Below are news items relating to specific airports
Campaigners call for temporarily moratorium on airport expansion until there is new UK policy on aviation carbon
There is currently no UK government policy on aviation carbon emissions, or airport expansion policy across the country. While the Committee on Climate Change says there should be no NET increase in airport capacity, it is unclear how this is to work. Meanwhile many airports are trying to push through expansion plans, to get them approved by local authorities as soon as possible. In the absence of proper UK policy, local decision are just being made by local councils, with no over-arching big picture logic. The Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) is asking for a temporary moratorium on airport expansion plan decisions. Cait Hewitt of AEF said local airport applications show "the climate impact of airport expansion is not something that can be easily determined at a local level. The government really needs to get its act together in terms of setting out how the aviation sector in the UK is going to play its part in delivering net zero ... We would support a moratorium on airport expansions until the government has figured out what its policy is on aviation and net zero.” AEF research showed that if all expansion plans put forward by UK airports were to proceed, it would cause an additional 9 MtCO2 to be emitted each year by 2050.
Heathrow owners divided about plan to raise £2.8bn by higher charges (due to Covid losses)
Heathrow is facing the spectre of a divided boardroom over its plan to raise billions of pounds from airlines and customers by increasing airport prices. State-backed Qatar Airways, whose owner is Heathrow’s 2nd-biggest shareholder, said Heathrow’s plans to recoup £2.8bn is “unreasonable, not in the consumer interest and should be rejected”. Qatar Airways' boss, Akbar Al Baker, is a representative for the state of Qatar on Heathrow’s board of directors. Despite huge cuts in traffic, Heathrow claims it has enough cash reserves to cope with this year, even if there are low passenger numbers. There was recently a consultation about how much the CAA will let Heathrow charge airlines, in order to recoup cash lost due to the pandemic. Heathrow has threatened legal action if the CAA does not allow this.
Southampton Airport runway extension plans approved by Eastleigh Council
Eastleigh Borough Council has voted (finally at 2.15am!) to agree to allow Southampton Airport to extend its runway by 164 metres. This will lead to larger planes using the airport, and thus flights to more distant destinations, more passengers and higher carbon emissions. 22 councillors voted in favour of the proposals; 13 councillors voted against the plans and 1 abstained.This followed 19 hours of debate. Opponents have fought against the plans not only due to the carbon emissions, but also the extra noise for surrounding areas, and air pollution. The standard justification for these expansions are local economic benefit, and more jobs - even though the net impact is to encourage more local people to fly abroad on holiday, spending their holiday money there. It is likely that the number of people affected by noise would go from 11,450 in 2020 to 46,050 in 2033, if the expansion happens. Officers hoped that increased home noise insulation would help, but that has no impact if windows are open, or when outdoors. There are claims of "1,000 new jobs" - based on experience at other airports, that is very unlikely indeed. The CCC advice is that there should be no net airport expansion; so if one expands, another should contract. Likely?
Climate campaigners call for halt to regional UK airports expansion, to avoid aviation CO2 growth
The Aviation Environment Federation says the UK government must intervene to stop the planned expansion of a number of small airports around the country if it is to meet legally binding environmental targets and avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis. Seven regional airports have devised plans to expand their operations, despite fierce opposition from climate scientists and local people, who argue the proposals are incompatible with UK efforts to address the climate and ecological crisis. The decision on whether to allow a new terminal at Leeds Bradford has been delayed. The AEF says the government must go further and intervene to halt the other schemes which, taken together, would release huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The expansions are against the recommendations fo the government's climate advisors, the Committee on Climate Change, who say there should be no net airport expansion. ie. if one expands, another has to contract (there are no volunteers). The time is well overdue for government take a proper strategic overview of the climate impact of airport expansion proposals rather than leave it up to individual local authorities. There needs to be proper policy for aviation carbon, which is sadly lacking.
Plans for expansion of Leeds Bradford airport put on hold – after government direction – giving time for a decision to “call in”
The government has issued a direction to Leeds City Council, preventing councillors from granting planning permission for Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) expansion, without special authorisation. This means the expansion of LBA is now on hold. The direction – set out in section 31 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 – will give further time to Robert Jenrick, the Communities Secretary, (MHCLG) to consider whether to formally “call in” the planning application for a public inquiry. The plans to build a new terminal building on the green belt had been given conditional approval by Leeds City Council in February, despite widespread opposition from local MPs, residents and environmental groups. Campaigners argued the expansion would make a mockery of efforts to tackle the climate crisis and undermine the government’s credibility ahead of a key climate conference later this year. The issue is of more than local importance, and a full public inquiry - chaired by a planning inspector, or lawyer - would mean all the evidence being properly considered. The inquiry would then make its recommendation to Robert Jenrick, to make the final decision.
Sir David Amess (Southend West MP) in plea to Southend Council to get night flights scrapped
Sir David Amess, MP for Southend West, has said that night flights at Southend Airport must be scrapped, as residents continue to battle sleepless nights. He has written to Southend Council leader Ian Gilbert pleading for his support in getting them banned, for the sake of residents. The Amazon cargo night flights have been the topic of heated debate since they launched in October 2019. The airport has permission for 120 night flights per month, but insists the number of flights is regularly much lower. Council bosses have admitted it would be “very difficult” to get the flights scrapped, as the airport is acting inside their targets, and and are not breaking the law. The only way to get the night flights stopped is to have the quota removed from the Airport’s Section 106 Licence Agreement, from the council. The airport is desperate to make some money, due to the pandemic, and would not willingly give up night flights, which provide some income. This is especially frustrating, when there are very few daytime flights, and many of the cargo planes are old and noisier than more modern planes. There were actually 127 night flights departing the airport in March 2020, compared to just 78 last month.
Southend Airport to pay out £86k due to runway extension noise, under the Land Compensation Act
A court has ordered that Southend Airport should pay a total of £86,500 in compensation to owners of 9 neighbouring homes who say their values were diminished by noise, following the extension of the runway. in 2012 In its ruling, the Upper Tribunal’s Lands Chamber ordered that payments ranging from £4,000 to £17,000 be made in respect of the 9 homes, while a claim for a 10th property was dismissed. The claims for compensation are under the Land Compensation Act 1973. There is more noise, as larger planes land and take off from the airport. The longer runway enabling the airport to “attract low-cost commercial airlines operating much larger aircraft than had previously flown from it”. The Tribunal agreed that the extra noise had meant depreciation in the value of most of the lead properties. In 2013, the value of the lead properties ranged from £150,000 to £280,000, and the claimants sought compensation of between £32,200 and £60,100. The Land Compensation Act says it applies to cases where there have been alterations to runways or aprons. ie. something physical has been built (not buildings).
Gatwick Airport: Can Crawley turn away from aviation and go “green”?
Crawley relies on nearby Gatwick Airport for thousands of jobs, but it is now hoping to become less reliant on aviation and instead encourage sustainable business. With future demand for air travel, especially in the next year or two, uncertain, people who lost their jobs want local "quality" jobs soon. Gatwick had employed about 6,000 people from Crawley, and supported many more jobs in industries like hospitality and catering. With uncertainties about what British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Norwegian will do about keeping flights at Gatwick, it is unlikely numbers of passengers will return to 2019 levels perhaps for another four years. It is unlikely as many people would be employed in aviation then as in 2019, as airlines and airports increase automation of jobs as fast as possible. In early March the government gave Crawley £21.1m to help achieve what it called "plans to become a modern, vibrant and healthy digital town with a thriving green economy". The council aims to offer training in areas like insulation and solar power installation, while driving demand by "retrofitting" council homes and ensuring new developments are sustainable.
A few frequent flyers ‘dominate air travel’ (so dominating aviation CO2 emissions) – in all richer countries
Research for the climate campaign group, Possible, shows that a small minority of frequent flyers dominate air travel in almost all countries with high aviation CO2 emissions. In the UK, 70% of flights are made by a wealthier 15% of the population, with 57% not flying abroad at all, in any one year. The Possible research suggests the frequent flyer trend is mirrored in other wealthy countries. USA: 12% of people take 66% of flights. France: 2% of people take 50% of flights. Canada: 22% of the population takes 73% of flights. The Netherlands: 8% of people takes 42% of flights. China: 5% of households takes 40% of flights. India: 1% of households takes 45% of flights. Indonesia: 3% of households takes 56% of flights. There are calls for a frequent flyer levy - a tax that increases the more you fly each year. John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace: "Taxing frequent fliers is a good idea - but we also have to do something about air miles, which reward frequent fliers for flying more frequently. This is obscene during a climate crisis - and it should be stopped." The Treasury take the line that "Frequent flyers already pay more under the current APD (Air Passenger Duty) system" but that misses the point. They pay the same rate of APD on each flight, the first, the fifth or the tenth that year. A tax that ramped up on each successive flight would be a greater deterrent to frequent flying.
Letter from nearly 80 organisations and groups urges Leeds Bradford Airport decision be ‘called in’
Nearly 80 West Yorkshire community groups, environmental organisations and councillors from all parties have urged the decision on Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) to be ‘called in’. Signatories of the letter to Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, include Bradford councillors, Shipley Constituency Labour Party, Thornton, Allerton and Sandy Lane Branch Labour Party, Keighley and Ilkley Green Party, Bradford Green Party, Clean Air Bradford, Bradford Green New Deal, Baildon and Shipley Friends of the Earth, Extinction Rebellion Bradford, Shipley Town Council and more. The Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA) has asked the Secretary of State to hold a public inquiry because they say “there are significant effects beyond LBA’s immediate locality and there is substantial cross-boundary and national controversy; these issues have not been adequately addressed by Leeds City Council; and airport expansion conflicts with national policies on important matters”. The UK needs a proper national policy on airports, airport expansion, and carbon emissions. The CCC has said there must be no net airport growth, but many airports plan to expand - none plan to contract.