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Summaries of, and links to, the latest aviation news stories appear below. News is archived into topics

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Latest news stories:

Bristol airport hope to expand from 8 to 12 million annual passengers; 73% rise in CO2 emissions

Bristol Airport is hoping to expand. There is a consultation that started on 19th December, and ends on 26th January, on their plans. Details can be found here.  The headline application issue is a 50% growth in passengers - from the current 8.2 million per year, to 12 million by the mid 2020's. Carbon emissions from flights are estimated to rise by 73% from 746 ktCO2 in 2017 to 1,290 ktCO2 with 12 million passengers, an increase of 73%. The increase in passengers will be achieved by de-restricting night flights up to 4,000 per year, expanding car parks, changing road lay outs, and building a multi-storey car park (persuasively capped with some wind turbines). There are further plans to raise passenger numbers to 20 million by 2040. There is a lot of local opposition, focused on issues such as congested roads, 'parking blights' (cars parked in lanes etc), other local environmental impacts, noise pollution - through the night and day. There are some minimal hyper-localised 'Noise Insulation Grants' (up to £5000 for glazing). The airport plans to get more income in from cafes, shops and car parking, to boost profits. Bristol Airport is entirely owned by Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan - it is not British owned at all.

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Good news from Plan B Earth from legal pre-hearing, of the Heathrow runway JRs, at the Court yesterday.

Plan B Earth say the Government has now formally conceded it did not consider Heathrow expansion against the Paris Agreement temperature limit. "We now need to convince the Court that ignoring the boundary between humanity and catastrophe is not a great idea."  In total 1,582 people signed the petition for open justice & live-streaming of the trial (10 days from 11th March). On this, Plan B have got the Court thinking. They've asked for further submissions from Plan B on the issue and, given that this has never happened before in the High Court, they want to talk to other judges about the implications. Judge Holdate indicated we should have a ruling on the issue 2 weeks before the start of the trial. But that's already a major step forward. Not just for this case. But for open justice in the UK.  We need the full hearings into the judicial reviews against the government's approval of a 3rd Heathrow runway, to be live-streamed so people can see what is said. Otherwise only at most 150 people in the court (2 courts to be used) will be able to hear. This case is of huge importance to the UK's carbon targets in coming decades, and the UK's ability to take its responsibilities to the Paris Agreement seriously. (Saying the right thing is not enough - the UK government has to show, by its actions, it is serious about reducing UK CO2. In this case, CO2 from the aviation sector).

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Study identifies heavy metals in high concentrations of potentially harmful airborne nanoparticles around Trudeau airport.

A recent study by scientists at Montreal's McGill university has found unusually high concentrations of potentially harmful airborne aerosols containing nanoparticles around Montreal's Trudeau airport. Some contained chromium and arsenic. The study, published in December 2018 in the prestigious journal "Environmental Pollution" found these observations were statistically higher than corresponding measurements in downtown Montreal and at major highways during rush hour. The airport is thus a hotspot for nanoparticles containing "emerging contaminants" (substances produced by human activities that have, or are suspected to have, adverse ecological and/or human health effects.) The study found trends in levels of nanoparticles during the day showed concentrations that exhibited peaks during times with many flights, also showing correlations with pollutants (CO, NOx, and O3) - confirming the  anthropogenic source of the aerosols. The nanoparticles, especially containing heavy metals, are potentially a matter of public health. The study detected up to 2 million particles per cubic centimetre of air, which is more than the amount found so far at other airports.  More studies need to be carried out, as health is at stake. 

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Government tries to deny its climate responsibility to aim for 1.5C temperature rise, in pushing for 3rd Heathrow runway

The pre-trial hearing for the series of legal challenges against the Government’s decision to expand Heathrow takes place at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Tuesday 15th January.  In legal correspondence between the defendant (Government) and one of the claimants, Plan B Earth, the Government argues that “[Plan B] is wrong to assert that “Government policy is to limit warming to the more stringent standard of 1.5˚C and “well below” 2˚C’.  This means that the Government is effectively denying that its own policy is to limit warming to the level that has been agreed internationally is required to avoid climate breakdown. The legal challenge brought by Plan B Earth and Friends of the Earth assert that the Government decision to proceed with Heathrow expansion was unlawful as it failed to appropriately consider climate change. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell described the case as “the iconic battleground against climate change”.  The Committee on Climate Change had previously expressed surprise that neither the commitments in the Climate Change Act 2008 nor the Paris Agreement (2015) were referenced in the Government's Airports National Policy Statement (aka. the plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway).This is a huge inconsistency.

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Pre-trial hearing on 15th January of the 5 legal challenges against ‘unlawful’ Government decision to approve 3rd runway

Campaigners are taking the government to court in a bid to overturn the “unlawful” decision to approve a 3rd Heathrow runway. The pre-trial hearing for Friends of the Earth’s case will take place on Tuesday at the High Court, when the activists will lay out their opposition based on several grounds. There are 5 separate legal challenges being brought by a range of organisations, on  grounds of climate, air quality and harm to the wellbeing of local residents.  It would be virtually impossible for Britain to meet its obligations to cut emissions under the Paris climate agreement if a new Heathrow runway is built [or for that matter, one at Gatwick either]. The Government's advisory body on climate change, the Committee on Climate Change, has warned the expansion also threatens the government’s own legally binding pledge to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. Transport secretary Chris Grayling said, without any justification for his belief, that he was "confident" that technical innovations would cut aviation CO2 emissions enough, so expansion could happen without breaking the targets. Hopes that either biofuels or electric planes would enable aviation to become a low carbon means of transport are unrealistic. 

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Local residents not at all happy about noise plan for Dublin airport

Some residents living under flight paths of Dublin Airport are unhappy that a new plan is not adopting World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on permitted noise levels for aircraft.  Fingal county council will become the noise regulator for the airport under proposals drawn up by transport minister Shane Ross. Fingal county council submitted a draft 5-year noise action plan for the airport to the Environmental Protection Agency last week. The public made more than 50 submissions in the consultation period, and most queried why new (October 2018) WHO noise guidelines were not adopted. WHO  guidelines say that average noise exposure from aircraft should be limited to 45 decibels during daylight hours and 40 decibels at night. The council’s plan sets no limits for noise and instead focuses on mitigation measures. In the UK the WHO noise guidelines are not followed either - nowhere even approaching them. The number of people exposed to plane noise of 55-60 decibels was over 18,000 in 2016, and that is likely to rise due to more activity at the airport and more housing built near it.  Fingal council said it is awaiting national or EU-led policy guidance on noise levels. Construction of the new 2nd runway, for yet more flights, is due to be completed in early 2021 and commissioning will then take place.

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Danish newspaper to tackle journalists’ air travel, and promote only lower-carbon holidays in its travel section

Major Danish newspaper Politken is reported to be planning to refocus its travel section to destinations easily reachable without flying. The holidays it will write about will be domestic, Nordic, and northern European destinations which are easily reachable by public transport.  Politiken is also to try to stop its journalists taking domestic flights, for news stories within Denmark.  More significant still, it is hoping to put restrictions on the staff's international air travel, so this would be permitted only when absolutely necessary and if such journeys are offset by contributions to "credible climate initiatives".  The paper has also recently launched its own online climate calculator enabling users to work out the average carbon impact of their air and road travel.  In the UK, even newspapers like the Guardian, which do excellent and extensive coverage of climate change topics, also take numerous adverts for flights and holidays by air. They also have a travel section that encourages people to take more holidays, many to destinations only reachable by plane. 

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Richmond Council condemns latest Heathrow consultation – for unacceptable increases in noise and air pollution

Heathrow has a consultation, closing on 4th March, on its future airspace, both for the existing 2 runways and with a possible 3rd runway. Heathrow claim they will take the responses and view of residents etc into account. However, Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, has condemned the latest consultation – claiming 25,000 extra flights would be disastrous for the borough. He, said: “We have always said that Heathrow needs to be better and not bigger. But clearly size is everything to the airport. Heathrow are proposing the biggest changes to its flight path since it opened. People living in Richmond and other areas of West London will find their respite from overhead noise cut under these proposals. Not to mention the additional 25,000 more flights a year – which will no doubt be crammed into the early morning schedules, delivering more misery for our residents. Let’s not forget, these extra flights will still require Planning consent." He said it was a bad case of the government "putting the cart before the horse" in having got a parliamentary vote in favour of the runway (many votes by MPs who very little indeed about it) before details of flight paths and other impacts were known.

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Report by Biofuelwatch shows Neste, planning to make bio-jet-fuel, is using huge amounts of palm oil

A report by Biofuelwatch reveals that the Finnish biofuel and oil company Neste, which expects to become the world’s biggest producer of aviation biofuels in 2019, relies heavily on palm oil, a leading cause of rainforest destruction. It cannot even guarantee that its palm oil is not sourced from illegal plantations inside a national park. Neste is investing €1.4 billion in new biofuel capacity in its Singapore refinery, which the company plans to turn into a hub for aviation biofuel production. It is already one of the world’s biggest producers of biofuels for road transport. In 2017, Neste used almost 700,000 tonnes of crude palm oil - as fuel - as well as an undisclosed amount of crude palm oil, which the company claims to be ‘wastes and residues’, contrary to legislation in several European countries.  The oil palm plantations and mills supplying Neste are mainly in Indonesian and Malaysian provinces with particularly high deforestation rates linked to palm oil. Some is proven to come from an illegal plantation in a national park in Sumatra. Neste’s sustainability standards take no account of indirect land use change (ILUC) which mean the climate impact of palm oil is x3 as bad as the fossil fuels it replaces. Neste continues to try to hide the fact it is using palm oil, and exacerbating deforestation and biodiversity loss.

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New flight routes (NextGen or PBN) may save airlines time, but they damage health of those suffering the extra noise on the ground

More planes are flying directly over densely populated areas, due to airport computer systems that automatically chart the most "efficient" routes - so airlines can save fuel (= money).  A new study by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health concludes that the benefits of the reduced flight times are outweighed by the health effects on residents below, who suffer from the noise burden. Looking at the increase in noise pollution around New York City’s LaGuardia Airport since routes were changed when NextGen (concentrated, accurate routes, all planes along approximately the same line) was implemented in 2012, the researchers determined that people living in certain Queens neighbourhoods will lose an average of one year of good health over the course of their lifetimes, due to their heightened risk of cardiovascular disease and other ailments linked to stress. They looked at costs and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs).  “Ideally, airports should be built farther away from urban centres,” says lead author Peter Muennig, a professor of health policy and management. “The next-best option is to use flight patterns that send planes over green space, waterways, and industrial areas.”

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Advice from Teddington TAG on Heathrow consultations on future flight paths

During January to March 2019, Heathrow Airport will be conducting a consultation in 2 parts, which people need to be aware of:  1. Airspace changes for the existing two runways to allow an increase in the number of flights. Heathrow want to increase the annual throughput by 25,000 ATMs.  2. Airspace changes for a 3 runway airport.   Later in the year, there will be a second consultation on Heathrow’s “preferred masterplan for Heathrow expansion.  It is VERY IMPORTANT that people respond to the consultation. One thing that we can be pretty sure of is that there will be more, not less, noise; for some people, this may be very significant.  For both 2 runways and 3 runways, Heathrow will be introducing PBN “Performance Based Navigation”, a form of “Satnav” which enables planes to be positioned in the sky much more precisely. This will bring about the further concentration of flight paths - to the detriment of people underneath them.  TAG is very much against the concentration of flight paths as it represents an unfair and extremely unhealthy burden upon those affected.

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Tahir Latif (PCS Union): Trade Unions must demand jobs that protect our planet, not destroy it

The Trade Unions are divided on whether to support a 3rd Heathrow runway. Unfortunately many have been led to believe, by the airport and its backers, that there will be wonderful jobs in future with expansion. And without it the jobs are in danger. The  reality of airport jobs is somewhat different.  In a new blog, Tahir Latif, President of the PCS Aviation Group, and NEC member, discusses the sorts of jobs that Trade Unions should be supporting, if we are to have a habitable planet in future. He comments: "Too often, trade unions are seen as part of the problem, desperate for jobs and therefore willing to support employers who are intent on blindly taking us towards disaster in the name of further profits. ... But that does raise two important questions: (1) does our survival as a species trump the jobs argument and (2) does the jobs argument stand up to scrutiny anyway. ... The impact of climate change can’t be underestimated. ...The IPCC report puts us on notice: we HAVE to change. And if industries like aviation (and oil, coal, gas etc.) cannot continue their unchecked growth, then unions are NOT looking after their members long term interests by clinging to them. When change comes or is forced upon us, workers in those industries will be stranded in obsolete jobs without the skills or any plan for an alternative."

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Decreased take-off performance of aircraft due to climate change

With ever rising global temperatures, (not assisted by the amount of carbon emitted by aircraft, and the non-CO2 impacts of their emissions at hight altitude), planes will probably have more difficulty taking off and climbing - due to the thinner air.  Already planes need a greater length of runway to get airborne at airports at higher altitudes, and in hot climates. Some research estimates how this may become a problem in future. Maybe runways will need to be longer, and planes will not climb as fast (making more noise for those on the ground below, perhaps)

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Heathrow opens new consultation on airspace – including 25,000 more annual flights, by using IPA

Heathrow has opened another consultation - this on is on "Airspace & Future Operations". It ends on 4th March. Not only is Heathrow planning for a 3rd runway, and up to 50% more flights eventually, it is also now trying to get another 25,000 flights (about 5% more). fairly soon. And it wants these extra 25,000 flights whether it gets its 3rd runway, or not. The current flight numbers cap is 480,000 per year, set after the Terminal 5 Inquiry. It is currently using about 475,000 - with the few spaces at unpopular times of the day or week. Heathrow plans to get the extra flights, added at times already very busy, by what it calls IPA - Independent Parallel Approaches, which mean planes can come in on two runways at once, at the same time. Currently if they do this, they have to be staggered, at slightly further distances apart than with IPA. Heathrow admits this will mean different flight paths, and people not currently being overflown, by narrow concentrated flight paths.  Planes on IPA would join the final approach path about 8 nautical miles from the runway. It will be important that the areas to be newly negatively affected are made aware of what is going to hit them. The extra flights would also give Heathrow more income in the short term, to help it pay the immense cost of its 3rd runway plans.

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New Fellow Travellers report on the potential for electric aircraft to mitigate aviation emissions. Spoiler: it’s very limited.

A new report, "Electric Dreams - the carbon mitigation potential of electric aviation in the UK air travel market" (by Jamie Beevor for Fellow Travellers) looks at how much, realistically, electric planes could cut UK aviation CO2 emissions in the foreseeable future. They conclude that though small electric planes might be able to serve domestic and short haul routes, the cut in CO2 would not be large. The report says: "Delivering this level of emissions reduction before 2050 would require regulation and major market intervention to accelerate product development and fleet turnover industry cycles ...Engineering constraints mean larger gains are unlikely in this timeframe, and it is probably not possible for transatlantic-range battery powered craft to be economically viable ...There are no electric aircraft currently in development which could compete with the majority of the current global civil aviation fleet on range or capacity". It concludes: "There is no realistic prospect - and there are no industry plans - for improvements in aircraft technology to bring about large overall reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from passenger flights within a timeframe  that is meaningful to averting catastrophic temperature rises." This is useful in countering aviation industry techno-greenwash.

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How low cost flights killed night trains

There are very few night trains left in Europe. In Europe, the network of slow night trains has largely been dismantled.  Cheap air fares have just about killed them off - and it is hard to see how the trend will be reversed. Night trains are considered a niche market, expensive, nostalgic. Passengers prefer air to rail, which is considered too expensive and too slow. The trend is the same all across Europe, and elsewhere. Even low cost buses are helping to destroy the market for long distance, night, train travel. The trains depend on a railway line whose maintenance has to be paid; the plane, in the sky, is flying on its own - and electricity, which propels trains, is not a cheap fuel. Aviation generally pays no tax for its fuel.  In France, over the past ten years, TGV (high-speed train) traffic has remained sluggish, while the number of air passengers has risen 20%. In Italy, despite the success of TGVs and competition between two operators, the long-distance rail offer has barely developed in twenty years. More than 80% of flights departing from Switzerland serve a European destination and 40% of them travel a distance of less than 800 km, "feasible by train". But with the continuing availability of ultra-cheap air travel, people are unlikely to choose rail.

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Prestwick Airport’s government debt rises to £38.4m

The debt owed by Prestwick Airport to the Scottish government has risen in the past year from £30m to £38.4m. That was while revenue rose through a doubling of income from refuelling aircraft.  Accounts show the holding company made a loss of £7.6m in the year to March, down from £8.6m the previous year. Revenue was up on the year from £13.6m to £18.2m - which includes £3m extra contribution from refuelling, and a rise of £300,000 in cargo earnings, reaching £2.8m. The debt reflects recent years of losses that have built up since Prestwick was saved from closure by a Scottish government takeover.  It has tried to add new routes, by business development activity and incentives through lowered landing fees - but this has resulted in only one additional route to Poland. The strategic report, filed with the accounts on 31 December, says that Brexit uncertainty has contributed to the difficulty of expanding the route network beyond Ryanair's few flights.

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Gatwick airport: majority stake 50.01% sold to French group Vinci; GIP and partners retain 49.99%

New owner says Brexit threat helped Vinci get 50.01% stake in UK’s second-busiest airport for ‘reasonable’ £2.9bn. A consortium led by the US investment fund Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) is selling a majority stake of 50.01% in the airport to Vinci Airports, one of the world’s top airport operators and part of the infrastructure group Vinci. Vinci and GIP will manage Gatwick together.  Gatwick will be the largest in Vinci’s portfolio of 46 airports spread across 12 countries. The French group’s network includes Lyon-Saint-Exupéry airport, Nantes Atlantique and Grenoble Alpes Isère in France; Lisbon and Porto in Portugal, Funchal in Madeira, and Osaka Itami and Kansai International in Japan.  The GIP-led consortium bought Gatwick from the airport operator BAA for £1.5bn in 2009 and spent £1.9bn modernising the airport in subsequent years. The shareholders are selling down their stakes, leaving GIP with 21%, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority with 7.9%, Australia’s sovereign wealth fund with 8.6% and two public pension funds in California and South Korea with 6.4% and 6% respectively.

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Liberal Democrats welcome unanimous vote against Heathrow expansion at Ealing full council meeting

Ealing Council has voted unanimously for the first time against the expansion of Heathrow airport.  They argued that it was necessary for all Ealing Councillors to join forces against the expansion to strengthen the chances of overturning the government’s proposals - which they say will lead to more air and noise pollution including night flights. Meanwhile the MP for Ealing and Southall, Virendra Sharma, is a keen backer of the Heathrow runway, and even apparently (due to lack of proper understanding of the issues, and too ready an acceptance to believe the airport's assurances) believes it has not problem with air pollution. 

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No 3rd Runway Coalition comment on DfT’s Aviation Strategy: IT UNDERMINES GOVERNMENT CREDIBILITY ON ENVIRONMENT

The Aviation Strategy Green Paper published today is seeking to deliver sustainable growth of the aviation sector to 2050. It fails to set out how continued aviation growth is compatible with existing environmental commitments, with the Government appearing content to let action on CO2 to be delivered at an international level This attitude is in stark contrast to the advice from the Committee on Climate Change, which the DfT has ignored, warning recently as June 2018 that that higher levels of aviation emissions in 2050 “must not be planned for” and raised a series of concerns about how one additional runway would be compatible with efforts to reduce emissions, let alone two. They also warned that expansion of Heathrow will require significant operational restrictions on all other UK airports. The paper will also consult on the decision-making process for delivering a further runway in the UK by 2050. The DfT claims that the need for exploring another runway is due to higher growth than was predicted in the 2015 forecasts.  Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition said: “The Green Paper simply contains no strategy, either for delivering on existing environmental commitments or for addressing the significant negative impacts of airport operations on local communities.”

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DfT consultation starts, on its aviation strategy green paper, for huge growth of UK airports

The Department for Transport will today publish a long-awaited aviation strategy that pledges to deliver “greater capacity at UK airports”. It intends airports other than Heathrow all growing and having more flights  - "if tough environmental and noise restrictions are met" (ignoring CO2, of course). The strategy also outlines plans for the biggest overhaul of Britain’s airspace in more than 50 years to create new flight paths into the biggest airports. There would be a considerable increase to the 600 or so dedicated flight paths in operation now, and will subject households directly beneath the flight paths to unbearable noise levels. The DfT hopes to offer a sop, in terms of being able to alternate flight paths, so people get periods of less noise, in compensation for periods of intense noise.  New flight paths are expected to be designed by the summer of 2020 and introduced in 2024 and 2025 subject to CAA approval (CAA gets its funding from airlines - so not dispassionate).  The strategy, which will go out for public consultation. The Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN) has been created to police the system. NATS says the number of UK flights is expected to grow 700,000 to about 2.9 million by 2030.

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Crawley Council object to Gatwick Master Plan – due to detrimental effect on the local environment

Recently a YouGov poll commissioned by Gatwick airport - unclear what the exact wording was, or who was polled - claimed about three quarters of residents backed the airport's expansion. However, at a Crawley full council meeting, the majority vote was against the proposal. This is what they will put in the council response to the Gatwick Master Plan consultation that is currently going on. The opposition is unsurprising as Crawley council have made their feelings clear in previous years, objecting to the 2nd runway. A year ago Crawley approved the building of a new Boeing hangar, for aircraft maintenance, as they hoped this would bring local jobs.  In the council there is a real concern that the growth proposed would have too detrimental an effect on the environment. Gatwick claim it is making less noise now (a claim that many severely overflown residents would not believe, especially with noise at night) and "30% of its fleet will comprise quieter aircraft by 2022."  Local group CAGNE has asked hat the airport disclose details the safety incidents that have already occurred whilst using the emergency runway when the main runway is closed for maintenance.

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IATA anticipates profitable years ahead for aviation sector – cheap fuel etc

IATA (International Air Transport Association) says carriers are ‘cautiously optimistic’ about 2019 as it predicts the global airline industry will net US$35.5 billion throughout the year. This forecast comes before the final result for 2018 is know, but is expected to be $32.3 billion. Overall airline industry revenues in 2019 are expected to reach $885 billion, which is 7.7% higher than in 2018.  IATA believes demand growth for passenger traffic will be 6% (about 4.59 billion, compared to 4.34 billion this year) and for growth for air cargo will be 3.7%.  Due to lower fuel costs (predicted at $65 per barrel) - due to increased output from the US, the industry expects profits, even if there is slightly slower world economic growth.  In Europe profits may drop fractionally in 2019, with net profit expected at $7.4 billion in 2019 compared to $7.5 billion in 2018, due to "intense competition" between airlines. There were profit reductions in 2018 in Europe due to air traffic control strikes, and not enough air traffic controllers. Average fares are expected to be $324 (at current currency rates, before surcharges and tax), which IATA says is 61% below 1998 levels - when adjusted for inflation. IATA's CEO De Juniac said: “Air travel has never been such a good deal for consumers."  No concerns about the carbon emissions. 

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Swiss environment and transport groups lobby Parliament for more tax on aviation

A range of environmental organisations in Switzerland have joined forces to appeal to their parliament to introduce an air ticket tax. Two climate protection "angels" took this demand for effective climate protection to the Federal Parliament, as the National Council is now dealing with the air ticket tax as part of Swiss CO2 law revision.  Air traffic is already responsible for over 18% of Switzerland's man-made climate impact - and forecasts show it continuing to grow. Unless something concrete is done, aviation will become the biggest driver of Switzerland's climate impact until 2030. Despite the high GHG emissions, international aviation is exempt from kerosene tax, value added tax and CO2 tax. Aviation is now heavily subsidised, resulting in very low fares, further accelerating demand growth. Therefore, it is high time for Switzerland to introduce the flight ticket tax, to reduce the impact on the global climate. Surveys confirm that the level of acceptance of a flight ticket tax is high and a majority supports the revenue from an air ticket tax being invested in climate protection projects in Switzerland. Without cutting its aviation CO2 emissions, Switzerland cannot meet its Paris commitments for 2 or 1.5C temperature rise.

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Study by German NGO, Atmosfair, shows airlines are failing to take up the most fuel efficient planes – so not reducing CO2

Airlines are failing to take up the most efficient planes in sufficient numbers to make a significant dent in their carbon dioxide emissions, a new study by Atmosfair has found. The most efficient new aircraft models, such as the Boeing 787-9 and Airbus A350-900 and A320neo, can achieve substantial CO2 savings over older models, but no airlines have invested sufficiently in the new types to reach the top levels of energy efficiency, according to the 2018 ranking by the German NGO. In it no airlines received an A for efficiency, and only 2 airlines were ranked in efficiency class B.  Atmosfair also found that only 10% of airlines worldwide were succeeding in keeping their greenhouse gas emissions constant (let alone not reducing them) while flight numbers grew. Carbon emissions from airlines grew by about 5% last year, while the number of kilometres flown increased by 6%.  The results show that the efficiency improvements of the vast majority of airlines worldwide is not sufficient to keep within the 2C or 1.5C target of the Paris agreement.  The sector needs new and radical measures to limit their carbon emissions, and CO2-neutral fuels - if they were possible [which is probably unlikely]. British Airways was placed at 74th, with an efficiency rating of D.

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AEF discussion paper on what – on air pollution – needs to be in UK’s forthcoming “Aviation Strategy”

The Aviation Environment Federation have produced a series of discussion papers, on environmental aspects of aviation policy that need to be properly dealt with in the government's forthcoming new "Aviation Strategy"  consultation, and then an Aviation White Paper in 2019. There are papers on noise and carbon emissions, and now one on air pollution. The AEF says the UK needs clarity on how airport expansion can be achieved keeping to air pollution commitments. We need better information on pollution that comes from planes, outside the "landing and take off cycle", which only covers planes up to 3,000 feet altitude. We also need better mapping of where the air pollution is, around airports, showing legal limit values and WHO maximum levels for pollutants. There should be clarity on how air pollutants will increase, if the number of flights at an airport increase, and how this affects the "National Emissions Ceiling Directive" (NECD) limit values.  AEF says a lot more clarity is needed, on whether it is true most of the air pollution around airports comes from road vehicles (associated with the airport or not) and how much is from  planes themselves. There has been no national review of airport air pollution since 2003, for airports other than Heathrow.

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T&E report on how to decarbonise European transport by 2050 – including aviation

Transport & Environment (T&E) have produced a report on how to decarbonise (ie. zero carbon) European transport by 2050. It has many suggestions on aviation. A few quotes from the report:  "By driving out the use of fossil kerosene fuel in aviation through carbon pricing and requiring aircraft to switch to synthetic fuels, and advanced biofuels to a very limited extent, the climate impact of flying can be reduced dramatically. Zero emission electrofuels and very low carbon advanced sustainable biofuels can be produced today and deployed immediately using existing engines and infrastructure." ... "While synfuels can solve aviation's CO2  problem, the non-CO2 problem will require additional measures to be mitigated." ... "In Europe [aviation] emissions have doubled since 1990, and globally they could, without action, double or treble by 2050." ...  "Aviation is at risk of having its emissions locked in due to the growth in passenger numbers and aircraft fleet, consuming the limited carbon budget to remain within the 1.5°C and 2°C targets of the Paris Agreement." ... "By 2030, advanced biofuels are expected to contribute only 3.5% of all transport fuels (including cars, trucks, aviation) and their growth beyond this date is likely to be constrained due to land availability and competing industries." ... "ICAO, with its weak target of net 2020 emissions and reliance on offsetting instead of cutting emissions, is only capable of delivering a global minimum effort. Much more ambitious action" is needed. 

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“Heathrow unveils its plan for carbon neutral growth”: except there is no credible plan … not for a 50% increase in flights

Heathrow has set out a "plan" to (magically) help it to increase the number of flights by up to 50% but do this in a "carbon neutral" way. Needless to say, there is no detail of how it can actually do this.  There is plenty about how it will be investing in "sustainable" fuels. Plenty of blather, without any actual details, about how can achieve an entirely impossible goal. Heathrow says it is looking at action on 4 key areas including: cleaner aircraft technology, [by that it means more fuel efficient, not more clean]; improvements to airspace and ground operations; sustainable aviation fuels [none probably exist, without huge unintended side effects]; and carbon offsetting methods [ie. keeping on emitting, and paying to cancel out the carbon savings made by others elsewhere, postponing the evil moment when they actually reduce aviation CO2 emissions.] There is hype like how they will: "Make Heathrow a leading hub for the development and deployment of sustainable aviation fuels by providing the necessary airport infrastructure, and support for pilot projects" and how they are calling on "ICAO to develop global goals for the uptake of sustainable alternative fuels."  And lots of hope about those peat bogs, which they are hoping will save their bacon ....

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Maersk pledges to cut CO2 emissions to zero by 2050, without use of offsets which just “delay the pain”

Global aviation and global shipping are two sectors with immense carbon emissions, not properly controlled by any one country.  Shipping currently accounts for about 2-3% of global CO2 emissions, and if the sector does not cut fuel burned, this could to 20% of global emissions by 2050. Now the world’s largest container shipping company has "pledged" to cut net CO2 emissions to zero by 2050. It is challenging an industry that is one of the main transporters of global trade and one of the biggest carbon emitters to come up with radical solutions in the next decade. It hopes to make new ships "carbon free" by 2030. The CEO of Maersk, Mr Toft, said: “We will have to abandon fossil fuels. We will have to find a different type of fuel or a different way to power our assets." But what is suggested is perhaps biofuels, hydrogen, electricity, wind or solar power. It would be a catastrophe for the natural world if shipping also tries to get hold of biofuels (as well as electricity generation, and aviation) with forests and natural habitats for wildlife devastated. Maersk is aiming to meet its target without buying carbon offsets. Mr Toft said: “If you buy offsets, you are basically delaying the pain. What you are doing is buying yourself an excuse and hoping that the money you pay goes to good uses, but you are not tackling the issue at its core.”

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Birmingham Airport expansion plans criticised over rising emission concerns

Green councillors amid concerns over rises in greenhouse gas emissions.  They say the airport’s draft masterplan is ‘irresponsible’.  The increase in passenger numbers after the expansion could see the level of emissions rise to double that produced by the entire city of Wolverhampton every year. The masterplan – covering the next 15 years – includes proposals to increase use of the airport’s existing runway, expand the passenger terminal and baggage sorting areas. The investment aims to prepare the airport to attract 18 million passengers by 2033. This would make Birmingham Airport the region’s largest single source of greenhouse gases. Even before the airport expansion, it is projected to emit 1.7million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year by 2030, Department for Transport figures show.  By contrast, Wolverhampton’s carbon footprint is about one million tonnes per annum, according to latest government statistics.  Just at a time when humanity should be making every possible effort to cut CO2 emissions.

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No 3rd Runway Coalition’s message loud and clear at London Climate March

At the Climate Change march in London on 1st December, to mark the start of the COP24 climate talks in Katovice, Poland, the No 3rd Runway Coalition was out in force.  Many hundred people marched - 700 or more? - with a large input from anti-fracking activists, and many from Extinction Rebelling. After rallying outside the Polish Embassy for speeches, including Neil Keveren from Stop Heathrow Expansion, the march set off down Regents Street and Piccadilly to Whitehall. The key concern was that in the UK, from fracking to a Heathrow third runway, our government is failing to face up to the climate crisis. The recent IPCC report is a landmark for our planet, setting out just what is at stake if we breach 1.5C warming. We need action now to move to a Zero Carbon Britain, with climate jobs to build the future we need. Instead of rapidly committing to effective action to cut CO2, the UK government is actively backing measures to make CO2 emissions higher or cut funding for initiatives that would cut burning of fossil fuels.  The No 3rd Runway Coalition banner took up pride of place at the start of the march.  There were many Coalition members present, many placards on show, the huge Chatr black plane clearly stating "No 3rd Runway", and a good turnout by Stop Heathrow Expansion.

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The two Swedish mums who want people to give up flying for a year

Two Swedish mums have persuaded 10,000 people to commit to not taking any flights in 2019. Their social media initiative, No-fly 2019 (Flygfritt 2019), is aiming for 100,000 pledges, and has been asking participants to post their reasons for signing up.  Maja Rosen and her neighbour Lotta Hammar say they started the campaign to show politicians what needs to be done to halt climate change.  Direct emissions from aviation account for about 3% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions, according to the European Commission. And, it says, if global aviation was a country, it would rank in the top 10 emitters. See the video from Maja and Lotta.  Sweden has had, since April, a tax of about $7 for short haul flights and about $48 on long haul flights, with the intention of cutting carbon emissions.

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UTTLESFORD COUNCIL PLANNING CHAIRMAN DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WHAT HE WAS VOTING FOR!

Following the decision of the Chairman of Uttlesford Planning Committee, Councillor Alan Mills, to use his (additional) casting vote in favour of the airport planning application, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) health adviser, Professor Jangu Banatvala, wrote to him to ask whether he had reviewed the latest important WHO Noise Guidelines, published on 10th October, prior to voting. The disturbing reply from Councillor Mills suggests that he was not aware of the WHO Guidelines and he believed the planning application was for 174,000 flights, rather than 274,000. He did not appear to have understood that the application was for an increase in flights, by about 25,000 per year, despite claiming to have read a third of the documents. Five councillors voted in favour of the Stansted application, but SSE has found that at least some of them had either not read, or had not understood, even the most basic information about the application. SSE said this is entirely unsatisfactory. It confirms that this application should be dealt with at a higher level than a small district council, with limited resources to deal with such a significant application with such widespread implications. SSE's lawyers are now working on the detailed legal submissions to the Secretary of State on why he must now 'call in' the application for national determination.

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No 3rd Runway Coalition blog: Still no clarity on Heathrow finances for its expansion

In a blog, from the Chairman of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, Paul McGuinness, he says that serious concerns remain about how Heathrow might fund its hoped-for 3rd runway. The CAA has written to the DfT asking for clarity, as it does not have adequate or detailed information from Heathrow. As Nils Pratley highlighted in the Guardian “in most industries, a rebuke from the regulator would be met with an immediate promise to do better. Heathrow’s response, however, amounted to a shrug of the shoulders". In Heathrow's "Scoping Report" to the Planning Inspectorate in May they said, buried deep within the highly technical documents, that it seeks ‘early release of capacity’ that would be created by a 3rd runway. In short, Heathrow are trying to secure an additional 25,000 flights each year, (68 per day) above the current cap of 480,000, years before the 3rd runway opens. The current cap was a key condition of the T5 planning permission. Heathrow wants the income from these extra flights to help pay for the runway. Nobody knows who would be affected, or what noise, pollution, congestion etc impacts there would be. There has been no assessment. Read the full blog. 

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Lasham Gliding Society applies for Judicial Review of CAA Farnborough airspace decision

The CAA decided to grant the airspace to TAG Farnborough on 11th July. After taking legal advice, Lasham Gliding Society decided to fight this decision and instructed its lawyers to draw up a claim for leave for a Judicial Review in the High Court. Lasham Gliding Society is strongly opposed to the CAA’s decision. It considers that the decision to introduce new controlled airspace has not been justified by the CAA, because it will create a choke point, it does not represent an efficient use of the airspace, and it does not properly or reasonably balance the needs of all users. Lasham Gliding Society says: “The consequence of the implementation of this large volume of controlled airspace, at the request of a small airfield which has around 28,000 annual (non-public) movements, will be to displace many times more transiting flights and to cause significant congestion of general aviation movements outside the controlled airspace.”  The application for the JR was lodged on 10th October. The CAA has produced its reply, and the judge will decide if it can proceed. The cost will be at least £100,000 and Lasham hopes it will be of relevance to other general aviation airfields.

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The concept of “flying shame” is growing in Sweden – shame if you fly too much – due to the CO2 emissions

Many Northern Europeans have "flying shame" because of the climate: they stay on the ground while traveling. Rail travel is becoming increasingly popular. Some people in Sweden are cutting down on flying, and believe the carbon emissions are a matter of shame. The word for it is "flugsham" or "flygskam" and this is becoming a common concept, akin to 'flying less" in English. A celebrity athlete is well know for only travelling to sporting events if he can get there by train. The Swedes are among the frequent flyers. They fly 7 times more than average global citizens.  While Sweden's total CO2 emissions have fallen by 24% since 1990, air traffic grew by 61% in that time. A prominent writer in a popular newspaper  denounced the "idiotic lifestyle" of frequent flying as the "most expensive suicide in world history". Researchers and artists responded: "Flying is no longer an alternative for them".  People realise that we cannot go on with expanding aviation. A Facebook page on travelling by long-distance rail, rather than flying, had 30,000 followers in a few months. As well as the hashtag #flyingless there is the Swedish counterpart in #jagstannarpåmarken: "I'll stay on the ground".

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New structure for GACC Committee as they continue longstanding fight to protect residents from Gatwick airport

GACC, Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, announces a new structure to better utilise the dedicated long standing GACC Committee, with the aim of being more agile and responsive in its work to counter the threat from Gatwick Airport and its expansion master plan. Brendon Sewill, having being the Chairman of GACC for over 6 decades and hugely respected, is now GACC President.  Lisa Morris, after 5 years on the GACC committee, becomes Chairman, and said “I am honoured to be entrusted with the role of Chairman at a time when GACC seeks to fight Gatwick’s master plan for a 3 runway airport. The GACC committee is poised to use its combined forces of knowledge, expertise and sheer determination, to challenge Gatwick’s master plan, which includes bringing the emergency runway into routine use and safeguarding land in the Gatwick vicinity for a 3rd runway”.  Peter Barclay, Brendon’s successor last year, steps down from his role as Chairman to take on the important role of Vice President in addition to continuing to be the GACC lead with Gatwick, nationally and regionally.  GACC will be further strengthening and enlarging the Committee, to fight on behalf of all communities negatively affected - and not only from noise - by Gatwick airport.

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Warning at UN Biodiversity Conference that humanity’s rush into biofuels/biomass will devastate global biodiversity

Growing enough plants to provide biomass and biofuels, that are meant to slow climate change (climate breakdown) compared to burning fossil fuels, will need a biofuel land grab: a 10 to 30-fold rise in land devoted to these crops from the level now. This means the destruction of the habitats for plants and animals, seriously undermining the essential global biodiversity. This warning was spelt out at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Egypt by Anne Larigauderie, executive secretary of the  Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, IPBES.  The latest IPCC report, on limiting climate warming to 1.5°C, had given “a sense of extreme urgency" for ways to cut CO2 emissions, fast. But this mean "tradeoffs and synergies between climate, biodiversity and land degradation.”  More land would be used for monocultures of plants like maize. Perhaps by 2050 up to 724 million hectares, an area almost the size of Australia, might be used for biofuel crops - compared to perhaps 15 to 30m ha now. There is very little "marginal land" that could be used for these crops (they need water etc, and decent soils). This use of biomass will inevitably have "negative consequences for biodiversity.”  By contrast, reforestation and forest protection helps reduce carbon more effectively.

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Response by Government to PQ on Heathrow road traffic indicates a 29% increase with a 3rd runway

In a Parliamentary Question by Andy Slaughter (MP for Hammersmith), he asked the Secretary of State for Transport, "what assessment he has made of the number of (a) light goods vehicles, (b) heavy goods vehicles and (c) private cars that access Heathrow airport on a daily basis." The reply by Jesse Norman, Minister of State at the DfT, said the figures for goods vehicles come from the Airports Commission [now fairly out of date] and the other figures for highway and public transport trips are from an October 2017 DfT document. Heathrow has often said there would be no more vehicles on the roads with a 3rd runway than currently. But the DfT figures indicate the trips by passengers and employees, by cars and taxis,  would be around 60 million in 2030 with no new runway, and about 77 million in 2030 with a 3rd runway. The numbers would be about 66 million by 2050, with no new runway; and about 85 million with a 3rd runway.  ie. a massive rise of around 29% above the number with no new runway, both in 2030 and in 2050. Mr Norman said, to try to overcome this difficulty,  "it will be for an applicant for development consent for the Heathrow Northwest runway scheme to submit a surface access strategy to the Planning Inspectorate alongside their application."

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Replies to PQs on Heathrow – possible review of NPS after CCC climate report in spring 2019?

In recent Parliamentary Questions, Zac Goldsmith asked the Climate Minister (BEIS) Claire Perry: "what assessment she has made of the effect of the expansion of Heathrow Airport on the ability of the UK to meet the net-zero emissions target by 2050." The response said "The Committee [on Climate Change] will also publish a report on aviation in Spring 2019. ... this will include consideration of the potential to reduce aviation emissions over the period to 2050 and beyond. The Government will consider carefully the Committee’s advice .... Subject to this review, the Government will consider whether it is appropriate to review the Airports National Policy Statement, in accordance with Section 6 of the Planning Act 2008."   Zac also asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer "what level of capital funding he plans to allocate for the delivery of improvements to rail access related to the expansion of Heathrow Airport." The reply by Liz Truss said (avoiding replying properly) the Government "will consider the need for a public funding contribution alongside an appropriate contribution from the airport on a case by case basis." And "The Government is supporting Heathrow Surface Access schemes subject to the development of a satisfactory business case and the agreement of acceptable terms with the Heathrow aviation industry." (sic)

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Aircraft noise at smaller airports, likely to have negative mental health impact if they have night flights

Aircraft noise from large airports has been frequently linked to harm to mental health, as well as physical health, but it is not known whether the same is true for smaller airports. In this blog, Dr David Wright, lead author of a recently published article in Environmental Health, looked at how much aircraft noise around a smaller airport - Belfast City - affected mental health.  It has about 40,000 annual flights, compared to Heathrow 475,000.  There is growing evidence that noise generated by large airports also affects the mental health of local residents (see NORAH and HYENA, the two largest studies). As more airlines are flying direct between smaller airports, no longer using hubs, this is an important issue. The study looked at individual and household characteristics, overlaid with noise contours. It found there was a correlation of worse mental health in areas near the airport, under the flight path. But these areas were often poorer, and poverty increases the risk of mental ill-health - so wealth rather than aircraft noise best explains the findings.  However, Belfast City airport does not have night flights (21:30 to 06:30), and it is noise that disturbs sleep that has the main impacts on mental health. "Setting sensible curfew hours would strike a balance between the economic benefits and health risks of living close to an airport."

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CCC concludes there is limited scope for biofuels for aviation – even that not without risks

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has been looking at the future role of biomass, to try to cut the UK's CO2 emissions. In their report  they look at how much biofuel the UK aviation sector should be expecting to use by 2050. The AEF has been assessing the CCC report, and say the UK aviation sector cannot rely on biofuel use to offset CO2 emissions growth. Only limited supply of sustainable biomass is likely to be available in future, and it should be used carefully to tackle climate change. The CCC warns that too much hope of biofuel use in future could delay or discourage work on other ways of reducing emissions (i.e. fuel efficiency and limiting demand for flying).” The CCC advises that we shouldn’t plan for aviation biofuel to exceed 10% of total aviation fuel use by 2050. More would risk diverting sustainable biomass from more carbon efficient uses, such as timber for construction, or industrial uses when combined with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). CO2 released by aircraft in flight cannot be captured. Significant emissions are associated with the manufacture of aviation biofuel from biomass. The CCC says CCS must be used in this biofuel manufacture, or otherwise producing and burning aviation biofuel could result in even higher emissions than simply burning fossil fuels.

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PhD study indicates flight ban until 6am could save £ millions on NHS prescriptions for health impacts

A PhD thesis by an economics researcher at Kings College London, Silvia Beghelli, looked at "The Health Effects of Noise and Air Pollution". She looked at the medications prescribed to patients in areas affected by Heathrow planes, and the medical costs of the health impacts. She looked at a trial performed over 5 months at Heathrow in 2012, when planes did not fly over designated areas in the early mornings, between 4:30am and 6am. She found that  fewer drugs were prescribed for respiratory and nervous system conditions in areas with the reduced air traffic. Mrs Beghelli cross-referenced NHS data with the trial’s findings and found a link between air traffic and health, notably a 5.8% decrease in spending on pills including anxiolytics for conditions such as insomnia, anxiety and depression in the no-fly zones. As well as meaning the quality of health of people in these areas must have been better, the lower prescribing saved the NHS money. She calculated that modifying flight schedules could save £5 million in NHS prescription costs. It could also cut demand for hospital appointments. The study suggests that early morning planes are causing people to need more prescriptions.

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T&E warns that the EU only has till 1st December to save its right to regulate European aviation CO2 emissions

ICAO has been ineffective on aviation  CO2, as it is heavily influenced by the aviation industry and operates in near complete secrecy. For decades it has done very little to act on aviation’s surging CO2 emissions. Worse, ICAO’s flagship climate measure, CORSIA risks being the end, not the start, of climate action in aviation around the world and a real threat to the EU ETS in particular. While the Paris agreement aims to get increasingly effective actions to cut CO2, CORSIA sets a cap on carbon ambition and, in particular, on EU action. While the EU ETS has a means to cut aviation CO2, CORSIA is neither really global, nor much of an incentive to reduce carbon emissions. That is why airlines love it.  It will hardly affect them, or their growth or profits.  But by 1st December the EU must notify ICAO of its intention to continue European legislation, to keep aviation in the ETS. The aviation ETS isn’t perfect, and is only for intra-European flights, but it’s worth fighting for. The alternative, CORSIA, will have almost no effect in reducing CO2 from global aviation. The EU needs to ensure it can introduce CORSIA in a way that is compatible with EU current and future climate rules. Airline lobbyists are trying to prevent this.

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By January airlines have to start reporting their CO2 emissions, in preparation for the start of CORSIA

By January, all ICAO Council member states with aircraft operators doing a lot of international flights have to start compiling and transmitting their airlines’ CO2 emissions information. ICAO will gather this, to get ready for the start of its CORSIA "market based measure" plan (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation). Its aim is to try to have (sic) "carbon neutral growth" from 2020. The pilot phase starts in 2021. From January 2019 all airlines producing annual CO2 emissions above 10,000 tonnes will need to measure their emissions on cross-border flights, so a calculation of a sectoral 2020 emission baseline can be made of the average of 2019 and 2020. There are two bits of jargon for CORSIA; the emissions monitoring plan (EMP) and the CO2 emissions reporting tool (CERT). Airlines will need to submit their EMP to their administering state, the country where their aircraft are registered, by February 28, 2019, or preferably earlier.  The CERT needs origin, destination, aircraft type, and number of flights for each airline for the year. There is more jargon - the SARP (standards and recommended practices) and the MRV (monitoring, reporting, and verification) requirements ... We may hear more of these in coming years ...

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Time to focus on the real environmental costs of tourism; not only plastic, but the carbon from air travel

Tourists, going on holidays - including high-CO2 long-haul trips - are being encouraged to cut down on the amount of plastic they use etc. Great to be reducing the number of plastic straws, water bottles and other single-use plastics etc, but this really is barely touching the surface of the environmental problems caused by tourism. In a blog, Chris Haslam, of he Sunday Times, says that while the travel companies like Thomas Cook are "jumping on the sustainability bandwagon" - is this corporate responsibility or virtue-signalling? People can see bits of plastic. They, conveniently, cannot see the CO2 emissions they cause. Travel companies used to try to sell customers carbon offsets for their trips, but no longer seem to.  Air travel is a uniquely fast way to cause the emission of a huge proportion of an individual's annual carbon footprint.  “No other human activity pushes individual emission levels as fast and as high as air travel,” says Dr Roger Tyers, an environmental sociologist at Southampton University. "... [the aviation industry] tell us that engineers and inventors will come to the rescue, that politicians and passengers need do nothing. ... [but] Climate change will be a real problem unless we do something about our addiction to cheap and plentiful flying.”

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Uttlesford DC approves Stansted expansion plan, only by Chairman’s casting vote – but plans may now be “called in”

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has expressed dismay and disappointment that the vote on 14th November)by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) Planning Committee granted approval for Stansted’s planning application to grow - to an annual throughput of 43 million passengers per annum (from the 35 million cap now).  If this approval is allowed to stand, it would mean that Stansted could increase its flights by 44% and its passenger throughput by 66% compared, to last year’s levels.  The Planning Committee, comprising ten elected Uttlesford councillors, split right down the middle with 5 in favour of the application (including the Planning Committee Chairman) and 5 against.  Where there is a split vote, the Council rulebook gives the Chairman an additional (casting) vote - so he gets 2 votes.  Both BBC and ITV regional news teams filmed the session, which was attended by many local people.  UDC cannot issue a decision notice until the Sec of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (James Brokenshire) has considered whether the application should be called in. This should have been done already, as the planned expansion is very near the threshold necessary - of an increase by 10 million annual passengers.  SSE will now submit further representations to the Secretary of State asking him (again) to call in the application. They are currently also legally challenging the decision.

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Tests in the US to see if people tolerate booms, from proposed supersonic business jets (for the extra rich)

A long BuzzFeed article looks in detail at the problems of companies trying to bring back supersonic jets, like Concorde, just to cut a few hours off flights for those rich enough to afford them.  The interest in developing these planes was galvanised on October 5th, when President Donald Trump signed a FAA bill directing NASA to start consulting with the aviation industry to restart supersonic passenger travel. The problems remain the horrible sonic boom, that is a pressure wave, that hits anyone/anything on the ground, as the plane flies so fast nearby. Earlier studies indicated people really hated it, and it was dangerous. The shock of the bang could cause heart attacks, car accidents, "people to fall off ladders"etc.  Research earlier in the USA indicated that people did not become more tolerant of the bang, but less so. Supersonic flights by Concorde were banned over the USA. Now some US companies are looking at supersonic business flights again, but they are hugely wasteful in terms of fuel and high CO2 emissions. The ICCT said the jets would emit 40% more nitrogen oxides and 70% more CO2 than subsonic ones; they burn about 5-7 times as much fuel per passenger (not that Trump would care...)

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CCC launches zero carbon economy advice to government – Call for Evidence (till 7th December)

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has launched a new Call for Evidence to support is forthcoming advice to the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations on long-term targets for greenhouse gas emissions and the UK’s transition to a net zero-carbon economy. In October the government asked the CCC when the UK should reach net zero emissions of CO2 and/or greenhouse gases as a contribution to global ambition under the Paris Agreement; if that target should be set now; the implications for emissions in 2050; how such reductions can be achieved; and the costs and benefits involved in comparison to existing targets.  The government asked for the advice by the end of March 2019. The current target is for cuts of at least 80% on the 1990 level by 2050. This includes international aviation and shipping. So far the 5-yearly carbon budgets are set up to 2032. The CCC advice will be looking at the latest climate science, including the IPCC Report on 1.5°C. Organisations and individuals are invited to send in responses, by 7th December, including thoughts on costs, risks and opportunities from setting a tighter long-term target - and actions needed to achieve the targets. Details of how to respond etc.

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Government, not content with ONE new runway breaching UK carbon targets, is now planning for TWO

The Government will open the door for another new runway by 2050, in addition to the plans for expansion at Heathrow, in a consultation to be launched next month.  The DfT's "Aviation Strategy Green Paper" will consult on the decision-making process for delivering a further runway in the UK by 2050, according to Sarah Bishop, DfT's Deputy Head of Aviation Policy. This would be in addition to a 3rd Heathrow runway, and perhaps Gatwick making use of its emergency runway. Ms Bishop says there could be a "need" (sic) for more expansion, to meet air travel demand. Classic outdated "predict & provide" thinking.  [The DfT gives the impression it is entirely unaware of of global climate breakdown, or the UK's responsibilities on its carbon emissions]. It remains unclear how even ONE further runway (perhaps Heathrow) could be delivered within the UK's legally binding CO2 emission targets - which require the aviation sector to keep its CO2 emissions to their 2005 level by 2050. The Committee on Climate Change warned as recently as June 2018 that higher levels of aviation emissions in 2050 “must not be planned for” and raised a series of concerns about even ONE new runway (let alone two). The No 3rd Runway Coalition believes the possibility of yet another runway being approved by the DfT would cause concerns for investors in Heathrow.

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London City airport to introduce £600 fines for the noisiest planes breaching noise limits

London City Airport is going to fine airlines £600 each for breaching noise limits, after a surge in complaints from residents (due to the concentrated flight paths that started in February 2016).  It has started a “penalty and incentive” scheme for planes breaching its rules, and will name and shame them online. The noise is now concentrated, as planes try to cut fuel use, to save money; therefore the same people get overflown all the time, creating highly unpleasant noise pollution. Many residents, from Leyton to Lewisham, have complained about the noise since the changes. This new charging emerged at a hearing at the London Assembly, when AMs questioned London City airport and Heathrow staff about the environmental impacts (noise, air pollution, carbon emissions) of their airports. Tessa Simpson, environment manager at City airport, told the Assembly yesterday: “We have set noise levels that are some of the most stringent in the country."  They have to, as the airport is located in, and surrounded by, densely populated areas.  The money will go into a "community fund" to be "shared amongst community projects.”

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By 2050 global aviation emissions could surge by 700% compared to 2005

Someone flying from London to New York and back generates roughly the same level of emissions as the average person in the EU does by heating their home for a whole year, according to the European Commission (EC). The EC states that: “If global aviation was a country, it would rank in the top 10 emitters.” Looking at Ireland, it has agreed, under the EU’s Effort Sharing Decision targets, to deliver a 20% reduction in non-ETS (Emissions Trading System) greenhouse gas emissions, based on 2005 levels, by 2020; these include: agriculture; transport; residential; commercial; waste; and the non-energy intensive industry.  Earlier this year, Ireland also committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions level by 30% on 2005 levels by 2030. But according to the EC, by 2020, global international aviation emissions are projected to be around 70% higher than in 2005 and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) forecasts that by 2050 they could grow by a further 300-700%.  Some of the carbon emissions from aviation within Europe (not planes flying to and from Europe, just internally) are covered under the EU's ETS. This is at risk if the global ICAO deal succeeds in forcing the EU to abandon this scheme.

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Living near to a busy road or airport TRIPLES your risk of a heart attack and stroke because the noise triggers a harmful response in the body

More evidence - now from Massachusetts General hospital - is showing that living near to a noisy road or a busy flight path significantly increases risk of a heart attack or stroke. The added risk is in addition to risks of smoking and diabetes. It is thought that exposure to environmental noise alters the amygdala - a brain region involved in stress regulation and emotional responses.  This then promotes blood vessel inflammation, which can lead to cardiovascular problems. Those exposed to chronic noise, such as near an airport, showed  and a greater than three-fold risk of suffering a heart attack or a stroke and other major cardiovascular event. People with the highest levels of noise exposure had higher levels of amygdala activity and more inflammation in their arteries. The study looked at 499 people, with an average age of 56 years old. None had cardiovascular illness or cancer. They all underwent simultaneous PET and CT scans of their brain and blood vessels. To gauge noise exposure, the researchers used participants' home addresses government noise maps. The researchers say more research is needed to determine whether reduction in noise exposure could meaningfully lower cardiovascular risk and reduce the number of cardiovascular events on a population-wide scale.   

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Birmingham airport unveils draft Master Plan, for huge growth over next 15 years

Birmingham Airport has unveiled its draft Master Plan, with its hopes of expansion over the next 15 years. There is a consultation till 31st January. It wants to increase its capacity by 5 million passengers a year (mppa)  Much of the intended spending will be for a larger departure lounge with a mezzanine floor, new retail and restaurant units, more toilets and seating. Also more self-service desks (ie. fewer jobs...) and "the latest bag-drop technology and a new back-of-house baggage sorting area aimed at improving efficiency." (ie. fewer jobs). This has been seen by the airport's consultative committee on 5th November.  There is no plan for a 2nd runway, but the expansion will cause more environmental damage, more CO2 emissions etc. - of which, no mention is made. (The usual airport attitude is " the majority of emissions are from planes in the sky and that is nothing to do with us…"). In the 2006 Master Plan the forecasts were for 25mppa by 2030; now they have reduced that to 18mppa by 2033. There were 12.9 mppa in 2017. Local campaigners suspect this will not be encouraging shareholders to fund expansion plans till the runway situation in the south east is sorted out. The airport is claiming the increased number of passengers will boost the local economy by £xx billion, and increase jobs by yyy.  (These claims never materialise). 

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“Back Heathrow” massively funded by Heathrow airport, tries to discredit Hillingdon, for their spending to protect residents

"Back Heathrow" is the "astroturf" group set up, managed by and (probably entirely) funded by Heathrow airport, to promote its 3rd runway, largely by claiming it has huge local support. Their accounts show that in 2017 "Back Heathrow" had current assets of £1 million (£1.24m in 2016). They have Net Worth of about £951,300. They complained in January 2017 about how much money Hillingdon Borough had spent in trying to defend its residents from the adverse impacts of an even larger Heathrow airport. Back Heathrow is complaining again. It has got figures from Hillingdon Borough Council, through FoI, for what it has had to spend to oppose Heathrow's plans.  (Not being a council etc, Back Heathrow cannot be FoI-ed). It says Hillingdon has spent £1.4 million of taxpayers' money on this, between 2007 and now. In fact Hillingdon has spent about £1.12 million, as they received some funding towards the expenses, from other councils. Meanwhile, it is known that Heathrow spent £1.25 million advertising on Transport for London between June 2016 and 2017. It is also known that, between July 2015 and January 2017, the DfT spent over £3.8 million on external firms such as financial advisers N M Rothschild & Sons, law firms DLA Piper UK and Allen & Overy. No wonder local councils are given little alternative to spending money, to counteract this. 

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Might Heathrow only be able to afford its 3rd runway scheme, by being allowed another 25,000 annual flights well before runway was ready?

The Times' Chief Business Commentator, Alistair Osborne, has written on the deeply unclear finances of a possible Heathrow 3rd runway.  Alistair suggests, one way the airport could try and get in some extra cash, early in the building programme (when no airlines can use the new runway yet) is increasing the current numbers of flights and passengers. Heathrow loves to say it is full, but it is not. Each year the number of passengers creeps up - there is spare terminal capacity. But if instead of the current cap of 480,000 annual flights, Heathrow could get consent for an extra 25,000 (ie. to 505,000), it could add perhaps 6-7 million more passengers, up from the current 78 million or so.  That could bring in much needed income, to help fund the vast project - including what to do with the M25. But adding 25 million more annual flights means about 65 more per day. Heathrow hopes to appease the ire of badly impacted local residents, by saying they would start flying at 5.30am rather than the 4.30am start now. But there would then be plane after plane after plane then, when people are still trying to sleep. And the airlines don't like the idea, as it upsets their lucrative long haul schedules, and causes less resilience if there are delays, at the peak periods. 

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SSE say Stansted airport spin doctors are in a desperate final attempt to sway Uttlesford DC planners

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has described the latest Stansted press release claiming public support for its expansion plans as a complete distortion of the facts and a desperate eleventh hour attempt by the airport’s spin doctors to influence members of Uttlesford District Council (UDC) Planning Committee. The Committee is due to consider the airport planning application - for 44% more flights and 66% more passengers per year - on 14th November. The expansion would mean far higher CO2 emissions (over 1 million tonnes) from Stansted flights than now.  SSE says the expansion plan "would have very serious environmental consequences for this generation and future generations.  It would inflict yet more noise misery upon local residents and it would be a recipe for gridlock [local roads]. ... We simply do not have the infrastructure to support an airport the size of Gatwick”. When Stansted claim hundreds of people support its plans, this is in part due to "repeatedly badgering all airport employees to trigger automatic computer-generated “I support expansion” emails. Only 16 members of the general public sent individual letters or emails to UDC backing the proposals. But UDC received 934 individually-written letters and emails opposing the plans including objections from 47 Parish Councils.  No Parish Council has registered its support for the expansion proposals.

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Heathrow regulator, the CAA, demands answers urgently on Heathrow’s 3rd runway plan

The CEO, Richard Moriarty, of aviation watchdog body, the CAA, have written to the Department for Transport (DfT) asking that they should "decisively and urgently” address major concerns about the funding for the 3rd runway scheme - at least £14 billion, and doubtless more with cost over-runs and things not going to plan. They say Heathrow must “provide assurance that its revised timetable is realistic” and would “ensure timely delivery” of the expansion. The CAA threatens enforcement action against Heathrow to force it to provide clear evidence about how it would finance the scheme, while avoiding pushing up costs for airlines and passengers. The CAA says the project had been hit by a further delay, with a public consultation on detailed plans for the new runway now scheduled for June rather than in the first three months of next year. Heathrow is already the most expensive airport in the world, with landing charges of over £20 per ticket, and that is likely to rise - regardless of flimsy Heathrow assurances. Mr Moriarty said there is a  “lack of high quality and comprehensive information” about how Heathrow would keep costs down, while being commercially viable, and these concerns had “not been adequately addressed, despite repeated requests”.

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Cabbies say Heathrow does not care about air pollution, as they announce sky high taxi electric charging price

Heathrow has to try and get air pollution levels down, as they are already breaching legal limits. With a 3rd runway, they would only get worse. Heathrow has pledged, and tried to persuade the government, that it will do all it can to keep pollution levels down, and there will be (very, very hard to believe ...) "no more" vehicles on the roads round Heathrow, associated with the airport, than now. One of the things Heathrow hopes will help is use of more electric vehicles, lowering local pollution. So one might have thought they would be keen to encourage taxis to use electricity as much as possible, to make their air pollution figures look better. Sure enough, there are now many electric charging points. But belatedly Heathrow has now announced that they will charge a very high price (31p per kW) for this charging. This is far higher than plug-in on street Polar for as little as 0.09p per KW, or even dedicated Transport for London taxi chargers at 22p per KW. Taxi drivers are saying they will not pay the 31p, and will instead use the petrol option on their hybrids for the trip back into London. By contrast, Gatwick has 8 charging points in short stay car parks, with free electricity, and free parking for up to 4 hours for this.

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Mexico has just decided to scrap huge airport project, already half built, due to corruption, over-spending etc

A hugely expensive airport project in Mexico City has been abandoned, more than halfway built.  Mexico's president-elect says he will respect the result of a referendum that rejected (70%) a partly built new airport, effectively ending the $18.35 billion project.  It had been mired in over-spending and corruption, and was started with what critics said was little real environmental study by current President, who leaves office on December 1st.  Organisers of the referendum reported just over one million people voted. The vote has been criticised in part as only about one of every 90 registered Mexican voters participated.  It is unclear what will be done with the enormous foundations already built on the site, a former lake bed known as Texcoco. Much environmental damage has already been done. Critics of the cancellation had said it might affect investor confidence in Mexico. However, the president-elect wants to add 2 commercial runways to a military air base in the town of Santa Lucia, about 45km from Mexico City, involving journeys from the existing airport for transfers etc. The existing city airport was built in the 1940s and is considered to be working at near capacity; it would have been closed had Texcoco been built. Cancelling the Texcoco airport would save Mexicans, allegedly, about $7 billion. 

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Councils need to be bold enough to oppose all new runways, not try to pass the buck on to others

While rightly opposing the expansion of Heathrow airport, with its hugely negative noise and air pollution impacts on hundreds of thousands of Londoners, and its unacceptable increase in aviation carbon emissions, many London councils still want to see the pain inflicted on people affected by Gatwick instead. With increasing awareness that we cannot meet climate targets, of keeping a global rise of 2C - let alone 1.5C - we need to prevent any new runways. After all, logically, not increasing the extent of the aviation carbon problem, before trying to deal with it, is a sensible approach. The most effective, easiest and cheapest way to stop increasing demand is not to expand airport infrastructure. [eg. if someone badly needs to go on diet to lose 4 stone, for their health, no responsible doctor would first advocate gaining another 2 stone, and starting the weight loss after that ....]  Gatwick's hopes to use its emergency runway to add more annual flights will be devastating to people already suffering Gatwick's noise, traffic etc impacts. We really need councils to be bold and wise enough to opt for no new runways anywhere, to help protect citizens and residents everywhere, not only those in their narrow patch.  Interesting if more Gatwick flights would have a negative impact on Heathrow's finances, making the financial case for a 3rd runway even more shaky (negative).

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What would happen to two “Immigrant Removal Centres” close to Heathrow, if its 3rd runway plans go ahead?

There has not been any discussion, in the plans to build a 3rd Heathrow runway, of the detention centre, that would be demolished - and where it would be moved to. To the north of the current airport boundary are two “Immigration Removal Centres” (IRC) which, together, form the UK’s biggest immigration detention complex, with space for 1,065 prisoners. They are run by the private contractor Mitie in a £240 million deal set to run until 2022. The DfT's NPS explains that “continuous service provision of the IRCs at Heathrow is necessary”, and so “replacement facilities in substitution for the affected IRCs should be provided prior to any works”. ie. they would build new replacement centres, which would have to be ready before the old ones are shut. Four possible sites (Jan 2018 document) are suggested, two further north and two further south, close to the airport, all on green belt (so special planning permission is required.) There will be local opposition. Spelthorne (which backs the runway plan) has already come out “categorically” against rehousing the prisons, and refuse to have the centre on their land.  The Heathrow scheme cannot proceed (if at all) before the judgement on the legal challenges, some time next year (early summer?) at the earliest. The Home Office is unlikely to do much on new detention centre plans until that is certain.

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Stop Stansted Expansion says Uttlesford DC planners’ recommendation is just an uncritical rehash of MAG’s claims

The recommendation by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) planning officers, published on 22 October, that the current airport planning application should be approved, will not surprise anyone who has followed UDC’s handling of this airport planning application from the beginning.  As far back as July 2017 – before the application was even submitted – UDC were openly discussing concessions that might be extracted from Manchester Airports Group (MAG), the owners of Stansted, in return for approving the application. SSE say the UDC officers’ report is little more than a rehash of MAG’s planning statement with no attempt made to challenge the many unsubstantiated and misleading claims made in the planning application. They say UDC planning officers haven’t even bothered to check the many wholly implausible assumptions made by MAG which allow it to claim that there would be no significant adverse impacts if the application is approved - thought that would mean a 66% increase in passengers and a 44% increase in flights compared to last year.  But UDC say this "would not result in significant adverse impacts.”  It is now for UDC councillors on the planning committee to decide.  This case seems too large and complex for a small team of planning officers in a small local authority, without the necessary resources or expertise.

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Local group SHE advises residents they should NOT be intimidated by, or respond to, Heathrow demands for their household information

Residents living in the CPO (Compulsory Purchase Order) area for the proposed Heathrow 3rd runway have received a letter, questionnaire and information sheet from Heathrow even though many of those people have already refused to take part in its surveys linked to the proposed runway. Local group, Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) says this repeated pestering of residents for data looks like harassment. In a long, detailed article here SHE gives information on what Heathrow is doing, what they ask for, and how residents do NOT have to give Heathrow any of the details they ask. The runway is NOT a done deal, and until it is, no resident is under any obligation to reveal personal information about themselves, their household members, their mortgage etc. The details are wanted by Heathrow, in order to facilitate future acquisition of the properties. The persistent propaganda by Heathrow, and the letters etc are having a demoralising effect (which suits the airport) on residents.  SHE advises residents that they should NOT feel under any obligation to help Heathrow, and they should "NOT let this letter and accompanying paperwork upset or stress you. It can be binned with a clear conscience if that helps. Otherwise, just put it at the back of a drawer and get on with your life."

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Edinburgh Airport flight path plan rejected by CAA, as it was not the same as in the consultation

A deeply unpopular plan to change a flight path at Edinburgh Airport has been rejected by the CAA. The proposed changes would have seen aircraft flying to the west of Cramond and along the Firth of Forth. The CAA said it could not approve the proposal due to "significant" differences between the final plan and the version developed in consultation with local communities. Had the correct information been in the consultation, it could have made people respond differently to the questions asked. It was the second set of plans submitted to the CAA after the industry regulator told Edinburgh Airport to do more work on the original proposal. Helena Paul, of Edinburgh Airport Watch, said: "On behalf of communities affected by these damaging proposals we are highly relieved the CAA have looked carefully and agreed the process was fatally flawed and could not be allowed to stand. Our hope now is the regulator does not allow Edinburgh Airport to continue using an outdated set of rules for any future consultations and instead enforces the new set of rules brought in for any consultations on new flight paths."  Further consultation would be necessary.  The airport said modernising the airspace was necessary for growth.

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Error in Gatwick Route 4 flight track-keeping figures undermines trust in airport

Local group, Plane Wrong, says Gatwick Airport have always maintained they are ‘good neighbours’ but it is becoming increasingly clear that - as a commercial enterprise - Gatwick have their own agenda and are single minded about achieving their growth and bottom line profit. Gatwick have been reporting that Route 4, the busiest departure route out of the airport to the west, heading north and then east, has significantly improved its track-keeping throughout 2018. The experiences of local supporters of campaign group, Plane Wrong, have suggested the contrary and that Gatwick's figures on track-keeping are wrong.  In fact, since January 2018 Gatwick has mis-calculated the percentage of aircraft flying outside the designated route. They have now admitted that instead of the 1-2% claimed and published on their website, the actual level of non-compliance was up to 8%. It is also a concern that Gatwick's noise and track-keeping monitoring group, NATMAG, failed to pick this up. In the past 4 years, the number of passengers using Gatwick has risen by about 25%, but there has been no consultation or no account taken of the impact on the health and well-being of local communities.

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New map reveals – Slough and Windsor will be at the heart of pollution caused by Heathrow expansion

Slough Borough Council has been told it must protect its residents after it was revealed the town would be right in the epicentre of increased noise and air pollution, if a 3rd Heathrow runway is built.  The CAA map shows that Slough and Windsor will be at the heart of increased pollution, and community groups are very upset. The Colnbrook Community Association (CCA) said it was time for Slough Borough Council to ‘wake up and protect our residents’ following the publication. Slough Borough Council does not criticise Heathrow, as it hopes to get some benefits from the expansion, if it never complains. The Council says:  “We have been vigorously defending the local community not least in our cabinet discussions about road diversions through Colnbrook and securing a green envelope around Colnbrook."  The quality of life for many residents will be diminished by the 3rd runway, regardless of some businesses making more money. CCA said: “The trouble is that gullible Local Authorities, Councillors, MP’s and media peeps swallow this misinformation and accept it as truth. Residents know it’s fake news; Heathrow’s PR knows it’s fake news (they make it up); media knows its fake news – but it doesn’t make headlines.”

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Anger and despair in local communities as CAA backs London City airport flight path changes

Local residents in the East London area reacted with fury to the report published by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) which backed the controversial changes London City Airport made to its flight paths two years ago.  In 2016 the airport narrowed all its flights paths, so they became more concentrated.  It resulted in a fourfold increase in complaints as people under these new concentrated flight paths experienced many more planes than before.  The new CAA report recommends that the concentrated flight paths remain in place. The new flight paths are not producing the fuel and CO2 savings that were expected, and plans are not flying the exact routes, but the CAA still approved them.  John Stewart, chair of HACAN East, the campaign body which gives a voice to residents experiencing the noise, said, “There is anger and despair that the CAA has backed the concentrated flight paths.  Many people hoped that today’s report would end two years of misery and they would be able to get their lives back.  This decision is a cruel blow for them.”

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Campaigners fighting Gatwick expansion issue “State of Emergency” for the Sussex countryside

CPRE Sussex has taken the unprecedented step of declaring a “Countryside State of Emergency” in response to Gatwick Airport’s new expansion ‘Master Plan’, published on October 18th.  The Master Plan details the airport’s proposal to expand from one to potentially three runways. A 2nd runway created from Gatwick’s existing emergency runway could result in an estimated 14 million extra passengers travelling through Sussex to/from the airport every year. A 3rd runway to the south - on the "safeguarded" land - would add millions more passengers and require “significant changes to the airport and surrounding roads”.  “This plan would have a devastating impact on our countryside,” says CPRE Sussex Chair, David Johnson. “It would change the landscape and rural character of Sussex forever - scaring our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and deeply damaging the tranquillity and ecology of our National Park.” He commented: "It would be unthinkable to allow Gatwick to urbanise Sussex in this way, so we will be joining with all other community and conservation groups to oppose these plans”. We need to give our National Parks and AONBs more, and better protection - not risk ruining them with the impacts of developing an airport about the size Heathrow is now. 

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CAGNE points out that Gatwick’s planned local consultation events ignore most areas worst impacted by noise

Local group CAGNE has written to Gatwick to express their concern that the consultation events for the Gatwick Master Plan, including adding over 30% more flights per year,  are being held in peripheral areas that are not constantly, if at all, affected by aircraft noise. The Gatwick "Master Plan", launched on 18th October, reveals plans to use the emergency runway and continue to safeguard the land for a 2nd runway, providing details of a three-runway airport eventually. CAGNE commented that the 5 consultation events planned are not in the areas where people will be experiencing the worst noise problems, or those getting noise for the first time. The events are in areas like Crawley, Brighton and Croydon - where there may be support for the expansion, and people are not affected negatively. Many people in areas to be affected in future are probably totally unaware of what is being proposed by the airport. By holding events in areas like Croydon, Gatwick hopes it can manipulate the responses to their loaded questionnaire whilst avoiding holding events in affected areas as Reigate, Redhill, Dorking, Alfold, Lingfield and Copthorne. Everyone in areas to be affected, including the elderly and those without internet access, should be given full information.

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Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is looking to buy part of GIP’s 42% stake in Gatwick

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is looking to buy part of a stake in Gatwick airport that could be worth more than 3 billion pounds $3.92 billion, Sky News on Friday. CPPIB is said to be part of a group of investors proposing to buy out Global Infrastructure Partner's (GIP) 42% stake in the second-busiest airport in Britain, the Sky News report said.  The Canadian pension fund would invest "hundreds of millions of pounds" in the airport, if the deal gets finalised, insiders told Sky News.

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“What we really need is a change of mentality. Let’s get ready for an era where flying is the new smoking.”

Professor Dorothea Hilhorst has done a blog on how essential it is for everyone, including development practitioners and academics, to cut the amount they fly. She asks whether flying should become the new smoking and how we can address our problematic flying behaviour. This is especially vital after the IPCC report that showed how humanity needs to keep global warming to 1.5C.  She says: "...governments should get their acts together and start taxing air travel, while investing in alternatives" ... "organisations and their employees should also take some level of responsibility." ... "What we really need, though, is a change of mentality. Let’s stop kidding ourselves. " There are alternatives.  Like other academics she has "found it normal or at best a necessary evil to hop on a plane for every piece of research, conference or seminar." This has to change. There are problems like the department saying: “Sorry, we are short on budget this year, would you mind taking the plane rather than the train?” There is a lot academia (and business etc) could do, such as organising international conferences "every three or four years rather than every year" or more use of Skype for seminars etc, or "investing more in identifying and fostering local experts to avoid international consultancies." Read the full blog.

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Gatwick’s subterfuge with its emergency runway – or a 2nd runway, by any other name

In response to Gatwick airport announcing they plan to use their emergency runway, as a 2nd runway, local campaign, Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) Chairman, Peter Barclay, said, "We strongly oppose any 2nd runway at Gatwick and it will fight this proposal tooth and nail." The Emergency Runway is located parallel to and only approximately 190m north of the main runway. Planning permission for the emergency runway was granted solely on the basis that - under no circumstances - could it be used in conjunction with the main runway. The CAA permission is that only one runway can be used at a time, and the emergency runway can only be used if the main runway is out of action. New planning consent (DCO) from Crawley council would be needed for the change of use, and also consent from the CAA and other safety bodies. Peter said: “The proposal, which may bring in excess of 80,000 additional flights a year, will simply increase the problems already being experienced by local communities - noise, air pollution and excessive road traffic. It would also put even greater pressure on the tottering road and rail infrastructure both locally and further afield. ... Gatwick is attempting to get a 2nd runway via the back door, as it were."

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Gatwick opens 12 week consultation on using its emergency runway, for some take-offs, adding 30% + more flights

Gatwick has announced its draft "Master Plan" which (quote) "sets out how Gatwick can grow and do more for Britain."  In order to cram more flights into a one-runway airport, they hope to make more use of their emergency runway, parallel but close to the main runway. It is too near to be used properly as a second runway, on safety grounds. There will now be a 12 week consultation period on the plans, and Gatwick hopes to finalise its plans some time into 2019. The plans also include how the airport hopes to "meet future aviation demand with sustainable growth" (sic) into the 2030s. Under its 40-year current planning agreement, Gatwick’s existing standby runway is only used when the main runway is closed for maintenance or emergencies. But Gatwick hopes it "could potentially bring its existing standby runway into routine use for departing flights, alongside its main runway, by the mid-2020s."  This could mean a maximum of 390,000 flights annually (P. 88) compared to 290,000 in 2016, (ie. about 34% more.). That could mean up to 70 million annual passengers, compared to 43 million now - and a current theoretical maximum of 61 million (ie. about 15% more). “We would be able to add between 10 and 15 additional hourly aircraft movements in the peak hours.” (P.10)   Oh .... and  with no extra noise .... obviously....

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Teddington TAG shows London Assembly data proves Heathrow NOx travels far, far away from the airport (not just Grayling’s “2km”)

The Airports Commission had, as its study area for the effects of Heathrow expansion, an area of just 2 kilometres from the boundary of the expanded airport. Chris Grayling wrote to the Chair of the Transport Committee on the 23rd February 2018 saying that this area "captures over 98% of additional emissions that could occur from expansion". Teddington TAG asks if this figure of 98% emissions captured within 2 km of the boundary is true. They located air pollution data from the London Assembly, available by Borough. It apportions how much of the NOx in different areas is from vehicles, aviation and other sources. This shows that in Richmond Old Deer Park, according to the Data Apportionment Tool, about 77% of the NOx is from aviation. In Kew / North Sheen, 11km from touch-down, about 57% is from aviation.  At Putney, which is under the flight path but is over 15 km from touch-down at Heathrow, about 33% of the NOx is from aviation. Putney is worse off than Kew as total emissions are greater. And all that is just from 2 runways! Aviation apportionment readings stretch back to Clapham Junction and beyond. So why did Grayling tell the Transport Committee that 98% was within 2km.  Ignorance of the facts? Failure to be properly informed?

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Prof Kevin Anderson blog: “Callous or calamitous? … the UK climate minister pulls the rug from under 1.5°C”

The UK government is meant to be signed up to the Paris Agreement on climate change. That aims to keep global warming to below 2 degrees C. It is now understood that we actually need to keep warming to below 1.5 degrees C. The UK is woefully lacking any real progress on this, with its claimed cut in emissions largely due to phasing out coal power stations. Now the "Minister of Energy and Clean Growth", Clare Perry, has said she is writing to the government's advisors on climate change, the CCC, to ask "their advice on the implications for the UK of the IPCC’s recent 1.5°C report." However, as Prof Kevin Anderson explains, the CCC is permitted only to comment on the implications of Paris for post 2032. Ms Perry says: "Carbon budgets already set in legislation (covering 2018-2032) are out of scope of this request.”  Nowhere does she acknowledge the IPCC’s recent call for drastic reductions in emissions by 2030 if we are to have any chance of meeting our 1.5°C commitment. There is little point for the CCC only to be able to consider carbon cuts years ahead, when most current Ministers will long have been out of post. The UK's emissions have not, in fact, decreased - but barely altered since 1990, when international aviation and shipping are included, as well as UK imports.  

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Heathrow electric plane greenwash – tiny subsidy for one plane …years ahead ….

Heathrow has made its latest greenwashing attempt. This time it is saying it is to let the first electric hybrid plane have a year's free landing slots, when in regular service. This is - quote - "designed to encourage airlines to pursue clean growth and deploy their cleanest, quietest aircraft at Heathrow." This is part of the oxymoron, "clean growth" which business is aiming for. (Clean - totally abused word with aviation sector - is probably meant to mean lower carbon, in this context.) So far there is - wait for it - a plane that can carry 2 passengers .... Heathrow is telling the government etc that it is helping to "drive sustainable change across the industry."  The aviation industry hopes there might be electric aircraft carrying passengers by 2030 (so the Heathrow offer is not exactly imminent...) Here is a Heathrow quote, showing just how much carbon greenwash this is:  "With global air passengers expected to double by 2035, these changes will play a critical role in driving a sustainable future for the aviation sector and will support goals outlined in Heathrow’s own sustainability strategy – Heathrow 2.0."  Aviation Minister, Liz Sugg, said: "Our Aviation Strategy [consultation soon] will also consider further ways to support the development of cleaner, greener technology in the sector.”

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WHO Europe publishes tough guidelines & recommendations for policymakers to cut aircraft noise

WHO Europe has now published its long-awaited environmental noise guidelines, (for aviation, road, rail, wind turbine and leisure noise) the first complete update of the guidelines launched in 1999. For aircraft noise, the relevant guidelines strongly recommend reducing noise levels to below 45 dB Lden during the day, as aircraft noise above this level is associated with adverse health effects.  For night noise exposure, they recommend reducing noise levels to below 40 dB Lnight, as aircraft noise above this level is associated with adverse effects on sleep. They say that to reduce health effects, policy-makers should "implement suitable measures to reduce noise exposure from aircraft in the population exposed to levels above the guideline values for average and night noise exposure.”  Groups concerned about aircraft noise have long asked that WHO health guidelines are included in UK aviation policy documents, but they are not. There is no mention of WHO in the Government’s Aviation Strategy documents so far. Tim Johnson, AEF Director, said:  "The Government has the perfect opportunity to respond positively in its draft Aviation Strategy due later this year. Rather than electing to ignore the WHO’s advice on the basis that it is too challenging, it should use set out appropriate measures to tackle this issue." 

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Norway proposes increased tax on long haul flights, (200 crowns from 80 now) and cut on short haul (75 crowns from 80 now)  – due to climate change

The Norwegian government proposed on Monday to raise the tax on airline tickets to non-European destinations to 200 Norwegian crowns ($24.13) from 80 crowns currently.   On travel in Europe, it proposed a cut to 75 crowns per ticket from 80 crowns.   “The passenger fee is given an environmental profile by introducing distance differentiation with higher rate from EEA/Europe,” the government said in its 2019 fiscal budget proposal.  Overall, the overall proceeds from airline ticket fees is expected to be neutral, it added.  If approved by the parliament the changes will take place from April 1st 2019.

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New station among big plans for Leeds Bradford airport

The public will have their say on proposals to improve transport connectivity to Leeds Bradford Airport, including plans for a new railway station nearby. Senior councillors on Leeds City Council’s executive board have agreed a recommendation to carry out public consultation and engagement on proposals to improve road and rail access to the airport to support its future growth, as well as job creation in the area and addressing current congestion issues in north west Leeds.  The council working with West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Leeds Bradford Airport and key stakeholders has put forward key investment proposals for a new airport parkway rail station, located on the existing Leeds-Harrogate Line, with a short connecting spur road to the airport to provide a shuttle bus connection similar to that at Luton Airport. This would also serve as a park and ride service for destinations on the Leeds-Harrogate Line and beyond. Also improving road access through one of three options. And releasing 36 hectares of land next to the airport for employment growth and job creation in north west Leeds. All of the key details on the proposals to be considered together will be available in the consultation, to take place early in 2019.

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