What you can do

Petition to government:  Ban Night Flights

 … Sign the petition … 

Aviation Communities Forum started this petition to The Secretary of State for Transport.

Night Flights are a real problem for many people impacted by flight paths to and from airports. They disturb sleep, cause annoyance, stress people out and can lead to real health problems.

Night flights are not essential to the UK economy.  [Many are just to allow low cost airlines to fit more “rotations” in per day, to get more people flying, more cheaply – not helping climate change].

From January to 21st March 2021, the UK Government is consulting on the future of night flights.  There is more information about the consultation here.

This is our chance to tell the DfT to ban night flights for good.

Sign the petition 

There is a great deal you can do if you are concerned about the growth of aviation, or the growth of airports

Tell the UK government to scrap plans for Heathrow expansion

On 16th December 2020 the Supreme Court overturned the historic legal victory by Friends of the Earth and Plan B Earth, against the government’s decision to support expansion at Heathrow Airport – by approving the Airports NPS (National Policy Statement).
This decision brings the airport a step closer [but only a step – it is NOT final approval] to building a third runway. If that happens it would mean a dramatic rise in flights and greenhouse gas emissions. But for the sake of people and planet, Friends of the Earth are not giving up.
And there is hope – in fact it’s clear from the judgment that this is not a green light to start construction. Far from it. [The runway has to go through the whole DCO (Development Consent Order) process, convincing the authorities about carbon emissions, in relation to the current climate targets and policies at the time. ]
Boris Johnson still has the power to scrap the policy decision to support Heathrow expansion. With the prime minister currently trying to prove his green credentials to the world, now’s the perfect time to demand a re-think. If enough of us speak out, Heathrow’s third runway can still be stopped.
Heathrow is already one of the largest single sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK.
Expansion at Heathrow would be a disaster for the climate, as well as an air and noise pollution nightmare for the local communities facing a 50% increase in flights each day – if the third runway is built.
But the judgement isn’t a green light for Heathrow to start building. For that, they need planning permission, which they don’t have. The judges explicitly stated that the airport’s plans would still need to satisfy climate tests during the planning process – something Friends of the Earth and many others believe it will be very difficult for them to do.
The world has moved on since the government first made the decision to back the third runway in 2018. Climate policy has been significantly tightened since then.
Just last week the government’s own statutory climate advisors, the Committee on Climare Change, poured serious doubt on the runway – saying there should be no overall increase in airport capacity in the UK if we are to meet our climate commitments.
So with the choice still in Mr Johnson’s hands, let’s ask him to protect the planet, show real climate leadership, and scrap Heathrow – and indeed any – airport expansion.
The judgement is a setback, not the end. There’s everything still to play for.
Adapted from email from Katie de Kauwe,
Lawyer, Friends of the Earth
PS. Do you remember when Boris Johnson said, “I will lie down with you in front of those bulldozers and stop the construction of that third runway”? We know the prime minister’s not always stuck rigidly to his word. But the quote shows he’s not entirely sold on Heathrow expansion. That’s another reason to keep the pressure up so please sign the petition today.


For the first newsletter of a new grouping, focused on aviation as we hope to emerge from the Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown – the Aviation Climate Alliance.  First edition May 2020. ACA newsletter May 2020 issue 1


For a bit of light relief and a laugh, see Humour

If you live near a particular  airport:

You may be affected by its operations, the noise of planes, air pollution, the
road problems associated with the airport, or fear of future expansion plans.
If so, there may be a group of concerned residents in your area, with whom we
can put you in touch.

Many airports, or even airfields, have local campaigners who would welcome others who share their concerns. Through a local group, you could find out more about the airport, and meet others who are also affected by it, and want to do something.   There may a variety of jobs that need to be done by  the group – press work, public meetings, street stalls, researching information, admin or fundraising, contributing energy and enthusiasm, technical or planning knowledge, producing leaflets or literature or a website ……… the list goes on……..  You might have just the skills needed, and your contribution would be very much appreciated.

Here is a list of groups affiliated to AirportWatch.

Join other campaigning organisations, also working on climate change or aviation:

AirportWatch is an umbrella group, and many other organisations within it are
campaigning against climate change, and for more sustainable means of transport.  Here are  links to the websites of a number of like-minded organisations.

What can we all do to reduce our air travel?

AirportWatch wants the growth of air travel in the UK to grow only very slowly, and UK aviation carbon emissions to stabilise at around their current level(37.5 MtCO2 per year).   That is what is needed, in order to keep the UK’s carbon emissions within the target level for 2050.
That would not be depriving anyone of anything they have now – merely stopping our addiction to cheap travel.
In a world with a serious problem of carbon emissions altering the global climate, and declining amounts of easily accessible conventional fossil fuels, we are ill advised to lock in ever increasing dependence on air travel.
Our current increasing tendency to “hyper-mobility” and a growing expectation of being able to visit / travel to any part of the globe, cheaply does not sit easily with the UK’s responsibilities on carbon emissions.
But this boils down to everyone looking at their own lifestyle choices.  Our personal transport and travel choices are our own responsibility. We cannot morally blame companies or governments, if as individuals we do not take personal responsibility to limit our personal carbon footprints.
It may involve asking ourselves some tricky questions, and making difficult decisions.

“Responsible travel is the route to a happy holiday”

Comprehensive schedule of trains in Europe

Great value coach trips Eurolines

The Man in Seat Sixty-One   – useful advice about how to travel by train in Europe

UK – National Rail

Useful Links:


Compare modes of transport, for journeys worldwide and not only in the UK, using Red Planet Travel’s website

The website can plan your journey for you, using whichever method of travel you
want. Sadly it does not give any indication of the associated  carbon emissions of the journey.  Red Planet Travel
 Some sample comparisons  (The figures just give CO2 emissions – the figures for planes should be doubled, to take account of other effects of air pollutants at altitude).

Try train travel

For almost all journeys in England, Wales or Scotland, rail is a very acceptable
alternative to flying.   AirportWatch would like to see a big reduction in internal
flights in the UK, where there is a good rail service.   Taking the train probably
has around a  tenth as much climate changing effect as taking a plane, per passenger.
See below.
Flight-Free Holidays.
See the Guardian’s top 100 flight free holidays.     Details …..

Try reducing CO2 emissions with Video Conferencing

It is highly desirable for businesses to  reduce emissions.  The BT Video Conferencing
website shows how to reduce CO2, and how avoiding travel to meetings is also more
cost-effective.   You can work out the emissions of CO2 saved by replacing face-to-face
meetings with conferencing, using   the calculator on their website.

Try holidaying in Britain

By holidaying in Britain, rather than jetting off, you’ll save a huge amount
of fuel and greenhouse gas emissions. You don’t have to miss out on fantastic
beaches either – find the best with the Marine Conservation Society’s
 ‘Good Beach Guide’ at www.goodbeachguide.co.uk  and the Blue Flag Campaign at http://www.blueflag.org/
See the Visit Britain website for ideas for UK holidays
See Hoseasons for lots of holidays in the UK
Rent a holiday cottage in the UK
and so many other brilliant ways to enjoy the vast amount the UK has to offer.

Complain about misleading air travel advertisements

If you see misleading adverts by the airline industry, and you wish to complain
to the Advertising Standards Authority, here is the website for the on-line complaints

Advertising Standards Authority – complaints form

How about carbon off-setting?   NO !

AirportWatch are not convinced by off-setting.  A few of the schemes may be mildly
beneficial.  None has the effect of immediately removing the  CO2  that your flight
has generated from the atmosphere.  Most offsetting is akin  to the Medieval Pardons,
to salve the conscience.
To see a tremendous spoof offsetting website, showing how daft offsettig can
be, see Cheat Neutral

Friends of the Earth have produced a report  (32 pages)entitled:

A Dangerous Distraction. Why offsetting is failing the climate and people: the evidence’

The report exposes carbon offsetting as ineffective and damaging, and is  released to mark the launch of FoE’s   Demand Climate Change Campaign for a strong and fair global climate agreement at UN talks – which culminate in Copenhagen in December.   FoE  exposes carbon offsetting as a con which is failing to reduce, and in some cases is even increasing, carbon emissions.   The UK Government is actively promoting the increased use of offsetting at the UN climate talks, including proposing a plan to carbon offset by buying up forests – which will not stop deforestation and will cause significant social harm to the people that rely on them.          FoE press release       2.6.2009

The full report  as well as a summary of key facts from the report, is available
at http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefing_notes/dangerous_distraction.pdf          (Executive Summary on pages 4 and 5).


So – what can we do to reduce our air travel?

There may be measures all of us can take to reduce the air travel component of our own carbon footprints.  Some of these involve difficult choices.  You may like to try thinking
about  these tricky questions:

– How about reducing the amount of flying  I undertake each year?  

– Is my flight really necessary?  

– Is buying a second home abroad, and travelling to and fro many times per year
really sustainable?
– Could I make the journey by train?  
– Would a train journey really be much slower, or much less convenient?
– Could I have my holiday in the UK?
– Could I cut down on  my number of foreign holidays?
– Could I have just one holiday abroad each year, and any others in the UK?
– If I am travelling abroad, would it make sense to stay on for a bit longer to see more things, rather than then have to travel back again later (yet another flight)
– Is my business flight abroad necessary, or could it be replaced by video-conferencing?
– Can we prevent our society becoming plane-dependent, so we are not all so hooked
on cheap
flights that we find it hard to do without them?
Should I plan my future so I am dependent on air travel  in order to see my friends and family?
– Can we expect people in developing countries to forego cheap air travel, if
we will not cut down on
  it ourselves?
 – Do I actually know how much carbon my flight will be creating, compared to the rest of my energy use per year?  [For instance, one return flight to New York might be comparable to the fuel use of an average car for a year] 


If you currently have one holiday abroad – by plane – per year, stick to that.  Don’t  increase it  to two holidays by air, and a weekend break or two by air as well.  If you can do better, and cut your air travel from its current level, that would be great.

Try train travel

For almost all journeys in England, Wales or Scotland, rail is a very acceptable
alternative to flying.   AirportWatch would like to see a big reduction in internal
flights in the UK, where there is a good rail service.   Taking the train probably
has around a  tenth as much climate changing effect as taking a plane, per passenger.
For journeys of under about  500 miles within Europe, rail is also a good alternative
to flying.   European trains are fast and efficient, the journey by Eurostar from
London to Paris is about the same as a flight, and for many people, the experience
of rail travel is genuinely more pleasant than that of flying.
Though the flight itself if quick, there is all the getting to the airport, being
made to hang around for hours in order to make you buy things at the airport,
the queuing, the walking down lengthy terminal corridors, more queuing for baggage
reclaim ………….

If you are concerned about aviation and its environmental effects:

Your main concern may be with the growth of air travel, and the environmental
damage it does. This is not only climate change, but also destruction of communities,
damage to habitats near airports, noise and local air pollution

Why is air travel uniquely damaging?

Air travel has the ability to be uniquely damaging, as the gases emitted by planes
are released high into the atmosphere, where   they do more damage than on the
ground.     Nitrogen oxides and water vapour are produced with aircraft exhaust
gases, and these produce an effect perhaps twice as bad as the CO2 alone.   (The
exact extent of this “radiative forcing” as it is called, is uncertain, as the
science is complex and there are many different variables and components.   A multiplier
of about 2 may be conservative, but is thought to be approximately correct).

Taking into account the x2 multiplier, a return trip for one person by air to
New York produces about the same amount of climate changing effect as an average
UK car (about 35 mpg) in a whole year’s motoring.     A return flight to Rome would
produce about as much climate changing effect as all of one person’s gas and electricity
use for a year.     The longer your flight, the more CO2 emitted into the atmosphere
(though the taking off is the worse component of the flight – for emissions).

This demonstrates how easy it is – when flying – to produce a huge % of a person’s
CO2 output, without ever really being aware of it.   Driving 6,000 miles in a car
would take a very long time, and be extremely tiring and boring.   You can produce
the same emissions of CO2 in a couple of hours on a plane, comfortably sipping
a glass of wine and watching a movie.

The amount of CO2 that each person’s activities put into the atmosphere (heating,
lighting, car use, travel, use of appliances, things we buy, services we use)
is called our carbon footprint.

The UK Government has set itself a target of a 80% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to their 1990 level, for the country, by 2050.   With air travel growing at its current rate, (perhaps
3 -4% per year) we are on target for aviation to contribute a higher and  higher proportion of the UK’s total CO2 emissions.

Aviation emissions will continue to grow, under current government policies, while all other sectors of the economy have to cut theirs.  If a new runway is built in the south east, we will have real difficulties in keeping UK carbon emissions within the national target, and all other sectors would be required not only to make cuts of about 80% on their 1990 level, but more like 85%. Just so aviation can be allowed to increase emissions. That is a case of a deplorable absence of “joined up thinking.”


And if all that has left you needing a bit of light relief ………

try listening to the immortal wisdom of Sir Montgomery Cecil, Chairman of “Spurt”
and a true patriot ………

Video of Sir Monty in action


BA Hostesses video clip

Delightful 4 minute YouTube video of 2 BA hostesses doing a spoof of the BA anthem (Lakme, Flower Duet) to alternative words.  Worth watching!

Fascinating Aida – Cheap Flights – on YouTube


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