Home Page Link Thaxted - under the present flightpath and threatened with quadrupled activity Takeley's 12th century parish church, close to proposed second runway Harcamlow Way, Bamber's Green - much of the long distance path and village would disappear under Runway 2 Clavering - typical of the Uttlesford villages threatened by urbanisation
Campaigning against proposals to expand Stansted Airport

image SSE NEWS ARCHIVE - April to June 2003

26 June 2003


Virgin Atlantic Airlines
Wants the early building of a third runway at Heathrow - June 24

They suggest a stepped approach, firstly move quickly to a mixed-mode use of Heathrow's existing runways, followed by a third runway at Heathrow with associated passenger facilities and also an early second runway at Gatwick. If further runway capacity is needed then a third runway should be built at Gatwick, or a second at Stansted.

They are not in favour of Cliffe, or of a second hub airport. They express a brief concern over the environmental damage that would be caused by a "mega-Stansted. An extra runway at Heathrow is regarded as the most cost effective at "an acceptable cost to the environment".

Sir Richard Branson made the usual warnings about the vital need to expand the aviation industry. He wants a Bill put through Parliament to ease the building of a new runway.

He has offered some environmental concessions:

*  Control and reduce adverse impacts where possible. (No practical suggestions as to how)
*  Mitigation of remaining impacts where practicable.
*  Compensation for the remainder.
*  Establishment of a local environmental management plan.
*  At Heathrow, a curfew on night flights from the new runway, adherence to noise limits imposed by the Inspector at the Terminal 5 Inquiry, the introduction of air quality controls.

Our Comment: All these promises at least show he has thought about it. However it appears that he either does not accept, or has not read, the many reports (including the Government's own Consultant's report) that make it perfectly clear that, with the present available technology, there is no possibility that serious environmental damage can be avoided if too much expansion is allowed.

Instead of starting with the expansion and then trying to deal with the consequences it would be better if Sir Richard and the Government started by asking the question "What are the Environmental limits in relation to the predicted fleet mixes, firstly with regard to climate change, and secondly with regard to air quality and noise at each airport?"

Expansion should be limited to these limits until a more sustainable aircraft is a practicable proposition. The manufacturers appear to be considering the options but not the airlines, their customers, who are not facing up to the future.

The TUC has joined the Employers, they want more runways too!

June 25 - The TUC, in their reponse, want all three runways - at Heathrow first, then at Gatwick and Stansted !

Their press release reads like the more enthusiastic parts of the consultation document itself. The costs of doing nothing they say, are too awful to contemplate. Airports in Europe will lure airlines away, jobs will be lost, the UK must remain at the heart of air travel in Europe. If air travel costs rise, then the ordinary working man will not be able to travel by air, 73 million passengers journeys will be lost.

In a gesture towards environmental concerns they say that night time quotas should remain unchanged at Heathrow and the Kyoto targets must be kept.

Our Comment: It is extraordinary how otherwise sensible organisations believe that it is possible to have the expansion and keep environmental damage to safe levels. The old saying "You can't have your cake and eat it" is as true for aviation as in other parts of the economy.

We also ask why passengers who wish to fly to the UK are going to be lured into flying via Europe. The fears of a mass exodus to Paris or Amsterdam must only apply to transfer passengers who do not set foot on UK soil and whose value to the UK economy generally must be nil - except to the airlines and airports. There are surely enough UK passengers to keep airlines flying to and from the UK - what is more likely to deter them is the prospect of even more congestion in the passenger areas, and there are many reasons for plane delays other than runway capacity.

As for cheap fares enabling more lower wage earners to fly, the TUC seems to forget that the air fare is but a small part of the cost of travelling abroad, with far more being spent on food and accommodation at the holiday destination. Providing subsidised cheap air transport for holidays outside the UK simply moves jobs in the hotel, catering and retail trades away from the UK, as well as weakening Sterling by increasing our trade deficit. If subsidies are available, they would be better targeted at rail travel to UK holiday destinations.

A Breath of Fresh Air from the Woodland Trust.

In their press release on the "Vanishing Villages" gathering on June 29th, the Woodland Trust reminds us how much woodland will be lost if Stansted expands. Not only Hatfield Forest, but 86 hectares of surrounding ancient woodland as well. The associated urbanisation would turn this part of Essex into another urban sprawl.

Pat Dale

24 June 2003


The Independent on Sunday
By Clayton Hirst - 22 June 2003

A £565m black hole exists in the Government's figures for the cost of building new runways and infrastructure at Stansted Airport, a report will claim on Thursday.

Produced by consultants Berkeley Hanover, the report will challenge the Government's claim that improving the road and rail infrastructure around the airport will cost up to £1.88bn. Berkeley, which has previously worked for Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, is expected to claim that the real figure could be as high as £2.45bn.

The report has the backing of shadow financial secretary Mark Prisk. It was commissioned by Uttlesford District Council and the Stop Stansted Expansion Campaign, which counts TV chef Jamie Oliver as a member. Transport Secretary Alistair Darling must decide this year between: building a third runway at Heathrow; two at Gatwick; a new airport at Cliffe in Kent; or up to three new runways at Stansted.

It is understood that Berkeley Hanover will challenge the figures in the Government's South East Regional Aviation Study (Seras). This predicted that three new runways at Stansted would generate up to 270,000 average daily car trips by 2030 and 43,000 rail journeys.


Hypocricy Takes To The Air Over Stansted
The Telegraph - by Kevin Myers (Filed: 22/06/2003)

Terry Waite and Jamie Oliver probably never had a second thought about taking leading roles in the campaign against the proposed expansion of Stansted Airport. They are celebrities, and this is an era which reveres celebrity for its own sake: so to the organisers of the anti-Stansted enlargement, having such a famous pair heading their particular cause must have seemed a guarantee of success.

But now Freedom to Fly - a front organisation for airlines wanting to use the extended Stansted - has gleefully pointed out that the two men - whose homes are next to Stansted - are themselves serial flyers. "Smacks of hypocrisy," declared Dan Hodges, the director of Freedom to Fly.

Indeed it does. Jamie Oliver says that he is not opposed to an airport somewhere else (naturally) in the south east, and Terry Waite has declared that the countryside is a precious and dwindling asset. "It is vital that those who value our heritage and advocate sensible development make their voices heard now. Soon it could be too late."

Our Comment: There follows an unpleasant, childish, and unnecessary personal attack on both men. Apart from the fact that both have been misquoted have either, or any member of SSE ever suggested that we should stop flying altogether? Objecting to excessive expansion of air traffic and the damage that such expansion would bring is not the same. There are those who are obliged to fly because of their work, and these mainly involve long haul flights and urgent business trips to Europe. The predicted 70% increase in tourism that the Government suggests is possible is quite a different matter. These would be, as now, mainly UK citizens taking short haul trips that are more polluting and take money out of the country rather than stimulating the local economy in the UK, where many excellent resorts are short of visitors.

In spite of the ridiculously low fares only 50% of the UK population choose to fly. Freedom to Fly should ask themselves whether they would advocate freedom of action in all walks of life, do they consider that there is never a case for restricting some activities for the general good? It will be all our grandchildren who suffer from climate change if some restriction is not placed on air traffic expansion.


Do we need more runways?
The Telegraph - 21 June 2003

The argument over airport development is fierce. Zac Goldsmith, environmentalist, and Michael O'Leary, head of Ryanair, have their say

No:  We need an air fuel tax and faster rail links
By Zac Goldsmith

The Government predicts a threefold increase in the number of passengers using air transport by 2030, and intends to provide for it. According to the London-based campaigning organisation Airport Watch, this would entail building a new airport the size of Stansted every year for the next 25 years.

Development on such a scale would further erode the diminishing green belt to provide for new airports within easy access of cities. Houses would be demolished so that new runways could be built and existing ones extended. Valuable wildlife habitats and heritage sites would vanish forever.

But, so the logic goes, this is the price we must pay if we want "sustained" economic growth. However, the logic is flawed. For while the aviation industry will undoubtedly grow, reaping vast profits, the real costs will be borne by society as a whole. It will be our taxes that provide for the huge increase in aviation-related health care costs - for respiratory problems, cardiac diseases and nervous disorders - which the Aviation Environment Federation predicts will triple from a current £1.3 billion to £3.9 billion a year by 2030.

Noise pollution will rise. Already, one in eight of the population is affected, at an estimated cost to the economy of more than £300 million a year. The chance of accidents will increase. With traffic predicted to grow four times faster in the air than on the road, huge demands will be placed on an already stretched air-traffic-control system. More alarming are the implications of all this for our climate. It is predicted that by 2050 aviation will be responsible for a third of Britain's energy consumption and 15 per cent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions - making a mockery of the Government's own emissions targets.

Nonetheless, the Government has decided that all these costs are necessary to create jobs. But evidence shows that building new airports has no effect on the level of employment. The Berkeley Hanover study (2000) into the impact of future aviation growth in the UK, commissioned by Friends of the Earth, clearly shows that a new transport infrastructure doesn't create jobs; it redistributes them.

However, the real problem with the Government's argument is that it is based on a myth. The "predicted" demand is artificial. Certainly, the abundance of £2 flights to Barcelona, Bruges and Biarritz has made a weekend on the Continent more affordable. But these prices are only possible because the costs of flying are kept artificially low. Aviation fuel is not taxed; there is no VAT on air tickets, no VAT on the purchase of planes and servicing; landing fees are held down to about half the actual market level by the CAA regulatory regime. There is no air-traffic congestion charge; no charge on environmental air pollution such as carbon dioxide emissions; no charge levied on noise pollution; in fact, section 76 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982 actually offers protection against legal action for noise nuisance.

As Peter Jay, former economics editor of the Financial Times and the BBC, said in a letter to the FT last year: "So long as use of London's airports costs the traveller next to nothing, demand curves doubling every 20 years (or indeed every 10) can be drawn ad infinitum to bamboozle ministers and the public into supposing quite falsely that extra capacity in needed."

Or as John Humphrys wrote in The Sunday Times the year before: "Fill your small car with petrol to drive to your granny's and most of the bill for it goes in fuel duties. . . . Fill a vast jumbo with fuel to fly businessmen across the Atlantic and the airline pays not a penny in tax."

So what should be done? The Government needs to stop subsidising the aviation industry and concentrate on more efficient forms of travel (fast-link rail services, for example, could replace short-haul flights). Rather than predicting and providing for the fat cats of one industry, the Government needs to predict and prevent a disaster that will affect us all.

Zac Goldsmith is editor of 'The Ecologist'

Yes:  If we don't build, we'll be left behind
By Michael O'Leary

The White Paper on aviation will be critical to the development of British aviation, tourism and the economy for the next 30 years.

These issues are too important to be driven by the small and unrepresentative lobby of "environmentalists". The choice is not between more runways and airports or clean air, as they claim; it's between growth and progress in the UK or losing out to our competitors.

The protesting minority will claim that we should have less air travel, less pollution, less noise, less airports, less of everything. The air transport chiefs of France, Germany and other EU countries rub their hands every time they see positive development in British air transport impeded by this nonsense.

Does Britain want to compete with the other leading nations in the tourist industry? We can - but only by promoting competition, increasing the number of runways, lowering costs to consumers and making it even more attractive for overseas visitors to come to Britain and more affordable for people to fly all over the UK and Europe.

The explosion of competition from low-fare carriers in recent years has reduced the price of air travel by up to 90 per cent. Now everyone can afford to fly. This growth has created hundreds of thousands of new jobs here in Britain as visitor numbers have mushroomed.

As for the environmental impact of flying, modern aircraft are more fuel-efficient than ever before. Air travel, moreover, is the most efficient and environmentally friendly form of transport. We carry far more passengers per unit of fuel consumed than cars or buses, which create far more pollution at ground level than we do at 36,000ft.

On taxation, it is true that aircraft fuel is not taxed - but airline passengers most certainly are. They pay departure taxes, airport taxes and landing taxes. A departure tax of £5 represents a penal rate of 50 per cent on Ryanair's lowest air fare of £9.99.

While British Airways no longer monopolises air travel to and from the UK, one company, the British Airports Authority, retains an effective private monopoly over almost all of the airport access in the London area and almost all of the airports in Scotland. Monopolies are bad for consumers - they breed inefficiency and overpricing. The BAA continues to impose ridiculously high costs on airlines that are charging lower and lower fares.

In almost every other sector of transport, Britain lags decades behind the rest of Europe: the motorway system is second-rate, the railway network is third-rate. It's only in air transport - Britain is the hub of Europe's biggest low-fares airline (Ryanair), as well as of EasyJet, Bmibaby and Fly.be - that Britain truly leads. This lead must be built upon: the White Paper should promote more competition, more capacity, more choice and a better deal for consumers. This can be achieved if we take the following simple measures:

1. Proceed immediately with additional runways (one each) at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.
2. Develop long-term infrastructure projects.
3. Stop the building of new airports in the South-East and concentrate instead on additional runways and additional terminals at existing airports.
4. Break up the BAA airport monopoly. Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted should be sold to separate companies, which should be encouraged to compete against one another.

Britain is at its best when it is competing and beating the rest of Europe. Ryanair and the other low-cost airlines have revolutionised air transport to and from Europe. What we need now is a revolution in airport infrastructure. Build the additional runways that British consumers and potential visitors to Britain need and build them now. It is wrong that much-needed development is held up for years in public inquiries.

Michael O'Leary is chief executive of Ryanair

Our Comment:
Well, he would say that, wouldn't he? We might also suggest that he looks at his figures again. Most of the tourists he carries go out of the UK and spend their money abroad. Where are the foreign tourists that he claims he is bringing into the country, perhaps they fly on to Eire? Ryanair is helping to create more of a financial loss in the balance of payments than benefits to the UK economy. What does he propose to do to reduce the environmental effects of air traffic? Will he sponsor a new age sustainable aircraft?

How Airport Protesters Hit Turbulence
The Times by Ben Webster - June 20, 2003

The celebrity leaders of an anti-airport campaign have had their own jet-setting lifestyles turned against them.

Jamie Oliver, the chef, and Terry Waite, the former Beirut hostage, have been at the forefront of campaigns to prevent the expansion of Stansted in Essex.

The Government has proposed up to three new runways, which would make it double the size of Heathrow.

Freedom to Fly, a pressure group which campaigns for more runways, found Mr Oliver's internet diary, which chronicles his globe-trotting lifestyle. According to the diary, he took 24 overseas flights last year. Mr Waite is also said to be a frequent flyer, clocking up 50,000 or more air miles a year.

Freedom to Fly, which is funded primarily by British Airways, the airports operator BAA, and Virgin Atlantic, is placing advertisements in local newspapers showing photographs of Mr Oliver and Mr Waite. Under the caption "They fly, Why shouldn't you?", the advertisement says that both men have "confessed" to being regular airline passengers. The advertisements are to appear next week in the Crawley Observer, the East Anglian Daily Times and the Hounslow Chronicle, which respectively serve Gatwick, Stansted and Heathrow.

Mr Oliver has just returned from Norway and Sweden. In the past 18 months he has visited Tokyo, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Wellington, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, Chicago, Toronto, Munich, Miami, Vienna, Copenhagen and Amsterdam.

Mr Waite travels around the world carrying out Christian work and lecturing, among others, to cruise ship passengers. Among his interests listed in Who's Who is "travel, especially in remote parts of the world".

Dan Hodges, director of Freedom to Fly, said: "We have no objection to celebrities such as Jamie Oliver and Terry Waite campaigning against new runways. But to do so while flying so frequently themselves smacks of hypocrisy. They should at least have the courage of their convictions and stop flying so often." Mr Hodges said that if everyone in the South East flew as often as Mr Oliver then the region "would need 20 airports the size of Heathrow".

Mr Oliver, who has an £855,000 16th-century manor house near his parents' home in Clavering, Essex, led a 1,000-strong protest march through London in November, accompanied by his wife, Jules, and their daughter, Poppy. He said then: "I don't want to live in a building site and I think the Government has overestimated the economic benefits of the proposals."

He has since refined his position to make clear that he does not oppose building runways elsewhere in the South East but believes "an offshore airport" would be the best option. He proposed "something really cutting-edge - where aircraft take off and land on runways out at sea so that noise and pollution is kept well away from inhabited and environmentally sensitive areas."

His spokesman said that Mr Oliver was unable to comment because he was making satellite broadcasts to the United States. "In some ways the satellite link-up stops him from flying," the spokesman added.

Mr Waite, who lives in Hartest in Suffolk, close to the Stansted flight path, will address an estimated 1,000 people expected at an anti-runway rally in Broxted on Sunday, June 29.

Broxted would be partially obliterated by the proposed expansion of Stansted. The rally there is being held to mark the end of the Government's public consultation on where to build new runways.

Mr Waite said last month: "It is not easy for me to oppose this extension as I am a regular passenger on airlines and have been for 40 years or more. However, I feel that I must make my views known as I am deeply troubled by the threatened devastation of the countryside and the environmental impact such a development will have.

"To destroy 326 homes, 64 of which are Grade II listed buildings, to demolish over one thousand acres of the Countryside Protection Zone and to build one of the biggest airports in the world at Stansted is, to my mind, the very opposite to good development.

"The countryside is a precious and dwindling asset. Once it is used up it has gone for ever.

"Opponents of this development are up against massive odds. It is vital that those who value our heritage and advocate sensible development make their voices known now. Soon, it could be too late."

Mr Waite is understood to be travelling in Russia and could not be contacted yesterday.

Carol Barbone, the director of Stop Stansted Expansion who has been liaising with Mr Oliver and Mr Waite, said: "The fact that the aviation industry is stooping to personal vilification really demonstrates that they are clutching at straws and losing the serious argument." Ms Barbone, who lives in northern France but travels fortnightly back to Essex, said the real hypocrites were the airlines and airport operators. "If BA and BAA have anything to say they should come forward and say it themselves rather than hide behind Freedom to Fly. They fund that organisation and quietly sanction its tactics which the companies themselves would not normally employ for fear of damaging their corporate reputations."

See SSE's Press Release in Response to the above Article
See also Jamie Oliver's Statement below

The Evening Standard - June 20th

Mayor Ken Livingstone has come out strongly against a third runway at Heathrow. He will tell a government review the economic case for expanding the airport has not been made.

He believes Stansted - his first preference - or Gatwick should have their capacity increased and be used for holiday flights, leaving Heathrow to concentrate on business travellers.

Our Comment: Ken has made a little history by introducing a congestion charge in London. This helps reduce pollution as well. Why spoil it by promoting congestion and pollution in the skies?

Pat Dale

20 June 2003


I am not against people flying and I am not against airports. In my line of business, I have to travel around the world by air and I have never denied that fact. What I object to is the destruction of vast swathes of English countryside and the massive increase in noise and pollution to be suffered by millions of people in South-East England if the Stansted expansion goes ahead or Heathrow or Gatwick for that matter.

What I have been saying is that we need a serious look at options which would minimise environmental damage to Britain and maximise happiness to local communities.

It is very easy for Freedom To Fly and their big business backers to attack myself and Terry Waite but much harder for them to discuss the important issues which will adversely affect the lives of millions of British people.

I consider myself and Terry Waite to be sincere and proud British citizens. Even though I do feel a decision has already been made, I still believe maybe we can make a little difference and when I do travel to other countries, I realise that Great Britain has so much beautiful countryside that I know we should cherish it. That's all.

20 June 2003


Thoughts for the future?

Will eco-tourists save the planet?

The average jet pumps around a tonne of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for every passenger it carries from London to New York. With one return visit to, say, an organic banana farm in Peru, you're responsible for more carbon dioxide production than a year's motoring.

According to recent statistics, if the UK were to offset one year of carbon dioxide emissions by planting trees, it would have to convert the whole of Devon and Cornwall to forestry. Within 10 years, we would all be living in treehouses.

Pat Dale

17 June 2003


The Chief Executive of BAA has warned the airlines and the Government that Regional Air Services were essential to keep multinational companies in the UK.

British Airways and other airlines are reported to be reducing regional services from Heathrow and Gatwick in order to free their slots for the more profitable long haul flights. It appears that BAA do not approve - they believe that business passengers in particular, travelling from and to firms outside the London area, need a local regional air service to get them to the hub airport, mainly Heathrow, where they can catch a plane to their final destination. If this facility is not available then these firms are likely to move into London, or to the continent where they can utilise the hubs at Charles de Gaulle or Schiphol.

At the same time Richard Branson has attacked BAA for raising charges at Heathrow by 40% over the next 5 years. BAA has recently announced increased profits while their customers (including Virgin Airlines) are in difficulties after September 11th and the recent SARS outbreak. This rise was, of course, approved by the CAA but Mr Branson does not approve of BAA's monopoly position in relation to the three main airports in the south-east.

Neither party appears to have noticed the Government's declared intention of imposing environmental costs on the aviation industry. Presumably this is because whatever system is adopted the cost will fall on the passenger. However, Mr Branson does have a point. Airports do have alternative ways of making money - the retail operations for instance. Yet, on the other side of the fence, Ryanair is earning money from lesser known airports who want to attract customers and tourists to their area!

We would also like to question BAA's complaint. Internal flights are the most polluting. BAA should be campaigning for better rail services to their airports from the rest of the UK's major cities. We could then have fewer internal air services and this would release more space for the intercontinental services without any additional aircraft pollution.

Pat Dale

17 June 2003


News from Westminster

Extracts from the Transport Select Committee - Aviation Inquiry
(12 June 2003)

Q1789 Chairman: Heathrow is the busiest airport in the world. Is it going to be able to provide an adequate hub in the future?

Mr Darling: That is one of the questions we have to discuss, and when I gave my statement to the House of Commons last July I made the point that as far as particularly the South East of England but also the United Kingdom is concerned one of the big questions we have to address is, firstly, do we attach a value to there being a major international hub airport in the United Kingdom, and I set out the many advantages that flow from that, and next, if you do want to maintain it, can you maintain it at Heathrow in its present form or do you need to expand with additional runway capacity there? Alternatively, would you maintain a hub airport at another site in the South East, or a combination? The whole point of the consultation is to canvas as wide a range of views as possible to allow us to come back. I also made the point, which is worth bearing in mind, that we have to make the choices between possibilities in the South East but in relation to a hub airport, when you are looking at Europe you are looking at Heathrow against Charles de Gaulle, Schipol and Frankfurt, and looked at from a global perspective these are the airports that tend to be looked at in the round as opposed to, say, Heathrow or Stansted.

Q1881 Mrs Ellman: Do you think the SRA have costed potential developments properly? When we spoke to them about multi-modal studies they said the rail elements of those studies had not been costed properly and they may not have the funds.

Mr Darling: To some extent this is going back to when we last spoke of multi-modal studies. Part of the problem with the multi-modal studies was, firstly, they were set up without any spending constraints on them, so what you have is more and more expenditure being piled on as everybody came forward with their projects. Secondly, at the time you will recall the SRA had just been set up and in the first period of its existence under Sir Alastair Morton it was doing things rather differently from how it is now doing things, when it is becoming more of a strategic director of the railways, so there was a sort of disconnect between the progress of multi-modal studies and the SRA. As I told you when we discussed the multi-modal studies, were we doing this again - which we are not - we would have made very much clearer that the SRA and the road side of things were brought together. As it is, I have to marry them up after the event. The other point I would make to you is that whatever we decide in relation to airports, we have to make sure there are adequate surface links which include rail links as well as road links. At this stage it would be premature for the SRA to be considering what it might do because we have not reached any decisions.

(Our Comment: SSE has already reminded the Government that London has three airports with far more passengers than any of the continental rivals. If more attention was given to improving the rail connections across London transfer from airport to airport would be much easier and maybe the overseas transfer passengers, who are the only passengers who need a hub airport might even decide to stay for a few days in the UK. These Transfer passengers do not directly benefit the UK economy, they only benefit the airlines and the airport authority and their retail activities.)

Parliamentary Questions- Written Answers
(June 11th)

Aviation Industry

Mr. Best (Leeds North West Lab): To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will repeal the aviation industry's exemption from fuel duty and VAT.

John Healey: The Chicago Convention prohibits the imposition of taxes or charges on fuel kept on board aircraft and consumed on international flights. The UK is also bound by bilateral air service agreements, which impose further restrictions. Although air fares, in common with all public transport fares, are zero-rated for VAT, air travel is subject to a separate tax, air passenger duty, which is charged at rates from £5 to £40 per flight, depending on the country of destination and the class of travel.

The 2002 pre-Budget Report announced that the Government would discuss with stakeholders the most effective economic instruments for ensuring that the industry is encouraged to take account of, and where appropriate reduce, its contribution to global warming, local air and noise pollution.

These discussions will be used to inform the Government's views, which will be set out in its Air Transport White Paper later this year.

Parliamentary Questions- Written Answers
(June 13th)

Cliffe Airport

Mr. Hancock (Portsmouth South Lib Dem): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received from and discussions he has had with financiers and industry on the plans for a new airport at Cliffe.

Parliamentary Under Secretary for Transport (Mr. Jamieson Plymouth Devonport Lab): Ministers have not held any discussions with financiers or industry about the financing of the Cliffe airport option. Chapter 15 of The Future Development of Air Transport in the United Kingdom (South East) consultation document discusses how any major new airport capacity, including Cliffe, could be funded and invites views.

Since publication of the consultation document in July last year, many thousands of responses to the consultation have been received from a wide range of interested parties, and we expect many more before the consultation ends on 30 June.

All responses will be considered and analysed carefully before final decisions are taken. These will be set out in an air transport White Paper, which we plan to publish towards the end of the year.


Bob Russell (Colchester Lib Dem): To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the environmental impact of proposals to expand airport capacity in the south-east.

Parliamentary Secretary, Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Mr. Morley Scunthorpe Lab): A range of possible airport development options were assessed in accordance with a detailed environmental appraisal framework, published in November 2000. The full results of those appraisals have been published as part of the consultation exercise currently being undertaken by the Department for Transport. The Government will consider the responses to the consultation exercise, including representations about environmental impact, when deciding whether any additional airport capacity should be provided. That decision will be set out in an Air Transport White Paper later this year.

Pat Dale

16 June 2003


No less than two major environmental organisations and the National Trust have published their criticisms of the proposals for expanding airports and air traffic.

The CPRE Report

The most publicity has been given to "Plane Crazy", the press statement from the CPRE that describes their Report "Aviation, Noise and the countryside".

CPRE makes it clear that they want a sustainable aviation policy that places demand management at the centre of the Government's policy, The out dated concept of "Predict and Provide" is discredited.

Their consultants, TRL have examined what the implications would be for noise if the predicted tripling in air traffic growth actually took place. Predictions are grouped into the four regional area consultations. Affected areas are defined as those with noise levels that are either 'unacceptably high', or where people will be 'very much bothered'.

In our area already 202,000 people are affected by noise. The prediction is that this could rise to 335,000 by 2030. 478 square miles of land would be affected. Stansted expansion would lead to ten times as many people in the area experiencing noise annoyance living in 153 Square miles of rural land, more than any other option in the country.

Additional holding areas would be required for Stansted, possibly over rural Cambridgeshire and an additional flight path. Expansion at Cliffe would necessitate two stacks, suggested east of Chelmsford and east of Ashford.

Our Comment: One of the major deficiencies of the consultation has been the absence of any information over the additional stacks and flight paths that would be required for a large expansion. Apart from the question of air traffic congestion and safety, noise and air quality predictions rely partly on having a reliable air traffic "map".

The RSPB: "Do not use estimates of unconstrained demand to support a Predict and Provide Policy"

They have published their whole response. They judge that the case for further expansion is questionable, and that the marginal economic and social growth is outweighed by its environmental and social costs and the economic implications of dealing with these.

They are very concerned about the effects on climate change and the consequent adverse effects on species, whole ecosystems and people. Aviation will make up 15% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 if demand is unchecked.

They advocate that the Government should introduce fiscal measures to reduce demand. They suggest imposing the same tax on aircraft fuel as is paid on motor fuel, and applying VAT to all air travel.

They also ask for more sustainable alternative methods of travel notably rail, especially high speed rail.

All alternative ways of meeting constrained future demand should be exhausted before any additional airport infrastructure is provided.

The best use of existing facilities should be made, this, they calculate, could provide for another 50 mppa UK in the four consultation regions.

The RSPB are very concerned about the proposals for Cliffe and point out that the option is unsafe. Even with an aggressive bird hazard management programme the hazard from birds is so high that at the best it would put Cliffe at the top of the UK airports risk list, at the worst, it would make it 12 times as dangerous.

The National Trust - "Blue Skies"

The National Trust has already published their response to the first consultation - it was an excellent account of the need for demand management. This time they are highlighting the need to promote domestic tourism. They believe that the Government is failing to consider both the economic and environmental impact of meeting the predicted growth.

With 76% of flights being for leisure purposes (mostly UK out-going tourists), and a 15 billion pounds tourism deficit in the National budget, it is time that the benefits of a holiday at home were better promoted. Expanding air travel will aggravate this situation. Any increase in foreign tourists will be prejudiced if increasing noise and pollution in some of the most peaceful rural areas spoils their attraction. The National Trust has first hand experience of this and the report lists some of their properties that have been and will be threatened by airport expansion proposals. Top of the list comes Hatfield Forest - it also includes Osterley Park, Styal Estate, Leith Hill and Speke Hall.

Pat Dale

16 June 2003


All SSE members are already aware that the official Consultation Questionnaire is flawed. It is impossible to answer some of the questions without giving the impression that we accept the need for expansion. SSE have complained about the first issue and have continued to complain about the second version. The situation is fully explained on this website.

Friends of the Earth reached the same conclusion and have now devise an alternative version, which they hope will be accepted by the Government (though it won't fit in with the statistics!).

Our Comment: SSE members can continue to use the SSE version. The aims are just the same and now you have visited the website and if you have not already filled in a questionnaire consult our advice. You have two more weeks so hurry up!

Pat Dale

13 June 2003


Air Transport

Mr. Don Foster (Lib Dem Shadow Transport Secretary): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what account has been taken of the protection of tranquility in the countryside in the consultation on the Future Development of Air Transport in the UK.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Transport (Mr. Jamieson): The environmental appraisal supporting the consultation took account of the impacts on tranquillity of any future airport development. Closely related environmental impacts, including noise and air quality impacts, were also appraised.

The consultation documents, together with supporting background documents, explain the environmental appraisal and key impacts. The consultation documents also invite views on measures for managing environmental impacts. All consultation responses will be considered carefully before final decisions are made in the air transport White paper, which we aim to publish later this year.

British Airports Authority

Laura Moffatt (Crawley Lab): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the impact of the recent European Court of Justice ruling on takeovers on the British Airports Authority.

Mr. Jamieson: We are examining the Court's judgment carefully to assess the implications for the special share that the Government hold in BAA plc.

Airport Capacity

Bob Russell (Colchester Lib Dem): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what measures have been taken to ensure that proposals for the expansion of airports in the south east take into account the findings of his Department's multi-modal studies for the eastern region.

Mr. Jamieson: Recommendations on the multi-modal studies in the East of England will be submitted to my right hon. Friend , the Secretary of State for Transport, shortly after the airports consultation closes on 30 June.

This will allow consideration of these recommendations before final decisions on airport capacity issues are taken. These will be set out in the air transport White Paper which we plan to publish later this year.

Mr. David Stewart (Inverness East, Nairn & Lochaber Lab): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many responses he has received on his consultative document on the future of air transport in the United Kingdom; and when he expects to publish conclusions following the end of the consulting process.

Mr. Jamieson: We have already received over 100,000 responses to the consultation from across the UK, and we expect to receive many more by 30 June. We shall take careful account of the responses, together with the appraisals we have published, in deciding on the policies to be set out in the White Paper.

Consultation on "The Future Development of Air Transport in the United Kingdom" ends on 30 June. The Government plans to issue a White Paper by the end of the year which will provide a strategic policy framework for future airport development.

Bob Russell (Colchester Lib Dem): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which airports were excluded from the consultation on additional capacity and for what reasons.

Mr. Jamieson: Studies supporting the on-going "Future Development of Air Transport" national consultation considered a wide range of possible airport development options at existing airports and potential new sites. Options were selected using the appraisal criteria established for the process. Reports relating to this process have been published.

Runway options for Gatwick airport, which had not been included in the July consultation, were subsequently presented in a second edition of the South East consultation document, published in February, following a High Court judgment in November 2002.

It is open to consultees to submit alternative ideas for consideration.

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether an assessment of the (a) environmental and (b) health impact of the expansion of an existing airport will be undertaken before that airport is identified for expansion in any forthcoming White Paper following the current consultation.

Mr. Jamieson: I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave to the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) on 22 May 2003, Official Report, column 938W. A full range of environmental impacts have been examined and will be taken into account before decisions are reached.

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what measures have been taken to ensure that the review of airport capacity across the UK takes into account the economic development goals of each region.

Mr. Jamieson: The compatibility of airport development options with published regional strategies was considered in the studies informing "The Future Development of Air Transport in the United Kingdom" consultation.

This analysis will be further informed by responses to the consultation. All responses will be considered carefully before final decisions are taken. These will be set out in the air transport White Paper which we plan to publish later this year.

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what account will be taken of the recent downturn in the airline industry when considering future policy on airport capacity.

Mr. Jamieson: Future policy on the provision of airport capacity will be informed by our published forecasts of demand for air transport services. These forecasts are long-term in nature and necessarily consider the aviation industry in the round. Some parts of the industry have been adversely affected recently by a downturn in global demand. Other sectors, such as the no-frills carriers, have performed well over the same period. Demand will always be subject to short-term fluctuations, but overall we remain confident that our forecasts for the next 30 years are robust.

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what assessment his Department has made of the cost of the extra infrastructure to meet the volume of road and rail traffic generated by his proposals for the expansion of airport capacity in the South East; (2) what research has been carried out into the capabilities to cope with increased volumes of traffic of existing road and rail infrastructure serving each airport identified for expansion in the current review of airport capacity.

Mr. Jamieson: The South East and East of England Regional Air Services Study (SERAS) included a costed appraisal of the road and rail infrastructure that would be needed for different airport development options. This included an assessment of the type and scale of improvements that might be required on the strategic network.

The results are summarised for each of the options in "The Future Development of Air Transport in the United Kingdom: South East (second edition)" main consultation document. Further details are contained in the SERAS stage two appraisal findings report and supporting documents. Copies of all reports are available in the House Libraries.

Our Comment: These answers are not very encouraging. The Minister is confident that the forecasts of future demand are "robust" before any of the responses to the consultation have been considered. He is also confident that adequate appraisals of the environmental effects and of the extra transport needs and their costs have been carried out. Part of our concerns over this consultation relate to the content of these appraisals. Other consultants have reached different conclusions (as is usual in many such exercises) and all should be considered.

The Government's "golden" share in BAA - The Minister says that the Government is considering it's position . An interesting question is whether a major shareholder in a company that wishes to promote aviation expansion can also be judge and jury in deciding whether such expansion is in the long term interests of the UK?

Pat Dale

9 June 2003


Last week we reported on the Noise Exposure Contours for 2002, recently published by the DfT. On consulting the Table showing the distribution of average daily aircraft movements by type, it appeared that two aircraft in the loudest noise category 8 (all of which should fall into the chapter 2 category, and all of which are now banned) had actually increased in numbers during 2002 from the 2001 figures. The aircraft named were VC10 and IL62.

The DfT then informed us that all the VC10 flights were military aircraft and so immune from noise regulations. They promised to check on the position with regard to IL62 flights. They have now told us that no IL62s used Stansted during 2002.

We have pointed out that the noise is just as bad! And the number of these very noisy flights has increased. We are entitled to ask why these military aircraft have to use a civilian airport, and if there is some reason why it is essential for them to do so, then why cannot non-combat aircraft be required to conform to national regulations?

Night Noise

Meantime we await the final decision of the European Court on the right of residents round airports to receive compensation for their night-time sufferings.

There was much speculation in the press during the previous week on what when and who by compensation could be paid. The discrepancy between the night noise quota limits and the actual recorded noise levels means that the question how much compensation, could be somewhat complicated.

Don't forget the night noise consultation. Get your copy from 0870 1226 236. Now is your chance to make your views known.

Pat Dale

8 June 2003


The BBC2 programme last Wednesday tried to find out how Ryanair could increase profits while lowering fares, when most of the worlds' major carriers were in financial difficulties.

Ryanair Boss Michael O'Leary may be the main reason, a character who in past centuries might have been taming the wild west. Here and now he vows to "destroy the airline business as we know it". He aims to outstrip British Airways as well as his other cheap rival, easyJet. He wants to increase the number of passengers by 50% and to stimulate sales through even more fare cuts.

The BBC correspondent took us through the finances of a flight to Charleroi airport and listed the many economies practised by Ryanair - internet booking without tickets, and no seat booking. First come first served with regard to cheap tickets, after a certain date fares rise day by day (this must be a bit risky as a recipe to fill planes). Food and drink have to be paid for, and you won't get compensation for damaged or lost baggage. Airports used are not the main, expensive, ones - Stansted is regarded as cheap. There will be a longish road journey to your destination. Some airports even pay Ryanair for flying there and the EU is investigating the situation at Charleroi as public airports are not expected to use public money to subsidise airlines.

Quick turnarounds also save money. This is not likely to bother passengers but what about the crew? No one asked for their views or looked at their hours of duty (which, for pilots, are controlled).

It was also suggested that some airport activities might pay commission money to airlines, e.g. car hire. Michael O'Leary has himself made comments suggesting that one day airports will pay airlines to fly customers in for their retail operations. Another version of the extended hypermarket?

At the end, we were not much wiser. Can all these financial arrangements really allow passengers to fly for a few pounds to Europe and the company still to make a profit?

What is more certain is that neither Ryanair nor Ryanair's passengers pay their full environmental costs. They get their fuel cheap and they do not contribute enough through the airport tax to cover the damage that their trip causes, both locally and globally. Neither do they bring into the UK as many tourists as they take out to Europe.

We ask Mr O'Leary how this fits in with his future plans? Will he support measures to cover environmental costs? Will he support measures to reduce environmental damage even though it may mean more expensive aircraft and less advantageous airport operations?

Pat Dale

8 June 2003


The Government has authorised the European Commission to negotiate a new "open skies" agreement with the US on its behalf. The Commission wants liberalisation, allowing airlines to fly where they want when they want At the moment the USA is most restrictive as foreign airlines cannot operate domestic routes. Any negotiated settlement may create more competition for British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

It is difficult to see how this will affect demand but it will not help to make air traffic control services any easier in Europe's crowded air space.

Pat Dale

8 June 2003

28 May 2003


Air Travel

Mr. Don Foster (Bath Lib Dem Shadow Transport Secretary): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what health impact assessment has been undertaken of the options contained in the consultation on the Future Development of Air Transport in the UK.

Mr. Jamieson: The consultation documents and supporting papers set out the range of impacts, including health-related impacts-in particular, noise and local air quality-associated with the various airports options under review. Following the consultation, we will ensure that all relevant considerations, including health-related ones, are taken into account in our decision-making process, through use of an integrated policy appraisal.

(Our Comment: What is an integrated policy appraisal in relation to Health? For instance, noise and local air quality may affect human health, but no one has succeeded in demonstrating an integrated effect, unless of course it is all going to be attributed to psychological disturbances, not really due to aircraft!)

Tom Brake (Carshalton & Wallington Lib Dem Transport Spokesman): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his policy is on EU proposals for legislation to oblige air carriers to protect passengers in the event of bankruptcy; and what discussions he has had on voluntary initiatives by carriers to protect passengers in the event of airline financial collapse.

Mr. Jamieson: The European Commission has not published a proposal for legislation to oblige air carriers to protect passengers in the event of bankruptcy and I have had no discussions with airlines on a voluntary financial protection scheme.

Stansted Airport

Miss McIntosh (Vale of York Con Opposition Spokesperson for Transport): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the potential impact of a second or third new runway at Stansted Airport on (a) the local environment, (b) the quality of life of the residents and (c) economic development if there is a dependence on low-cost carriers.

Mr. Jamieson: We have conducted no detailed assessment of this kind other than what has already been published as part of the on-going consultation, 'The Future Development of Air Transport in the United Kingdom: South East'.

8 June 2003


Report on Aviation and The Environment

This report examines the environmental effects of civil aviation, and the options available to mitigate these effects. The main findings of the report are that:

*  Historically, technology has been able to reduce the environmental impacts of aviation, but, in the face of forecast growth, cannot continue to offset all impacts

*  There is scope to reduce impacts through operating procedures (e.g. flight paths) and land use planning

*  There is broad agreement that the aviation industry should meet its environmental costs, although it is unclear how these costs should be defined, how they should be met, and whether this will reduce impacts

*  Considerable differences of view remain over what might be considered 'sustainable' in terms of aviation, and so there is scope for a wider public debate over the future of aviation growth in the UK.

Pat Dale

4 June 2003


We reported below on the latest Report from the DfT on the noise levels experienced round Stansted airport during 2002.

Apparently the "banned" chapter 2 aircraft that were reported to have used the airport are not actually covered by the legislation - they are military aircraft or executive jets with fewer than 19 seats. They are included in the list of aircraft in the worst noise categories (7 and 8) but as they are not covered by the legislation they cannot be banned and are not technically "chapter 2" aircraft, although the noise they make comes within this category. There is still a question as to whether any IL62 aircraft, who are prohibited, are included. We await an answer on this point. It seems that the ban will not protect residents from all the noisy aircraft, as had been hoped.

On the question of the Times article on night flights and the discrepancy between the actual measurements and the certificated noise levels of the aircraft in the flight mix, which are used to calculate night quotas, the DfT assure us that this does not apply to daytime measurements.

The computer model used to calculate the daytime noise contours is updated using information obtained from direct measurements. This may not happen every year, but whenever information is available it is used to correct the model.

It appears that the night time measurements were made using the more sensitive EPNL system, "Effective Perceived Noise Level". This allows for other factors affecting the quality of the noise to be taken into account, such as tone and frequency. It should give a more accurate picture of the effect of the noise on those exposed. This system, as yet, has not been used to produce contour maps like the simpler dBA measurements.

Anyone who experiences the noise of an overflying aircraft will be well aware that the effects of the noise can be all-enveloping. The low frequency noise from some aircraft seems to be associated with a feeling of pressure on the ears. We should be asking for a similar survey to be carried out on daytime noise levels. Perhaps a daytime quota should be considered along the same lines as the night quota.

Nothing changes the fact that aircraft noise annoys, and that the 57dBLAeq average contours are only a very rough guide to actual noise annoyance.

Pat Dale

3 June 2003


Yesterday's press reports that protestors were at war over future airport expansion plans appear to have originated from "Freedom to Fly", the umbrella organisation set up by certain aviation interests in order to promote airport expansion.

It was based on a report of the response to be submitted to the Minister by the group representing Gatwick residents and it was suggested that the response suggested that Stansted or Cliffe were more suitable places to build one extra runway because so few people would be affected by air pollution or noise, compared to Gatwick.

The Gatwick group have denied the accusation. It seems that Freedom to Fly have indulged, at the very least, in wishful thinking. They would hope to exploit the charge of "Nimbyism" and dismiss protests as the few trying to spoil the cheap holiday opportunities for the many.

The fact is that all the residents protest groups have united in agreement with a widely based alliance of expert groups. All have questioned the wisdom of allowing the unconstrained expansion of air traffic that Freedom to Fly would like to see. The predictions are suspect, the economic argument unproven, and the environment will suffer, not just round the affected airports but globally, in causing more damage to our climate.

Comment: Stansted may have fewer people predicted to be affected by noise and air pollution, but we are all entitled to the protection of the law,- legislation enacted for the protection of our health. Only at Stansted will a huge area of countryside, and the most important ancient forest in the UK, Hatfield Forest, be either destroyed or seriously threatened. The destruction of a successful and beautiful countryside to try and achieve what many people would regard as dubious future forecasts would be an act of vandalism.

Pat Dale

3 June 2003


The DfT have now published the Report on the Noise Exposure Contours for Stansted Airport in 2002.

As expected, noise levels have improved, relatively more quieter aircraft have flown into the airport and overall the area within the 57dBA Leq (16-hour) contour has decreased by 1.2% and the population exposed has fallen by 13%. The average daily number of movements was 2.2% less, 451 flights as opposed to 461 in 2001.

However, nearly 16% of the flights are hushkitted aircraft - noisier planes adapted to reduce the noise - mainly Ryanair, and there has been a small increase in the number of chapter 2 aircraft who should have been banned from last April.

What is not said?

Because these noise contours are modelled from the radar map recordings of all air traffic to and from the airport, the noise levels are calculated from the certified noise levels of the particular aero-engines.

Last week we reported the Times Reporter's findings that actual measurements have found that the noise that planes actually make, as recorded, is significantly higher that the certificated level.

This makes nonsense of both previous and present contours, and of the population numbers affected. It is time that the Government officially acknowledged this error and the true picture is available. It is even more important when big decisions are being taken on the future of air traffic.

Residents would also like to see further information being made available on the actual noise levels experienced under the flight paths, not just the average levels. This information has been measured and published for Australian airports, why not for those in the UK?

Pat Dale

28 May 2003


The problems of Airlines and Air Traffic expansion have been well reported during the last week. More people are publicly questioning the official reasons for a massive expansion of airport capacity. National Newspapers are highlighting concerns about the social and environmental effects on those who live near the major airports


We were right! Those planes are still too noisy in spite of the promises!

Last year the Government published the revised noise contours round Stansted Airport showing that the number of people exposed to noise levels of over 57Laeq had actually fallen since the noisier aircraft had been phased out. This was taken up by BAA and even better predictions were made for the future with all the expected technological improvements, improvements that were mysteriously going to solve all the environmental problems of air travel even though none of the new models were in production and some not even yet in the design stage.

Now we learn that everyone has been living under a delusion! The whole basis of the noise control system is incorrect. Certificated noise levels are much lower than the noise the engine actually makes.

This means that the predicted noise contours are incorrect, day time noise levels on take-off may be directly monitored but the noise contours themselves in the consultation document are calculated from the certificated engine noise level. As for night quotas, the article in The Times, on May 27th, says it all. Read on:


May 27, 2003

Night flight noise is twice the legal limit
By Ben Webster, Transport Correspondent

THE Government concealed research showing that disturbance caused by night flights had been grossly underestimated. The noise generated by jumbo jets arriving at Heathrow airport in the early hours is almost double the legal limit, according to research. The Department for Transport has had to admit that its estimate of the noise generated by the 16 flights between 11.30pm and 6am failed to reflect the true impact on 600,000 people living under the airport's flight paths.

The Government does not measure the actual noise levels of night flights but relies on estimates based on the noise ratings, or certifications, for different aircraft types. However, flight tests carried out by the Department for Transport since 1999 have found that the ratings are seriously flawed.

A Boeing 747-400 with Rolls-Royce engines was found to have twice the effect assumed in its noise rating. Most night flights involve 747-400s arriving from the Far East and other long-haul destinations.

The Government quietly published the results of the monitoring last month, more than three years after the department had realised that the ratings could be wrong. The new ratings were buried in a 60-page consultation document on reforming the rules governing night flights.

Wandsworth council, which has tens of thousands of residents under flight paths, used the new ratings to show that the actual noise was almost twice the legal limit, known as the noise quota count.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "The perceived noise levels on some aircraft were found to be higher than the certificated levels. It is quite possible, operationally, that aircraft exceeded the quota count score over a season."

But he denied that the findings meant that the number of night flights would have to cut. "They sound noisier, but they are not breaking any regulations because the EU directive requires that the noise limit is based on certificated noise levels, not operational ones."

He said that the department had not released the information before because "the flow of data came to a head in April". Edward Lister, leader of Wandsworth council, said: "The Government has known that their noise figures were wrong for almost four years, yet they continue to tell those of us under the flight path that things are getting better. It is as if ministers just wanted to bury this piece of unwelcome news. The fact that night noise has now been proved to have deteriorated could open the floodgate to a wave of compensation claims from people woken up by early-morning arrivals."

The council called on ministers to establish new noise limits based on actual readings rather than estimates.

Most of the 16 night flights arrive between 4.30am and 6am. People tend to be sleeping deeply at this time and may find it hard to fall asleep again if woken. But last month's consultation document concluded there was little evidence to link sleep disturbance with flights. It said that people become used to noise and sleep through it undisturbed, especially when it is steady or familiar.

The Government has commissioned a study of the effect of aircraft noise, but it will not be published until the end of 2004, well after ministers have announced plans for massive airport expansion in a White Paper due before Christmas.

The Times EDITORIAL continues:

Noise and nonsense
Debate on runway needs has been based on deception

The sound of a fully laden jumbo jet taking off at full throttle is deafening. Within a mile of the runways windows rattle, objects vibrate and normal conversation is impossible. Householders living near Heathrow have long had to put up with planes landing and taking off every 90 seconds. Acoustic insulation, automatic closing windows and sound baffles can help. House prices, considerably cheaper under flight paths, reflect the true blight. On the other hand, it should be acknowledged that those who have chosen to live near major airports, rather than have new airports imposed on them, have knowingly taken an economic risk. Even so, there must be limits on such noise. For years the Government has promised campaign groups that it will take action. It has tried to ban most night flights. It has insisted on quieter jet engines. And it has ordered airlines to follow flight paths that affect the least people.

All this was part of the attempt to persuade local residents that airport expansion was inevitable if Britain were to compete with other European gateways. For years the Government has been battling to win acceptance of new runways and terminals in the London area, insisting that it will strike a reasonable balance between social benefits and environmental damage.

Now it appears that these assurances may have been based on a deception. For more than three years the Department for Transport has known that its way of calculating aircraft noise at night grossly underestimates the real noise. And it did this not because it was unaware of the problem, but because such casuistry was able to get round European Union directives. The department did not use actual noise readings, as it does during the day, but based its calculations on a desktop exercise that examines the noise levels jet engines are certified to emit by the manufacturers. At night, when there is far less ambient noise to mask the sound of aircraft, the real effect of aircraft noise is far worse than any theoretical measurement.

Noise is only one area where the Government has been less than open with the facts. It has repeatedly tried to play down the cost of airport expansion, the amount of land it would take and the effects on local economies and house prices.

Indeed, the whole debate on the future runway needs for Britain has been opaque, ill-informed and clouded by dubious statistics. Alistair Darling, the Transport Secretary, said last year that by 2030, 500 million passengers will use Britain's airports, requiring six new runways, including perhaps a new airport on the north Kent coast. The effect of a potentially prolonged downturn in air travel seems hardly to have been considered. Nor for months was the case for Gatwick allowed to surface, ostensibly because of earlier pledges not to add any more runways but probably because this strengthened the need for action at Heathrow.

Assessing real airport needs in 25 years' time is quite complicated enough; choosing where and how to expand will be extremely fraught. But no debate can get anywhere if it is based on falsehoods, especially on such an emotive issue as noise. Absolute honesty is absolutely essential. No government assurance will be believed and no talk of competition will be persuasive. Noise must be fairly measured, and objections impartially assessed. The Government must clear the runway of obfuscation.

Freedom to Fly is promoting letter writing - in favour of expansion.

Three British airlines are to hand out more than 100,000 leaflets to passengers urging them to write to the Government to request more runways in the South East. Freedom to Fly, the aviation industry's campaign group, has produced the leaflets to counter the huge volume of objections sent by people living around airports. They will be handed out over the next month by British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and bmi british midland.

Don't forget to write your own letter, even if you have already written before the response time period was extended. Numbers count!

Consultation on the future of Night Noise.

The DfT Consultation document can be obtained free from the publications centre at 0870 1226 236, "Night Flying Restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted". Comments have to be in by 11th July.


28 May 2003


This has been widely reported in the press. As expected they repeat all the arguments about the need for more capacity and describe all the economic benefits that they believe can result from further expansion, especially to the surrounding communities. They accept BAA's new figures for air pollution, agreeing that the problem at Heathrow will be minimal and that round Gatwick and presumably Stansted any anticipated pollutants will disappear altogether!. Noise may be a problem for a few people but they will be compensated. BAA are not interested in Stansted, they want another runways at Heathrow, and later, a second runway at Gatwick or Stansted, they make it clear that they favour Gatwick. This may appear to be good news for Stansted, but as long as the Governments inflated demand figures are being accepted, as well as BAA¹s deflated environmental predictions, then Stansted is seriously at risk and all affected communities must speak as one.


"The Economics of Aviation: a North West England perspective", prepared for CPRE North West Regional Group by Professor John Whitelegg in April 2003 says in its summary:

The aviation industry is very clear in all its pronouncements that it is a vital national industry supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs. The industry claims that additional jobs can be created through the expansion of airports and these claims have been accepted by central government in its national consultation on the future development of air transport.

This report takes a very different view. Aviation is a small part of the national and regional economy and the claims made in support of job creation are not supported by the evidence. The claims that are made for the role of aviation in encouraging inward investment to the region and to the UK are not supported by the data which show a much higher outflow of funds from the UK than funds coming into the country. This deficit is enough to account for the loss of 165,000 jobs each year in the North West.

Tourism cash flows reveal a similar story. Those tourists leaving the UK spend far more abroad than those tourist entering the UK. Tourism is a net drain on the UK economy and not an economic gain as the aviation industry maintains.

The industry also claims that its own activities generate or support large numbers of jobs in other sectors of the economy. This claim is based on a flawed methodology (the multiplier effect) which routinely double counts jobs in other sectors and has no place in a rigorous evaluation of the economic benefits of aviation. Aviation has a number of well documented adverse environmental consequences. This report provides detailed evidence that, in addition to environmental disbenefits, aviation is very poor value for money. The debate about the future of aviation would be a much more open and transparent debate if economic realities were factored in and economic assertions factored out.

The Press Release

The Government is fooling us on the economic benefits of aviation

A new report published today (Tuesday 1st April) by CPRE highlights that the often quoted economic benefits of aviation are seriously exaggerated and based on flawed methodology. While massive airport expansion is being promoted across the country on the basis of these benefits, the balance sheets shows money being sucked out of the UK overall equivalent to a loss of 165,000 jobs every year in the North West.

Using the North West as a case study, the report concludes that there is little evidence to show that the significant expansion of airport capacity has brought net economic benefits to the region.

The report¹s author, Professor John Whitelegg, found that many of the economic benefits of expanding airports claimed in Government consultation documents are simply mirages based on an unquestioning acceptance of industry figures.

Key conclusions include:

Aviation is leading to investment draining away from the country. UK firms invest more abroad, made possible by air travel, than foreign firms invest here. Between 1997-2001 this led to a net deficit of investment of some £190 billion in the UK.

The British flying abroad spend more during their holidays than visitors to the UK. In 2001, this meant the balance of payments in tourism based on aviation was over £11 billion in the red (www.cprenorthwest.org.uk/press/press23.html#notes), hitting English tourist attractions and the countryside; the assumed economic benefits of air travel take no account of the fact that money not invested in air travel, would be invested in other ways in the economy; there is no commonly agreed figure for the number of indirect jobs which are created by new infrastructure investment the so called multiplier affect and no independent validation of the benefits claimed; and serious congestion on our roads is damaging the economy, yet airports are significant generators of traffic which contribute towards the problem.

22 May 2003


Airport expansion plans for South East are unacceptable

The prospect of major airport expansion in the South East is wholly unacceptable and based on inaccurate planning assumptions, the Hertfordshire, Essex, and East Herts Council Coalition has warned.

Following a meeting with BAA on Monday May 12 to discuss the company's stance on expansion, the three authorities are urging the Government to reassess its proposals.

"We are disappointed but not surprised that BAA supports growth in its own industry but it was made clear to us that they have significant concerns, particularly over the road and rail network, and accepted that without the infrastructure in place before additional runways come on stream, the government's proposals were unworkable" said Coalition spokesman Cllr Robert Ellis, Leader of Hertfordshire County Council.

"We have long argued that the Government has not taken sufficient account of the environmental and social impact of its expansion plans and this latest response from BAA only serves to highlight the gaps." he added.

Even without airport expansion, there are already concerns about how the M25 will cope with increased traffic levels in the coming years to which no solution has been found. At a meeting with the Coalition Group yesterday, BAA admitted that none of the proposed runways would be viable if the Government could not find a solution to the current M25 issue.

Cllr Ellis warned: "The Government must take into account the full impact of its strategies before progressing them. Even those who stand to benefit from these proposals admit they are fundamentally flawed. We continue to oppose expansion on the basis of as yet unseen demand, particularly when key questions over the impact of noise, pollution and traffic congestion go unanswered."

22 May 2003


James Drewer reports - Wednesday 21 May 2003

The session focused on the capacity problems faced in the South East and the protection of regional routes, but also covered a range of other issues including BAA's share of the market, an EU-US open skies agreement and demand management issues.

When Alistair Darling came to give evidence, he made the initial point that the Government's White Paper will be published at the end of the year, and he could not therefore pre-empt any of its findings.

He did, however, make clear that in publishing the White Paper, the Government does not wish to prolong uncertainty. The Government will bring as much certainty as it can, he said.

He also made clear that if the Government indicates a particular airport at which development should take place, it would then be up to private developers to act. The Government would not be putting any money into airport building, he said. Any proposal would also have to go through the planning process in the usual manner, he added.

Pushed further by Gwyneth Dunwoody, Mr Darling said that the Government would provide a 'strategic view', but that it would advise on location.

Louise Ellman then moved to the issue of slot allocation, noting that the Civil Aviation Authority had earlier called for secondary trading in slots.

Alistair Darling pointed out that this is now a matter of EU law. He did, however, call for greater transparency in the system, arguing that the best method for ensuring this would be auction. However, he made clear that the interests of regional airports would have to be safeguarded.

He referred in particular to access from Plymouth and Inverness and said that the Government is keeping these under review.

However, he indicated that Public Service Obligations to protect routes from regional airports should only be used 'sparingly'. He did not want a situation in which failing routes and airlines demanded subsidies from the Government to keep a service open.

Gwyneth Dunwoody then moved discussion on to the issue of transatlantic routes. Alistair Darling revealed that there is consensus among EU member states that they should transfer negotiations on transatlantic routes to the Commission, opening up the possibility of a bilateral EU/US air services treaty. This would be discussed at the Council of Ministers in June, he said.

Mr Darling also set out the benefits of a US-EU open skies agreement that would create a common aviation area between the EU and US and lead to the consolidation of the industry.

Tom Brake then pushed the Secretary of State on the Government's commitment to the environment, asking what demand management measures the Government has in place, since it claims it does not have a predict and provide approach.

He also asked Mr Darling whether he would stick to his predecessor Stephen Byers' commitment to a limit of 480,000 air movements at Heathrow. Mr Darling said that the government would adhere to noise limits but said that air movements would be a matter for the consultation.

Pushed by a number of committee members on sustainability and environmental issues, Mr Darling said that people's wish to travel by air and the cost to the environment had to be weighed up. This would be a matter of judgment, he said. The Government's commitments to emissions and climate change would be one of the many competing issues to consider.

On the question of proposals for an offshore airport, Alistair Darling made clear that all representations would be considered, but said that the Government wants a workable plan, with the assurance that the financial backing for any project was there in practice. He said that the current representations on offshore airports have not been detailed enough.

Despite not ruling out the possibility of a financial contribution from the Government for an offshore airport, he made clear that he would not discuss an idea in outline.

On the issue of BAA's monopoly in the South East, Mr Darling said that the Government would not 'wade in' and reorganise airport ownership. He pointed out that this would be a matter for the Competition Commission.

The Civil Aviation Authority favours expansion.

Earlier, the committee had taken evidence from the Civil Aviation Authority, represented by Sir Roy McNulty, Chairman, John Arscott, Director Airspace Policy and Bob Cotterill, Director Economic Policy and Regulation.

Sir Roy began by making the point that while the CAA favours a free market approach to aviation, this has not been delivering in the South East. He called upon the Government to be more precise about which developments it favours.

On BAA, Sir Roy agreed that BAA's monopoly has certain 'undesirable features', but said that he respected the Government's decision on the issue.

On the question of slot allocation, Bob Cotterill said that the CAA is looking into a system of 'secondary trading' for slots. He said that 'passengers in aggregate' would benefit from such trading. However, he suggested that regional passengers could protect their routes by joining together to buy slots. Sir Roy also argued against the use of Public Service Obligations (PSOs) here.

Later, Sir Roy said that the CAA takes no view on sustainability issues, arguing that such judgments are for the Government, and said that the CAA does not favour demand management options. While conceding that the industry should pay its environmental costs, and that it probably does not do so at present, he said that it should also be allowed to expand.

Towards the end of the session, Graham Stringer suggested that CAA's responses had been 'complacent', and asked why CAA does not make a greater effort to advocate the interests of the UK's aviation industry.

Sir Roy said that the needs of the aviation industry would be met by extra runway capacity. The CAA is therefore keen for the Government to make progress on its consultation, and give a clear lead so that developers can push ahead.

(Comment: Surely the CAA should have a view on sustainability issues. It acts as a regulator and takes decisions that influence traffic levels especially at individual airports. If the Government is committed to sustainable development then their regulators should follow the same principles.)

Pat Dale

22 May 2003


Andrew Clark reports in the Guardian (May 21st)


An influential think-tank with close links to Labour today calls for taxes and charges of up to a third on every airline ticket, urging immediate action to tackle the environmental havoc wreaked by passenger jets.

The Institute of Public Policy Research wants the government to introduce an auction of take-off and landing slots at busy airports - which could raise £1bn a year at Heathrow alone - as an alternative to building new runways.

To the dismay of airlines, the think-tank will also call for an emissions trading scheme to limit carbon dioxide pollution, together with taxes on nitrogen oxides and the products of condensation trails.

Tony Grayling, the IPPR's associate director, said the policies would prevent an expected 33% fall in the cost of air travel over the next three decades. He said the government needed to temper growth in aviation, rather than pandering to the industry's demands by building additional runways.

"I would suggest that if aviation were to truly pay for its environmental costs, the rate of growth in air travel would halve," said Mr Grayling.

Known as a left-leaning think-tank, the IPPR is widely respected in ministerial circles. Mr Grayling criticised transport secretary Alistair Darling's consultation on possible new runways in the south-east, saying airport expansion would aggravate regional inequalities by channelling more wealth into London and the home counties.

However, leading carriers claimed the recommendations were impractical. Airline sources said an auction of landing slots would lead to tit-for-tat action, with British carriers penalised for landing at foreign airports. It would also discriminate against domestic and short-haul flights - as intercontinental flights, which yield a higher price per seat, would be able to bid more for slots.

British Airways' chief economist, Andrew Sentance, said the findings were "a great disappointment and a missed opportunity". He pointed out that high taxes on motor fuel had done nothing to reduce congestion on roads.

21 May 2003




Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock): If he will make a statement on the progress of the consultation on airport provision for South East England.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. David Jamieson): The national consultation ends on 30 June. We have already received tens of thousands of responses from across the UK, and we expect to receive many more. All responses will be considered carefully before decisions are set out in the White Paper, which we intend to publish later this year.

Andrew Mackinlay: Does my hon. Friend the Minister sense that there is a growing irritation among hon. Members at BAA's disproportionate clout and influence on aviation policy and airport capacity? My hon. Friend was in the House when I said in prophetic terms, in relation to terminal 5, that BAA would perform its usual stunt and say, once it had got a runway, that it now needed a terminal. I was wrong in one sense, however: now that BAA has got terminal 5, it wants not one more runway, but three. Is not it time to blow the whistle on BAA, and say that enough is enough? We want all the regional airports that can serve London to be expanded, and there must be a more sensible policy to decide how we meet our aviation capacity shortfall-in the interests of the UK, not of BAA.

Mr. Jamieson: I thank my hon. Friend for those views, which were expressed, as ever, in an understated way. Of course, BAA is a big player in the provision of air services; that it should make a contribution to the consultation is totally to be expected, but its contribution to the consultation is no more than that. Other views will be expressed, in both agreement and disagreement, and it will be up to the Government to weigh those matters very carefully at the end of the consultation period. It is probably fortuitous that BAA should have published its views now, as it allows people the opportunity to form possibly contrary views during the consultation process.

What about taxiways?

Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden): I welcome the downgrading of the proposals for expansion of Luton airport from an assumption to an option, but will the Minister confirm that he is not now considering different options, such as the building of taxi ways? Such options have not been included in the consultation document, and my constituents have not been asked to give their views on them.

Mr. Jamieson: I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that no decisions have been made, and that none will be made until the end of the consultation period. He will appreciate that not only the options put forward by the Government in the consultation document have been commented on, and that many contributors to the consultation produced ideas that did not appear in the consultation document. Those ideas will have to be considered very carefully, and weighed against each other. There are very wide-ranging views on all these matters, and we must consider them all very carefully after the end of June.

Is Cliffe still an option?

Jonathan Shaw (Chatham and Aylesford): I want to say, in support of BAA, that its rejection of a proposed airport at Cliffe is absolutely correct. That proposal should be ruled out, on both commercial and environmental grounds. Will my hon. Friend take this opportunity to support BAA in this instance, and announce that Cliffe will not be an option in the White Paper?

Mr. Jamieson: Tempting though it may be to pre-empt the consultation, I am unfortunately unable to give my hon. Friend that undertaking today. The Cliffe option is still very much part of the consultation. Some very strong views have been expressed against it, not least by my hon. Friend's constituents, and by people in neighbouring constituencies. However, other views very much in favour of the Cliffe option have also been expressed. We have to weigh those up very carefully at the end of the month. I am sure that the comments that my hon. Friend has made, very robustly, on behalf of his constituents will be taken into consideration at that time.


Airports (Transport Links)

Paul Goggins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what action he is taking to improve public ground transport links to airports.

Mr. Jamieson: We have looked closely at possible improvements to public transport links, as part of our studies of airports and air services across the UK, on which we are presently consulting. We will set out our conclusions in the air transport White Paper. Airports are also working with the relevant parties to improve public transport links, in accordance with the policies set out in the 1998 "New Deal for Transport" White Paper.

(Comment: In other words, very little ! )

Alconbury Airfield

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has for a further public display of proposals for the construction of an airfield at Alconbury, held at a venue close to the airport site.

Mr. Jamieson: There are no plans for further public exhibitions on the options presented in "The Future Development of Air Transport in the United Kingdom: South East" (second edition).

Public exhibiiions providing information about the published consultation options were held last year, This included an exhibition on 3 October at the Huntingdon Marriott Hotel concerning the option for the small-scale airport development at Alconbuiy airfield.

Undue Influence?
BAA to become a "normal" private company?

Many of us will be surprised to learn that the Government still had a big share in BAA.

Report from James Drewer:

The European Court of Justice has ruled that the Government's 'golden share' in airport operator BAA is illegal.

The golden share in the company, which owns most of the UK's major airports including Heathrow and Gatwick, gives ministers the final say in major decisions such as selling or closing down an airport.

It also prevents any other investor from having more than a 15% stake in the company.

And under EU law such majority control of private firms is only permissible if it is in the public interest and if the action is proportionate to the need.

Golden shares held by the Spanish government in a range of businesses including tobacco, oil and telecommunications firms have also been condemned.

The ECJ stated that 'both the Spanish and United Kingdom rules entail restrictions on the movement of capital between member states'.

Many analysts have backed the decision claiming that golden shares make a mockery of a free and single market.

The ruling could leave BAA vulnerable to a hostile take-over bid, although analysts have suggested that this is unlikely.

The ECJ has a host of similar cases pending from other EU countries including Germany and the Netherlands, where it has been alleged that such measures are unfairly protecting established national companies from takeovers.

( Comment: Can a major shareholder claim to be an independent arbiter of airport expansion? )

Pat Dale

20 May 2003


Members of Uttlesford District Council have told BAA at a joint meeting that they will maintain their opposition to extra runways at Stansted airport.

Councillors Alan Dean and Alan Thawley for the Liberal Democrats, Councillors Jackie Cheetham for the Conservatives and Councillor Elizabeth Godwin for the Independents met airport managing director Terry Morgan and planning and business development director Chris Butler in Saffron Walden. The Council was given a copy of BAA's response to Government consultation on airport capacity in the south-east.

BAA are saying that one or two extra runways are feasible at Stansted and should be considered by the Government when they announce their decision in the autumn of 2003.

In a joint statement after the meeting the councillors from all political groups on the Council said, "We are not going to compromise just because BAA has come down from three extra runways to one or two. Even one extra runway would devastate this area by creating an airport and all the urbanisation that goes with Heathrow today.

"Access to an expanded airport would require massive unsustainable road and rail devolopment. In particular, we will be looking very carefully at BAA's claim that rail access to Stansted can be made to work. The impact of a new railway skirting the Hallingburys and Hatfield Forest is a problem in itself."

Uttlesford District Council is preparing an additional response to be sent to Alistair Darling by the time the consultation ends at the end of June. The Council will be questioning BAA further on its new announcement in the next few weeks.

17 May 2003


Noise exposure contours 2002

This report describes the calculations of the aircraft noise exposure around London Stansted Airport for the year 2002 and compares both the input data and the resulting contours, together with the areas and populations within the contours, with those for 2001.

For every year, the Environmental Research and Consultancy Department (ERCD) of the Civil Aviation Authority estimates the noise exposures around the London Airports (Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted) on behalf of the Department for Transport (DfT).

The magnitude and extent of the aircraft noise around these airports are depicted on maps by contours of constant aircraft noise index (Leq) values. The contours are determined by an empirically based computer model which calculates the emissions and propagation of noise from arriving and departing air traffic.

This report presents the results for London Stansted Airport for the year 2002 and compares both the air traffic information and the noise contours with those for 2001.

The average daily aircraft movement rate was 2.2% lower in 2002 than in 2001. The actual modal split in 2002 was 64% south-west - 36% north-east compared with 71% south-west - 29% north-east in 2001. The standard modal split (20 year average) in 2002 was 75% south-west - 25% north-east.

Relative to 2001, the total area within the 57 dBA Leq (16-hour) contour decreased by 1.2% and the population within this contour decreased by 13.0%.

Comment: Since these are average figures it is unlikely that anyone living within the area will have noticed any difference. As there were fewer flights in 2002 they and others living under the flight paths may have noticed some little relief. This will soon be lost as capacity increases to 25 mppa. It is time that noise exposure was measured in a more realistic way. We should start by demanding the new EU standard measurement Lden, which gives more weight to evening and night noise. We should also ask that the lower WHO standards are used and that "on the spot" recordings are made under the flight paths. Then, what about compensation?

Pat Dale

14 May 2003


The Government should choose 3 new runways to meet the expected demand for air travel
BAA's Short List: Heathrow, Gatwick and two at Stansted

What about "Responsible Growth?

What does BAA say? "BAA is committed to the principle of sustainable and responsible development and supports the Government's sustainability objectives". The response goes on to list the agreed four principles. Unfortunately, as we all know, in the case of aviation, all four cannot be met - by its very nature, air transport damages the environment however many mitigation measures are put into effect. Neither does aviation use natural resources prudently - aircraft are the biggest consumers of fuel in the transport system.

The truth is, in order to maintain an aviation industry and an air traffic system we have to accept that environmental damage will result. Tthe question is, how much damage can we allow - there has to be a "trade-off".

It would be better if this fact were recognised by all and those in favour of massive expansion such as BAA did not pretend that their plans could in any way be regarded as sustainable in the true meaning of the idea - growth that does not prejudice the lives of future generations.

The response is longer than the consultation document itself

It enthusiastically supports the Government's expansion figures and repeats all the claims about the economic benefits expansion will bring, the need to preserve the aviation industry, vital to the UK economy, the role of expansion in stimulating regional business and tourism (no mention of the overall loss in the UK tourism budget) and the alleged terrible consequences for the UK economy if expansion does not occur.

There is also the same story about the need to satisfy the wish of every man, woman and child to fly somewhere every year, not just once on their annual holiday, but perhaps 2 or 3 times, possibly just for a quick weekend break . (We ask why Easyjet and Ryanair are finding it difficult to sell tickets at prices as low as £1 if there are so many frustrated would -be air passengers.)



There is much discussion about costs and the ability of airport operators, notably BAA, to finance runway expansion. It is clear that BAA want assurances from the Government before they would raise the necessary capital required. They want to be able to raise airport charges to meet the costs (they have only just succeeded in getting permission from the CAA to raise charges to meet the T5 costs). They make it clear that they will only finance rail access expansion that directly benefits the airport - SRA and the Government must pay their share. They also question the consultation document's future employment figures, far too high they consider. (The reason they are bothered is that more employees means more local houses and this is unpopular with the local community - or more travel - and more requests for financial contributions by BAA to these airport related developments.)

They also want assurances that the new planning proposals for fast track approval of major works approved by the Government will be in place and will be applied to airport expansion.

Environmental taxes: BAA accept that the aviation industry should meet its environmental costs. They are against any form of tax, they regard this as "paying twice" as passengers already pay airport tax. They want a "smart effective economic instrument" whatever that might mean!

Hub Airports and European competition

There is an interesting exposition of hub airports and their main European rivals. As expected, BAA prefers to keep Heathrow as the main hub attracting the long haul carriers feeding transfer passengers onto more local ones. Although Heathrow is the busiest airport in Europe it appears that others have more connections and more transfers.

BAA makes it clear that it fears that future congestion at Heathrow will deter the transfer passengers and that those on long haul flights will divert to the continent and transfer to their final connection there.

(The transfer business obviously benefits the airlines and the airport operator, but there is no benefit to the UK economy except indirectly through the British companies concerned and those they employ. Do these transfer passengers really make a significant difference? Has anyone investigated the economic effects of more point to point flights for long haul as well as short haul? Fewer flights but to more places? Or a circular route?)

BAA appears to visualise Heathrow as the main hub, Stansted as the home for the expansion of cheap short haul traffic - it makes it clear that long haul operators should not be expected to change airports - and Gatwick to continue as before but with more flights.

Surface Access - The need for a better rail service

They consider that improved rail access would be required for all three London airports, notably Stansted. They say that they have agreement with the SRA for the establishment of a new dedicated rail line to Stansted airport, leaving the main line north of Harlow and possibly even being extended up to rejoin the main line south of Newport. The map of the route is a sketch only. One can guess where - Hatfield Heath? Hallingbury? More work would need to be done between Harlow and Liverpool Street, extension of stations and perhaps a dedicated platform at Liverpool Street. A new terminal at Stratford is suggested with connections to the ephemeral cross link and the expected channel tunnel rail link.

Most important, BAA regards a new line into London as a necessity if a third runway is to be built. No proposals with the SRA are put forward for such a line.


Climate change

It is accepted that some action is needed and they support including international air travel being included within the Kyoto Treaty. They quote global figures for CO2 production due to air transport, 6% by 2050, which sounds better than the Government's figures of 12-15% of UK emissions by 2020! They ignore the radiative forcing effects of contrails and nitrogen dioxide NO2 emissions (adding an accepted multiplier of 2.7 x volume of CO2). They also ominously say that they believe that aviation should be regarded as a premium user of "the valuable asset" of the earth's capacity to handle greenhouse gases.


This, readers will be interested to learn, is only a "social-environmental impact rather than strictly an environmental pollution issue". It does not have a lasting impact on the planet. (Forget the effects on the human population, they will not last, forget the possible health effects.)

However, it is accepted that noise is a "Big Issue" and that there is no possibility that noise can be engineered away. We are therefore back with the mitigating measures that we have heard so much about. BAA then admit that there will still be more people exposed to (and complaining) about noise when expansion goes ahead and "it will be right to consider compensation". (Does that offer apply to today's sufferers?)

Air Quality

Having proposed a privileged position for air traffic within the Kyoto targets, offered money to the socially disturbed people exposed to noise, BAA realise that they have to deal with the thorny question of local air quality, admitted by the Government to be higher after expansion than is allowed by EU and UK law. They cannot dismiss an EU Directive on the grounds of special privilege, neither can they suggest it is only a socially upsetting nasty smell.

BAA's solution: Their solution is to carry out their own redefining of the air quality modelling carried out by the Government's consultants. It appears that they have been allowed access to the Government's figures and computer programmes in relation to Heathrow and Gatwick. (Yet we, in SSE, have not yet succeeded in obtaining the basic figures for Stansted.)

Surprise, Surprise! They find that the Government's model produces predictions that are far too high! After 4 month's actual measurements at Heathrow they find that the NO2 miraculously disappears very soon after it leaves the aircraft engine, it is not dispersed around the area amongst the surrounding population. They also find that pilots don't behave in the same way as the model says they do, they do not take off with the engines at full thrust, so, less NO2 is produced. Finally, insufficient account has been taken of local traffic, this is what is mostly responsible for higher levels of NO2 in the surrounding streets.

In addition BAA list all the new measures it intends to introduce in the way it organises traffic within the airports, the use of electrical power units, the use of "green" airside vehicles, better routing of aircraft on the ground. It reminds us that aircraft manufacturers are busy designing engines with low NO2 emissions and that the Government must support the research, the Government must promote the use of new engine technology. They omit to mention the fact that so far it has been impossible to reduce fuel use (and CO2), noise, and NO2 production in the same engine. You have to make a choice. No prizes for guessing which the airline's choice will be!

The EU Directives will be satisfied!

It is hardly surprising that at the end of all these "improvements" we are told that hardly anyone at Heathrow will suffer from increased air traffic from another runway. Any air pollution will be the fault of those car drivers who will have to be disciplined by the Government or taxed by Ken Livingstone when they want to visit Heathrow.

Stansted was not even considered. Why not? Are there any figures at all for Stansted? (We have the figures for the 25 mppa expansion, they forecast a small exceedance at that stage of expansion just outside the airport boundary, no doubt the new look BAA air quality modelling programme can explain why this was wrong.)

Some reservations..

Later, BAA admits that predicting aircraft emissions remains "subject to significant uncertainty" though they consider that their work offers a "real prospect of a better understanding of these issues".

They favour an airport by airport approach, relying on local agreements to solve local problems. They consider that they are very good at working with local communities and have established good relationships at all their airports.

This is true when it concerns matters that do not affect operational issues. There is a limit beyond which BAA will not go and probably cannot go because of the nature of the problems. These are the problems that spoil the quality of local life and risk damaging local people's health.


BAA says they are satisfied that from an aeronautical and airport operational point of view all Stansted options are viable. They say they have also considered the effects on local communities and on the environment. They have agreed a realistic plan with the SRA for additional rail services but these would be insufficient to meet the needs of a third additional runway and they have not identified an appropriate rail strategy that would meet these needs.

They say it is for the Government to decide whether the "measures needed to reduce the predicted environmental effects can be delivered".

They have therefore included 2 extra runways at Stansted in the four options they have selected, making it clear that they would like to see one new runway in operation by 2011, followed by 2 others the timing of which could be flexible.

Future Capacity

*  BAA believe that 35 mppa can be reached with the existing runway and a terminal and other buildings extension within the existing boundaries.

*  They consider that with 2 runways used in mixed mode 85 mppa could be accommodated.

*  With 3 runways, the third in close parallel with the existing runway could achieve 102 mppa, but probably more if the distance between them could be doubled. The rail improvements required have already been described.

*  With 4 runways 140 mppa could be reached. However a new main line rail link would be needed.

*  All the options would need some expansion of the road infrastructure especially of the M11.


Land and Housing

BAA has not done any work to verify the effects listed in the SERAS document. In BAA's experience the amount of land needed might be reduced.

Air Noise

BAA believes that the SERAS predictions are correct. They say elsewhere that they are not in favour of abandoning the 57Leq measurement for Lden as suggested by the EU Directive. (It would increase the "annoyance area"!). They would be prepared to accept a noise cap. ( The cap suggested for 25 mppa left them plenty of scope!)

Air Quality

All the arguments used at Heathrow are applied to Stansted, so BAA conclude that there is likely to be "only a few, if any, people" exposed to NO2 in excess of the EU limit value.

*  No word about applying these alleged improvements to the Stansted prediction figures.

*  No word about the lower levels of Nox that apply to plant life, notably Hatfield Forest and the surrounding agricultural land (which will take time to cover with concrete!).

They seem to forget that their arguments over Heathrow do not necessarily apply to Stansted:

* It is in a rural area so background levels are less affected by vehicle traffic.

* Dispersion patterns will be different and likely to be wider in the absence of built up areas. The weather pattern is different with less rain.

* The fleet mix is likely to be different. Are budget airlines going to buy state of the art technology? Smaller planes on short haul journeys produce more NO2.

* Do Stansted pilots take off with 85% full thrust as is claimed by BA at Heathrow?

We should insist on the Stansted figures being reviewed and made public before any decision is taken. The only results we have access to that are described in any detail are the ones for 25 mppa and they prophesied that the limit should already be reached. Was BAA's application not correct?

Economic Impacts

BAA complain that the employment figures are exaggerated and that many employees are quite content to travel to work and so will not be demanding local housing.

Financial appraisal

BAA draws attention to the fact that the Government costings have not included environmental and mitigation costs. These they calculate would between £20 million and £250 million (one runway) and between £30 million and £270 million for 2 runways.

They consider that one extra runway is viable financially but that the costs would need to be spread across users of the whole London system. For one runway charges would need to rise by around 35% above 2003/4 level. If Stansted had to "stand alone" the charges would need to rise by around 120%.

Further assessments for additional runways should not be made until after the construction of the first one.

Pat Dale

11 May 2003


James Drewer reports on the 6 May meeting

At the meeting evidence was heard from an unrelated group of organisations and companies, representatives of London Redhill Aerodrome, Regional Airports Ltd, the Thames Estuary Airport Company, the Guild of Air Traffic Control Officers, Prospect, easyJet, My Travel Lite, the Association of International Courier and Express Services and the British Cargo Airlines Alliance all urged the committee to take on board their views when it publishes its report on aviation.

The Off-Shore Airport Proposals. Where is the money to come from?

Ron Crocker gave evidence for the Thames Estuary Airport Company (TEACO). He was accompanied by Professor Edward Ayensu, Chairman of the Inspection Panel of the World Bank.

Mr Crocker told the committee that his company had backing from private investors to the tune of £33bn for its proposal to build an offshore airport in the Thames Estuary.

As he would not reveal further information about the nature or source of the backing, committee members were unconvinced about the credibility of his claims, despite Professor Ayensu's validation of the documents.

Mr Crocker went on to concede that his company had not approached airline companies or NATS about the proposal, adding that the plans were in an 'embryo stage'.

He made clear to the committee however that his proposal amounted to a 'state of the art airport with minimal environmental impact', and which would not call upon the public purse to fund it.

Mr Crocker told the committee that he had not undertaken a detailed feasibility study, nor an environmental assessment, and had only taken very general expert advice. Yet he was confident that the project would be 'very successful'.

He added that the company would be prepared to carry out more detailed investigations if it were given a signal by the Government that it was taking the proposal seriously.

Evidence from the Regional Airports

Before TEACO gave evidence and first to appear before the committee were Jon Cousens, Director of External Affairs at the London Redhill Aerodrome, and Andrew Walters, Chairman of Regional Airports Limited.

Both witnesses stressed the importance of maximising the use of local airports, which they said were currently being underused. They set out in detail the case for expansion at Redhill and Northolt, as well as Southend and Biggin Hill, and were keen to play down any objections on environmental or other grounds.

Specifically on Redhill, Jon Cousens told the committee that once permission were given for development, a Redhill feeder-reliever would take four years to complete. He also expressed confidence that private finance would be forthcoming.

Discussions have taken place with the Strategic Rail Authority on the issue of a Redhill to Gatwick rail link, he said, adding that he believed Gatwick management would be co-operative with the proposal. He also denied the existence of any widespread opposition to expansion at Redhill.

Mr Cousens went on to concede that airlines operating to the UK's regions were not specifically supporting a Redhill bid. BMI have provided qualified support, he said. There is also no overriding air traffic control objection, he added.

On the question of expanding the use of RAF Northolt, Andrew Walters argued that Northolt could do more business aviation, and called for a raising of the cap on such flights.

When Andrew Walters revealed that such flights only carry an average of 4 passengers, committee member John Randall made the point that encouraging business aviation would not be in line with the Government's road and rail transport policy - encouraging people to share or use public transport.

Andrew Walters pointed out that Northolt could also be a feeder-receiver for Heathrow, although this would not be popular, and was not a proposal he would put forward.

The Views of Air Traffic Control

After TEACO the next witnesses to give evidence were representatives from air traffic control - Richard Dawson and John Levesley from the Guild of Air Traffic Control Officers and David Luxton, Paul Winstanley and Gordon Scott from Prospect.

Gwyneth Dunwoody began by making the point that all new capacity options in the southeast require reconfiguration of air traffic control, and asked what the main difficulties are.

David Luxton said that the existence of bottlenecks means that there will have to be changes to air space, and added that another difficulty will be ensuring that there is sufficient technical capacity to deal with the increased air traffic movement.

A shortage of operational Controllers....

Paul Winstanley added that air traffic controllers cannot continue simply redrawing air traffic sectors - this is just moving bottlenecks around, he said. He also pointed out that there are still staff shortages in air traffic control. David Luxton agreed, adding that another 40 operational controllers would be needed to cope with three extra runways in the southeast.

NATS financial problems

On the issue of confidence in NATS, David Luxton called for visible contingency plans, making clear that the Government would step in if NATS were to go bust.

Moving on to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Richard Dawson called for greater strategic planning from the CAA, arguing that it had abandoned this role. The CAA needs to have its authority and its resources restored, he said.

Asked by Brian Donohoe for their preferred option for additional runways, from an air traffic control point of view, David Luxton mentioned Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, ruling out Cliffe.

Richard Dawson pointed out that if a third runway were built at Heathrow, Northolt's future would be 'unlikely to continue'

A second air traffic control centre essential for any expansion in the south east

Turning to plans to build a second air traffic control centre at Prestwick, with the phased withdrawal of the Manchester centre, David Luxton made clear that without a second centre, that cannot be any expansion in the southeast.

Richard Dawson also indicated that his organisation would welcome a return to the pre-1991 days, when air traffic controllers had greater powers to direct planes.

Finally, David Luxton discussed the issue of European air traffic control, arguing that NATS can have an increased role here, though he expressed some concern about Eurocontrol.

The Budget Airlines say No more Regulation!

The next witnesses were Ray Webster, Chief Executive of Easyjet, and Tim Jeans, Managing Director of My Travel Lite. Both witnesses argued in favour of deregulation and liberalisation in aviation.

Ray Webster began by arguing that the southeast's capacity problem can be tackled by changing the way people fly, moving away from a hub and spokes model to a point-to-point model. He called for deregulation of long-haul air travel, based on the European experience. He criticised the current situation, in which large airlines dominate hubs, and said that competition should be used to force out inefficient operators.

Questioning why the airline industry should remain protected, he said that safety issues are now the subject of regulations.

Both Tim Jeans and Ray Webster argued against new building at Heathrow. Ray Webster called for a new airport, built outside London, and connected to the capital by rail. Alternatively, a new runway could be built at Stansted, he said.

Ray Webster went on to set out in greater detail the economics of point-to-point, arguing that companies could offer much better services to customers if a transformation were effected.

The Cargo Business

Finally, the committee took evidence from the Association of International Courier and Express Services (AICES) and the British Cargo Airlines Alliance.

Appearing for AICES were Danny Pedri, General Manager, DHL Aviation Ltd and Simon Foylan, Senior Manager of Planning, Federal Express. Steve Guynan was representing the British Cargo Airlines Alliance.

The witnesses emphasised the importance of their businesses to British industry, and highlighted the danger of listening only the local residents in making planning decisions. Expressing frustration at the planning system in the UK, they warned that businesses will look to move abroad, unless there is some intervention, so that cargo airlines are given proper access to runway slots.

The witnesses urged the committee to raise their concerns with Government, so that their interests are not sidelined when it makes its decision on air capacity.

Comment by Pat Dale:

As one would expect, everyone pushes their own interests, though NATs is independent. Their evidence was somewhat disappointing, not much information on air space capacity, mainly the present working difficulties of the service. Nothing about the reputed shortage of airspace over southern Europe and how that would be affected by growth in the south east.

We ask how the Air Cargo companies could transfer their business to European airports if they were exporting British goods, would they take them cross channel by lorry first?)

Comment by Ken McDonald:

Five active campaigners from Stansted also squeezed into the public area. My own impressions of the session:


This "presentation" probably blew any chance that the Transport Committee might get excited by the Estuary option. The body language of many of the Committee was, quite frankly, most discourteous. They clearly saw TEACO as a joke, and the representatives did little to dissuade them. Their style was unpolished, and the witness who was wheeled in to verify that financial backing really was available for the £33 billion scheme was most unconvincing.


REDHILL and REGIONAL AIRPORTS were also not well prepared or convincing. If such an individual local pro-development campaign group (for want of a better description) as Redhill were allowed to give evidence, it's a shame that a much better briefed, and more widely supported SSE has not been allowed to appear.



The witnesses, albeit representing the staff rather than the company, were granted a hearing about 3 times as long as Airport Watch a few weeks ago. They expressed concern about their capacity to support much growth over the next few years, and were very sceptical of being able to handle the complexities that would arise from another major airport. The growth of many new low cost place-to-place routes was an ongoing challenge. Their preference for any growth was clearly at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted.



Ray Webster was very impressive - not a whisper of the morning's announcement of EASYJET'S £50 million loss for the half year!. Jeans seemed to be arguing that Stansted growth might be peaking as passengers in the regions are now being offered services more locally. Webster argued that the 747s of the long haul world did not mix easily with the smaller, quick turnaround aircraft employed by low cost airlines - quite different cultures, best kept apart.



Stansted ideal - right distance from London - but the cargo people are starting to get squeezed out of slots by the growing and presumably more lucrative low cost passenger airlines. Their preference for expansion was Stansted, followed by Heathrow.

Perhaps this was not the time and place, but I don't recall too much questioning that suggested demand management might be on the Committee's agenda.

All in all it was a most interesting exposure to people with quite different agendas than simply pro-growth or anti-growth.

Easy to get depressed by the day, but the Committee has heard alternative, particularly environmental arguments on other occasions.

4 May 2003




Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much has been provided by Central Government funds to (a) all UK airports and (b) each UK airport for noise abatement measures in each of the last 10 years.

Mr. Jamieson: Nil. Each airport is responsible for funding its own noise abatement measures, including noise insulation schemes. This applies irrespective of whether the noise abatement measures are specified by the Secretary of State (i.e. at airports designated under section 80 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982) or determined locally.

Stansted is a designated airport. Take-off noise levels are controlled, but, we learn from BAA Stansted that for the first time ever seven aircraft operators were fined for not keeping to noise preferential routes! How many times have we been told in answer to complaints that BAA were doing everything possible to keep noise levels down! Lets have more "naming and shaming" and let it apply to arrivals as well.



Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to his answer of 20 January 2003, column 42W, when he will publish the consultation paper on night restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports.

Mr. Spellar: I wrote to the hon. Member on 15 April referring to my written statement of 8 April 2003, Official Report, column 9WS, announcing publication of the consultation paper.

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the responses concerning Alconbury airfield to the first public consultation on The Future Development of Air Transport in the UK (South East) will be considered in the second public consultation.

Mr. Jamieson: All responses received so far, including those concerning Alconbury and all other options in the South East and UK will be considered, together with any responses that are submitted before the new closing date of 30 June 2003. The consultation has been extended from its original closing date of 30 November 2002; this is a continuation of the consultation launched on 23 July last year, not a separate consultation exercise.

Anyone who has already responded may, if they wish, add to, replace or amend their earlier response(s). We will consider all consultation responses before making decisions in the air transport White Paper, which we aim to publish later this year.


Andy King: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will publish a summary of responses to the National Consultation on the Future of Air Transport in the UK, broken down by (a) region and (b) subject matter, with reference to partial planning blight; (2) how many representations he has received concerning domestic property prices as a result of the National Consultation on the Future of Air Transport in the UK.

Mr. Jamieson: We have not yet analysed all the responses but we will produce a summary after the consultation closes.


Mr. Colman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to encourage aviation companies to replace older and noisier aeroplanes with aeroplanes with the latest technology low-noise engines through (a) financial incentives, (b) legislative measures and (c) other incentives.

Mr. Jamieson: Government plans for the future of aviation in the UK are currently the subject of comprehensive review in preparation for a White Paper it is hoped to publish later this year. These plans will be decided in the light, inter alia, of the outcome of current discussions with stakeholder groups on the appropriate use of economic instruments for encouraging the aviation industry to limit aircraft noise and its other environmental impacts. Regulations to transpose EU Directive 2002/30/EC, which sets out rules and procedures for introducing noise-related operating restrictions at Community airports, are in preparation. It is hoped to lay them before the summer recess.

Comment: On a Wing and a Prayer?
We have to remember the limitations of future technology. No-one, as yet, can see a way to design aircraft engines that will both reduce fuel use, reduce CO2, reduce noise, and reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions. There has to be a "trade-off" if aircraft flights are to expand to the level suggested in the consultation. Increase the risks of climate change, endure more noise, or suffer from increasing air pollution round airports. These issues are far more important than trying to satisfy an open-ended demand for ever cheaper flights. Relying on the ability of technology to find an answer to these problems is not an option.

The Action Group aims beyond June 30th!

The Action Group have issued a statement to the press.

They begin by reminding everyone that in the past 14 months, the Group have worked hard fighting the No Airport At Cliffe Campaign. During this time they have learned a lot and gained experience along the way, lobbied Parliament, got mentioned in the Hansard reports, organised demonstrations attended by thousands, handed in petitions and letters at No. 10 and organised a London March which has had to be postponed due to the war with Iraq campaigns. They have also organised very many meetings on both side of the Thames as well as seminars, stalls and social functions. They then say that while they are still focusing on the airport issue, they have realised that the problems they face in North Kent are not going to end with Cliffe being removed from the Consultation. What the Government are not admitting is that their plans include North Kent as part of London. No longer is the area to be the back garden where London's utilities and waste disposal are dumped - it is to be the gateway to London, the "World Class City"! Sustainable housing is the plan - rural communities and village life are no longer part of the equation. Their area is to be the next London suburb.

The statement goes on: "The No Airport At Cliffe Action Group have taken the decision that they must push on with the parallel campaign "Parks Not Planes" as soon as possible. If, when we are successful in defeating the airport issue, we must already have shown the Govt. that we have a viable option, a self supporting way of life..a Regional Park. This is something we must all embrace and take pride in, we have so much available to work with. history, rural communities, countryside, protected wildlife/birds and two magnificent river estuaries..let your imagination go and think what we could achieve by capitalising on the natural things we have, instead of blotting out our land under concrete for any reason."

Comment: This sounds very familiar!
The Thames Gateway affects South Essex as well. We too have our housing plans and threats, the M11 corridor, a new town east of Stansted, a massive expansion of Harlow, there are many alternatives being debated, all leading to more and more urbanisation. How about a Stansted Airport Regional Park? This would be a great advertising feature for BAA and Stansted's Airlines,. "Experience London's "airport in the country", visit the Regional Park before you journey into the city".


BAA has recently expressed the view that the Government should fund rail access to the airports. They claim to have spent large sums of money to help improve local access by public transport to all three London Airports. In the case of Stansted they have contributed to many improvements, but all are also for the direct benefit of the airport. When the needs of future expansion are being itemised, notably a completely new line to Liverpool Street with connections to the underground and to the as yet "pie in the sky" - Cross-Rail, we ask, why should the public purse pay for developments that would not be needed if the airport did not expand?

A letter to the Financial Times gives a commuter's view!

24 April 2003

Sir, BAA's concern that rail is the weak link in the government's airport expansion plans ("Airports operator warns on expansion plans", April 22) should also extend to those who do not want to fly. I am referring to City commuters who are unfortunate enough to travel on the same line into Liverpool Street station as the so-called Stansted Express.

At peak times the line cannot cope now. The Stansted Express runs every 15 minutes off-peak but only half-hourly at peak times. Any "upgrade" must mean more express trains as the Department for Transport has no plans to add further tracks for another 20 years - of little help to City commuters, since the express only stops at two out of a dozen or so stations. Perhaps the "upgrade" referred to in your report will be two blasts on the whistle - one for "Mind the doors!", the other for "Breathe in!" Michael Fairchild, Little Hadham, Herts


In answer to a letter in the Times, Sally Oliver writes:


Re: "On a wing and a prayer...how forecasts for air travel are flying out of control" - Camilla Cavendish - 24/4/03

At last, someone is talking sense about the foundation upon which the government's predictions for future air travel are based. Surely these deeply unreliable figures must be revised? They were predicted before '9/11', Iraq and S.A.R.S. and we now have layoffs and bankruptcy in the airline industry around the world. These current problems illustrate the continuing and continuous examples of the instability of the airline industry.

The government should also make public their assessment of the impact on these forecasts of the aviation industry being made to pay its full social and environmental costs and of aviation fuel being taxed at the same level as motor fuel.

The British public are tolerant of most things and accept that the aviation industry brings economic benefits, but the plans for expansion in the South East are so lacking in moderation, that the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of people will not be moderately effected, but extremely effected.

Yours faithfully

Sally Oliver
The Cricketers, Clavering

Pat Dale

2 May 2003


The Transport Select Committee has been hearing verbal evidence on the future of aviation. SSE has already sent in a written statement.

Two days ago Sir Alan Haselhurst, MP for the Stansted area, was questioned. James Drewer sends this report.

Sir Alan, who is unable to contribute substantively to debates in the Commons due to his status as Deputy Speaker, represented the Manchester constituency of Middelton and Prestwich before being re-elected in his current constituency in 1977. Sir Alan served on the Transport Committee from 1992-1997.

Gwyneth Dunwoody began her examination by asking Sir Alan how demand for flights should be managed, and how the economic aspects of aviation could be reconciled with the industry's environmental impact.

Sir Alan responded by saying that there should be a more rigorous examination of the costs created by the industry to the environment. Although he accepted the economic case for extra capacity in the southeast, which produces 68-70 per cent of demand, he said that demand should either be queried or denied, or alternatively, a site should be chosen which could take extra demand in the least damaging way.

Suggesting that an offshore site should be found, by which he made clear he was not referring to the proposed site at Cliffe, he said that if a "big bang solution" must be found, a site should be identified which would cause the least environmental damage possible, even if this costs more and involves a public contribution. He would be surprised, however, if once the Government made a decision on this, private companies did not come forward.

Pointing out that an offshore solution could be developed to operate on a 24-hour basis, Sir Alan questioned the Government's decision not to include an offshore option in its consultation.

Asked by Louise Ellman about the prospect of expanding Luton airport, Sir Alan said that he doubted it would be supported locally.

Moving on, George Stevenson asked about the 'open skies' arrangement at Stansted. Sir Alan said that this has been operating for some time, although there has not been significant take-up. On the opening up of air freight, he said he would be concerned about night movement and would push for tight restrictions regarding night flights.

Sir Alan then added that any decision on runway building should be accompanied by a more than adequate road and rail infrastructure and a better compensation regime, so that airport building is not completely negative for the people living nearby.

Graham Stringer then asked why people in the northwest have such a different attitude to airport development from those in the south. Sir Alan pointed out that when he represented a northwest constituency, he observed more enthusiasm for seeing a developmental boost to the north, and the employment opportunities that such a boost would bring.

Asked by Tom Brake what the Government should do about reducing demand, through fiscal or other measures, Sir Alan said that there is room for some increase in charges on the aviation industry, to meet growing environmental concerns.

In assessing the figures pointing towards a growth in demand, Sir Alan said, intelligent guesses should be made about the nature of demand. A second hub in the southeast would not make sense, he added, arguing that attempts to make Gatwick a second hub had been costly.

He went on to flag up the issue of airport ownership, indicating that having a monopoly supplier in the southeast is not conducive to finding the best solutions for the future. While not wishing to comment directly on the ownership of BAA, he referred the committee to his speech on the privatisation of BAA.

Describing BAA as "the big, bad wolf", Sir Alan argued that BAA had "short changed" the committee in the evidence it presented, and questioned some of their statements.

"I worry about BAA's role in this whole procedure", he said. "I fear that they will have an over-influential role with the Government of the day". Sir Alan urged the Government to take greater note of the health impact of airports on local residents in coming to a decision, as well as arguing that the existing formula for compensation is not sufficient.

Sir Alan finished his evidence session by referring to the late Graham Eyre's report into Stansted from the early 1980's -

"Without a shadow of a doubt a judgement can now be made as to the environmental consequences of the construction and operation of a second runway at Stansted .....[these consequences] would constitute nothing less than a catastrophe in environmental terms....I can conceive of no circumstances in which the development of such an airport at Stansted could be justified."

Other evidence was given by representatives of the States of Jersey and Guernsey, who called for the reopening of their Heathrow slots, and described keeping open their routes to Gatwick as an "absolute priority".

Later, the committee heard the views of Professor Nicolas Cumpsty and Jeff Jupp from the Royal Academy of Engineering. They pointed out that new technologies are being developed to reduce the noise of, and emissions from, aircraft, although these are mostly shelved because of the high economic cost.

The Government could encourage the use of these new technologies by introducing fiscal incentives, they said, and the price of fuel could also have an impact.

Criticising the system of international rules relating to aviation, the witnesses suggested a system of charges by countries on the aircraft entering their airports, forcing them to comply with those countries' standards.

In particular, they highlighted Heathrow's noise standards, 'QC1' and 'QC2', which require airlines to ensure that aircraft coming into or leaving Heathrow emit noise some 20 decibels below international rules.

They also pointed out it is becoming increasingly more difficult to make noise improvements, which would now require an increased use of fuel.

Next to appear before the committee were Professor Duncan Laxen, Managing Director of Air Quality Consultants, and Professor Stephen Stansfeld of Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Professor Laxen began by warning that expansion at Heathrow would not comply with new EU laws on nitrogen dioxide emissions, which come into force in 2010. Gatwick and the East Midlands also have problems with nitrogen dioxide, he told the committee.

Professor Laxen and Professor Stansfeld echoed the views of the previous witnesses, arguing that financial measures, including differential, performance-based landing charges, could encourage airlines to introduce new technologies.

Professor Stansfeld went on to describe his research into the effects of noise pollution on children's school work.

The final witnesses were Tony Lucking and Keith Boyfield, commentators on aviation. Keith Boyfield, a free market economist, argued that more runway space must be built to meet demand. Calling for full market liberalisation, Mr Boyfield said that the best interim measure in creating more airport slots would be to build satellite runways near Gatwick and Heathrow.

He described the scarcity of runway slots as a "government failure", and said that money received by the airport operators could be hypothecated to those residents living nearby.

Mr Boyfield also called for the splitting up of BAA, arguing that BAA is pushing the development of Stansted. If BAA were split up, he said, this would provide an incentive to develop other areas such as Northolt and Redhill.

He claimed that BAA has failed to be innovative, and argued that consumers would benefit in the long run, should it be split up.

Comment: Stansted is always forgotten by the experts. Stansted will also have problems with nitrogen dioxide, and , when the current testing is finished may be shown to have some already. The welfare of a smaller number of people in the country should be just as important as those in the London area.

30 April 2003


Ben Webster, The Times Transport correspondent reports that BAA will, next month, publish a Report that claims that the official predictions of air pollution round airports are grossly exaggerated.

These predictions were made for all the new runway options in the South East Consultation document. They showed that many people would be exposed to levels of the irritant gas, nitrogen dioxide, that would be above that allowed by both UK and EU law. As many as 35,000 could be affected at Heathrow, numbers were much lower in our rural area, but still amounted to nearly 300 in 2030 with 3 new runways, over 135 with 2, and 48 with 1 extra runway. The document admits that the law cannot be broken, but dismisses concerns at Stansted saying that "in practice it is likely that such impacts could in practice be prevented".

This of course means that appropriately called "sensitivity tests" are applied. Having spent much time in applying what is called standard methodology in order to work out these predictions, they are then presented as too conservative and every possible way is explored that might help to achieve a reduction. This might be, as British Airways suggest, deciding that pilots actually handle their planes in ways that reduce the amount of nitrogen dioxide produced or, for example, that new engines are developed much faster than allowed for, etc, etc. No doubt BAA will have found many such reasons for lowering the figures. They will probably forget those that might even raise them, for instance, how can weather be predicted up to 2030? (Dispersion of the pollution depends on the weather.) Even more important, it is not yet possible to produce any engine design that will reduce nitrogen dioxide, and noise, and burn less fuel - and so reduce carbon dioxide and the effects on climate change. New engines take about 15 years to develop, and another 15 years to put into production. Is it likely that airlines would buy an engine that is not the most effective in reducing fuel use?

In spite of all these difficulties in making worthwhile predictions, the Times article reports that the head of DfT's Airports policy said at a recent seminar at Gatwick that BAA would produce clear evidence that the NOx problem had been overstated. If this report is correct then it would be scandalous that any Government should contemplate accepting evidence from one side of the consultation as more reliable than their own consultants and those, including many within the industry and their consultants, who advise that any predictions must be treated with many reservations as to their accuracy.

In fact, the situation is even more biased against organisations like SSE with limited funds. It is normal to accompany all such predictions with the basic figures from which they have been calculated. No such figures have been provided with this consultation. We have been engaged in trying to obtain them without success and will be considering what further action needs to be taken. They are vital to anyone wishing to judge the results. We hope that the BAA report will include them, as they did for the application to expand to 25 mppa at Stansted (which showed levels of nitrogen dioxide would be too high in a few places round the airport by 2015!).

Pat Dale

At the Waterfront Conference (April 29th) "Airports Consultation: The Perspective of Regional Airports and No Frills Carriers"

Gwyneth Dunwoody answered questions from representatives of the aviation industry who are concerned about the development of the Regional Airports and clearly felt that the present consultation concentrates too much on expansion of the larger airports in the south east. They pointed out that there are under-utilised regional airports that need more Government help to allow them to expand. The previous Government had urged local airports to meet local demands but had never provided any help. It was also claimed that airlines were replacing internal routes with international ones because these were more profitable. Should there be a differential tax that helped internal essential services such as the Highlands and Islands scheme.

Gwyneth Dunwoody has earned a reputation as a tough and efficient chair of the House of Commons Transport Committee. She does not however appear to have offered any very helpful solutions. She said that it was up to the Regional airports themselves to market their advantages as was done in the USA and had been done in Manchester. She agreed that special internal services might merit a public subsidy (a "Public service obligation"). She went further and suggested when questioned about the 10 year Transport Plan that the mode of transport to an airport was secondary to the ability to arrive efficiently, safely and in comfort (Has she not heard of the need to reduce vehicle congestion?).

When asked about subsidies for improving transport services to airports, she indicated that she favoured the PFI approach if additional finance was justified. She applied the same reasoning to the development of Regional airports, the essential was that there was a demand for them to be used. If other EU states subsidised them then the UK should.

26 April 2003


The Environmental Daily Service (ENDS) reports:

Germany's environment agency has detailed subsidies enjoyed by air transport and repeated a call for higher taxes on the industry to internalise its external environmental costs. The intervention comes at a particularly difficult time for the world aviation sector, which has been hit by the war in Iraq and the flu-like Sars epidemic.

The agency's report reveals extensive, mostly indirect subsidy of aviation in case studies on three European airlines and airports in France, Germany and the Netherlands. Aircraft manufacturer Airbus is shown to have received very significant direct subsidies over three decades.

The agency president Andreas Troge regretted that "the transport mode producing most pollution should be the most highly subsidised. He repeated the agency's call, made last October, for aviation's tax privileges to be ended and for aircraft landing charges to be related to pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

The study has been released shortly after EU leaders reiterated a commitment to reform subsidies with "considerable negative effects" on the environment "and that are incompatible with sustainable development".

The Report is titled "Financial support to the Aviation Sector", it can be found at: http://www.environmentdaily.com/articles/index.cfm?action=article&ref=14112.

Produced by Dutch and German consultancies, the study first proposes a model for defining aviation subsidies. It acknowledges that any such framework is going to be controversial.

Using the model, it concludes that the airlines KLM, Lufthansa and Air France receive indirect subsidies amounting to 20% of operating revenue. The sources are VAT exemption on international tickets, fuel tax exemption and duty-free sales on board aircraft. The study notes that Air France enjoyed additional substantial direct government support until at least 1996.

Airports receive indirect support at lower levels, the study shows, through duty-free sales and a variety of other tax exemptions. For a range of German airports, overall subsidy is put at 1% of turnover or higher. Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, on the other hand, is reportedly enjoying indirect subsidies to the tune of 9% of turnover.

Focusing on Airbus, Europe's flagship aircraft maker and chief competitor of America's Boeing, the study puts accumulated direct financial support over 30 years at US$30bn equivalent to 11-13% of turnover. Possible subsidy to the firm's 1,500 suppliers has not been taken into account, it says. Final ticket and freight prices are about 1.5% lower due to the subsidies.

This is reminiscent of Brendon Sewill's "Hidden Costs of Flying", available on this website. However, it is important to distinguish between what might be called virtual subsidies, which can be costed exactly (e.g. no fuel tax, no VAT, duty free) and arise from Government policy decisions, and the external environmental costs which are the subject of the Government's recent Discussion Document "Aviation and the Environment, Using Economic Instruments" (comments available on this website).

The Minister has announced the Government's decision to require the aviation industry to meet these environmental costs. The question is, how to calculate them. The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee is going to take evidence on this subject and has welcomed written comments too.

Pat Dale

26 April 2003


A new Pamplet from HACAN "Clear Skies"

The Government recently published the report by its Social Exclusion Unit on Transport and Social Exclusion. It unearthed real inequalities in transport provision. This pamphlet, compiled by HACAN ClearSkies, argues that by eliminating the tax concessions enjoyed by the aviation industry the cash could be provided to develop a decent transport system for socially excluded communities. It counters the accusation made by Freedom to Fly and others that higher fares would "stop poor people flying".

"Flying...... enables substantial numbers of people to go on holiday overseas in a way that previous generations could only dream about. Significantly, people in the lower income groups made 9 million more flights than they did 10 years ago. Society should think very carefully before simply bringing down the shutters on the freedom to fly."
Transport Minister John Spellar in a speech to the Royal Aeronautical Society, 9/4/03

This pamphlet shows that few of those 9 million flights - if that is a correct figure - were made by socially excluded communities.

A Tax on the Poor?

Aviation's tax concessions:

Tax concessions for air transport were worth £7.5 billion in 2000;

On current trends tax concessions will increase to £18.1bn in 2020 and £22.7bn in 2030;

In 2002 a single person on the national average wage of £25,000 paid an extra £557 income tax to meet the costs of aviation's tax exemptions; a person earning £10,000 pays an extra £107 per year ;

These tax concessions artificially fuel demand. The Government predicts passenger numbers at UK airports will double by 2020 and treble by 2030.

The considerable tax concessions enjoyed by the aviation industry each year largely benefit high income earners. In a typical year: less than 50% of the population flies at all; the poorest 10% hardly ever fly; of those that do fly, only 11% come from social classes D and E; even on budget airlines 75% of the trips are made by social classes A, B and C.

Link to a fuller version of the pamphlet

Pat Dale

26 April 2003


Aviation's costs through the looking glass!

The Guardian reports (24th April) that Ryanair has only been able to sell 520,000 of a million free seats over the Easter weekend. Evidently the 50% of the population who do not fly were not tempted. Perhaps they really prefer to stay at home, or use public transport!

Ryanair's Chief Executive blamed the warm weather and bank holiday indolence and the fact that many people don't have access to a computer and the internet so would not know about it! (Why advertise only on the internet?)

We then learn that this is the opening shot in an aggressive battle against the big cheap fares rival, EasyJet. Ryanair intends to highlight "lies" about EasyJet's fares. "They are not the cheapest" says Mr O'Leary. He is tired of attacking the big airlines - attacking British Airways is like kicking a dead sheep, the low cost airlines have won the battle, he maintains.

Easyjet were not to be out done. Their comments: "Flying with Ryanair is like a geography lesson. They go to places you can't spell and have never heard of, and certainly don't bear any resemblance to the destination advertised. By the time you have paid for a taxi to take you into the city centre it would probably have been cheaper to fly with British Airways".

So, now we know ! The war has begun. Whether the insults will improve the service is anyone's guess. What is obvious is that we taxpayers will continue to subsidise both protagonists!

Pat Dale

24 April 2003


Cliffe and the Birds

The week before last, the Secretary of State for Transport, Alistair Darling, made two important announcements in Parliament.

The first related to Cliffe, the proposed new airport on the Thames Estuary. The Minister reminded MPs that theSERAS consultation paper highlighted the potentially significant risks of birds colliding with aircraft at the option for a new airport at Cliffe and advised that further work would be commissioned. The Government gave a commitment to publish this further work during the extended consultation period.

He went on: "I am today therefore publishing the study which I commissioned and which was undertaken jointly by the Central Science Laboratory and the British Trust for Ornithology. The study provides a detailed assessment both of the populations, movements and behaviour of birds at and around the site and the risks of birdstrike after applying mitigating measures to a new airport at Cliffe.

The key conclusions are: Without a comprehensive and aggressive bird management programme in place, incorporating careful and considered airport design, appropriate habitat management and active bird control, an airport could not operate safely in this location.

Even with such world class management and mitigation measures in place, the hazard posed by the birds is severe and would probably be higher than at any other major UK airport.

I will consider these conclusions carefully together with all the consultation responses, before announcing my decisions in the air transport White Paper later this year.

The consultation, for all parts of the UK, will close on 30 June".

Consultation On Night Noise Restrictions At Heathrow, Gatwick And Stansted Airports

Alistair Darling continued, referring to the contentious issues of night noise. He said he had been considering the timetable for the forthcoming consultation about night restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted Airports and had decided to continue the present regime at those airports for a further year, to October 2005. This consultation paper is now published.

"The policy background to the night flying restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted is changing. New European Community legislation is coming into effect; the Government is awaiting the outcome of a long running European Court of Human Rights case about an earlier night restrictions regime at Heathrow Airport; and we are continuing with our major consultation 'The Future Development of Air Transport in the United Kingdom: South East' which refers to aspects of night noise policy.

In view of these developments, as the consultation paper explains, we propose to continue the current night restrictions regime at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted for a further year, until 30 October 2005. We propose that the movements limits and noise quota for both the winter and summer seasons remain the same as for the respective seasons for each airport in the year from 26 October 2003 to 31 October 2004.

The consultation paper also commences consideration of some of the general principles and policies underlying the night restrictions; in particular, the present policy of having common arrangements at all three airports and the broad issues relating to the possible extension of the night quota period (currently 2330-0600).

It also explains how we intend to take forward the results of two reviews relating to the classification of aircraft for night restrictions purposes and how we intend to take forward the results of a separate review of the departure noise limits and the related noise monitoring arrangements.

The consultation will close on 11 July. Copies of the consultation paper are available in the House Library. All responses will be taken into account. Subject to those responses, we aim to announce our decision on the proposals for 2004-05, by 31 October 2003.

Responses on other matters covered in this consultation paper will be taken into account in developing proposals for the next night restrictions regime for consultation, in due course. They will also be taken into account as appropriate in the forthcoming Air Transport White Paper."

This is a very important consultation. As many people as possible should respond. Copies can be obtained from the publications centre, 0870 1226 236 or from www.dft.gov.uk

Parliamentary Questions about Aircraft Noise

Alan Keen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what measures have been undertaken to minimise the effects of aircraft noise on people in the South East region of England.

Mr. Jamieson: All but the smallest civil jet aircraft flying into the UK have (subject to certain exemption provisions) since 1 April 2002 been required to be noise-certificated according to ICAO Chapter 3 standards.

Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports are designated under s.80 for the purposes of s.78 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982. By notices under this section, a range of operational noise controls has been applied. These include night restrictions, departure noise limits, noise preferential departure routes, and noise-minimizing approach procedures.

Other airports have set their own noise controls, in some cases pursuant to planning obligations, and often similar in kind to the designated airports' controls.

Alan Keen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what change there has been in the last year in the number of people affected by aircraft noise in the South East region of England.

Mr. Jamieson: My Department is responsible for the publication of annual daytime noise contours for Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports. The contours for 2002, showing year-on-year changes, will be published shortly, and details will be made available on our website. Copies of the contour booklets will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Information about aircraft noise exposure elsewhere in the South East is a matter for the aerodromes concerned.

Nothing new. We shall probably be told that the new restrictions on chapter 2 aircraft mean that less people are affected by noise. At Stansted it is likely that any improvement will be lost because of the increasing number of flights.

Bad News for Finningley residents

Commenting on the Deputy Prime Minister's decision to approve the redevelopment of RAF Finningley, near Doncaster, as a new international airport, Friends of the Earth Finningley campaigner Anthony Rae said: "This decision makes a total mockery of the Government's airport consultation. We are only halfway through the process and they are already approving new airports. The Government even admits the new airport is not needed, but it has been given the go-ahead to encourage economic growth around Doncaster. This is a classic case of the tail wagging the dog."

"The Government's own computer forecasting models show that, with proper taxation of air travel, we do not need any new runways or airports at all. We are not disputing that Doncaster needs new investment and new jobs. But there are better and more sustainable ways to achieve this than a new airport."

He added: "This decision means the figures included in the Government's airport consultation documents are inaccurate. The Government must now revise these figures and re-start the consultation in the north of England using accurate information."

Paragraph 55 of the Government's decision letter states that "the Secretary of State, accepts that there is no pressing need for the airport in terms of airport capacity. The justification for the development is in its relationship with the development plan, in these circumstances it unnecessary to wait for the White Paper before taking a decision on this application".

Further News from Stansted

Following the redundancies from the take-over of BUZZ by Ryanair, and the way in which they were implemented, it appears that another take-over has led to more redundancies. Easyjet, having taken over GO, is now planning to shut the Stansted GO call centre.

No one wants to see a loss of jobs at Stansted. We have many times pointed out that we are objecting to a huge expansion of the airport and all that this entails. We are not campaigning to reduce the size of the existing airport, though we would like to see it managed with more thought as to the effects on those who live nearby. We also believe that the ridiculously cheap airfares offered by some of the carriers should not be achieved by economies made at the expense of the employees.

Will this set a new Precedent? The Court awards damages for Noise exposure

Walcot Hall in Cambridgeshire has long been suffering from the noise of overflying Harrier Jets from RAF Wittering. Now the owners have been awarded nearly £1 million compensation .The Judge accepted the Ministry of Defence's defence that the activities were essential in the interests of the public but said that the public should pay for the disturbance caused to those who had to suffer the effects of these activities.

Richard Buxton, the solicitors for the claimants, have published the full transcript of the judgement, - the case was heard by the Hon. Mr Justice Buckley. It can be found on Richard Buxton's website.

In his summing up the Judge made the following points:

He concluded that the noise from the Harrier planes did constitute a nuisance, there was ample evidence that the noise experienced regularly reached levels of over 100 decibels and often 110 decibels or even over. The claimants had made complaints ever since moving into the house in 1984 after the owner had inherited it. The Harriers had first arrived at RAF Wittering in 1069. The family would have been entitled to benefit from the M o D compensation scheme that paid for sound proofing if the average sound level was LAeq (12 hour) 70 dB(A) or more. Offer for purchase was made if the level was LAeq (12 hour) 83dB (A) or more. Walcot Hall was Grade 1 listed and neither remedy was applicable.

Because the training of Harrier pilots was necessary in the public interest - the Defence of the Realm, then, this activity had to continue. No detailed evidence had been put forward as to the possibility of moving the training to an area where no-one would be affected, but the Judge accepted that it would probably be impossible to find such a place in the UK and it would cause great disturbance and expense to move operations.

He then put the question, if the rights of the private individual had to be subjugated to the public interest did that mean that there was no nuisance? If there was no nuisance then there could be no remedy at common law. He argued that if the common law (of the UK) is to develop consistently with European decisions involving human rights then it would reflect adversely on the flexibility of the common law if a remedy in nuisance was denied He therefore held that a nuisance had been established, but the public interest demanded that the RAF continue to train pilots.

In further arguments he considered that the case would succeed under Articles 8.1 and 8.2 and 1 of the Human Rights Act. 1998. The public interest was greater than the private interest of the claimants but "it is not proportionate to pursue or give effect to the public interest without compensation for Mr and Mrs Dennis" (the claimants). He therefore awarded damages under Section 8 of the Human Rights Act in respect of Articles 8 and 1.

The case raises many interesting points. It may go to Appeal. When assessing the amount of damages it arose that the Harriers would eventually be replaced by even noisier aircraft. The Judge made it clear that this compensation award related only to the noise from the Harriers and if new and noisier planes arrived a new action was possible.

What did not arise was whether any claim would have succeeded had the M o D's compensation scheme applied. Would compulsory purchase be obligatory in order to obtain compensation or would a cash alternative be available for those who wished to continue to live in their property?

There is also the definition of "Public interest". Is the expansion of a particular airport for commercial reasons in the public interest? Does the fact that the Minister concerned decides that such an airport is necessary for economic reasons constitute a valid public interest case?

Finally, at what level does a noise become a "nuisance"?

Pat Dale

10 April 2003

The Royal Aeronautical Society held a two day conference this week

The first day was devoted to the effects of climate change and the development of new engine technology to reduce both carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions as well as noise. It was introduced by the Transport Minister, John Spellar. His speech follows in full - the points he makes are important ones and some need to be challenged.

On the second day the talks and discussions were on operational measures that would help to reduce the environmental effects of aviation. It was introduced by John Gummer, the former Minister for the Environment in the previous Conservative Government.

A comprehensive report on the proceedings can be found here.

Pat Dale

Speech by the Rt. Hon. John Spellar MP

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak at your ambitious conference on sustainable aviation.

This conference comes at a time when the Government has just launched its Energy White Paper, giving a commitment to move to a low carbon economy, and we have made a commitment to reduce the UK's carbon dioxide emissions by 60% by around 2050.

It also comes at a time when my Department is conducting a major consultation on the future of air transport in this country. The consultation process is arguably one of the most comprehensive of its kind.

It's designed to inform our decisions. And there's a rigorous process of appraisal that seeks to quantify the various costs and benefits of different options, wherever possible.

Consultation ends on 30th June and no decisions will be taken before that time.

This consultation is emphatically not about "predict and provide". Obviously, if we are taking decisions about capacity, we need to look at current demand for air travel and forecast demand in the future. But the core of the consultation is to ask how much of the anticipated demand should we aim to meet.

As such, it's vitally important for us to hear a response to this from the different parties concerned.

The Government must address head-on the questions about aviation's impact on the environment.

We've consistently made it very clear that aviation should bear the costs it imposes, and we continue to support to the "polluter pays" principle.

Very simply, our aim is to develop a sustainable future for aviation. That means taking economic, social and environmental considerations into account.

This principle has since been reinforced in the joint discussion document we published last month. Called Aviation and the Environment - Using Economic Instruments, this clearly set out our aims and objectives for the industry.

In addition to our economic and social objectives it explains the Government's broad approach to using economic instruments - in this case to encourage the aviation industry to further improve its environmental performance.

Within its pages are our estimates of aviation's environmental costs in terms of climate change, local air quality and noise.

We've asked stakeholders that hold views right across the spectrum of opinion, to discuss the issues with us over the next couple of months.

Sustainability also has an important economic dimension of course. The importance of aviation to the UK economy is well known - directly supporting 180,000 jobs, and up to three times as many indirectly.

According to the European Cities Monitor 2002, London is the best city in Europe in which to locate business. The Capital's transport links to other cities and international markets remain a key factor in that assessment. In turn, airports also help to maintain the vitality and competitiveness of the regions.

But flying is far from just a business activity. It supports a major part of the tourism sector and enables substantial numbers of people to go on holiday overseas in a way that previous generations could only dream about.

In 2001, almost 50% of the British public flew at least once. Significantly, people in the lower income groups made 9 million more flights than they did 10 years ago.

The Government certainly recognises the social benefits of aviation. And society should think very carefully before simply bringing down the shutters on the freedom to fly. This Government is not in the business of restricting people's movement, and that's why we need to approach these issues with balance.

And the travelling public understands the issues. Surveys show that the overwhelming majority of people wish to be able to fly as much as they want, but only if Government limits any harm done to the environment.

Unfortunately, some claims confuse the debate. The most irritating is that the aviation industry benefits unfairly from billions of pounds of public subsidy. While comparisons are always difficult, the facts speak for themselves.

Fact one. Aviation meets the capital costs of infrastructure through airport charges and en route charges. Admittedly aviation fuel is not taxed - but that's true internationally. What's more, fuel duty in the bus industry is largely rebated, and on the railways it's very modest.

In turn, both rail and bus services, rightly, receive subsidies. However, we have stated our support for ICAO removing the exemption from tax on aviation fuel to encourage fuel efficiency.

Fact two. Like all public transport modes, air travel is not subject to VAT. But it is subject to Air Passenger Duty, This raises around £1 billion a year for the Exchequer.

The best ways to ensure that aviation covers its external costs are still up for debate. That is what we want to explore in the stakeholder discussions we will be holding after Easter. But our objectives are not in dispute. We want to achieve our economic and social objectives with the minimum damage to our environmental objectives. And we want to achieve our environmental objectives with the minimum damage to our economic and social objectives. So we need solutions which are not only effective, but are also efficient.

The industry has been taking tremendous strides to improve its environmental performance. Today's aircraft are typically 75% quieter than the first jets of the 1960s.

Planes are also much more fuel-efficient. But in future, there may be fewer 'win-win' technologies and there will, in some areas at least, be difficult choices and trade-offs to be made. Although continuous improvement will become more challenging, it's essential.

Society expects the aviation sector to play its part in meeting high level CO2 reduction targets as well as easing community noise disturbance. So it must be seen to deliver.

On the research front, I commend the industry's acceptance of the challenging the noise and emissions targets for 2020 proposed by the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe. Achieving a 50% reduction in fuel burn and CO2 emissions and an 80% reduction in NOx emissions will be tough.

It will require the best endeavours of industry and the research community, both here and abroad. But we must rise to the occasion. Failure to do so will affect the ability of the industry in the UK to grow, certainly in the longer term, and in some cases in the shorter term.

So, difficult technical challenges lie ahead. But this industry has shown that it can meet them and I'm sure it will continue to do so.

We're aware, too, that the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology has been working up a detailed report. This is on the environmental effects of aviation and in support of the Transport Select Committee's aviation work. We look forward to publication of that report in the near future as it will surely provide a further element to the debate.

Sustainability isn't just about aircraft in flight of course. For example, we need to see more effort put into efficient transport links to airports. It also makes little sense for airport operators to trim a few minutes off boarding times if it takes half an hour to park a vehicle at the airport, or if the public transport connections are insufficient or inconvenient for passengers.

There will continue to be an important role for local solutions to local environmental problems. Our consultation asks for ways of both reducing and compensating for and reducing the impact of future airport development at particular locations.

To sum up.

The Government is committed to sustainability.

We recognise the very real environmental challenge this represents. There is still time to join the debate - and our paper on economic instruments shows we're serious about engaging with stakeholders on the issues.

But we do want to bring matters to a conclusion in a White Paper later this year, not least to minimise the period of uncertainty before decisions are announced. In the meantime, I welcome your active involvement in the process, and hope your proceedings today are both thought provoking and illuminating on these important issues. I look forward to seeing the outcome of your discussions.

7 April 2003


Pollution (Stansted Airport)

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the annual emission of (a) NOx, (b) SOx, (c) Carbon Dioxide and (d) particles in the area surrounding Stansted airport was in (i) 1997, (ii) 1998 and (iii) 1999.

Alun Michael: The following table shows estimated emissions of NOx, SOx, Carbon Dioxide and particulates (PM10) for Stansted Airport in 1997, 1998 and 1999:

Emission (tonnes)199719981999
NOx (as Nitrogen Dioxide)502625805
SOx (as Sulphur Dioxide)34.943.456.1
Carbon Dioxide (CO2)106,319132,258171,070
Particulates (PM10)9.511.815

National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory. Aircraft emissions during the complete take off and landing cycle up to 1,000m are allocated to the airport. Consequently a proportion of the emissions are emitted at some height and horizontal distance from the boundaries of the airport. Emissions are calculated from aircraft movement data. The emissions are based on the number of aircraft movements at the airport in relevant years. Emissions from aircraft support vehicles are based on UK totals for this sector apportioned pro-rata according to the number of aircraft movements.

Cliffe Airport

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what assessment he has made of the risk of a bird strike to aircraft at the proposed Cliffe airport; (2) what additional research has been commissioned since the publication of the consultation on the future development of air transport in the south-east on the risk of bird strike to aircraft at the proposed Cliffe airport; and if he will publish the results.

Mr. Jamieson: The SERAS study included a preliminary assessment of the risk of birds colliding with aircraft at Cliffe. Details of this work are contained in appendix four of "The North Kent Marshes Ecological Study" (phase 1 report), copies of which are available in the House Libraries. The Central Science Laboratory and British Trust for Ornithology were jointly commissioned in September 2002 to conduct further research to assess more fully this risk and identify possible mitigating measures. It is intended that the final report of this work will be published shortly.

Stansted Airport

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proportion of air travel from Stansted airport was accounted for by (a) residents of the south east of England, (b) residents of other parts of the UK and (c) overseas residents, in the last year for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Jamieson:

Distribution of passengers(1) at Stansted airport by area of residence: 2001

South East (2) (including London) 30
East of England (3) 23
Rest of the United Kingdom 19
Overseas 28

Note: In 2001, 81 per cent of all passengers at Stansted Airport started or ended their journey in the South East, or East of England GORs.

(1) Arrivals and departures
(2) Government Office Region (GOR)
(3) Including Essex and the rest of the East of England GOR

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how the noise preferential routes for Stansted airport under the option of three additional runways as outlined in The Future of Air Transport in the South were determined.

Mr. Jamieson: No noise preferential routes have been determined for any of the possible additional runways in the consultation document. Aircraft arrival and departure routes were developed for various airport locations to assist with the modelling of noise exposure and local air quality, so that the relative impacts of the many runway development options could be compared.

Routes to and from new runways in all the airport options were derived in essentially the same manner. Routes to and from existing runways were left unchanged wherever practical, and routes for new runways were based on the existing airspace structure of airways, waypoints, holding areas etc.

Arrival routes to all runways were assumed to be straight in on the runway heading. Departure tracks for new runways at an airport, and existing runways where necessary, were based on existing departure routes as far as practical.

In practice, the development of one or more new runways in the south east would require substantial changes to the region's airspace structure which could affect the final configuration of routes. It was not feasible to predict in detail how airspace in the south east might need to be re-organised in the long term to cater for increased activity. As part of the SERAS study, CAA and NATS did carry out a high level assessment of the overall pressures on airspace of sample combinations of new airport capacity up to 2030 and concluded that the increase in air traffic could be accommodated.

Our MPs have been busy collecting information! The figures on Air Pollution from Stansted are especially interesting. So far, we have not been able to trace similar figures for the options at Stansted for any of the years in respect of the consultation, only the contour figures showing the dispersion of Nitrogen Dioxide. These cannot be modelled without calculating annual amounts for all stages of the LTO cycle and for the expected range of aircraft likely to use the airport in 2015 and 2030. Neither can we or anyone else assess the reliability of the predictions unless these figures are available. Has anyone found them?

Pat Dale

6 April 2003


Last week this Parliamentary Committee heard oral evidence from a number of environmental organisations, including Airport Watch, the Sustainable Development Commission, the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution and the RSPB.

Airport Watch was represented by Jeff Gazard, (AEF), Nic Ferriday (FOE) and Andy Critchell (CPRE).

James Drewer attended the Hearing on behalf of SSE. Here is a brief account of his Report.

Sustainable Development Commission

Chair Jonathon Porritt opened his session by delivering heavy criticism of the Department for Transport's understanding of sustainability and the strategy contained in the consultation on aviation.

His key criticism was that there had been no attempt to define sustainability, or to describe what a sustainable aviation industry would look like.

He also attacked the underlying 'predict and provide' ethos of the government, stating that this made it 'impossible' to talk about sustainability. The growth projections accepted by the government showed an expansion pattern which would exceed capacity, he further explained, and the government were showing a 'steadfast refusal to recognise that demand management is needed'.

His final criticism was that the consultation does not consider the range of instruments that could be used to improve sustainability, with there being a 'residual muddle' over the role of economic instruments. The treasury had looked only at the direct carbon costs of flying, ignoring other social and environmental factors, as well as the distortion caused by the subsidy of the aviation industry through the VAT and fuel tax exemptions.

The 'equity argument' that to raise the price of tickets to cover costs of environmental and social damage would penalise poorer people was described as a 'red herring' by Jonathon Porritt. He argued that all people, whatever their economic status, should pay a price for transport that accurately reflects the true costs of provision, and that there was no reason to subsidise the poor so that they could take advantage of the wrong price.

Members of the committee were somewhat critical of these views. It was suggested that the rail service could not at the moment provide a substitute for air travel, that if the aviation industry had to pay for the pollution it caused jobs would be exported to the continent, and the UK industry would shrink. It was necessary for the growth of the UK economy that aviation should also expand.

Jonathon Porritt answered all the points, making it clear that the aim of introducing a proper price for environmental damage was not to stop all growth, but to ensure that any growth took full account of all the adverse effects of air traffic both on the environment and on local communities.

It was 'a canard' to say that sustainability meant that people should not travel, as the key argument was to pay for damage inflicted when travelling. People who travel at current prices were enjoying benefits that they had not paid the real price for, and were being heavily subsidised by society, local residents and future generations. This was unrealistic in a market system, and highly inefficient, he explained.

While the aviation industry was 'correct' to say that measures would have to be global in the long run, Jonathon Porritt also felt that this to a certain extent was being used as a reason not to take action in the short and medium term. There was no reason why measures should not be introduced through the EU and some action could be taken by the UK alone without prejudicimg the interests of the industry or of tourists.

Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution

Brian Hoskins introduced this part of the session by drawing attention to the publication last November of a short report which looks at the effect of aviation on the environment.

He noted that Treasury figures showed that the aviation industry accounted for five per cent of UK emissions, rising to eleven per cent by 2020. This has a 'bigger effect' on the climate than almost anything else we do, he stated.

Brian Hoskins added that the greenhouse effect posed a far greater problem than previously imagined, warning that it would be almost impossible to reach the 2050 target of a 60 per cent reduction in emissions without taking action on the aviation industry. While technological advances were being made, the length of time needed to construct an aeroplane meant that the effect of improved designs would not be seen until 2020.

Brian Donohoe then asked how reductions in emissions from planes could be brought about. Paul Ekins replied that incentives were needed, repeating Jonathon Porritt's assertions that a realistic price had to be set. Subsidies of improved technology would be another option, but technological advances had already been taken into account in projections, and from an economic point of view, the polluter pays principle was the most suitable in terms of economic efficiency.

Responding to Brian Donohoe's point that this would have to be done on a global level, Paul Ekins stated that EU studies on emission charges had shown that it would be 'quite possible' for an EU wide scheme to be launched, and called for the UK to 'push this along'.

The question of social exclusion was raised, and Brian Hoskins stated that this was an important aspect for him as an economist. The right to travel had to be balanced with the right of people living on islands in Bangladesh for their island not to be submerged by global warming.

Until recently it would have been very 'curious' to imagine that flying was a right, he continued, but in a few years it could be seen as a form of social exclusion not to fly, as is the case with cars today.

We should think 'very carefully' about the implications for global warming if we accept that demand should be unrestricted. Creating such a right today would affect the right of future generations to enjoy a stable climate.

Brian Hoskins added that studies existed looking at the time, cost and environmental comparisons between air and rail. Taking into account delays and travelling times to airports, rail was shown as better, given that short haul flights under 800 km had a much higher fuel usage per kilometer.

There was a discussion on the tax level that would be needed to keep demand within reasonable levels. £20 was not enough and £35 extra on a single ticket was recommended in order to equalise the tax position of aviation in relation to other transport. Ultimately an emissions trading system would be needed as opposed to an air passenger duty. The price had to be related to emissions produced, with higher pries for short haul flights which cause more pollution. It would be 'relatively easy' to include the sector in the emissions trading system

The witnesses concluded by reiterating the point that 'unbridled growth' in aviation would not be consistent with the 2010 targets on carbon, unless the aviation industry paid for the development of renewable energies. Airports should not be expanded until other restrictions have been put in place, they stressed.

RSPB and AirportWatch

Unfortunately the last part of the meeting was time constrained, RSPB and AirportWatch gave limited evidence on the social and environmental effects of airport development.

RSPB Director of Conservation Mark Avery focussed on the proposed development of a new airport at Cliffe, stressing that the site was internationally recognised for it's biodiversity, with rare birds stopping off during emigration to North Africa or the Antarctic. Such sites could not be moved, he stressed, and to build on such a site would be 'unprecedented' and a 'terribly bad idea'.

Ian Lucas asked whether the RSPB had a policy of discouraging it's one million and thirty thousand members from flying, and Mark Avery replied that the organisation did a lot of work on educating people about the 'footprint' they leave on the world, including the successful Green Energy project.

George Osborne asked AirportWatch about moving communities living near airports, and Jeff applauded this idea, describing a visit to a town in the US which had been successfully relocated.

While there were other strategies such as technological improvements on houses, but this would cost £35,000 and £40,000 per house. Should enough people move, the 'ghost town' would eventually force the whole population to move.

He told George Osborne that 'small' mitigation efforts would cause 'small impacts'. Jeff Gazzard then stressed that it was 'mystical' to imagine that the aviation industry could continue to grow unfettered, as eventually capacity would be full. The only two options were to mitigate the effects or to accept demand management.

Clive Efford asked whether it would be acceptable for the aviation industry to grow unrestrained if they paid for environmental damage, and Jeff answered that this would 'not necessarily' be the case. The key aim should be to reduce emissions and to slow growth, which could have the effect of making airlines more successful. An overall cultural shift was needed, whereby people realise their responsibilities. He pointed to a recent ONS study which showed a large amount of the public do care about environmental costs.

The final theme was public transport, and Jeff concluded by arguing for a target of 60 per cent of passengers to travel to their airport by public transport, as in Zurich.

However he was not satisfied with work that has been done on rail substitution, stating that in meetings, it was obvious that train operators were more optimistic in this regard that the SRA. He called on business based in the North of Britain to require employees to take the train to London or Heathrow.

At the beginning of the Hearing ABTA gave evidence. As might be expected they did not wish for any constraint on demand. The Tour agents had already lost business with the growth in direct booking of flights, especially with the budget airlines.

Footnote: Another Report from James Drewer

Last Thursday on Radio 4 Paul de Zylva of Friends of the Earth called for fuel tax to be imposed on the aviation industry.

The airline industry currently does not pay fuel tax, nor is VAT levied on tickets. With air travel growing rapidly, there are growing concerns about the effects on the environment.

As well as noise and air pollution affecting those living nearby, air travel also produces high levels of CO2 emissions which contribute to global warming.

He said that the industry had grown so quickly because of its subsides and part of the problems in the industry were down to over capacity. "We are not concerned in terms of policy making with the short term issues, we are interested in the long term."

"The Government is drawing up a 30 year strategy so whilst there are current dangers to the aviation industry through downturns, these have been going on for quite a long time and certainly before September 11th attacks."

"The Government just doesn't accept that the aviation industry must pay its way. Why is it the only industry that doesn't pay fuel tax and gets a £5bn subsidy along with other tax breaks, like duty free and no VAT on other goods?"

"We have got a re- run of the Governments own computer model which was used to draw up its original controversial proposals for expansion. If you factor in to that computer a sensible level of tax then the so called demand for aviation drops off quite significantly." "We are not proposing that aviation shouldn't grow, but it should grow at a far more reasonable level of growth. On that basis, there would be no need for any new runways."

His suggestions were hotly rebutted by Dan Hodges who speaks for Freedom to Fly.

Speaking on the same programme, he said: "I think it is widely accepted that if such a tax was introduced you would virtually eliminate the UK aviation industry."

"In terms of taxation we accept that we have our role to play in environmental protection, but certainly in terms of taxation we are in fact the only public transport body which is in fact a net contributor to the exchequer."

Can air traffic be regarded as a public service? An interesting point! However, the arithmetic is somewhat distorted. Let's see the figures.

Pat Dale

4 April 2003

Written answers to our MPs' questions

Air Transport

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many responses he has received to his consultative document on the future of air transport in the UK.

Mr. Jamieson: We have received over 100,000 responses (letters and questionnaires) to the consultation from all areas of the UK, and the majority originate from the south-east of England and the midlands.

Air Passenger Forecasting

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assumptions were made in the SERAS Air Passenger Forecasting Model in respect of (a) demand transferring to off-peak flights, (b) demand transferring to regional airports and (c) demand transferring to rail, in assessing the consequences for fare levels of a shortfall in airport capacity in the South East; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Jamieson: The consequences of a shortfall in airport capacity in the South East are an output of the SERAS Air Passenger Forecasting Model, not input assumptions. The model assigns passengers according to their 'least cost' route between the start point of their journey and its end point, as described in the SERAS Stage 2 Methodology Supporting document no 29, "Rules and Modelling." A shortfall in capacity at a specific airport leads to a 'fare premium' to balance demand and supply at that airport. This fare premium is only applied in the model when 'off-peak' flights at the constrained airport have already taken the initial burden of adjustment, so that airport utilisation throughout the day is high. With airport capacity constraints applying in the South East, some traffic with a South East origin is displaced to regional airports, some traffic with a regional origin is clawed back by regional airports, some traffic transfers to other transport modes including rail, and some traffic is suppressed entirely.

Aviation Fuel Consumption

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much aviation fuel was consumed by UK civil aviation in the last year for which figures are available, broken down into fuel consumed by (a) domestic and (b) international air travel.

Mr. Jamieson: Based on data reported by airlines to the Civil Aviation Authority, it is estimated that UK airlines used 10.2 million tonnes of fuel in 2002. Although such fuel usage is reported as a total it is broadly estimated that about 90 per cent. was expended on international aviation and 10 per cent on domestic aviation.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what airport development options in the South-East other than those described in The Future of Air Transport in the UK: South East he is considering; if those options will be included in the forthcoming white paper on aviation; and what the consultation arrangements for these options are.

Mr. Jamieson: The Government will consider all responses to The Future Development of Air Transport in the United Kingdom: South East submitted by 30 June 2003 including any reasonable alternatives to the options for new airport capacity set out in the consultation document. If the Government concluded that any such alternative schemes were superior to the options in the consultation document and wished to consider including them in the air transport white paper, there would be a full consultation process.

Nothing startling in these answers. The Minister seems to suggest that the outcomes of computer modelling are above criticism. It does all depend on the initial assumptions as to what information should be fed into the model. This was well demonstrated in the exercise described in "The Hidden Cost of Flying" when the Governments model, SPASM was fed with a higher cost for aviation fuel.

There is now an Early Day Motion on Aviation for MPs to sign if they wish to support it. It is somewhat negative, nothing about sustainability, and concern about local health and environmental effects restricted to a very general amendment. Surely MPs can do better than that! How about some suggestions!

Early Day Motion

EDM No 960 Local Authorities and Air Transport Development
Tabled on 26.03.03

Mr David Marshall
Mr Jonathan Djanogly
Bob Spink
Mr Paul Tyler
Dr Rudi Vis

2 New Signatures

Jenny Tonge
Robert N Wareing

Total Signatures

That this House recognises the crucial importance that aviation and related activities can play in stimulating economic development and job creation but also recognises that aviation investment is finite; notes that there are a number of local authorities which want airport development in their area; further notes that there are many local authorities which do not want such development; and therefore calls upon the Government, in putting together the White Paper and subsequent policy which will come out of, The Future Development of Air Transport in the United Kingdom, consultation exercise, to lend the greatest possible weight to ensuring the investment goes to those areas which want it.

As an Amendment to Mr David Marshall's proposed Motion (LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND AIR TRANSPORT DEVELOPMENT):

EDM 960A1

LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND AIR TRANSPORT DEVELOPMENT Amdt. line 9: at end add 'ensuring that local communities around all regional airports have effective protection against the environmental impact of their operations, especially night noise.'

David Taylor
Bob Russell

Pat Dale

2 April 2003

by Mark Prisk - MP for Hertford & Stortford

Air Travel (Environmental Taxation)

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what impact he estimates a reduction in passenger demand for air travel as a result of the introduction of proposals to introduce environmental taxation on air travel, outlined in Aviation and the Environment, would have on Government estimates of passenger demand cited in 'The Future Development of Air Transport in the South East'.

Mr. Jamieson: There would be no material difference as this has already been taken into account. Demand forecasts in 'The Future Development of Air Transport in the United Kingdom' consultation document took into account aviation's contribution to climate change, by far the most significant environmental cost. They did so by assuming a CO2 tax in place by 2015 to internalise aviation's climate change costs.

The recent discussion paper 'Aviation and the Environment: Using Economic Instruments' cites a figure of £1.4 billion as the estimated annual cost of aviation's contribution to climate change. The costs are similar to the value of the CO2 tax, which was assumed in the demand forecasts.

Stansted Airport

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department is taking to monitor aircraft disturbance around airports, with particular reference to Stansted; and what plans his Department has for improving existing measures.

Mr. Jamieson: At Stansted, as at Gatwick and Heathrow, the noise climate is monitored by noise exposure contours, published each year to form an aircraft noise index. There are also fixed and mobile noise monitors in the vicinity of each airport which are part of the Noise and Track-keeping (NTK) system operated by BAA plc.

The contours are determined by a computer model which calculates the emission and propagation of noise, using a database that is regularly updated with operational data gathered at the airports.

The location of the fixed noise monitors was determined after a lengthy review and consultation on the departure noise limits and associated monitoring arrangements was announced on 18 December 2000, Official Report, columns 11-12W. In announcing that decision, my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Mullin), confirmed the commencement of a further review of both monitoring efficiency and of the departure noise limits. The findings of that review will be published shortly.

The mobile noise monitors are used to collect data for technical studies by the Civil Aviation Authority, for information gathering and to investigate local problems. At Stansted, as at Gatwick and Heathrow, it is normal practice for the deployment of monitors for local purposes to be discussed at meetings of the NTK working group on which local people are represented by members of the airport consultative committee.

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment of alternative runway mode has been undertaken in connection with the proposals for three additional runways at Stansted Airport outlined in 'The Future of Air Transport in the South East'.

Mr. Jamieson: The option for three new runways at Stansted that was developed for the SERAS study provides for four runways arranged in two close parallel pairs. For the purposes of the study certain assumptions were made about the operation of the runways. The assumptions are set out in the SERAS Stage 1 report (option 7 on page 214), which is publicly available.

One runway in each pair would be used for take-offs, the other for landings. In the case of the western pair, the outer (new) runway would be staggered to the north-east of the existing runway. On the basis that landing aircraft should land on the first runway they encounter, aircraft would land on the outer runway in westerly operations and the inner runway in easterly operations.

The eastern pair would not be staggered so either runway could be used for landings and take-offs.

The SERAS study did not appraise other possible ways of operating the runways. Consultees may wish to comment on these assumptions and any other aspect of the options for Stansted.

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessments his Department has made of the potential cost to public funds of a significant transfer of Heathrow's long haul and USA scheduled services to Stansted airport, if a second runway were to be built there.

Mr. Jamieson: No detailed assessment has been made. Chapter 15 of 'The Future Development of Air Transport-South East' consultation document considers issues relating to the funding of one or more new runways at Stansted and gives examples of the sort of Government action that might be required to allow Stansted to be developed as a hub.

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