after a Remain vote) indicating that the government would make a runway announcement on 7th or 8th July. That now seems very unlikely indeed. Heathrow put out a bland statement, realising that the rapid decision in their favour is not looking likely, and making out that their runway is of great national importance. Nobody knows what future role Boris may play, but he promised in May 2015 to “lie down in front of bulldozers” to stop a Heathrow runway. Gatwick is no more likely to succeed. There are also fears for infrastructure projects like HS2,and future investment in other rail services. In short, there is immense uncertainty about almost everything. Many of the UK’s rail franchises are controlled and operated by European state-owned companies from Germany, the Netherlands and France. What happens with them? Business likes to plan ahead, and does not like uncertainty or being in limbo. The extent to which air travel will grow in future is now in doubt, with a recession likely – and UK air passenger numbers fall in recessions. The weakness of the currency will make many foreign leisure trips more expensive for Brits.

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IATA warns UK air passengers could decline 3% – 5% by 2020 due to airline uncertainties and fall in the £

Following the UK’s June 23 vote to leave the European Union, IATA said preliminary estimates suggest UK air passengers could decline 3%-5% by 2020, following an expected economic downturn and predicted falling £ exchange rates. IATA’s evaluation of the impact of Brexit notes that there is considerable uncertainty on details and timescale. A weak £ could make trips to the UK cheaper, but as there are far more outbound trips from the UK than inbound, and foreign trips for Brits going abroad will cost more, the net impact is lower numbers of passengers. A possible future path for the UK aviation sector would be membership in the European Common Aviation Area (ECAA).That would enable the UK to have continued access to the Single Aviation Market. However, it requires acceptance of EU aviation law across all areas, limiting the UK’s policy freedom. IATS says: “The same would apply to regulations more generally if the UK were to join the European Economic Area. For example, the strongest legal impediment to airport expansion comes from EU local air quality rules which would still apply to the UK if EU membership were exchanged for EEA membership.” IAG’s share price fell immediately, and easyJet wrote to the UK government and the EC to ask them to prioritise the UK remaining part of the single EU aviation market. BMI said it might “have to review” its bases in the UK.

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Unconfirmed leak that 7th or 8th July possible dates for government runway announcement – but that was before Brexit ….. so now highly unlikely ….

23.6.2016    PoliticsHome learned that “Ministers are planning to announce their decision on whether to build a third runway at Heathrow in two weeks’ time” (no mention of Gatwick by PoliticsHome.)

[The announcement] “has been pencilled in for 7th July – the day after the publication of the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War – although it could be moved to 8th July. Sources close to the process have told PoliticsHome the Prime Minister is eager to make the announcement before parliament rises for its summer recess on 21st July. However, publishing it the day after the 2.6 million-word Chilcot report comes out could be seen by some as trying to bury the controversy while the public’s attention is elsewhere.”    Link

24.6.2016    All rather overtaken by events ….


Manchester Airport rubbishes claims Heathrow expansion is crucial for Northern Powerhouse to succeed

The boss of Manchester Airport, Ken O’Toole, has rubbished Heathrow’s claims that a new London runway is crucial to the Northern Powerhouse. He argues that Manchester is an international airport in its own right with many direct long-haul routes. He says Manchester airport could make up any long haul capacity gap over the next 15 years and beyond “if the country adopts a culture of healthy competition.” Manchester started a direct service to Beijing last week, giving the North its first ever non-stop flight to mainland China. But Heathrow continually tries to persuade that, without a third Heathrow runway, northern businesses would lose “up to £710m” per year. Manchester airport believes it can have a range of long haul flights, not only to tourist destinations – mentioning important markets like “Singapore, Hong Kong, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Boston and, from next March, San Francisco.” If people can get flights to these destinations direct from Manchester, they do not need to – inconveniently – travel via Heathrow. Ken O’Toole says some 22 million people live within two hours’ drive of Manchester Airport. They have a huge amount of spare capacity on their two runways. Heathrow is very nervous of losing the transfer traffic it cannot manage without, to either other hubs like Schiphol or Dubai – or the growth of airports like Manchester.

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Heathrow protesters found guilty of graffiti subvertising misleading pro-3rd runway billboards (later ruled against by ASA

Two protesters in March 2015 subvertised two Heathrow advertising hoardings, and removed one Heathrow poster from a bus stop. They changed one massive hoarding, on a road close to Heathrow, that said “Those living around us are behind us” to say “Those living around us are CHOKING.” Another billboard with the slogan “Expand Heathrow and you grow the economy by up to £211 billion” was changed to say “Expand Heathrow and you grow the economy by destroying homes.” The two men, Larry Rose and Joe McGahan, were tried at Isleworth Crown Court and found guilty. They were charged with criminal damage. They pleaded not guilty, and defended themselves using the defence of lawful excuse. They had attempted to alter Heathrow’s fraudulent billboards in order to portray a more accurate reality of the harm and misery Heathrow’s expansion would bring to local residents and the environment. They cited evidence of the health impact of air pollution around Heathrow, and the increased carbon emissions that an extra runway would cause. The two were given conditional discharges and fines totalling £2,640 – of which £1,200 was to Heathrow to pay for cleaning up. Both adverts were subsequently found to be misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority, and Heathrow was told to withdraw them.

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AirportWatch calls on the Advertising Standards Authority to take action to remove misleading ads speedily

A bizarre court case has seen two environmental campaigners landed with a bill for more than £2,600 after they “corrected” a Heathrow Airport billboard promoting a new runway – even though the Advertising Standards Authority subsequently ruled that Heathrow’s claims were indeed incorrect. Lawrence Rose and Joseph McGahan were found guilty of defacing Heathrow billboards near the airport, and in their view correcting misinformation on the adverts in March 2015. The adverts about local support and about benefits to the UK economy were referred – in March or April 2015 – to the Advertising Standards Authority, which ruled in September 2015 that these adverts were misleading. Larry and Joe were given suspended sentences, after a jury trial, and fines including a cost of £1,200 to Heathrow airport for the cost of tidying up the damage to their incorrect and misleading adverts. They were also fined £1,440 of court costs. For many months in 2014 and 2015, Heathrow placed these misleading advertisements in very public places. Thousands or hundreds of thousands of people will have seen the ads. Though the Advertising Standards Authority eventually ruled against them, the process took many months so by that time Heathrow had had extensive publicity and been able to convey misinformation. AirportWatch believes this is wrong. The process by which incorrect adverts are removed should be improved to ensure unsubstantiated claims by huge companies, like airports, are not left in place for months after being challenged.

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Stop Stansted Expansion prepares to launch legal proceedings against Stansted airport, over compensation delays

Stansted Airport faces legal action on behalf of thousands of local residents denied compensation over devaluation of their property caused by airport expansion. The cost to the airport could run to hundreds of millions of pounds. Stansted failed to meet a deadline (31st May) to make a public statement agreeing to introduce a compensation scheme for local residents after years of prevarication. Since 2002, Stansted has used the excuse that it has no legal obligation to pay compensation until it has completed everything listed in its 1999 Phase 2 planning consent. Completion of a small part of these works, the Echo Cul-de-Sac, has been repeatedly postponed – most recently until the mid-2020s – and has thus been branded the ‘golden rivet’ loophole. Stansted lawyers finally accepted this, but then immediately put forward a new excuse for rejecting compensation claims – that claims were now time-barred under the Limitation Act. This gave rise to withering criticism from the judge who remarked: “So, after years of telling people you can’t claim until the works are complete, you’re now saying Tee-Hee – you’re too late.” Due to Stansted stalling, SSE are now taking legal action, to safeguard the interests of local residents. SSE’s preparations for a legal challenge ,on the airport’s use of the Limitation Act, are underway. They have appointed and briefed its legal team, which includes two expert barristers and one of the country’s foremost planning solicitors.   SSE presentation with prevarication details

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Gatwick Chairman writes to David Cameron re-hashing unconvincing claims on desirability of its 2nd runway

Gatwick has made its last ditch attempt to persuade the government to let it have another runway. It is thought likely that some runway decision will now be made by early September at the latest, if it is not made before about 18th July. Gatwick Chairman Sir Roy McNulty has written to David Cameron, hoping to persuade him that Gatwick will not cost the air passenger any more than £15 per flight. Gatwick claims they can manage the noise levels, though are not entirely clear how. They hope sharing out the noise over more people will keep the numbers within the 57 dB and the 55 Lden to manageable levels. They hope to get the runway started before the next election, thereby not having given the electorate the change to vote on the matter – as the Airports Commission announcement in July 2015 was deliberately after the last election in May 2015. They claim there will be no cost to the taxpayer, but there are estimates of possibly £12 billion by TfL for the necessary transport work to deal with another 40 million passengers. Gatwick hopes its paltry £46.5 million offer will cover all that. And Gatwick claims it will never have an air pollution problem – rather ignoring the pollution caused by the inevitable traffic, as there is inadequate public transport. Looked at in detail, the offers (like those of Heathrow a few weeks earlier) are very threadbare indeed.

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Times speculation on runway decision, Cameron, referendum, Boris, legal challenges and reshuffles

The Times believes that Heathrow and Gatwick made their final submissions to the DfT last week, and government officials say they are ready for a Cabinet decision. The environmental problems at Heathrow have meant there are very real dangers of successful legal challenges, not least from local councils. Heathrow recently put forward some pledges of how it could meet its environmental challenges, but they were over-optimistic and do not bear careful scrutiny. The question is whether the government thinks it could get away with a decision that is neither considered to be a bad one, or one on which they could face legal embarrassment. The Times believes the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, has told David Cameron that he should not postpone the decision again. There is likely to be a window of opportunity for a runway decision, after an EU referendum Remain victory and before a “reconciliation reshuffle” probably in September, to reunite Conservatives. The Times believes if Boris is given a Cabinet post before a runway decision, he will make it difficult. So it would be easier to decide on a runway, before including Boris. However, there are a lot of other issues to be dealt with between 24th June and 21st July, including an anti-obesity strategy, policies to counter Islamist extremism and a vote on Trident.

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Gatwick produces Final Action Plan to implement recommendations by the  Arrivals Review

On 31st March Gatwick, made its initial response to the Arrivals Review, carried out by Bo Redeborn and Graham Lake. Gatwick then had to hold la 6 week consultation on the Proposed Action Plan, which ended on the 16th May. Gatwick has now produced its Final Action Plan. It confirms it has accepted all the Review’s recommendations. As well as accelerating the retrofitting of Airbus A320 planes to remove the “whine”, two issues in the Review that generated the most public input were widening the “swathe” for arriving planes as the join the ILS to 8 – 14 nautical miles, and the setting up of a Gatwick Noise Management Board (NMB), on which a few community representatives can sit. Gatwick says the NMB will “oversee joint strategies to deal with noise around the airport.” It will be chaired by Bo Redeborn, and its first meeting will be on 21st June. In response to extensive feedback, community representation on the NMB has been increased from two representatives to four, and further analysis has been carried out to quantify more fully the impact of widening the arrivals swathe. There remain concerns by those living near the airport that some people will suffer from noise of both arrivals and departures, and Gatwick has produced maps to illustrate that it anticipates this will not be a problem for a large area.

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More on the Gatwick Arrivals Review proposal to widen the arrivals swathe to 8-14 nm

More on the Gatwick Arrivals Review proposal to set up the Noise Management Board

Local referendum on whether to move Nantes-Atlantique airport to Notre-Dame-des-Landes – 26th June

On 26th June there will be a consultation/referendum on the issue of whether the existing airport, Nantes-Atlantique, just south of Nantes should be moved to a site north of the town at Notre-Dame-des- Landes (NDDL). The government announced this referendum back in March.The question that will be asked is: “Do you support the proposed transfer of Nantes-Atlantique airport to the municipality of Notre-Dame-des-Landes?” The referendum is open to voters of the municipalities of Loire-Atlantique. Opponents are running an active campaign, to provide information to every potential voter and attending public meetings, with their spirit of quiet determination. Opponents, including local campaign ACIPA, say nobody asked for this referendum, and it does not in any way legitimize the airport project at NDDL, which they consider to be illegal, ruinous and destructive. They say the conditions for real democratic debate are not met; the area chosen for the referendum excludes some important local communities; the question is biased; and there is no guarantee of fair treatment of the opposition. They are not impressed that the Prime Minister has announced the start of work in the autumn, despite the referendum. They say the airport cannot proceed until various legal matters have been sorted out. There will be another huge anti-NDDL gathering on 9th and 10th July. “On a tous une bonne raison de voter NON.” (We all have a reason to vote NO.)

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Anti-3rd runway campaigners hold their own alternative “celebration” of Heathrow’s 70th birthday

To “celebrate” Heathrow’s 70th Birthday, on 31st May, anti-3rd runway campaigners and local village residents gathered in Harmondsworth – to express their opposition to the airport’s plans for expansion. With festivities centred around the historic “Five Bells” pub, there were 70 “No 3rd Runway” balloons, tours of the historic buildings including the historic, Grade 1 listed, tithe barn, enthusiastic chants of “No ifs, no buts, no 3rd runway, and a walk of part of the course of the proposed runway. To represent each of the houses earmarked for demolition for the runway, 783 small black planes were planted on the green. The cake was cut by representatives of some of the protest groups, including Hacan, Stop Heathrow Expansion, CHATR, TAG, RAAN, and Grow Heathrow. People had thought up entertaining presents for Heathrow, including the cheque from ratepayers – a big fat zero for infrastructure, a Mr Noisy book, a toy demolition truck, a Thomas the Tank Engine, a D-lock, a Pinocchio, and an alarm clock with its hands stuck on 4.30am. The day was a fun event, with a very serious purpose. With 783 homes to be demolished for a runway, and many more made uninhabitable by the proximity to an expanded Heathrow, many hundreds face the total loss of their homes and their community.

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70th Birthday cheque

Heathrow sets out vague, unenforceable, offers to boost links to regions with 3rd runway (with easyJet’s help?)

Heathrow is trying to put more heavy pressure on the government, to back its 3rd runway plans, if there is an announcement in the next few months (EU referendum permitting). Heathrow are aware that it is not considered likely that the regions will get much benefit from a 3rd runway, so it now says it will “improve connectivity, with better air, rail and bus connections from Heathrow to every major town and city – North, East, South and West.” No details, and not things done by Heathrow itself. It says its runway means the creation of “up to 180,000 new jobs and 10,000 apprenticeships across the UK” (no time scale given, so pretty useless statement). And that: “A third runway will boost the economy by up to £211 billion, with the benefits spread across the country.” The £211 billion claim is very suspect. Even the Airports Commission’s most optimistic (criticised by its own advisors) was a maximum of £147 – and that is up to 2080, so over 60 years. Heathrow says it will increase flights to airports like Liverpool, Humberside and Newquay, if it got a new runway. And it might create a “new £10 million Route Development Fund which will provide start-up support for any potential new domestic destinations.” The Airports Commission realised that unless government subsidises (taxpayers’ money) domestic routes from Heathrow, the number would end up being lower than the number now.

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Britain had £16.9 billion Tourism Deficit in 2015 – which is 17.6% of UK total balance of payments deficit

Data from the ONS shows that in 2015, the Tourism Deficit (the difference between how much overseas visitors spend on their trips to the UK, and how much Brits spend on their trips abroad) rose to the 2nd highest level ever. The deficit was £16.9 billion in 2015, and £20.5 in 2008, but it fell during the years of the recession. It was around £13.7 billion in each year, 2012, 2013 and 2014. It has now increased again very significantly – by over £3 billion in one year. That makes up a large slice (17.6%) of the UK’s overall balance of payments deficit of £96.2 billion in 2015.The number of trips by UK residents abroad increased by 9.4% last year, the largest rise since 1998, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). In 2015, UK residents took 65.7 million foreign holidays or business trips (business trips were only 10.9% of the total, while back in 2005 they were 12.9% of the total). In 2015 the number of trips by foreign visitors to the UK rose by 5.1%, to a record high of 36.1 million. But while foreigners spent £22.1 billion on visits to the UK, Brits spent £39 billion abroad. The French were the biggest visitors to the UK, with 4 million trips. Spain was the country with most visits by UK residents – with 13 million trips, nearly 20% of UK travel.

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Sunday Times obtains details of £10.4 million bonus scheme, in stages, for Heathrow execs if they get 3rd runway

It emerged on 16th May that Heathrow executives were in line for large bonuses, if they managed to get a 3rd runway. Now the Sunday Times has details. They say eight executives could share a £10 million bonus pool. It appears they have already achieved £414,000 of the bonus, by getting the Airports Commission to select Heathrow in July 2015. Details of the bonus scheme are that the sums increase, based on the success of the executives’ lobbying. The next bonus payout would be, between the eight, £622,000 if they “create a climate of political support that enables the government to give its backing to expansion”. ie. if there is a government announcement this summer or autumn. Then they would get £829,000 if Heathrow is judged to be “on course to win planning approval” for its runway. There would be another £829,000 of the bonus if Heathrow can get the CAA to allow Heathrow much higher landing charges in future, to pay for the runway (the CAA controls its charges). The whole £10.4 million bonus is the airport’s “share in success” incentive, and includes other measures not related to a 3rd runway. It is to be paid out in 2019. The existence of the bonus scheme was initially denied by the airport. But it creates strong personal gain motives for senior staff, in pushing through the runway, regardless of its adverse impacts.

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HACAN new briefing shows how a 3rd Heathrow runway will not deliver for the regions

Heathrow has made repeated claims that its 3rd runway would be essential for the UK economy, and indeed, that it would be a vital boost to the economies of the regions. HACAN has set out, in a short briefing and in a video, how the claims are not justified. In reality, another Heathrow runway would have negative impacts on regional airports – not to mention huge costs for taxpayers across the country. HACAN says of Heathrow’s various promises that they are not guaranteed: ✈ Better connections are not guaranteed. ✈ Instead, ever more resources will be concentrated in London and the South East. ✈ Heathrow expansion may preclude aviation growth elsewhere. ✈ A 3rd Runway may be undeliverable. The Airports Commission itself found that, rather than reversing the decline in domestic flights between Heathrow and the regions, these will fall (from 7 now to 4 with a 3rd runway) unless they are subsidised, which could breach EU regulations. Due the cap on UK aviation carbon emissions, if a Heathrow runway is built (and it has to be used extensively, largely for high carbon long-haul flights)it is likely to mean restriction of the growth of flights from regional airports. A totally dominant Heathrow, eclipsing other UK airports, would make it difficult for long haul routes from the regions to be profitable.

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Gatwick groups and MPs hand in new report to Downing Street: “What about our air quality?”

Community groups and MPs have delivered a copy of a new report, “What about our air quality?” to 10 Downing Street. The report raises the fact that an expanded Gatwick could present worst air quality for a much wider area than Heathrow currently – due to the lack of sufficient transport infrastructure. Air quality targets close to Gatwick Airport have been broken despite the airport’s public denial. Data from Jacobs, (Page 9) for the Airports Commission, show breaches of NO2 levels already. It is inevitable they will be broken again, especially with a 2nd runway, because the rail infrastructure is already inadequate, and more passengers (and possibly freight in future) will mean additional road vehicles. The report contains a letter from 10 MPs who wrote to the Secretary for State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin on 18th March, demanding that Gatwick’s misleading advertising over air quality be stopped. Gatwick has often said words to the effect that “Gatwick Airport has never and will never breach air quality limits” and instead its expansion campaign has been focused on the air pollution problems at Heathrow, ignoring their own. Gatwick is served by a rail line that is already near capacity, and it cannot be much improved due to physical restrictions. It could not handle not only more passengers, but also extra staff and traffic from more businesses.

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Heathrow senior executives would get large bonuses if they manage to get 3rd runway

The Guardian has revealed that Heathrow’s annual report (December 2015) show that its top executives would benefit personally if the airport gets a 3rd runway. This is despite past denials that there were any financial incentives, not least when senior executives at Gatwick were found in February to have huge financial incentives if they manage to get a 2nd runway. Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd states: “During the year a new bonus scheme was launched based on EBITDA, passenger service (as measured by independent ASQ – Airport Service Quality – scores) and airport expansion over the Q6 period….” [Q6 is the 5 year regulatory period 2014 – 2019]. A Heathrow spokesman said the runway bonus would only be a small part of a payout for meeting the strategic requirements of the business, hitting the profit targets etc. CEO John Holland-Kaye earned £2.06m last year, more than doubling his basic salary of £885,000. However, he could add even more to that should a 3rd runway be approved. The annual report states that while a bonus scheme linked to expansion was launched in 2015, “as the performance in respect of this scheme is so uncertain at this stage, no value in relation to these awards is included” in his 2015 earnings package. The Guardian says John Holland-Kaye is believed to be the architect of the new bonus scheme. The airport cut its wider wage bill by cutting 333 jobs last year (6,714 compared to 7,047 in 2014), but directors’ pay rose.  Directors’ remuneration was up by £366,000 in 2015, to £3,555,000 from £3,189,000 in 2014).

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Lord True, Richmond Council leader and Conservative peer, describes Heathrow promises as ‘worthless’ and asks David Cameron to deny expansion immediately

The leader of Richmond Council, Lord True, has called Heathrow’s pledge to ban night flights a “feeble attempt to bribe London.” He described Heathrow’s promises as “worthless” and said on the ending of night flights: “This so-called pledge falls short of what the Davies Commission requests and the Heathrow PR men simply cannot be believed. If they can stop pre-5.30am flights, why don’t they do it now? Rather than spending billions of pounds doing it?” On Heathrow’s claims about air quality improvements, Lord True commented:: “They cannot comply with EU air quality limits and their ‘jam’ promises are worthless…..if people’s health comes first – big Heathrow is dead in the water.” He said Heathrow had just made some token alterations to their original proposals. Richmond Council, along with Wandsworth, Hillingdon and Windsor & Maidenhead councils, have already made it clear that should the Government give a 3rd Heathrow runway the go-ahead – they would together launch legal action opposing the plans. Lord True: “I say to Mr Cameron – hundreds of thousands of Londoners remember your promise – “no ifs, no buts,” ….We expect our Prime Minister to keep his promise….”

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Heathrow makes guarded, carefully worded, offers to meet Airports Commission conditions for 3rd runway

Heathrow knows it has a difficult task in persuading the government that it can actually meet the (unchallenging) conditions put on its runway plans by the Airports Commission. Now John Holland-Kaye has written to David Cameron, setting out how Heathrow hopes to meet some conditions. They make out they will even exceed the conditions, in some cases. On Night flights, they say they will introduce a “legally binding ban on all scheduled night flights for six and a half hours (as recommended by the Airports Commission) from 11 pm to 5:30 am when the third runway opens.” [Note, scheduled – not late arrivals etc]. And they will “support the earlier introduction of this extended ban on night flights by Government as soon as the necessary airspace has been modernised after planning consent for the third runway has been secured.” [ie. full of caveats]. They dodge the issue of agreeing not to build a 4th runway, saying if the government makes a commitment in Parliament not to expand Heathrow further, then Heathrow will “Accept a commitment from Government ruling out any fourth runway..” [Words carefully chosen]. On noise and respite, Heathrow say “We will ensure there will be some respite for everyone living under the final flight path by using advances in navigational technology. We will consult and provide options on our proposals to alternate use of the runways.” [ie carefully chosen words, avoiding giving much away].

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“No New Runways” message clear at “Going Backwards on Climate Change” march

The Campaign Against Climate Change organised a dramatic protest, with a difference. Marking the first year of the Conservative government being in power, it has gone backwards on climate. So several hundred protesters assembled in Trafalgar Square, and proceeded to march backwards, down Whitehall, to show where the government has been backtracking on climate. The protesters stopped at various key locations, to hear speeches about particular issues. There was a strong aviation presence on the protest, with a “No New Runway” message. For the government to build a new runway, hugely increasing UK aviation CO2 emissions, means a serious likelihood of the UK missing carbon targets. Adding a runway is going backwards on climate policy. Outside Downing Street, Sheila Menon (one of the Heathrow 13) spoke about the need to oppose a new runway, at Heathrow or at Gatwick, because of the increase in carbon emissions it would generate. She said this is not merely a UK problem, and there is opposition to airport and runway building in many other countries, with the campaigns linked up. Other stops on the backwards march focused on renewable energy, fracking, and increasing air pollution.

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Willie Walsh says cheaper Heathrow runway option “Heathrow Hub” should be considered again, as cheaper

Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways’ owner IAG, says ministers should not be bound to the Heathrow third north-west runway proposal. He wants the Heathrow Hub option (extending the northern runway to the west) given proper consideration, as it would be cheaper. BA operates the majority of flights (just over 50%) at Heathrow, but Walsh has repeatedly said he is not prepared to pay exorbitant costs – in order to pay for a “gold plated” runway scheme, with all the add-ons. The Heathrow Hub scheme is understood to still be considered by the DFT, as is the Gatwick runway. (All have very serious environmental and economic problems, which is why the government has not been able to come to a rapid decision – largely knowing it would face well informed legal challenges). Walsh believes the Heathrow Hub option would be cheaper, though the costs of surface transport etc to fall on the taxpayer, would be similar. Willie Walsh contrasted Heathrow’s costs with a similar scheme in Dublin, the base of one of BA’s sister airlines in IAG, Aer Lingus. “The airport is talking about building a second runway at a tiny fraction of the cost of the Heathrow third – £350m against £23bn.” He has considered moving more BA planes to Dublin, if and when its 2nd runway is built.

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Transport Select Committee wants rapid decision on runway location – then sort out the problems later …..

The Commons Transport Select Committee, chaired by Louise Ellman (for years a strong advocate of a larger Heathrow) has published a report that wants the government to make a rapid decision on the location of a new south east runway. Ms Ellman says Patrick Mcloughlin should set out a clear timetable of the decision making process. He should also set out what research the government has already done and what remains to be done. The Committee wants a decision in order to, in its view, remove uncertainty for business so companies can be planning and investing. The report is entirely of the view that a runway is needed for links to emerging markets. It ignores the reality that most journeys are for leisure, and it ignores the huge costs to the taxpayer, of either scheme. The Committee wants a location decision, and somehow believes that all other environmental and infrastructure problems will then (magically?) be sorted out. They say: “… we believe that the noise and environmental effects can be managed as part of the pre-construction phase after a decision has been made on location, as can the challenge of improving surface access.” So decide first – with what is likely to be a bad decision – and work out how to deal with the intractable, and inevitable, problems later. Is that a sensible course of action for a responsible government?

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Research sets out clearly how the need to take climate change seriously rules out any new UK runway

A new research study by the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) shows that the need to take climate change seriously rules out any new runway – at Heathrow or at Gatwick. The study, commissioned by GACC, particularly shows that, for the UK to play its part in making December’s Paris Agreement on climate work, must mean cancelling plans for a new UK runway. The Airports Commission’s work shows they were well aware of the problem of UK aviation emissions exceeding their cap level of 37.5MtCO2 per year, but this was brushed under the carpet. Even with no new runway, while all other industries in the UK are – by law – due to decrease their CO2 emissions by 85% on average (by 2050 compared to their 1990 level), aviation is permitted to increase its pollution by 120%. If a new runway is built, that would be even higher.  The hope of an effective world-wide CO2 emissions trading scheme succeeding in limiting emissions looks impossible to achieve. Big tax increases on flights, in order to limit demand when there has been expansion with a new runway, would be political dynamite. Limiting growth at regional airports, to permit full use of a new south east runway, would not be helpful to the regions. “It is time for the Government to stand up to the lobbying by the aviation industry, and tell them that there will be no new runway.” A new runway means storing up unnecessary problems in future.   “Climate Change and a new Runway”

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Gatwick Chairman confirms no public disclosure of flight paths until after the public consultation of the Gatwick Arrivals Review closes

Arrivals Review team member, Graham Lake, and Sir Roy McNulty, Chairman of Gatwick, confirmed that ‘mapping’ of the proposed flight path routes proposed by the Review will not be disclosed until after the public consultation closes (ends 16th May). This statement was made at the Gatwick Arrivals Review community meeting on 26th April. There is concern that without any input from affected communities or other organisations, it will only be NATS and Gatwick that have any say over how the arrivals flight paths are set. Many residents affected by Gatwick aircraft noise have little trust in the airport, after being let down. But they are being asked to comment on the consultation without vital information. Gatwick said in 2012 that if the impact of PRNAV routes was too “detrimental”, then they should be withdrawn. However, there is no indication this is being followed. People living near the airport and already getting the noise of narrow departure routes are concerned that they may also get the noise from narrow approach routes. The CAA has confirmed that there is nothing in the Arrivals Review to stop arriving flights joining the final approach (the ILS) continuing to be placed in narrow ‘swathes’, as they are now. Narrowing the swathes for arrivals and departures enables more planes to use the runway per unit time.

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Speculation that Whitehall logjam of work due to EU vote could push runway decision back to September

The Evening Standard reports that the Government may delay their decision on a runway until perhaps September, rather than July.  Patrick McLoughlin had said earlier (8th Feb) that he hoped there would be a decision before the summer recess (mid-July). However the government has such a “log-jam” of work caused by the EU referendum that, frankly, the runway issue is not top of the agenda. Insiders in government are said to believe the runway problem is only one of many major decisions competing for time in a one-month window between the referendum (23rd June) and the summer parliamentary recess (21st July). Many Whitehall departments are keen to get their decisions time-tabled to be taken in July. Parliament returns briefly between the 5th and the 15th, and it is considered possible that the government might make an announcement then. That way, there would be a runway decision (perhaps stating a location?) in time for the Party Conferences. However, it is possible there could be a longer delay. It is thought that No.10 is somewhat “paralysed” by its battle to win the referendum on June 23.” It is known that the DfT is having to carry out a considerable amount of further work on the runway options, to add to the work of the Airports Commission, and fill in gaps.

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Heathrow anti-3rd runway campaigners play aircraft noise in Central London to mark International Noise Awareness Day

Marking International Noise Awareness Day, Heathrow anti-third runway campaigners brought aircraft noise to the streets of Central London to illustrate the fact that London is the most overflown city in Europe. Campaigners from a range of organisations accompanied a lorry – blaring out loud aircraft noise through loudspeakers – at around the level people experience under the approach flight path – outside Europe House in Smith Square. This was to highlight the fact that already 28% of the people who are affected by aircraft noise right across Europe live under the Heathrow flight paths. After Smith Square, the lorry headed off back towards Heathrow, blaring its noise, approximately along the course of the arrivals flight path for a the new northern runway that Heathrow wants. European Commission’s figures show that over 725,000 people (see source and fact check below) are impacted by noise from Heathrow flights and another 25,000 by flights using London City airport. That is nearly a third of all people affected by aircraft noise right across Europe. John Stewart, the chair of HACAN, said that on noise grounds alone a new runway at Heathrow should be ruled out. Adding an extra 250,000 Heathrow flights per year is not a reasonable proposition.

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While Heathrow try to claim cost of surface access needed for 3rd runway is just £2.2 billion, TfL estimates cost of £18.4 billion

Heathrow’s management have claimed that only £1.2bn of public funds would be needed to upgrade local road and rail links, for its 3rd runway, while Heathrow itself would spend a further £1bn, making £2.2bn. The Airports Commission estimated the cost to be around 5.7bn, to include widening the M4 and tunnelling the M25 under the runway. But now TfL has come up with figures showing the total cost would be about £18.4bn, which is hugely more. TfL believes Heathrow and the Commission have substantially underestimated the amount of increased congestion the runway would cause on the roads, and on trains due to 30 million more annual passengers. They also did not take freight into account. The government has said whichever airport might be allowed a runway would have to meet all the costs which arise due to a new runway, and from which the airport would directly benefit. TfL has added the cost of other vital transport infrastructure, such as improving bus services, traffic management measures and alterations to the South West and Great Western Main Lines. TfL says none of the schemes in its £18.4bn figure are already committed, funded or planned. The Campaign for Better Transport said the money would be better spent elsewhere eg. on the Northern Powerhouse.

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New GACC research paper indicates higher Gatwick charges for runway could lead to airlines moving to other airports

There is a problem about how Gatwick would pay for a 2nd runway, bearing in mind the airlines that use it are not keen on extra charges. Local campaign GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) has produced a short research paper looking into the issue. Paying for a new Gatwick runway. They conclude that the steep rise in airport charges at Gatwick which would be needed to pay for a new runway could cause airlines to decamp to other airports such as Stansted or Luton. The GACC study is based on the estimates made by the Airports Commission that the cost of a new Gatwick runway would mean a rise in airport charges from the current £9 per passenger to £15 to £18, rising to £23 at the peak. Chairman of GACC, Brendon Sewill pointed out: “That is a rise of over 100% and would be serious shock for airlines. easyJet and BA have already expressed anxiety about higher charges, and their unwillingness to pay them. Stansted is at present half full and would be overjoyed to attract business from Gatwick.” Manchester airport is a salutary reminder of the risk; its new runway opened in 2000 but was followed by a fall in passenger numbers. Manchester airport is still only at about 60% of the capacity of a single runway. Competitive pressure from other airports could make the financing of a new Gatwick runway challenging.

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Defra and DfT set up JAQU (Joint Air Quality Unit) to deliver national plans to cut NO2 levels

A new joint unit between Defra and the DfT has been established, to deliver national plans to improve air quality and meet EU limits. The new body, the Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU) has been set up to do this and will be hosted at Defra. It will be led by Defra’s deputy director of flood risk management, Susanna May. The JAQU will report to Defra air quality minister, Rory Stewart, and Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Andrew Jones. It will focus on delivering the UK’s national air quality plans to reduce levels of NO2. These plans were publicly consulted on by Defra last year and include proposals to establish Clean Air Zones in five UK cities by 2020. The Unit will develop more detailed proposals for the Clean Air Zone framework and legislation to mandate zones in certain cities, with a view to consulting on these later this year. A number of Defra and DfT staff who worked to develop these plans have transferred into the new Unit. Day-to-day responsibility for air quality matters will remain with Defra. Work on aviation matters will still be taken forward by the DfT. The new unit is timely, as ClientEarth have been given permission to take further legal action against the government on its slow progress to improve UK air pollution.

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Advertising Standards Authority rules against misleading “Back Heathrow” ad claiming 60% support for runway

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned an advert from “Back Heathrow” claiming that most local people back Heathrow expansion. “Back Heathrow” is a lobby group, funded through Heathrow with the aim of pushing for the 3rd runway. Back Heathrow ran a regional press ad headlined “Rallying for the runway” with the line “Don’t believe the hype. Most people living in communities near Heathrow Airport support its expansion.” They claimed from polls there was 60% support. The ASA says the claim was misleading, and the 60% figure had only been massaged up from 50% to that level by omitting the 15% who did not express an opinion. The ASA considered most consumers were likely to understand it to mean that a clear majority of those surveyed in the poll (the original sample) were in support of expansion. They ruled that removing the 15% was “not a suitable methodology by which to draw such a conclusion, and was misleading. The ad must not appear again in its current form, and “Back Heathrow” must not repeat these claims ” unless it held robust substantiation for them.” This is a blow to “Back Heathrow,” the strategy of which has been to try to convince decision-makers that a majority of local people back a 3rd runway. That claim looks flimsy.

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Research paper done for GACC shows the techniques Gatwick uses to pay no UK corporation tax

It has been well known for several years that Gatwick airport uses a range of (legal) techniques and schemes to minimise its tax payments in the UK. Now a research paper – one of a series that local campaign GACC (the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) is producing – sets out much of the detail of how Gatwick does it. The paper shows how Gatwick earns revenues of over £630 million per year, and yet pays no corporation tax. While public attention – and anger – have concentrated on Google and Starbucks, Gatwick is playing the same game. It pays no tax by complicated arrangements that include a combination of tax allowances for capital investment and deductibility of interest on debt, aided by a tangled web of inter-related company ownership in tax havens such as Luxembourg, Guernsey and the Cayman Islands. This complexity is not available to small companies. GACC says its new study is not easy reading for the layman but will be of considerable interest to investors who may be asked to fund a new runway, and to the DfT, which is at present trying to work on the new SE runway issue. Currently EU Finance Ministers will meet in Amsterdam on Friday 22 April to toughen company tax rules. That could cast doubt on the financial viability of a 2nd runway if some of the tax deals are tightened by by the EU and the G20.

Click here to view full story…             “Gatwick Airport and Tax”  by Ian Harris 

Luton plans light rail link to speed transport, making it a stronger competitor against Gatwick

Luton plans to replace its much-maligned bus transfer service, from the station to the airport, and instead build a light rail link, costing £200 million. The 1.3 mile rail link could cut the journey time from London St Pancras to the Luton airport terminal to less than 30 minutes, which is faster than the time to Gatwick. It would connect to the terminal from within the Luton Airport Parkway railway station, one level above the platforms. A normal rail link has not been possible due to the steepness of the climb uphill to the terminal. The automated light rail service will be funded by Luton Borough Council, which owns the airport freehold and owns the necessary land. The role of the council will be controversial and the scheme will need to be scrutinised for conflict of interest. The airport is spending a further £110 million on redeveloping its terminals and layout to expand capacity from 9 million to 18 million passengers per year by 2020. EasyJet, the biggest airline using Luton, said the redevelopment was a key factor in its pledge to double the size of its operations there over the next decade. A planning application would be made in autumn for work to begin in 2017. The DfT is also working to enable travel between London and Luton by Oyster card or contactless payment by 2018.

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John Stewart wins Sheila McKechnie Long-Term Achievement Award as a campaigner

“1% inspiration and 99% perspiration – the secret to great campaigning” – according to John Stewart, who has been awarded the Long-Term Achievement Award by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation. John has been an environmental campaigner for over 30 years. In the 1980s and the 1990s he was centrally involved n the campaign against road building. He chaired and organised an umbrella group of campaigners across the UK, fighting a huge expansion plan for motorways and trunk roads. Then in the 1990s John became involved in campaigning against the aviation industry. He became Chair of HACAN in 2000, and after 2003 chaired a diverse coalition of campaigners which successfully defeated plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway in 2010. John chaired the AirportWatch network until 2014. He has also been Chair of the Campaign for Better Transport, and the UK Noise Association, as well as being on the steering group of the Campaign Against Climate Change. He has written a number of publications, including “Why Noise Matters”, in 2011. In 2008 John was voted Britain’s most effective environmental campaigner, by the Independent on Sunday. He is leading campaigns against the current Heathrow 3rd runway threat, and against unacceptable levels of aircraft noise.

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2nd runway at Dublin airport threatens Heathrow’s position as main IAG hub

Heathrow may face more competition for hub traffic from Dublin, if there is a 2nd runway in 2020 – and airlines prefer using Dublin rather than Heathrow. This might mean Heathrow being partly sidelined. In May 2015 Aer Lingus, the Irish flag carrier, was bought by IAG (International Airlines Group) – which owns British Airways. As part of IAG’s takeover there was the benefit of new routes and more long-haul flights from Dublin, where Aer Lingus is one of the two main airline customers, along with Ryanair. Willie Walsh, IAG’s CEO, said in 2015 that owning Aer Lingus would allow IAG “to develop our network using Dublin as a hub between the UK, continental Europe and North America, generating additional financial value for our shareholders”. Willie Walsh believed that buying Aer Lingus was a wise move, as it was “inevitable” that Dublin would get a 2nd runway in the next few years. IAG believes that it can expand the group’s flights via Dublin or Madrid – especially if there is no new runway at Heathrow. It could have the impact of removing business from Heathrow – British Airways is the largest airline there with around 50% of the slots.

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New study on effect of low ambient noise level on plane noise perception undermines Gatwick 2nd runway case

It is accepted that there is a difference in the way aircraft noise is perceived, depending on the level of background (ambient) noise. At its most obvious, someone standing near a noisy urban road will not notice the noise of a plane flying overhead as much as someone in a quiet location. GACC has commissioned work by Dutch noise experts, looking at the effect of ambient noise. The authors conclude that the % of annoyed residents is likely to be higher in areas with low ambient noise than in high ambient noise areas. The authors suggest that the number of people annoyed is likely to be higher than shown by Leq or Lden metrics, where local factors that influence annoyance are not taken into account. Gatwick is surrounded on 3 sides by designated tranquil areas such as the AONBs. GACC says that, with a 2nd runway, not only would three times as many people be affected by serious aircraft noise as now, but also – due to the effect of noise on quiet rural areas being under-estimated by the Airports Commission and by Gatwick – the usual comparisons between a large number of people annoyed by a new Heathrow runway and a smaller number at Gatwick are not valid. GACC say that, as well as a 3rd Heathrow runway, a 2nd Gatwick runway would also annoy a very large number of people. “Neither runway should be built.”

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“Flightpath 1.5” campaign launched to urge the UN’s ICAO to tackle aviation’s CO2 emissions by September

Leading environmental NGOs have launched FlightPath 1.5, a global campaign to cut aviation CO2 emissions and ensure that aviation contributes its fair share to the goal of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Aviation was not directly addressed in the COP21 Paris climate agreement in December 2015. The FlightPath 1.5 campaign is focused on ensuring that ICAO and its 191 Member States adopt a meaningful new agreement at the upcoming Assembly in September this year. If ICAO fails to take bold steps, aviation emissions are projected to triple by 2050, threatening to undermine efforts to limit planetary warming to no more than 1.5°C. The next Assembly won’t happen again for another three years, meaning that time is pressing to get an agreement. FlightPath 1.5 calls for capping and cutting CO2 emissions of the entire international aviation sector. It advocates an aggressive and transparent ICAO deal that: (1). Initially caps net CO2 emissions of international aviation at 2020 levels; (2) Encourages airlines to meet the cap by cutting their own emissions and lets them use market-based measures as well, if these deliver genuine cuts; and (3). Reviews the cap regularly, so that over time, aviation’s climate pollution can be ratcheted-down in line with the Paris target. The groups involved include AEF, Carbon Market Watch, Environmental Defense Fund, ICCT, T&E and WWF. http://www.flightpath1point5.org/

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Public referendum on Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport likely to be in June, and only for Loire-Atlantique département

Manuel Valls, Prime Minister of France, confirmed this week that the referendum on whether the new Nantes airport should go ahead, will only for the voters in the département of Loire-Atlantique. It would also be before the summer, in June. Two key issues about the referendum have been key: the date and the area covered. Keeping it only to Loire-Atlantique suits the government, backing the new airport plan, as it is believed there is more support for the airport there. One poll showed 51% support for the plan, 39% against and 10% undecided. Another poll showed 58% opposition across France as a whole. Opponents of the plan, and others involved, believe areas other than just Loire-Atlantique should be consulted, as they would be affected by environmental, economic and social impacts of the possible airport. The leaders of neighbouring departments such as Mayenne, Morbihan and the Maine-et-Loire have recently criticised the prospect of the consultation’s scope being limited to only the Loire-Atlantique. The Minister of Ecology, Ségolène Royal, defended the idea of the area being extended to the whole of the region Pays de la Loire. The government wants the poll early, so building work and evictions from the ZAD can be started by October. Work needs to start by then as there is a “declaration of public utility” lasting till October. It is likely that the referendum will be either on Sunday 19th or Sunday 26th June.

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Report by Mayor of London on runway issue: Boris pushes strongly for 4-runway hub in Thames estuary (or Stansted)

Boris Johnson, due to leave office as Mayor of London in early May, has delivered a blistering attack on a 3rd Heathrow runway – and put forward, again, his vision of a huge 4-runway hub airport in the inner Thames Estuary (“Boris Island”). The Airports Commission’s imperfect report came down definitively backing a Heathrow runway, and ruled out the estuary option for a range of geographical, cost and environmental reasons. Boris says, in a report entitled “Landing The Right Airport”, that a four-runway airport east of London is the only way to secure enough capacity. His other option is Stansted. He believes these sites “away from populated areas” were the “only credible solution”. Daniel Moylan, Boris’s aviation adviser, said the inner Thames estuary airport would cost £20bn to £25bn – with an extra £25bn required to building road and rail connections. He said the 3rd Heathrow runway is estimated to cost £18.6bn, not taking into account the cost of surface access and measures to stop congestion, which the new report claims could be as high as £20bn. The report concludes: “As part of its next phase of work, it is incumbent on Government to revisit the entire Airports Commission process and consider a full range of credible options – including alternative hub locations. A failure to do so will undermine any attempt to bring forward a National Policy Statement and leave a decision vulnerable to legal challenge.

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Mayor reveals cost to public health from noise due to Heathrow 3rd runway would be £20 – 25 bn over 60 years

A new report “Landing The Right Airport” published by the Mayor of London and TfL has revealed that the long term health effects of exposure to the extra noise – due to a 3rd Heathrow runway – would be valued at a staggering £20 to 25 billion over 60 years. The figure is derived using methodology from the WHO, which values each lost year of healthy life at £60,000. That reflects the increased risk of heart attack, stroke, dementia and other disorders shown to be linked to prolonged exposure to aircraft noise. TfL calculate that while there are now about 766,000 people affected by an “annoying” level of noise from Heathrow, if the speculative improvements in noise exposure proposed by the Airports Commission do not actually happen, there could be as many as 986,600 affected. There could also be between 98,900 and 277,100 people newly affected by plane noise for the first time. The runway would also expose 124 more schools and 43,000 school children to a level of aircraft noise proven to be damaging to learning. TfL also says the number of daily journeys to Heathrow by passengers and staff is expected to rise from 200,000 to 430,000 by 2050. “At some locations, non-airport passengers will be unable to join rail services because of crowding exacerbated by passengers travelling with luggage towards central London.”

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ClientEarth takes government back to court over the inadequate air quality improvement plan it produced in December

Environmental lawyers, ClientEarth, have launched a new legal challenge against the UK government due to its repeated failure to tackle illegal air pollution. In this latest round of legal action, ClientEarth has lodged papers at the High Court in London seeking judicial review and will serve papers on government lawyers shortly. As well as the UK Environment Secretary who is named as the defendant, Scottish and Welsh ministers, the Mayor of London and the DfT will also be served with papers as interested parties in the case. ClientEarth believes the government is in breach of a Supreme Court order to clean up air quality. The Supreme Court ordered DEFRA to produce new air quality plans to bring air pollution down to legal levels in the “shortest possible time”. But the the plans the government came up with, released on 17 December 2015, wouldn’t bring the UK within legal air pollution limits until 2025. The original, legally binding deadline passed in 2010. The papers lodged with the High Court ask judges to strike down those plans, order new ones and intervene to make sure the government acts. ClientEarth said: “As the government can’t be trusted to deal with toxic air pollution, we are asking the court to supervise it and make sure it is taking action.” ClientEarth are launching a fundraising campaign to help fund this work. #NO2DIRTYAIR

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Gatwick MPs call on Transport Secretary: “Gatwick Airport must end misleading air quality claims”

Gatwick is misleading local residents about the environmental impact of their plans to build a 2nd runway, a group of South East MPs warned today. The MPs expressed their concerns about air quality claims and night flights in a letter to the Transport Secretary,Patrick McLoughlin. The Gatwick Coordination Group (GCG) – the MPs in areas close to and affected by Gatwick – is asking Mr Mcloughlin to stop Gatwick from running advertising campaigns which contradict expert environmental evidence, and mislead their constituents. Gatwick has repeatedly claimed the area around the airport “has never and will never breach legal air quality limits” and that it is the “greener” option for expansion. But the MPs as well as councillors and local representatives say the airport’s claims ignore significant evidence in the Airports Commission’s report. The GCG are demanding Gatwick makes clear the real impact of a 2nd runway on the local environment to nearby residents. The GCG also object to the DfT “drawing up plans for night flights at an expanded Gatwick, which would subject over 60,000 people in the Gatwick area to over 20 hours of continuous aircraft noise. It is incredible to think that the DfT is contemplating this when the Airports Commission made a stronger case for Heathrow which included a clear and viable recommendation for a ban on night flights”.

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London City Airport appeal on expansion starts 15th March – blog by Alan on why Hacan East are fighting for the local communities

Newham Council granted planning approval in February for London City Airport’s plans for expansion, allowing an increase in the number of flights from 70,000 per year to 111,000 and almost double the number of passengers, up to 6 million a year by 2023. In March 2015 Boris Johnson refused the plans, on noise grounds. The airport appealed, and the hearing starts on 15th March. Alan Haughton, from the local campaign group Hacan East will be speaking at the appeal, against the airport’s plans, representing the interests of the local community. Alan has worked for many years, to oppose the high handed manner in which the airport (owned till very recently by GIP, as a means to make quick, huge, profit) rides roughshod over the interests of local people. In a blog, Alan explains why he and Hacan East have worked so hard, unpaid, to give their community a voice. Alan says: “What we see happening at London City Airport is happening across London. Developers and businesses, working closely with Local Councils, are forcing their will on Communities for profit. … We attend the Planning Enquiry with no QC, no legal representation, no ‘experts’. We can’t afford those. … For me though, it’s about justice, about community, about local residents and community groups standing together to defend our local environment.”

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Justine Greening believes Cameron and Cabinet will abandon Heathrow 3rd runway plans

Justine Greening, MP for Putney, long standing opponent of a 3rd Heathrow runway, and International Development Secretary, has said that David Cameron will abandon plans to build a 3rd Heathrow runway. She predicted that the Cabinet would conclude that Heathrow should not be expanded. Instead a new “long term” strategy should be drawn up to decide on a “sensible” future airport policy for the UK. The Telegraph says this risks a backlash and potential legal challenge from pro airport campaigners. Those wanting a new runway claim that it is needed to prevent flights and businesses going to other countries in Europe in the decades ahead. Last autumn Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary and Britain’s most senior civil servant, warned ministers not to comment on the runway issue before an announcement due to concerns that the final decision could be vulnerable to legal challenge by the losing side or its backers. Justine Greening said she did not think the Cabinet would back Heathrow as it was not a smart decision. “Trying to expand Heathrow is like trying to build an eight bedroom mansion on the site of a terraced house. It is a hub airport that is just simply in the wrong place.” She had said earlier that she might resign if Heathrow was granted a runway, but she my have changed her mind.

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AEF analysis of the ITC report: its “conclusion that environmental impacts should be no barrier to expansion is unfounded”

A new report published by the Independent Transport Commission (ITC), a think tank supported by Heathrow and Gatwick, has argued that environmental concerns should not prevent a new runway being built. Now the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF)has come out with a damning assessment. The report argues that “it is foreseeable that a range of solutions will enable forecasts of future growth to be delivered within acceptable environmental boundaries even without a “step-change” in technology”. AEF points out that what “acceptable environmental boundaries” are not clearly defined. On CO2 emissions AEF says the ITC has put too much faith in future market based measures to trade emissions, and used unjustifiably optimistic forecasts of fuel efficiency improvements (1.6% per year, when others expect 0.8% at best). On noise AEF says the ITC does not even consider health impacts, uses implausibly optimistic assumptions and some unclear use of noise measurements. On air pollution, the ITC argues this is largely not the airports’ responsibility and hopes levels will improve soon. AEF concludes: “Without clearer definitions of what constitutes “acceptable environmental boundaries”, and evidence that these can be achieved, the report’s conclusion that environmental impacts should be no barrier to expansion is unfounded.”

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“Independent” transport think tank, pro-runway, finds the environmental challenges can all (honestly…) be overcome …

Heathrow is well aware that it has an almost insurmountable set of environmental obstacles that, in any logical system, would make a 3rd runway out of the question. However, it keeps hoping that it can persuade enough key people that all is well, and all environmental problems will just melt away. Now, in a slightly desperate attempt to get politicians etc to ignore the evidence, a report has been done by an organisation called the “Independent Transport Commission.” This is a body partly funded by Heathrow, by Gatwick, by NATS and many others. The report “The sustainability of UK Aviation: Trends in the mitigation of noise and emissions”, written by RDC Aviation Ltd, sets out to show that the aviation industry can soon overcome problems of noise, air pollution and carbon emissions – and adding a new runway will be problem-free. The report is thin on good detail to back up these claims. It is high on hopes, aspirations and what could be termed “mindless optimism” that new technologies will work out well, and everything that could help the aviation industry will do so. None of the real problems of an expanding industry, with additional problems from the sheer increase in plane numbers are dealt with. A report, which is hard to describe as “independent” in any meaningful sense of the word, advocates sacrificing the environment if holds the industry’s growth back.

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Four councils affected by Heathrow threaten to take legal action against Government if it backs Heathrow runway

Four Conservative controlled councils – Hillingdon, Richmond upon Thames, Wandsworth and Windsor & Maidenhead councils – are preparing to sue the government over a proposed 3rd Heathrow runway. The four councils are near Heathrow, and affected adversely by it. The warning to David Cameron, from their lawyers, says an escalation in the number of flights would be “irrational and unlawful”. The legal letter to No 10 says court proceedings will be launched unless the Prime Minister categorically rules out expansion of Heathrow. It says “insurmountable environmental problems” around the airport mean it can never be expanded without subjecting residents to excessive pollution and noise. The councils have believed, since the launch of the (government appointed) Airports Commission’s final report, that it made a “flawed assessment” of Heathrow’s ability to deal with environmental issues (noise, NO2, and carbon emissions among them). The councils also say David Cameron’s previous promise – “No ifs, No buts, no 3rd runway” – had created a “legitimate expectation” among residents that there would be no runway. The authorities have appointed Harrison Grant, the solicitors that led a successful High Court challenge in 2010 against the former Labour government’s attempt to expand Heathrow.

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New academic paper shows how “Technology myths” are unduly influencing aviation climate policy

A new research study by a group of academics from a range of countries has looked at claims made by the aviation industry that it will achieve substantial carbon savings in future. They conclude that many of these claims could be described as “myths” as they have often just been used to give favourable publicity to the industry, before rapidly being proven to be over-hyped. Some of these technologies are alternative fuels, such as animal fats or jatropha; also solar power planes; or new forms of aircraft. None of these hoped-for technologies have any likelihood of making more than small contributions to future fuel efficiency. At best, they will be small improvements per plane – set against far larger growth of the industry – resulting in a large overall increase in carbon emissions. The authors make the point that the hype and the positive media coverage that the “myth” technologies permit are damaging. The unrealistic hopes for low carbon flying in future convinces politicians (who maybe happy to be so persuaded) to give the industry the benefit of the doubt, and permit its continuing growth – ever hoping for a marvellous new technology, just around the corner, which will lead to “sustainable” flying. The unjustifiably optimistic PR of the industry has implications for decisions such as that of a new runway in the south east.

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With referendum awaited, 10 – 15,000 attend another massive protest against new Nantes airport

On the 9th January, there were estimated to have been 20,000 people at huge protests against the planned new airport for Nantes in countryside at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. Then on 26th January, the local court confirmed that 11 families would be evicted from their homes on the ZAD (zone à défendre) within about two months. On 13th February, President Hollande declared there would be a referendum on whether the airport should be built. This has caused local concerns. But neither the date nor the exact questions, nor the scope of the consultation’s geographical area, have been settled. In response to the referendum proposal, the local campaign organised another massive demonstration (manifestation), to show the authorities the strength of feeling against the airport. Around 10,000 to 15,000 people came, from all across France. There are over 100 support committees across the country. They filled all 4 lanes of two local dual-carriageways, for many hours – in a peaceful protest, with a festival atmosphere. Two of the Heathrow 13 (spared prison on 24th February, with suspended 6 week sentences for their runway occupation) attended the protest, showing solidarity from the London campaign. Campaigners in Turkey, against the new Istanbul airport, also sent messages of support.

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London City airport sold to Canadian Pension funds, for £2 billion (bought by GIP in 2006 for £760 million)

A Canadian-led consortium of pension funds has beaten rivals to buy London City airport, from GIP, which paid £760 million for it. So that is a hefty profit. The valuation has proved controversial because the largest airline at City airport, BA, threatened to pull most of its aircraft out of the airport if the new owner raised airline charges to cover the high sale price. Willie Walsh, CEO of BA’s owner IAG, considers £2 billion a foolish price. GIP owns 75% of the airport, and Oaktree Capital own 25%. The consortium that has bought the airport is led by the Ontario Teachers’ pension fund. It includes Borealis Infrastructure, which manages funds for one of Canada’s largest pension funds, and also Japanese pension funds. The consortium also includes AimCo and Kuwait’s Wren House Infrastructure Management, which is an investment vehicle owned by the Kuwait Investment Authority. The Canadian Teachers’ pension fund has $160bn in assets, and already owns 4 airports (share of Birmingham, Bristol, Brussels and Copenhagen). HS1 Ltd is jointly owned by Borealis Infrastructure and Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, both Canadian pension funds. GIP bought the airport for an estimated £750m in 2006 from Dermot Desmond, the Irish financier, who paid just £23.5m for it in 1995 from Mowlem.

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Heathrow 13 get suspended, 6 week, prison sentences with community service and fines

February 24, 2016

Relief and joy after sentencing

The Heathrow 13 sentencing took place at Willesden Magistrates court, with the defendants fully expecting that all, or most, of them would be given custodial sentences. A crowd of about 300 cheered the Heathrow 13 as they arrived, and remained outside – with speeches and music – all day. By lunch time, mitigations had been discussed for all the defendants, and they emerged for lunch. Finally at about 4pm, the news filtered out to the crowd that all 13 had 6 weeks prison sentences, suspended for one year. The term could have been 13 weeks, but was reduced to 6 weeks as they had properly considered safety and were all of good character. In addition, ten have to do 120 hours of community service, and 3 (those with previous convictions) have to do 180 hours. There will also be fines, ranging from £500 to £1,000. It was learned that an email had been sent to the court, that morning, from Sir David King – past chief scientist to the UK government – saying that the defendants should not be imprisoned, as their concerns about carbon emissions are justified. Delighted have their freedom, the activists say the campaign against any new runway will continue. One commented that what was intended as a deterrent to climate direct action seems to had the opposite effect.  And six minute video by the Heathrow 13, on their reactions, fears etc.

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“Hurdles” campaign shows the seven insurmountable hurdles faced by a Heathrow 3rd runway

The combined groups opposed to a 3rd Heathrow runway have started a “Seven Hurdles” campaign, setting out some of the key problem posed by a new runway. The hurdles that would have be overcome would be: security, homes, noise, air pollution, costs, carbon emissions, and opposition. An Advan is touring parts of London that would be affected by a new runway, and will be in action for three days, stopping off at various key places. It began its trip on Monday 22nd at Chiswick Town Hall, to a lively reception from the local group, CHATR (Chiswick Against the Third Runway), before heading west. On 23rd it was in Westminster, and in central and east London, and then outside the court in Willesden on 24th, for the sentencing of the Heathrow 13. The details of the seven hurdles are explained in short briefings. They include the 725,000 people already affected by Heathrow plane noise; the increased risk of accident if there are another 50% more flights; the impossibility of the UK meeting its carbon targets if aviation is allowed further expansion; and the cost of at least £5 billion from the UK taxpayer to pay for surface access infrastructure. Not to mention huge and passionate opposition by thousands.

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Short briefing on why the  #Heathrow13  are so concerned about the carbon emissions caused by a new runway

Briefing setting out key facts about Heathrow, a 3rd runway, carbon emissions – and why the #Heathrow13 took action. The carbon arguments against a runway are compelling.                            Briefing:    New-Runway-and-CO2

Airport noise community groups write to David Cameron calling for review of airspace policy

In an open letter to David Cameron, which was co-ordinated through the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF), community groups concerned about the impacts of flight path changes have called on the Government to bring forward a review, both of airspace policy and the process for consultation and engagement. The letter describes the current approach for making airspace changes as “not fit for purpose” and demands that a moratorium on flight path trials and airspace decisions is introduced until a new policy is put in place. Flight path trials over the last few years have led to significant community disturbance around major airports across the UK, especially where communities have been overflown for the first time. In many cases, flight path trials were cancelled early following vociferous reactions from the public. The Government and the CAA were expected to consult on proposals to change the policy and process for making changes to flight paths early this year. However, this has been delayed until at least the summer, when the Government will make a statement on a possible new runway. The letter’s 24 signatories stress that the airspace policy review is required urgently to address existing problems and should be independent of any future decisions on airport capacity.

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Witness statement by Prof Alice Bows-Larkin for Heathrow 13 trial clearly shows CO2 problem of a new runway

Alice Bows-Larkin, a Professor in Climate Science and Energy Policy at MACE at Manchester University, gave written evidence at the trial of the Heathrow 13, for their action at Heathrow in July 2015. Her witness statement (11 pages + references) is a closely argued and highly expert assessment of the need for the emissions from aviation to be restricted. It is well worth reading. Just a few of the points she raises are that the UK has signed up to the ambition of the Paris Agreement to keep global temperature rise to below 2 degrees C. This is not consistent with an increase in the CO2 emissions from UK aviation above their capped level. There is no justification for international aviation to be excluded for global ambitions to limit CO2. Even if there is some carbon trading scheme, aviation needs to be fully included. If ‘negative emission sources’ that can remove CO2 from the air (unlikely) “do not materialise in time, ‘well below 2°C’ will only be achieved by a wholesale shift away from fossil fuel combustion. This would mean that CO2 produced by the aviation sector would also need to be reduced to near zero. This … would be largely uncontested.” Prof Larkin says in ther view the Government’s intention to build a new runway, raising UK aviation CO2 emissions, “implies a misunderstanding by UK Government of the scale of CO2 mitigation that a 2°C goal relies upon – let alone a ‘well below’ 2°C target.”                                                       Her witness statement: Heathrow13-evidence-from-Prof-Alice-Bows-Larkin Jan 2016

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Residents ‘adopt’ the 13 Plane Stupid activists facing jail over Heathrow runway occupation

There was a great atmosphere on Valentines Day in the Five Bells pub in Harmondsworth, as 13 residents,most of whom face losing their homes if a 3rd runway is built, each ‘adopted’ one of the 13 Plane Stupid activists who face jail after occupying a runway at Heathrow. There was a specially-made Valentines Day cake, with the words; “Heathrow – you’re breaking our hearts.” The ‘adopters’ each drew the name of the activist they would ‘adopt’. They have promised to write to the activists and support them in any way they can, if they go to jail. A second remarkable cake, with the face and name of each of the Heathrow 13, was made by the mum of one of the activists, Cameron Kaye. John Stewart, chair of HACAN, the residents’ group which opposes a new runway, said, “The event was good fun. There was a warm mood of mutual support in the room. It was made 100% clear that the activists won’t be alone when they are sentenced in 10 days time. Residents and direct action protesters are united as one in their determination to stop a third runway.” The serious purpose of the event was to show “the bond of unity there is between the people who put their bodies on the line at Heathrow and the residents who face losing their homes.”

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François Hollande announces there will be a local referendum on the contentious new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes

In late January, the court in Nantes ruled that the remaining people living in the “ZAD”, where the planned airport would be at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, should start to be removed after 25th March. However, now President Hollande – realising that this has become an issue of huge national significance and hours after three Green lawmakers joined his cabinet as part of a government reshuffle – has said there will be a local referendum to decide if the new airport should happen. Hollande hopes to put an end to the matter, which has dragged on for years, with elections in France in 2017. The referendum may not be popular with proponents of the airport, though some consider there is a majority in support locally. It is also a concern for opponents, who ask: who will be polled – from how far around Nantes? People from Rennes and Brittany? What will the questions be? Will the alternatives be given? However, François Hollande has said the schedule is settled: “Work must begin in October. If the answer is yes in the referendum, everyone will have to accept the airport. If its “No” we all know that it is a project that has been spearheaded by the government, the government will have to assume the consequences.” The evictions cannot proceed, now there is to be a referendum. The 11 families, including 4 farms, are given a breathing space.

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Figures reveal that passenger journeys to and from Heathrow are increasingly been made by road

New statistics from the DfT reveal that passenger journeys to and from Heathrow airport are increasingly been made by road. The figures, issued in response to a FoI request made by the Teddington Action Group (TAG), show that passenger journeys by car and taxis rose by 2,000,000 in 2014 (the last year for which figures are available). In 2013, the aggregate number of private car and taxi/minicab journeys was 25 million. In 2014 they had risen to 27 million (an increase of nearly 10%). TAG says this trend would appear to call into question the assertion made by John Holland Kaye (CEO of Heathrow) on 4th November 2015 to Parliament’s EAC, that there has been no increase in polluting vehicular journeys in the vicinity of the airport. He had been asked how Heathrow could meet Air Quality targets with a 3rd runway (when an increase of up to 54% in passenger journeys to and from the airport might be anticipated). Heathrow has a show-stopper problem for its runway plans, from air pollution. It needs to get its passengers and its staff to get to (and from) the airport by rail. In 2014, 59% of passengers arrived by car, taxi or minicab. Another 13% arrived by bus or coach. 28% arrived by rail or by Tube. Getting passengers out of their cars will be hard. The air pollution from Heathrow’s air freight is already a problem, let alone if volume was doubled.

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Changes brought in by NATS on February 4th mean new noise ghettos in east London due to London City flights

On 4th February, NATS implemented the first phase of its LAMP (London Airspace Management Programme). It says this was approved by the CAA in November 2015. It means that routes into and out of London City airport will be altered, and routes will be concentrated – using PR-NAV (precision navigation). The changes involve use of a “point merge” system for arrivals, with the joining points to the ILS out at sea. They will mean all the planes from Westerly departures will be routed over for Bow, Leyton, Leytonstone, Wanstead, Redbridge, Barkingside, Collier Row and Harold Hill. For Easterly departures, all the planes will be routed over Barking Riverside, Dagenham, Elm park and Hornchurch. And for Easterly arrivals, all the planes will be routed over Bexley, Sidcup, New Eltham, Mottingham, Catford, Dulwich Village, Herne Hill, Brixton, Stockwell and Vauxhall. The changes are described by NATS in glowing terms – about “more efficient flights, saving fuel and reducing CO2 emissions, reducing noise, keeping aircraft higher for longer and minimising areas regularly overflown.” And, of course, enabling more flights to be crammed into crowded airspace – to enable the aviation industry to increase the number of flights. HACAN East is talking to its lawyers about a JR against the CAA for failure to consult.

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Andrew Tyrie, Chair of Treasury Select Committee, says economic case for a new runway unclear and based on “opaque” information

Proper research may show  the UK does not need a runway at all.   The letter                 Andrew Tyrie, is the chairman of the influential Commons Treasury select committee. He has now said parliament and the public had been left partly in the dark on the case for a new runway, because the Airports Commission’s analysis is not good enough. He said the decision on airport expansion is being taken on the basis of information that was “opaque in a number of important respects.” Mr Tyrie said the robustness of the Airports commission’s conclusions could not be determined from the information in its report. “Parliament has demanded more transparency over the environmental case. At least as important is the economic case.” Mr Tyrie said it was impossible to tell if the potential economic benefits for the UK of the proposals by Heathrow or Gatwick differed significantly from one another, or even if the benefits of building either are significantly different from not building any new runways. “A decision as controversial as this — one that has bedevilled past governments for decades — requires as much transparency as reasonably possible.” Andrew Tyrie has written to George Osborne calling for more details of the calculations that led to the Commission recommending a Heathrow runway. He also also called for the process to be moved from the DfT to the Treasury.

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Arrivals Review for Gatwick suggests a range of measures to slightly reduce the noise problem

The Arrivals Review, by Bo Redeborn and Graham Lake, has now been published. It has made a series of recommendations for ways in which the aircraft noise problem might be slightly reduced – without limiting the capacity of the airport at all. These recommendations are copied below. The report is wide-ranging, with a lot of issues covered. Below just what is says on four topics (chosen arbitrarily by AirportWatch, to give a taster of the report) is included. These are 1). The decision to move the joining point onto the ILS to be a minimum of 8nm from touchdown, rather than the 10nm used at present. 2). Changing the way Gatwick uses its runway in nil or low wind. 3). Deterring flights being delayed to take-offs occur during the night period, as a Key Performance Indicator. 4). The noise complaints policy needs to be improved. (The review comments: “the current limit of one noise complaint per day per household is considered wholly unacceptable by those residents addressing this issue with the review. It is easy to understand their point of view.”) They propose: “that Gatwick should establish an enhanced complaints policy with no daily limit and a fully transparent procedure, as soon as possible, using an on-line form as the sole electronic complaint registration medium.” The Review also recommends the establishment of a Noise Management Board (NMB) by summer 2016.

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“Heathrow13” climate protesters found guilty of aggravated trespass – sentencing 24th February, possibly for prison

Thirteen members of the Plane Stupid campaign group who occupied the eastern end of Heathrow’s northern runway on 13th July 2015 have been found guilty of aggravated trespass and entering a security-restricted area of an aerodrome. They have been told it is almost inevitable they will face a prison term. Their defence had been that their actions were intended to prevent death or serous illness to people. However, district judge Deborah Wright (who sat alone) said the cost of the disruption at Heathrow was “absolutely astronomical”. Those convicted were clapped and cheered as they left the court. They have been bailed to appear for sentencing on 24 February. A statement released by the #Heathrow13 following their convictions read: “Today’s judgement demonstrates that the legal system does not yet recognise that climate defence is not an offence. We took action because we saw that it was sorely needed. When the democratic, legislative and processes have failed, it takes the actions of ordinary people to change them.” They say instead of the government taking action to cut carbon emissions, it is intending to spend millions making the problem bigger, if another runway is allowed. Though the judge recognised “They are all principled people” she considered what the protesters did was “symbolic and designed to make a point, not to save lives”.

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Patrick McLoughlin hints that EU referendum could delay runway decision, even beyond this summer

One of the many omissions by the Airports Commission, in its analysis of whether a runway should be built, and its recommendation, is the impact of the UK leaving the EU. It was not considered. Clearly, if the UK did leave Europe after a referendum, there would be complicated economic impacts – which would take years to work through. Now the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, speaking in an interview on LBC, has said there could indeed be a delay in the government making a decision due to the referendum and the uncertainty about that. Asked when there would be a decision, he replied: “I hope later this year. We have said we would hope to move some way by the summer of this year.” And he went on: “There’s lots of other things which are going on in the political spectrum – if there’s a referendum this summer, and the like. But I would hope by the summer of this year we will be able to make progress.” There is no mention at all of the issue in the Airports Commission’s final report in July 2015 nor in the many supporting documents, nor in its interim report, in December 2013. David Cameron has said the EU referendum will happen by the end of 2017. It may happen as early as June or July 2016.

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Supportive protest outside start of Plane Stupid’s #Heathrow13 trial for Heathrow incursion in July

The trial of the 13 members of Plane Stupid, who broke into Heathrow airport on 13th July, started at Willesden Magistrates Court on 18th. They are charged with Aggravated Trespass and entering a security restricted area. Their protest caused the cancellation of some 25 flights, which saved an estimated 250 tonnes of CO2. In doing so, they argue that helped to save lives in the Global South, by making a small cut in the emissions that fuel climate chaos. All 13 are pleading not guilty, and say their action was reasonable and justified in the climate context. They say “Climate defence is not an offence!” The judge hearing the case, by herself, is Judge Wright. The prosecution has been brought by the CPS. There was a large gathering outside the court, for the start of the trial, with many groups expressing their solidarity. This started with a short statement by the #Heathrow13 on their defence, before they entered the court to repeated chants of “No ifs, No Buts, No new runways!” Judge Wright declared that the fact that aviation fuel is linked to climate change is indisputable. The judge is looking at two issues: 1. Did the 13 genuinely believe their actions were necessary to prevent death or serious illness? And 2. Whether objectively their actions were reasonable and proportionate in order to prevent death or serious illness.

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Green Party argue that site of London City Airport should become a multi-use development, for homes and businesses

The idea of closing London City Airport and using the huge amount of land it takes up for more intensive, and useful, purposes is not new. A report was produced in April 2014 by NEF, setting out very persuasive reasons why this is not a crazy idea. Now Sian Berry, the Green Party Mayoral Candidate, has again suggested this. The plan she proposes is for the site, which is currently up for sale, into a new quarter for homes, businesses and innovative industries. The Greens propose a consortium with City Hall, councils, business and academia to buy the airport. They are urging potential purchasers to look seriously at the compelling business case for changing the use of the site. The land taken up by the airport, and land around it which is in the Public Safety Zone (for crash risk) and so cannot be used, could create far more economic activity, and far more jobs. This might amount to some 16,000 more jobs than the airport provides and add an additional £400 million to the UK’s economy. The land is in a key geographical location, and would be easy to link to transport networks. It could create thousands of new homes within easy reach of central London, helping to ease the housing crisis. As a writer from Estates Gazette says: “London is crying out for more big sites like this where mixed-use schemes can be built.” The site is wasted as a small airport – especially when Crossrail makes the trip from the Docklands area to Heathrow easy and fast.

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AEF report finds UK’s out-of-date aircraft noise policies putting the health of over one million people at risk

A new report by the AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) has identified that the Government’s aircraft noise policies are risking the health of over one million people and an urgent policy rethink is needed ahead of runway decisions in 2016. Aircraft noise is associated with increased risk of increased blood pressure, and higher risk of heart attack, heart disease and stroke. Health is also detrimentally affected through sleep disturbance and annoyance. Aircraft noise impedes the memory and learning ability of school children. The UK’s aircraft noise policy has not been updated in line with this mounting evidence base, with some noise policies based on studies dating back to the early 1980s. The Government’s lack of response to emerging evidence on noise may be costing the UK £540 million each year.The noise problem is particularly acute at Heathrow, including many affected schools, but there are serious problems at many other airports too. The health burden is not just experienced close to airports, with high levels of noise miles from the runway. The current policy on flight paths does not consider the impact of sudden changes, or the health impacts of newly affected communities. The report calls for the Government to act now to reduce the health burden from aircraft noise. Long-term noise targets are needed to protect health, and all noise policies should be reviewed in the light of these targets. A new runway should only be permitted if the noise burdens are reduced.

The report: “Aircraft Noise and Public Health: the evidence is loud and clear”


Estimated 20,000 protesters from across France demonstrate massive opposition to proposed Nantes airport

Organisers of the massive peaceful protest on the 9th January, against the proposed new Nantes airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes estimated there were 20,000 people at the demonstration. The aim was to show the massive opposition there is to the airport, and especially to the forced eviction of the 11 families and 4 farmers from land on the planned construction site. At the protest, traffic was halted on the Nantes ring road, using dozens of tractors and blocking access to the city’s airport, Nantes Atlantique. Protesters say that the €580 million project is not necessary,will be detrimental to the environment and is a wasteful use of government funds.The battle against this development has been going on for 15 years, and has become a focal issue across France, against unnecessary high carbon projects that damage the environment or uproot people. There are over 100 support committees in places across France. The airport would require the loss of valuable marshy habitat, home to important wildlife, and good agricultural land. Some agricultural organizations threatened to maintain an indefinite blockade of one of the main river crossings, the Chevire Bridge over the Loire. Clashes between protesters and the authorities in 2012 resulted in a temporary halt to construction. The last major protest resulted in clashes with police in February 2014. There was a legal hearing in Nantes about the evictions on Tuesday 13th January – with again a huge crowd outside – the outcome is expected to be known on 25th January.

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Sunday Times reports how Heathrow has paid its owners dividends of £2.1 billion since 2012 – but just £24 million in Corporation Tax

The Sunday Times reports that Heathrow has paid its owners back £2.1 billion in dividends, starting in 2012. But it has only paid a total of £24 million in corporation tax since 2006, with that payment being last year. Heathrow’s owners are rewarded whenever the value of the airport increases. If new airport infrastructure is built, the passengers pay for it through the £20 cost on their ticket (and other spending), and the owners benefit.. The CAA calculates how much is spent on investment, and allows Heathrow’s investors to earn a return on the total. The more Heathrow spends, the more its backers can earn. If Heathrow was to spend £17.6 billion on its expansion, the value of the airport would be considered to have increased that much. Due to the huge debts Heathrow has (£12.5 billion out of the £16 billion Ferrovial paid in 2006) the airport’s banks prevented dividends to owners, until 2012. They got £240 million in 2012, which has risen to £2.1 billion. Some of the proceeds of the sale of Gatwick, Edinburgh etc has been used for dividends. The Sunday Times says: …”with a debt-to-assets ratio of about 85% is one of the most heavily indebted airports in the world.” Heathrow will have to recoup the money by high passenger charges, years before the runway is built and open, as otherwise Heathrow’s massive investors are not prepared to take the financial risk. Heathrow is no longer a company quoted on the stock exchange, but that could happen in future.

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“Gatwick Obviously NOT” given permission to take their JR of the CAA  (for changing flight paths without consultation) to the Appeal Court

The group, “Gatwick Obviously NOT” (GON) has received the welcome news that their appeal to be allowed to make a Judicial Review (JR) against the CAA has been successful. They have now won Permission to go to a Full Hearing in the Appeal Court. In March 2015, Martin Baraud, the Chair of GON, served a JR upon the CAA, with Gatwick Airport Ltd and the Secretary of State for Transport as an ‘Interested Party’. The “Ground of Claim” is that there has indeed been a change in the use of airspace and that the CAA should first have consulted on such change before it was put into effect by GAL and NATS. In August, they were refused permission to proceed with the JR. Taking advice from their QC, John Steel, they appealed. GON say the judge, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, while refusing the Permission, added a postscript, seeming to suggest that there may be an issue about the need for consultation for ‘seismic’ events (such as the flight path changes introduced without notice) that is more a matter for the law-makers, not the lawyers. Now GON are pleased that the Judge The Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Burnett has stated that the case – very significantly – must be held in the Appeal Court rather than the High Court. This is in order to “‘obtain an authoritative ruling on the meaning of relevant provisions, which govern similar arrangements at airports other than Gatwick”.

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2,000 small “No 3rd runway” planes planted near Parliament (one for each plane using Heathrow per day with a new runway)

A large group of Heathrow anti-runway campaigners gathered near Parliament, in Victoria Gardens, to plant rows of small black planes, each with the message “No 3rd Runway.” The number planted – 2,000 – is the number of aircraft that would used Heathrow per day, with a fully used 3rd runway. That is a total of 730,000 flights per year, up from the total cap at present of 480,000 per year. Heathrow says it could be 740,000 flights …. The event, timed to coincide with the first day Parliament resumes this year, was to highlight the fact that 2016 will be a grim year for residents if a 3rd runway is given the go-ahead. Of the 2,000 planes, about 500 were planted by HACAN; about 400 by CHATR (the group in Chiswick); about 300 by Friends of the Earth; and about 800 by SHE – Stop Heathrow Expansion – to symbolise that around 800 homes would be demolished for the runway. After the government delayed its decision on a runway, expected in December, until some time in summer 2016, or shortly after the summer, the anguish and uncertainty for all those facing the threat of a new runway continue. There are yet more stressful and worrying months ahead – but the campaign against the Heathrow 3rd runway is in fighting form, and ever more determined.

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Prof David Metz: “The solution to London’s airport capacity crisis? Do nothing”

David Metz is an Honorary professor of transport studies at UCL. He has written a sensible assessment of what should be done with the alleged “crisis” of London’s airport capacity. He says for “road travel, “predict and provide” has been largely abandoned by developed economies. These days the favoured approach is called “managing demand”. This method works on the basis that attempting to meet an ever-growing demand is impractical…” “what would happen if we didn’t build another runway at all? For air travel, the answer lies within the market. Three–quarters of passengers are on leisure trips…”… “The case for more airport capacity to support inbound tourism is weak. While London’s hospitality, entertainment and retail sectors would welcome more visitors, Britain has a negative balance of trade in tourism: that is, British people abroad spend a lot more each year than overseas visitors to the UK.”…”If we decided not to build a further runway at Heathrow, the market would respond to this capacity constraint by accommodating the most valuable passengers through price increases.”…”The growth of business travel would displace leisure travel, both within aircraft on existing routes and between routes, where time is traded against money.”… “Managing the demand for air travel though market mechanisms is a viable alternative to building more airport capacity”

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Lilian Greenwood displays the confused thinking of Labour in its enthusiasm for a runway

The Labour party remains in a mess on what to do on runways. They have a position of stating that “Labour will study the government’s proposals carefully, alongside any additional material that is commissioned, and we will respond on the basis of our four tests for aviation expansion. These are: 1.That robust and convincing evidence was produced that the Commission’s recommendations would provide sufficient capacity. 2. That the UK’s legal climate change obligations could still be met. 3. That local noise and environmental impacts can be managed and minimised. 4. That the benefits of any expansion were not confined to London and the South East.” But, though Lilian Greenwood, the Shadow Transport Secretary herself bought up a bit of Airplot in 2009 to prevent a Heathrow runway, she now says: “There is no doubt … that we need a new runway.” And “Aviation expansion is a matter of national significance and, having committed to addressing the problem head on, David Cameron faces a loss of credibility if he ducks the issue now. The UK needs additional capacity, but the prospect of any expansion is now in doubt.” But Labour itself says the runway has to meet the 4 conditions. And in reality that is not possible. So Labour’s position?

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DEFRA produces plan to improve air quality – Client Earth regards it as inadequate

A ruling by the Supreme Court in April 2015 required the government to produce a comprehensive plan to meet air pollution limits by December. The government has now produced this. The intention is that it has to include low emission zones, congestion charging and other economic incentives. It is thought that due to the failure to meet European limits of harmful NOx gases, which are mostly caused by diesel traffic, there are up to 9,500 premature deaths each year in London alone. Under the government’s plan, “Clean Air Zones” will be introduced – by 2020 – in areas of Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton where pollution is most serious. However, though vehicles like old buses, taxis, coaches and lorries have to pay a charge to enter these zones – private passenger cars will not be charged. Also newer vehicles that meet the latest emission standards will not need to pay. Client Earth, the lawyers who brought the legal case against the UK government, for breaching the EU’s Air Quality Directive, said the plan falls far short of the action necessary to comply with the Supreme Court ruling, and they will make a legal challenge to force the government to take faster action to achieve legal pollution limits. “As soon as possible,” or by 2020, is not soon enough.

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Gatwick re-hashes its plans to add runway capacity in 4 phases, rather than all at the start

Gatwick are hoping they can get some advantage over Heathrow, by making much of their plans to develop the extra runway capacity in phases – not building all the ancillary infrastructure at the start. This in fact has been their plan for a long time – it is nothing new. The Airports Commission assessed it in 2014. Gatwick may not be able to secure the necessary funding to build everything at once, and only be able to pay for it over many decades. Gatwick hope to build the runway and basic third terminal in the first phase, costing about £3 billion, by 2025. This would increase capacity to about 63 million passengers, from a maximum now of 45 million. The 2nd and 3rd phases would expand the terminal, build new aircraft gates and fully divert the A23 around the airport. The 4th phase would be the completion of the terminal and piers, while finishing off taxiways for passenger jets by 2040. The aim would be to add more as passenger numbers build up. The Airports Commission always saw the numbers of passengers rising only slowly at Gatwick, and taking a long time to double (not even taking account of the higher costs to pay for the runway etc, that would be passed to passengers, reducing demand).That does indicate that there is no great pent up demand for a huge number more flights. Let alone business flights to emerging economies.

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Long awaited Government statement on runways – decision will be delayed till summer 2016 – more work needed

After a meeting of the Cabinet Airports Sub-Committee, a statement was finally put out by Patrick Mcloughlin, the Secretary of State for Transport, at 7pm. It said that the government confirms it supports the building of a new runway in the south east, to add capacity by 2030 (earlier airports claimed they could have a runway built by 2025). The decision on location is “subject to further consideration on environmental impacts and the best possible mitigation measures.” All three short listed schemes will continue to be considered – so Gatwick is still included. “The government will undertake a package of further work and we anticipate that it will conclude over the summer.” On air pollution and carbon emissions “The government faces a complex and challenging decision on delivering this capacity.” More work is needed on NO2. “The government expects the airports to put forward ambitious solutions. …The mechanism for delivering planning consents for airport expansion will be an ‘Airports national policy statement’ (NPS), following which a scheme promoter would need to apply for a development consent order.”… “At the first opportunity I will make a statement to the House to make clear our plans.”

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The exclusion of international aviation & shipping CO2 from Paris COP21 deal makes 2°C limit close to impossible

The Paris climate agreement text has now dropped mention of international aviation and shipping. The weak statement that has been removed only said that parties might “pursue the limitation or reduction of greenhouse gas emissions” through ICAO “with a view to agreeing concrete measures addressing these emissions, including developing procedures for incorporating emissions from international aviation and marine bunker fuels into low-emission development strategies.” Even that has gone, so there is no ambition for CO2 regulation. Transport & Environment (T&E) says this has fatally undermined the prospects of keeping global warming below 2°C. The CO2 emissions of these two sectors amount to about 8% of emissions globally. In recent years their emissions have grown twice as fast as the those of the global economy – an 80% rise in CO2 output from aviation and shipping between 1990 and 2010, versus 40% growth in CO2 emissions from global economic activity – and they are projected to grow by up to 270% in 2050. They could be 39% of global CO2 emissions by 2050 if left unregulated. After 18 years of being supposed to come up with measures to tackle aviation emissions, ICAO has done almost nothing – and little is expected of it.

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Airports Commission not only downplayed crash risk of new runway, but got the word “crash” removed from report title

Many people are very concerned about the safety implications of adding another runway, especially at Heathrow, where hundreds of thousands of people are over flown. It has now been shown that though the Airports Commission (AC) did have a study done by the Health & Safety Laboratory (HSL), in May 2015, it downplayed its findings. The Standard says that confidential documents and emails it obtained showed the AC, which backed a third runway, got the title of an independent study on aircraft crashes changed to remove the word “crash”. Unsurprisingly and obviously, adding another 50% more planes at Heathrow, or 100% more at Gatwick would increase the risk of a crash. The Standard says the AC rejected “risk maps” showing the increased likelihood of an aircraft crash around London airports if expansion went ahead. Instead the AC’s Final Report said “ the changes to the background crash rate are minimal, regardless of whether or not expansion takes place at the airports.” It failed to mention the HSL conclusions that the likelihood of a crash on take-off or landing increased by up to 60% with a 3-runway Heathrow and doubled under one scenario with a 2-runway Gatwick. Daniel Moylan said the cover-up was “truly shocking.” People living under approach routes (higher risk than take-offs) should know their risks. The future flight paths are not yet know, so those living under them are unaware of the risk. The dangers of drones, laser beams and terrorism are not included – nor the risk to those on the ground.

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Government likely to delay any runway announcement till well after Mayoral election in May 2016

The BBC reports that “senior sources very close to the process” have said that the decision by the government on whether to build a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick is going to be delayed for at least six months. That means after the Mayoral elections in London, in early May – and would make it less difficult and awkward for the government, with Zac Goldsmith (vehemently against a Heathrow runway) standing as Tory candidate. The source said the government needs to have more “confidence building” about the environmental impact of a new runway at Heathrow. That is largely about local air quality, but also noise and carbon emissions. The BBC believes that means yet another review, and it does not rule out a runway at Gatwick. Both Heathrow and Gatwick are going to have to come up with convincing proposals, over coming months, about how they will deal with the environmental problems. They are not going to find it easy. The BBC says government also wants to get more money out of the “chosen” airport, for local compensation schemes. It is expected that the runway decision will be taken by the Economic and Domestic Cabinet sub-committee,which Cameron chairs, on Thursday 10th, the prime minister chairs. The outcome is likely to be announced on the same day (probably in Parliament by Patrick McLouglin?

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“No 3rd Runway” Protest Advan tours areas of London and the Home Counties – for 3 days, along potential new flight path routes

An Advan, with a “No third runway” message plastered on its side, will be touring a range of areas, in London and in the Home Counties, that will be affected if there was to be a new runway. In some areas it is being met by local residents, or councillors or MPs. The van will be inaction for three days, Thursday 3rd, Friday 4th and Saturday 5th December. A coalition of groups has come together to sponsor the van. On Friday a car playing aircraft noise, illustrating how it would be like under a flight path, will follow the van along the route of the 3rd runway arrival flight path across London. All the local groups along the Advan’s route, and many others, know a 3rd runway would mean intense plane noise and being under a flight path for the first time. They are working together to put out a strong message that they will fight any new runway, tooth and nail. The Government is expected to decide before Christmas whether it is minded to give the green light to a third runway at Heathrow or a second runway at Gatwick.

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Stansted airport slowly starting to make up passenger losses from 8 years ago, wants raised passenger cap + wants another runway in 10 years

The owners of Stansted Airport, MAG, are continuing to say they will be wanting a new runway in the next 10 years or so. The numbers of passengers using Stansted fell every year between a peak in 2007 of 23.7 million passengers, to a low of 17.5 million in 2012, and almost 20 million in 2014. The number of flights was about 192,000 in 2007 and only about 163,000 in 2014. So the current growth is just starting to catch up, and get back to the numbers 8 years ago. However, Stansted is using the current increase in passengers to say it will be needing to increase the planning cap on the number of passengers (currently 35 million per year) as was suggested in the Airports Commission’s interim report. It will start to consult locally about doing this. Stansted hopes to get more passengers, if it could have improved rail connections to London, for as long as Heathrow and Gatwick are full – unless one gets a new runway. Stansted says it could handle another 7 million passengers per year with its current infrastructure. It did not submit a proposal to the Airports Commission for a runway scheme, so it was not considered. But now it wants another runway, in addition to one at Gatwick or Heathrow – ignoring the uncomfortable fact that even the Commission said only one new runway could be added within the UK aviation carbon cap (even one runway would mean UK aviation exceeding its annual 37.5MtCO2 cap).

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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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Airports Commission recommends a 3rd Heathrow runway, but leaving door open for Gatwick runway if Government find Heathrow too difficult to force through

The Commission has recommended the Heathrow north-west runway proposal, and is adamant that option has the most benefits for the UK. It has left the option of Gatwick open, but says the arguments are very, very much stronger for Heathrow. Having delivered its report, the Commission is now standing down.

Airports Commission’s Final Report

Airports Commission’s “Business Case and Sustainability Assessment – Heathrow Airport Northwest Runway”

Sir Howard Davies’ letter to Patrick McLoughlin 


Heathrow third runway unanimously recommended by Airports Commission, but with conditions

The Airports Commission has recommended that a 3rd runway should be built at Heathrow, but only if it can meet stringent conditions on noise and air pollution. Those conditions should include a ban on night flights, legally binding caps on noise and air quality – and legislation to rule out ever building a 4th runway [unlikely to be effective?] .The Commission has said their view was “clear and unanimous” that Heathrow’s plan was the strongest case for a runway, delivering the greatest strategic and economic benefits, and they hoped the conditions would make the airport a “better neighbour” than today.

The conditions are:

– A ban on all scheduled night flights from 11.30pm to 6am….- No fourth runway – the government should make a firm commitment in parliament not to expand further. Davies states: “There is no sound operational or environmental case for a fourth runway.”….- A legally binding “noise envelope”…..- A noise levy on airport users to compensate local communities…. – A legal commitment on air quality (details to be announced, compliant with EU limits)…. – A community engagement board to let local people have a say…. – An independent aviation noise authority to be consulted on flight paths and operating procedures at airports….- Training and apprenticeships for local people.

The government must now decide whether to act on the recommendation – by autumn, or before Christmas.

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Campaigners against a Gatwick runway relieved by Airports Commission decision, but aware Gatwick may still ultimately be selected by government.

Thousands of people across Surrey, Sussex and Kent will be relieved that the threat of an environmental disaster has been lifted – though this reprieve may only be very temporary. The Commission appears to leave the door open for a Gatwick runway, while hugely favouring Heathrow, considering the Gatwick option could be pushed through by the Government with less difficulty. There will, however, be no rejoicing from the Gatwick area: campaigners there are only too aware of the misery which will be created for those living near Heathrow. GACC (the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) commented: “We do not want this for our area, and equally we do not wish it onto others, for whom it would be just as bad. We will continue to make the case that no new runway is needed, neither at Heathrow, nor at Gatwick, nor anywhere else.” GACC, and all the protest groups around Gatwick, will be studying the report carefully and will remain on guard in case there is pressure to reverse the recommendation. A Gatwick runway would be an environmental disaster for the south east.

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Caroline Lucas blog: “Heathrow might have been his answer, but Davies was asking the wrong question”

The Airports Commission (AC) has finally recommended that Heathrow, Europe’s biggest noise polluter, should expand. The decision has been framed simply: Gatwick or Heathrow? Either new runway would cost billions of pounds and cause thousands more people’s lives to be blighted by more aircraft flying low over homes, schools and neighbourhoods. Caroline Lucas considers the AC’s failure to properly consider the option of “no new runway” is indefensible. The proposed new runway isn’t just bad news for people living nearby – it’s extremely damaging to our efforts to meet our climate change targets. The AC knows the CO2 emission from UK aviation would breach the sector’s generous targets – even without a new runway. There are other questions that should e asked, not just if a runway should be at Heathrow or Gatwick. Should frequent flyers pay more, the more they fly? The runway is not “needed” for the average family taking one, or even two annual trips. Should public investment, which would be needed to assist a new Heathrow runway, be better spent elsewhere – on local transport? With different questions asked, there are different answers – not involving another runway.

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Supreme irony of the hottest July day on record at Heathrow

1.7.2015

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.


 

Gatwick, Heathrow and London City Airport campaigns come together to oppose airspace change – joint letter to Patrick McLoughlin, Sec of State for Transport

Over the past year or more, changes to flight paths and airspace being introduced in the UK, and these have caused considerable anger and upset among the many communities – and tens of thousands of people – now affected. Many new groups sprang up, in response to the greatly increased levels of aircraft noise people were being exposed to. Now these flight path groups at Gatwick, Heathrow and London City airports have joined forces and got together, to show the DfT, the Government, the CAA and NATS the anger of residents across the UK to these airspace changes. They have signed a joint letter, being delivered to the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, demanding that Government policy should be changed to minimise the impact of aircraft noise on residents. They also demand that the right of people to health, well-being and family life should be prioritised by Ministers over the drive of airlines, airports and aviation industry for greater profits. They are asking that Government should instigate legislation that governs and controls NATS usage of airspace, and that the CAA gives true consideration to residents who are affected, which is not the current situation.

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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 ….. . . .