Cautious welcome from HACAN for Airports Commission

John Stewart, Chair of HACAN and of AirportWatch, attended the launch meeting today of the Aviation Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies.  Sir Howard said the interim report (to be produced some time before the end of 2013 – date not known) will suggest short-term measures to assist capacity as well as outline the more “plausible options” to be taken forward in the longer term. The final paper (to be published by “summer 2015” which means after the election in May) will work up these options in some considerable detail.  He stressed, though, that the final decision will be down to the government of the day. In January  2013 the Commission will publish a paper assessing future demand for aviation.  That will be followed during 2013 by further papers including ones on climate change and the economic benefits of aviation. These will be put onto the Commission’s website, and be open for public comment. The Commission is not just to select airports where expansion should take place. 

[And see comments from Stop Stansted Expansion, Friends of the Earth and WWF below too].


Cautious welcome from HACAN for Airports Commission


HACAN has given the Davies Commission a cautious welcome.  Today Sir Howard Davies announced the remit and membership of the Commission which the Government has set up to look at the future airport capacity needs of the UK.  The Commission will produce an Interim Report at the end of next year and a final report in summer 2015, two months after the next General Election.

Davies told the launch meeting in London today that the interim report will suggest short-term measures to assist capacity as well as outline the more “plausible options” to be taken forward in the longer term.

The final paper will work up these options in some considerable detail.  He stressed, though, that the final decision will be down to the government of the day.

In January next year the Commission will publish a paper assessing future demand for aviation.  That will be followed by further papers including ones on climate change and the economic benefits of aviation.

HACAN Chair John Stewart said: “We are pleased and relieved that the Davies Commission will be looking at wider topics such as future demand, climate change and noise and not just selecting airports where expansion should take place.  This is a sensible approach.  The proof of the pudding will be in the eating but at this stage the Commission deserves a cautious welcome.”

(1). The remit and membership of the Commission is set out at


Below are John’s brief notes (purely his own first impression) from the launch meeting this morning:

Davies Commission Launch Summary

  • I came away from the launch much happier than I arrived
  • The commissioners don’t span a wide range as we would have liked
  • The external advisory group will be largely academics
  • The good thing is that Davies seems to want the commission’s findings to be evidence-based
  • It will produce a paper on its assessment of future demand by January 2013 – on which it will invite comments
  • There will be other papers on noise, climate change, economics etc
  • Everything will go up on its website as it is produced for comment (website to be active in about a fortnight)
  • At some stage they will also publish a paper on what they consider a hub to be
  • Interim report at end of 2013 will set out some short-term proposals but will also flag up “plausible” options that will be worked up in some detail for the final report
  • They will consider demand management measurements such as HS2
  • They will ensure that any expansion target is consistent with Committee on Climate Change’s recommendations
  • What is missing, I think, is the notion of using fiscal measures such as getting rid of tax-free fuel to manage demand (though he wasn’t asked about this)
  • They will look at the impact of APD but Davies didn’t seem to see this as a central part of their work
  • They will start taking formal evidence next year.  I can’t see a date mentioned but I think it might be April.




Comment from Stop Stansted Expansion


2.11.2012 (SSE)

Eight weeks after being appointed by the Government to head up the ‘Airports Commission’, Sir Howard Davies today [2 November 2012] announced the other members of his team and provided details of how the Commission intends to go about its work.

These announcements were made to an all-invitation gathering of representatives from the aviation industry, business, environmental groups and local community groups – including Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) Chairman, Peter Sanders, and Economics Adviser, Brian Ross.

The Airports Commission has been asked by the Government to examine the issue of UK airport capacity and to make recommendations and Sir Howard Davies made clear that his first task will be to look at the long term demand forecasts for air travel.  He said that he hoped to produce a paper on the demand forecasts by next January. 

SSE welcomed this approach and, in discussions with SSE immediately after the meeting, Sir Howard Davies agreed that, if the demand forecasts indicated that no additional runways were needed, his Commission would have the much easier task of simply trying to make better use of the existing airport capacity.

SSE also welcomed Sir Howard Davies’ commitment to publish on the Commission’s website (which has not yet been set up) all the evidence it receives, as the inquiry goes along, and to allow other parties an opportunity to comment on it.

The Airports Commission is due to produce its interim report by the end of 2013 and its final report by the summer of 2015.


·      Today’s announcement by the Secretary of State, listing all the members of the Airports Commission and setting out its terms of reference and method of working can be found at

·      The Secretary of State’s announcement of 7 September 2012 appointing Sir Howard Davies to lead the Airports Commission can be found at




Comment from Friends of the Earth UK

Launch of UK Airports Commission

2 November 2012

Responding to the launch today (Friday 2 November 2012), of the UK commission on aviation capacity led by Sir Howard Davies, and welcoming the news that the Commission will be required to consider environmental impacts, Friends of the Earth’s Senior Campaigner Jane Thomas, said:

“Without significant changes to the already hugely privileged aviation industry, we will fail to meet our climate change targets – the Commission must be led by the requirement to reduce carbon emissions.

“Aviation emissions cannot carry on growing in the years ahead – as this will lead to UK households, industry and commerce bearing more than their fair share of emissions cuts.

“Airport expansion makes no economic sense – the effect on the environment and on local communities is devastating.

“We welcome Sir Howard Davies comments this morning that climate change targets for 2050 will provide the framework for discussions on airport capacity.”


1.    The UK Aviation industry was allowed to increase its 2005 emissions by 122 per cent from the 1990 Kyoto baseline whereas all other economic and social sectors have had to decrease emissions.

2.    The Committee on Climate Change recommends that the aim for the aviation sector should be for emissions in 2050 that are no higher than 2005 levels.

3.    The Climate Change Act 2008 requires the Government to make a decision by the end of 2012 on whether aviation and shipping should be formally included in the UK’s carbon targets. For further information please see




Comment from WWF UK:

Keeping an open mind on the need for airport expansion

2 November 2012

Responding to the launch of the Airports Commission, headed by Sir Howard Davies, that will assess the options for maintaining the UK’s importance as an international aviation hub, WWF-UK said that it hopes the Commission will be questioning whether major airport expansion is required to ensure UK connectivity.

Jean Leston, senior transport policy advisor at WWF-UK, said: “Let’s hope that Sir Howard Davies is true to his word and that this Commission will be genuinely open minded in exploring the evidence on whether airport expansion is even needed to improve UK connectivity. The current options for expansion are like a bad line up of ugly beauty contestants. Surely we can do better in trying to judge the best way forward to ensure UK connectivity without massively increasing aviation emissions and endangering UK climate targets.

“This week’s news of Hurricane Sandy should be making all of us question the wisdom of making long term decisions which will continue to lock us into a high carbon future. WWF challenges the new Airports Commission to find a solution that keeps aviation growth within the environmental limits recommended by the Committee on Climate Change. Our research (1) shows that there’s plenty of existing airport capacity to spare, even in the South East, to offer more flights to emerging markets without building new runways or airports.”


Notes to editors:

(1). A recent WWF/AEF report, Available UK airport capacity under a 2050 CO2 target for the aviation sector, shows that there is available runway and terminal capacity to meet demand to 2050 in most regions of the UK including the Southeast, and in line with CCC limits to aviation growth, without the need for further expansion:

For more information:

Kellie Rollings, Press Officer WWF-UK
Tel: 01483 412 340, email:



See also

Airports Commission under Sir Howard Davies. Membership and terms of reference announced.


The government has today announced the full membership and terms of reference of the Airports Commission, to be chaired by Sir Howard Davies, and to “identify and recommend to Government options for maintaining the UK’s status as a global aviation hub.” The government says it has identified individuals with a range of skills, backgrounds and experience to sit on the committee. The Commission also intends to appoint a panel of expert advisors. Members are: Sir John Armitt, former Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority; Professor Ricky Burdett (LSE); Vivienne Cox (was at BP Alternative Energy); Professor Dame Julia King (a member of the CCC); Geoff Muirhead CBE (former CEO of Manchester Airports Group). The terms of reference are that it will “The Commission will examine the scale and timing of any requirement for additional capacity to maintain the UK’s position as Europe’s most important aviation hub; and it will identify and evaluate how any need for additional capacity should be met in the short, medium and long term.”  And it should “should engage openly with interested parties and members of the public,”  etc.




Sir Howard Davies suggests payouts might be given to people under flightpaths

Date added: November 3, 2012

The Standard reports that Sir Howard Davies suggested, at the launch of the Airports Commission, that cash compensation could be paid to west London residents if a 3rd Heathrow runway is built. He would look at whether financial payments should be given to people under the flightpaths if Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted expansion took place. He said: “There are examples in other countries of different kinds of compensation arrangements which have been used, and that is certainly something we are going to look at.” and “I am conscious that allowing a lot of options to run does create the risk of planning blight … and I don’t want to alarm people who have no need to be alarmed.” He also said the 2013 interim report by the Commission will be much more significant than previously expected and narrow down the rival options to a shortlist of “realistic” schemes, ending the anxiety of people living near more marginal sites. The 2013 interim report will also make recommendations on immediate ways to boost capacity in the south east, possibly including mixed-mode operation at Heathrow or night flights.

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Boris accuses government of “utter inertia” in not having the airports decision before 2015

Date added: November 3, 2012

Boris is accusing the Government of “utter inertia” on airport expansion policy . He says waiting till 2015 for the Commission’s report would be “toxic and disastrous” for the next election. The Government is facing growing pressure for major infrastructure projects to help shore up the floundering economy. With no particular evidence to back their claims, some business leaders say more airport capacity is crucial to boosting trade and routes to developing markets. Boris argues that as China is building lots of new airports, we should build one too. (No particular logic in that, as the case of China is utterly different to ours.) Boris says the Airports Commission needs to report more quickly, well before summer 2015. Sir Howard Davies has said his Commission is not to kick the tricky question “into the long grass” for political reasons, and that its report will be “a really expert piece of work” and “In order to build enough political consensus around the eventual solution, we will need to show that we have done in-depth analysis of the other options. At the moment, consensus is what is lacking.”

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