| SSE NEWS ARCHIVE - July to September 2003
25 September 2003
NEWS FROM THE PRESS
From the SundayTelegraph, Edward Simpkins on 21 Sept.
City - BUSINESS FOCUS - BAA's Clasper is in no mood to split with a White Paper in the offing, while critics are calling for BAA's break-up. But, as Edward Simpkins finds out, its new head has no time for such 'carping'.
If Mike Clasper, the new chief executive of BAA, tried to appear any more laid back about the manifold critics of the airports operator, he'd fall off his chair. The carping is, he says, entirely unfounded and much of it comes from those with their own vested interests.
When it was privatised 17 years ago BAA was handed Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports along with the three big Scottish airports, giving it a virtual monopoly on air traffic in and out of the UK.
Predictably, since BAA has made a mint out of its de facto monopoly, Clasper is dismissive of calls from airlines and the House of Commons Transport Committee for BAA to be broken up. He rejects the committee's claim that the shortage of runway capacity in the South East is largely the result of BAA's dominance.
The article speculates that a number of those responding to the Government's airports consultation have suggested that BAA's empire be split up into individual airport companies. It continues:
In July the all-party Transport Committee said BAA's structure was "ineffective and inappropriate", and concluded "in our view it would be more appropriate to break up its monopoly".
Clasper's rebuttal refers to BAA's three priorities: to provide a decent service to passengers and airlines, to manage a huge capital investment programme and to provide new runway capacity for the South East.
"These are the three agendas. An appropriate response [to the calls for break-up] would be to ask how well we are doing against those three criteria," he says. "If we are doing very badly then a desire to make change would have some sense. But if we are doing very well and the only argument is theoretical competition, then I'm not sure it has a lot of validity."
He argues that good service means above all an outstanding safety and security record.
"It would be very difficult to argue that we are not at the top of the world game in aviation security and safety," he says.
Clasper adds that BAA interviews around 100,000 passengers each year on their experience of passing through the airports and that the response is overwhelmingly positive.
"At the end we ask a very basic question: 'Was the experience good or bad?' Around 80 per cent rate the airport experience as good or very good."
He claims that - if pushed - the airlines would have to admit that BAA does do a good job squeezing every last drop out of the constrained facilities available.
"Heathrow has the highest number of air traffic movements in the world from two runways," he says. "And Gatwick has the highest number of air traffic movements from a single runway in the world. So on all those daily measures of performance, we've got a lot of numbers that are very positive."
Meanwhile, BAA is pretty adept at extracting cash from passengers.
"If you look at it in another way, we are the second highest in the world in terms of retail turnover per square foot. That is another measure of people's response to space and the offerings of the airport."
BAA's investment record has also been closely scrutinised and Clasper claims it has saved the taxpayer billions of pounds.
"If you look at the capital investment area then we have invested £1m a day every day since privatisation. That is an investment record in terms of new facilities that is phenomenal and bears comparison with any of the privatised companies.
"Moreover, we've been tested several times by the Competition Commission and the Civil Aviation Authority looking at whether we spent the money wisely and we've got a very clean bill of health."
The main project BAA is spending money on now is the new Terminal 5 at Heathrow, which will cost £9bn. He says that no rights issue of new shares will be needed to pay for the terminal.
"We think we can get that under the current business plan; we can fund that through debt." And BAA says its funding ability is one of the main arguments for keeping the company intact.
But many airlines carp that they are paying now through higher charges for expensive new Heathrow facilities that won't be available for another six years.
Clasper responds that the funding approach was agreed with the regulatory authorities after wide consultation. And it will avoid a "whopping day one price rise" when the new terminal opens. The Civil Aviation Authority twice and the Competition Commission once looked at it with enough detail to fill this room and 10 others and decided that the sensible response was a glide path into higher pricing rather than a one-off move."
Meanwhile, the focus over the next few months will be on where extra runways should be built around London.
Our Comment: Surely the wrong word here, not "where' extra runways should be built, but "Whether". No mention either of cross subsidies from Heathrow to Stansted which were certainly a factor in Stansted's development. Nor the question of the costs of new runways - the Government won't pay for them and neither will they pay for surface access infrastructure. Can BAA afford it?
Has Ryanair run out of puff?
Simon Calder in the Independent, 20th September
They seek him here, they seek him there; in Estonia and Finistere. Eagerly pursuing all the latest travel trends, he's a dedicated follower of the no-frills mantra: Benevolence Begets Business. He is Bernard Berger, the director of new route development for Ryanair. And he does not so much pursue as set travel trends.
Mr Berger's job means that he knows Europe like the back of a Ryanair sick bag. His role over the next seven years is to find destinations for the 100-plus new Boeings that the Irish airline has on order, and to fill them with a number equivalent to the entire population of Britain: around 58 million people.
How does he do that, then? By poring over the air navigation charts at his office in Dublin, then trudging around Europe, checking out the places where Ryanair passengers may find themselves checking in.
A good place to start is by looking at the existing market for air travel. For example, travellers between western Poland and south-east England have to go via a third airport. By looking at the number of passengers currently flying from Poznan via Warsaw or Frankfurt to London, you can deduce if there is enough to fill a daily Boeing 737 from Stansted (there isn't, by the way). But existing demand is only one aspect of the no-frills equation.
The first question about a new airport for Mr Berger to address is: how simple and uncongested is it? A runway, a shed and a control tower is the optimum: "We need maximum efficiency at the airports we fly to", says the runway hunter. "We do not want to fly to airports where we have to taxi for 40 minutes just to take off."
Poznan fits the bill perfectly: there is more tumbleweed than traffic on the country lane that leads to the city's modest airport. And when you stop looking at airline schedules and start checking out the bus stations, it begins to look even better. Every moment of every day there are about a dozen coaches shuttling between the UK and Poland. It's one of the dreariest journeys in Christendom but, at half the fares charged by British Airways and LOT Polish Airlines, there are plenty of takers. Most of these weary passengers would switch at an instant to a cheap flight, if one were available. Then there is the car park at Schonefeld airport in east Berlin. When the flight from Stansted arrives in the German capital, it is instructive to count the passengers who head for the parking lot and climb into vehicles bearing Polish number plates.
I must stress that Poznan is just a convenient example, one of dozens of locations where Ryanair is reported to have shown an interest; gossip reaching the travel desk suggests that Mr Berger has been omnipresent recently, with airports along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia, in western Bohemia and western Scotland all rumoured to be next in line for a link to London.
While negotiations continue with airports across Europe, Ryanair's routes guru is not going to reveal the airline's latest targets. But the chances are that they are offering substantial sweeteners to persuade the Irish airline to land. What is in it for them? "Small regional airports are not going to grow with conventional airlines", says Mr Berger. "We can put their airport on the map, make their region an easier place to do business, and bring in tourists."
POZNAN IS not quite on a par with Prague as a city-break destination; the only British tourists I met there were rail enthusiasts intent on sampling Europe's last main-line steam train. But, says Mr Berger, "People will often pick destinations they would not otherwise have thought of simply because there is a flight there."
They will also buy second homes based on the ready availability of cheap flights. Indeed, thousands of people have bought properties predicated upon no-frills links - as an advertisement in this week's Spectator, of all places, for a villa in south-west France shows. "Ryanair 40 minutes", it promises.
"When we started flying Stansted to Carcassonne, there were huge guffaws all around the industry and around France about our flying to this insignificant airport", says Mr Berger.
"We were told: `You will never fill your planes. Oh, you are not really going to be flying in the winter, are you?' We have done all those things. We fly there twice a day in the summer and once a day in the winter - every day except Christmas - and we fly there from Brussels." Well, Charleroi, at least.
But perhaps Mr Berger will find himself working even harder over the next few months. This week, a French court rejected an appeal from Ryanair and confirmed that its service to Strasbourg must end on Tuesday. A £5-per-passenger subsidy from the local chamber of commerce made it unfair competition for Air France, the judge ruled.
THE CONTINENT'S political capital finds itself with no air link to the aviation capital of Europe - though French newspapers yesterday speculated that Air France flights from Gatwick to Strasbourg will be reintroduced by 20 October, in time for the next-but-one session of the European parliament. If pre-Ryanair fares are imposed, MEPs may be the only passengers.
RYANAIR IS nothing if not nimble, and has simply switched its flights across the German border - which is why today page four of this section tells you how to spend 48 hours in Baden-Baden rather than Strasbourg. Following the court's verdict, some have predicted the end of cheap flying as we know it. Surely Air France, the vindicated injured party in the court case, will chase around Ryanair's other French destinations, checking out the deals that have been struck with local authorities? Those who are tucked up in their pieds a terre in Gascony or Brittany can rest easy. Lawyers for the French national airline are no doubt studying the small print of Ryanair's deals with the airports at Biarritz and Brest, but the chances of a successful court case at other destinations is slim. Even in a nation where the judiciary has, in the past, appeared sympathetic to Air France, it could be tricky to prove unfair competition on routes the national carrier has shown no interest in flying.
25 September 2003
NEWS FROM THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
EDM 1688 - Aviation Air Pollution, Sustainability and Climate Change
Tabled on 15.09.03 by John McDonnell
32 MPS have now signed this Early Day Motion. It is an excellent way by which MPs can publicly demonstrate their support or opposition to any proposals.
Sir Alan Haselhurst MP, who has the Stansted Airport in his constituency, cannot sign an EDM because as Deputy Speaker he must remain neutral with regard to Parliamentary debates. (He does, of course, forward all letters he receives to the Minister concerned.)
However, many more MP's constituencies will be affected by Stansted's expansion - as will those representing people who live near any of the UK airports threatened with another runway. Ask your MP what his/her views are, ask him/her to sign the EDM. It is a sensible expression of concern that all responsible Governments should observe. It puts air traffic on the same footing as other forms of travel and recognises that the present effects of unlimited aviation air pollution cannot be continued. Those who insist on their right to choose cut price air travel whatever the consequences should direct their energies towards promoting a more sustainable aircraft. The motor industry is having to meet the challenge, why not aviation?
THE EARLY DAY MOTION
That this House calls on the Secretary of State for Transport to develop an aviation policy that accords with national air pollution, sustainability and climate change targets and pays its full external costs; further calls on him to work at a national, European and international level to reduce and eliminate the tax concessions received by the aviation industry in the form of tax-free fuel and VAT-exempt products; believes that he should ensure that the countryside, biodiversity and heritage are safeguarded, that aircraft noise does not erode rural tranquillity and does not continue to annoy significant communities both day and night; and further calls on him to explore the potential of high-speed rail as an alternative to short-haul flights.
25 September 2003
GOVERNMENT TO REDEEM SPECIAL SHARE IN BAA PLC
The Government announced this week that it is to redeem the Special (or
"Golden") Share that it holds in the airports operator BAA plc.
Earlier this year, the European Court of Justice ruled that that the holding
of the share was incompatible with Article 56 of the EC Treaty which
prohibits all restrictions on the free movement of capital.
The Government will be complying with the Court's judgement. It has taken
this opportunity to review the continuing need for the share and has
concluded that, as circumstances affecting the economic and regulatory
framework have changed considerably since the share was first taken out in
1987, the share can now be redeemed.
1. The Government has held a special share in BAA since the 1987
privatisation. The effect of the share is that Government approval needs to
be obtained before any of the following four changes can be made to the
ownership and structure of the company:
- BAA ceasing to have the right to control the exercise of over half the
voting rights of any subsidiary owning an airport;
- proposals for winding up or dissolving BAA or a subsidiary owning an
- disposal by BAA or any subsidiary of an airport or any part thereof;
- amendment of BAA's Articles of Association to vary the rights attached to
the special share (in addition, any individual shareholding is limited to a
maximum of 15% of the voting shares in the company).
2. In August 1999 the European Commission issued a Reasoned Opinion alleging
that the BAA special share was in breach of two Treaty principles, the right
of establishment (Article 43) and the right of free movement of capital
(article 56). The European Court of Justice delivered its judgement on 13
May 2003 when it found that the holding of the share was contrary to the
provisions of Article 56 of the EC Treaty.
3. The economic and regulatory framework has considerably changed since the
share was taken out in 1987. Issues affecting anti competitive or
discriminatory practices, which were key areas of concern at the time of
BAA's privatisation can now be addressed through subsequent legislation
without invoking the provisions of the share.
4. BAA operates seven airports in the UK - Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted,
Southampton, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
25 September 2003
HEATHROW - A FLOOD RISK?
A third runway at Heathrow airport could expose residents in parts of west
London and Surrey to a serious flooding risk, it was claimed recently.
A report commissioned by campaigners opposed to the expansion of Britain's
biggest airport suggests that massive gravel extraction to build new
facilities would damage a natural sponge which soaks up ground water.
Heathrow is in the middle of a flood plain, where water from the Chiltern
Hills flows into the Thames.
John Stewart, chairman of the pressure group Hacan ClearSkies, said: "The
worst-case scenario is that if a third runway is built, there will be extra
run-off water. If that's not dealt with, we could have significant
John McDonnell, the Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, will call for
the government to carry out a detailed flood risk assessment.
Hacan's study suggests that the Thames, Colne and Spelthorne rivers could
struggle to cope with heavy rain.
25 September 2003
STANSTED NEEDS MORE WATER!
Carol Barbone, Stop Stansted Expansion Campaign Director, explains:
Essex is the driest county in Britain and is forecast to become
much drier in the future due to the changing climate. Airports are greedy
users of water and on top of this the attracted development, if Stansted
continues to expand - residential,industrial and commercial - would
exacerbate the demand on our scarce local water supplies.
Options currently being considered by the authorities are
desalination plants, long distance pipelines, the recycling of effluent and
compulsory metering for households. The major concerns here are not about
flooding but about water rationing if Stansted Airport is expanded. As
home to some of England's finest agriculture land, there are potentially
very serious implications for farming as well as for domestic households.
18 September 2003
MISLEADING INFORMATION ON AIRPORT CAPACITY
Our Comment: We fully appreciate that the pilots who fly the planes have all the frustrations associated with busy airports, delayed flights and all the risks associated with air traffic congestion. However, is the British Airline Pilots' Association really representing the situation, or is this another campaign backed by "Freedom to Fly"?
NEWS FROM BRITISH AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION
"Keep Britain Flying" September 15
To mark the 100th anniversary of powered flight the British Airline Pilots' Association (BALPA) which has 8,000 members and represents almost all of Britain's commercial airline and helicopter pilots, has launched a campaign to secure the future of civil aviation in the United Kingdom. From a series of press releases, please find below one on capacity shortage.
Over the next 20 years the number of passengers using Britain's airports is going to increase sharply. Government forecasts show that current annual passenger numbers - 180 million a year - will double. But even if it is only half of that, action has to be taken soon.
New runways, passenger and freight facilities and, crucially, better integrated public transport access to airports have to be constructed. If not, the numbers of people wanting to fly will outstrip capacity and the most likely scenario is that passenger numbers will be held down by steep fare increases, and we shall be back to the days when only the comparatively wealthy can travel by air.
Former transport minister John Spellar told Parliament that if airport capacity is limited to what we have at the moment, fares could rise by more than £100 per return journey.
The alternative, he said, will be that people will get over to mainland Europe and fly from a continental airport. Germany, France and Holland realise only too well the need to invest in new airport infrastructure and are doing precisely that.
That is why the British Government is now committed to increasing capacity. However, opposition is vocal and the Government may be tempted to trim back on what it knows ought to be developed.
Our Comment: Who said this? The Government has denied that a decision has already been made.
The threat of capacity shortage is a very real one and it is a threat not just to the civil aviation industry but to our national economy. One fifth of all UK exports, worth over £35 billion year, is carried by air freight and express deliveries are vital to many businesses.
Our Comment: No-one is suggesting that airport capacity should be reduced. The question of freight is not the same as the predictions concerning passenger demand. It is a separate issue and there is clearly much unused capacity existing today available for increased freight exports.
Britain's tourism industry could be damaged too. Two thirds of foreign visitors to Britain fly into UK airports, and the number of tourists continues to rise. But if there are capacity constraints, thousands of visitors will simply go elsewhere.
Our Comment: What about the fact that the majority of tourists travelling by air are outward bound UK tourists, spending money abroad with a net loss to the UK economy at the moment of about £11.8 billion. What do the cheap airlines do to actively encourage foreign visitors to come to the UK? Fewer foreign tourists came to the UK last year than in 2000 whereas the number of UK tourists going abroad increased by over 3 million during the same period.
(Our Comment: According to the Association, presumably they are including all the construction jobs required to concrete over our countryside. These will only be temporary ones!)
* At present some 500,000 British jobs are dependent upon a healthy civil aviation industry - 180,000 directly, 320,000 indirectly (but not including tourism).
* Predicted airport growth could result in 235,000 extra jobs by 2030.
If passenger traffic moves to Frankfurt or Amsterdam or Paris many of these jobs will be lost.
* Any curtailment on flights into the UK would threaten the 200,000 jobs in the British tourist industry.
* Capacity shortage will also affect British people who want to fly: British citizens take nearly 37 million holidays abroad each year. Unless there is additional capacity many of them will not be able to do so.
Our Comment: Why do those advocating unlimited expansion always argue as though a failure to build more runways will result in less air traffic? There is plenty of unused capacity at this moment and no-one is pressing for airports to close.
Maybe people who want to fly will have to pay more for their air travel. Why not? Whatever the protests from Freedom to Fly, air tickets are today subsidised and the Government has officially agreed that the aviation industry does not pay for the heavy environmental costs that they inflict on us and our planet. The problems of low wage earners are not going to be solved by providing very cheap air fares. What would be Freedom to Fly's reaction if the Chancellor decided to give tax credits in the form of air fares? Would they regard this as fair taxation?
17 September 2003
BAA'S LATEST SALVO
Press Statement by BAA on 12 September
REGIONAL AIRPORTS ARE NO ALTERNATIVE TO DEVELOPING THE LONDON AIRPORTS
In response to the Government's proposals for more runways, Stop Stansted
Expansion states "if airports in other regions are developed the pressure
on airports in the southeast will be substantially reduced."
With nine out of ten air travellers journeying to Stansted Airport from
addresses in Greater London, the Home Counties and East Anglia BAA asks
Stop Stansted Expansion it to explain how this will happen.
BAA supports the development of airports in the regions and the greater
choice that will bring to those living there. Wherever possible passengers
should be able to fly from the airport nearest to their home or place of
work. If there is sufficient demand airlines will provide the services
their customers want at each airport.
The Government forecast expects regional airports to grow faster than those
serving London, such as Stansted. But regional airports cannot be an
alternative when it comes to meeting the demand for air travel in the
southeast of the country. Is SSE expecting those from the southeast to go
to other regions for flights?
In the past 12 months many low fare airlines have developed new routes from
regional airports such as East Midlands and Leeds/Bradford. But Stansted
has not seen its growth affected by this increase in regional choice.
John Williams head of public affairs for Stansted said:
"The number of people travelling from the regions to the London airports to
get flights is greatly exaggerated by SSE. It is a myth that hoards of
northerners are coming south to get cheap flights."
"The Government's growth forecast of just over three percent year on year
is driven by future demand from London and the southeast. If the London
airports aren't developed to handle this demand is SSE suggesting people
make longer journeys by road and rail to regional airports? This is hardly
Carol Barbone, our Campaign Director, answers for Stop Stansted Expansion:
"In trying to suggest that Stansted is a local airport, BAA is plucking
figures out of the air and talking nonsense by implying that nine out of ten
Stansted passengers are local. The official Government statistics show that
only 53% of passengers who used Stansted airport in the latest year for
which figures are available are residents of the South East and East of
England - and even this is an area which runs from The Wash in the North to
the Solent in the South and right across to Oxfordhire in the West.
In addition to the official figures which contradict BAA's claim, anyone who
has used Stansted Airport recently knows very well that people are
travelling from all over the UK to take advantage of the cheap flights on
Of course there is scope for better utilisation of regional airports. It
just so happens that BAA with its ownership of Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted
and Southampton monopolises the South East and wants to keep everything
focused in the South East.
Almost two thirds of all UK air travel is concentrated on airports in the
South East and only one third of the British population resides in the South
East. Of course there's scope to develop a better regional balance and
that's what we hope the Government will do - regardless of BAA's
12 September 2003
BAA SPIN THEIR POLL
BAA commissioned a poll of MPs, carried out by Mori and reported by BAA as showing that a big majority of MPs were in favour of extra runways at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.
However, a closer examination of the results shows that only 119 MPs were approached and that the response rate was 54%. We are not told how the MPs were selected though Mori would normally make a random selection, and did get a similar proportion from the different parties as the numbers in Parliament.
There were 74 Labour MPs, 30 Conservatives and 15 'Others' (Lib-Dems - why so amorphous?).
The first question was not about runways - it asked them how important they thought it was to expand airport capacity in the South East of England. Only 23% thought it was 'very important', 49% 'fairly important', 17% 'not very' and 7% 'not at all'. 3% had no view. The biggest vote for 'very important' came from the Conservatives. So, less than a quarter believed that expansion was very important! Evidently the majority have not been convinced by the Government's forecasts!
The question asked in relation to each airport was whether they would strongly oppose, tend to oppose, neither oppose nor support, tend to support or strongly support an extra runway. In Stansted's case a second question was asked about two extra runways, and in Heathrow's question the runway was described as short, for short haul planes.
How did BAA present the overall results? They provided a series of bar charts showing the % strongly opposed, tending to oppose, stongly supporting and tending to support. This gave them between 47% and 54% of the MPs expressing support for one extra runway at each airport - BUT left out were the numbers of MPs who had no opinion either way, 26% for Heathrow and Gatwick, and 30% for Stansted with one extra runway.
It is therefore reasonable to claim that very nearly half the MPs either opposed having extra runways or had no views. The results certainly do not support BAA's claim that a majority of 3 in 4 MPs want extra runways! Most important - 44% opposed a second new runway at Stansted, 49% had no view and only 17% supported the idea.
This is hardly the kind of Survey that is likely to sway policy makers.
Could we describe BAA's press statement as "Sexed-Up"?
What Do They Say At Gatwick?
Brendon Sewill writes for the Gatwick objectors:
BAA MISLEAD THE GOVERNMENT
BAA issued a press release on September 8 about a poll of MPs views on new runways in the South East. Their Chief Executive, Mike Clasper, was quoted as indicating that the poll was designed to influence forthcoming Government decisions. Yet their use of the MORI poll was misleading.
The first question was "How important do you think it is that airport capacity in South East England is expanded over the next few years?" This does not actually mention new runways. Many people, and presumably many MPs, are in favour of expanding capacity by maximum use of existing runways. For example, BAA accept that there is scope for 40 or 50% increase in capacity at Gatwick with no new runway. Similarily at Heathrow, T5 will mean a big increase in capacity - with no new runway. And Stansted can double its capacity with no new runway.
It was therefore misleading to put the results of this question under a heading "MPs back new runways in the South East".
Another question was: "To what extent would you support or oppose "A second runway at Gatwick?" Only 12% of MPs said they would support it strongly, while 42% said they would tend to support it. Similar questions were asked about Heathrow and about Stansted. The exact results are not statistically significant: since only 119 MPs were asked, the inclusion of even one Gatwick MP could have made a 2% difference to the result.
It is also misleading by BAA to claim that MPs back new runways, and thus by implication that they support BAA's campaign for three new runways in the South East. All the poll actually shows is that about half of all MPs back the idea of one new runway in the South East.
Even that result needs to be treated with caution as it may be influenced by the free car parking offered by BAA to all MPs.
5 September 2003
THE COMMISSION FOR INTEGRATED TRANSPORT CALLS FOR AVIATION EMISSIONS TRADING
Carbon dioxide emissions from domestic flights should be included in the UK's national climate trading scheme, a government-sponsored think-tank has concluded in a report on the environmental impacts of aviation.
The Commission for Integrated Transport rejects the need for new taxes on aircraft fuel, arguing that kerosene duty is "not an appropriate mechanism for internalising external costs". Instead it argues for a global cap on aviation emissions with the eventual creation of an international emissions trading scheme.
The commission says all flights within the EU should be subject to an "en route" environmental charge based not on distance but on carbon emissions, at a rate of UK £70 per tonne of CO2. The European Commission has previously rejected unilateral EU action as expensive and relatively ineffective in reducing emissions (see
There should be auctions for peak-time take-off and landing slots, plus an additional congestion charge, the Commission adds. Tradeable noise permits could be introduced, while separate instruments should be devised to cover condensation trails and nitrogen oxides (NOx), once their impact has been properly quantified.
The Commission says civil aviation accounts for almost 20% of Britain's transport CO2 and 5% of national carbon emissions. Demand is rising by 4-5% annually and fares are falling. The existing aviation charge produces UK£800m a year in revenue, barely half of the UK £1.4bn in external costs that the commission says the industry causes.
This Report makes very interesting reading and makes practical suggestions for meeting external costs. It is accompanied by a Research Report quantifying the external costs. They can be downloaded from the following site: www.cfit.gov.uk/aec/index.htm
1 September 2003
WHAT THE PAPERS HAVE SAID
There has been a steady stream of aviation news during the last 2 weeks. BAA claims the biggest number ever of passengers flew from Stansted over the bank holiday. This has been confirmed by a number of local passengers who complained "it was just as bad as Heathrow!" BAA might pause to reflect that one of the attractions for passengers used to be the more relaxed atmosphere as well as the rural surroundings.
If Ryanair can persuade airports in Europe to pay them for bringing in tourists, perhaps Stansted can turn itself into a freeport or a shopping centre for aircraft enthusiasts and proposition Ryanair to bring tourists in from Europe as well as take them out. Provided of course, BAA sticks at 25 mppa and tries to retain the countryside airport image.
Greenfield airport plan re-examined - Darling keeps options open on 'long shot' sites
By Andrew Clark Transport correspondent. 26th August
The prospect of a new airport on a greenfield site in the south of England is under fresh consideration by the government, which has asked for more details of proposals for international terminals in north Kent and the Severn estuary.
Two months after the end of a public consultation on airport expansion, the Department for Transport has written to the backers of projects widely considered "long shots", asking them for a deeper analysis by September of the cost of road and rail links, passenger numbers and the cost of infrastructure.
Among those included are a proposed site on the Hoo peninsula in the Thames estuary, known as Thames Reach airport.
Officials also want a closer look at a plan for an airport on the Isle of Sheppey, a proposal for expansion of Redhill aerodrome in Surrey and a new terminal on an artificial island in the Severn estuary.
Whitehall sources say although the ideas were originally excluded from consultation documents, the transport secretary, Alistair Darling, wants to examine them on the same basis as options for new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.
The development confounds reports that Mr Darling has already made up his mind in favour of a third runway at Heathrow, although some in the aviation industry still believe he is merely "going through the motions".
A spokesman for the department confirmed that requests had been sent out: "We're helping them to develop their proposals so we can compare them on a consistent basis with the options we've put forward."
The proposed Thames Reach airport would include a £1.5bn road and rail tunnel under the Thames estuary, providing access to Essex.
The runways would extend into the estuary, avoiding problems with nearby birdlife which dogged the government's proposed Cliffe airport nearby.
The development of Redhill aerodrome in Surrey could turn it into a satellite terminal for Gatwick. And an airport on an artificial island in the Severn estuary, known as Severnside, would provide thousands of jobs for unemployed miners from the Welsh valleys.
An insider at one airport consortium said that at a late stage, the department had radically altered the way it was conducting the consultation.
Officials are said to be worried about a repetition of last year's high court challenge, in which a judge ruled that the government had acted improperly in excluding the possibility of expansion at Gatwick.
One source said: "The court case where they had to include Gatwick totally shocked them, and now they are clearly trying to avoid further challenges."
Mr Darling is to rule by the end of this year on where the extra aviation capacity should be provided. The Treasury is thought to favour Heathrow airport on economic grounds, after intensive lobbying by airlines led by British Airways.
The government could give the green light for longer term expansion of Stansted and for a second runway at Gatwick after the expiry of a legal commitment against expansion in 2019.
The Daily Telegraph
City - A competitive edge could lift the spirits in the departure lounge
writes Keith Boyfield - Personal View - August 25th
YOU may well be one of the hundreds of thousands who passed through one of London's airports this bank holiday weekend. The experience is likely to have been less than uplifting. A combination of overcrowded terminals, long queues to get through security and even longer corridors to the boarding gate are sure to leave you feeling in need of a holiday. And the cost of the car parking fees may be higher than the cost of your low-priced airline ticket.
The remarkable thing about London's three main airports is that they are all owned by one privatised company, BAA plc. Last year, 93.1pc of all the passengers that used the south-east's airports were paying charges to this monopoly business. Heathrow is seriously congested, resulting in one third of its flights being delayed. London's main hub is handling over 60m passengers a year, yet the terminals were originally designed to cope with a yearly maximum of 50m passengers.
Gatwick airport has the busiest single runway in the world. Indeed, it is now virtually impossible to obtain a landing slot unless one is prepared to part with significant sums on the (unofficial) secondary market. Stansted is also over-flowing with passengers. Earlier this year, Ryanair paid £15m to acquire the no-frills carrier, Buzz, from KLM. This takeover was driven by one simple objective - Ryanair needed more slots at Stansted. The bidder was quite prepared to shut down the loss-making Buzz, so long as it could retain its scarce slots.
Critics argue that BAA has done little to tackle the worsening congestion at London's principal airports. Since it was privatised, it has not built one new runway in the south-east. This lack of capacity has helped to fill up Gatwick and now Stansted. But such criticisms are not entirely fair, since it is the Government that must give final approval to the creation of new runway capacity.
Yet among the public corporations privatised over the past two decades, BAA stands out as the only monopoly that has managed to retain its dominant position in its own market. This has enabled BAA to generate healthy profits for its shareholders. In the financial year 2003, it made £538m in pre-tax profit. What is more, the company's shares trade at a significant premium to other publicly quoted airport operators, such as Frankfurt's Fraport. Compared with many traditional airlines, notably BA, the company's share performance over the past few years has proved far stronger. This robust financial performance has provided further ammunition to BAA's mounting number of critics.
Last month, the all-party parliamentary transport select committee published a report on aviation that was highly critical of the BAA. It concluded, "the dominant position of BAA means that the ownership structure of the UK's airports is deeply flawed". The MPs recommended the break-up of BAA's London monopoly and called for new runways to be provided by rival operators.
Airline bosses such as British Midland's Sir Michael Bishop and Virgin's Sir Richard Branson have also added their voices to the chorus of critics urging a review of BAA's hold on airports in the south-east. Alistair Darling, the Transport Secretary, is considering where to locate much needed new runway capacity in the south-east. By all accounts, he is determined to tackle the crippling congestion at our main London airports. He should use the opportunity to inject a new element of competition within the airport market. Why should BAA be encouraged to strengthen its monopoly position in the south-east?
Allowing greater competition within the airport sector in the south-east is likely to produce a range of benefits. If one splits up BAA, a separately owned Gatwick would have a greater incentive to compete with Heathrow. If sufficient additional runway capacity was created to accommodate the present pent-up demand, breaking up BAA would encourage greater price competition.
Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted could also compete on quality of service and innovation. For example, if environmental and legal considerations precluded development of a second runway at Gatwick in the next 20 years, a separately quoted company owning London's second main airport might be more interested in developing a Redhill airfield, an attractive option that could provide additional capacity for 35m more passengers a year.
Experience further suggests that competition is likely to generate a raft of benefits as yet unidentified. This is one of the remarkable merits of competitive markets: they create new opportunities. Before liberalisation of scheduled air services in Europe, who would have predicted Ryanair, the no frills carrier, would become the world's third most valuable airline?
When it comes to building new runway capacity, airport operators should be encouraged to recoup their investment costs through establishing primary auctions for the slots created. This would act as a market mechanism for creating appropriate new capacity while preventing needless cross-subsidy. Secondary trading could provide the mechanism for encouraging free entry and exit into the civil aviation market.
Our Comment: Reform of the slot system may be desirable, but it's not going to pay for more runways whoever owns the airports. Intensive competition is not going to encourage a detached view over the need for expansion. The adverse impacts of any expansion have to be properly assessed at Government level. The issue of climate change is too important to be left to commercial pressures from the aviation industry.
Locals launch late attack on Stansted plan
22 August 2003
Local campaigners from around Stansted Airport have launched a last-minute campaign to influence government ministers over the proposed expansion of airports in the South East.
Led by Uttlesford District Council, lobbyists delivered a book containing quotes from 50 organisations against development to the Department for Transport officials last week.
Council leader Alan Dean said: "Economically it is no, environmentally it is no, socially it is no. It is no on heritage and ecology. Surface access to Stansted scores a no. Other regions say no. Even the aviation industry says no to Stansted."
But Dean denied that he is leading a nimby campaign. "We have not promoted anyone else's back yard as an alternative to Stansted," he said. "We felt from the outset that there are bigger and more global issues at stake."
The Daily Telegraph again...
Transport Correspondent - August 18th
AIR fares will rise to a level where visits to relatives and friends abroad become "unaffordable" unless more runways are built, according to the statutory passenger watchdog.
The Air Transport Users' Council says flying will return to being the preserve of the wealthy if the Government bows to environmental lobbyists and decides against expansion in the forthcoming aviation White Paper.
It warns that shortages of runway slots and rising travel demand will combine to force up fares, with business travellers taking an ever larger proportion of the available seats.
The council, which is the main consumer voice in aviation, says that the pricing-off of less affluent passengers would impose a "broader welfare cost".
In a submission to the Transport Department, it goes on: "This would not simply be the foregone enjoyment of leisure travel. There would also be the emotional cost of not being able to visit friends and relatives overseas."
One study has suggested that short-haul fares from Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted would double by 2030 if no extra capacity was created.
The consumer group's intervention is significant because the debate over runway development has been dominated by the conflicting arguments of business leaders and environmental campaigners.
The council urges that the White Paper, expected in December, should "state unambiguously" where new runways would be located.
It expressed a preference for Heathrow, to be followed by an additional strip at Gatwick or Stansted.
It calls on Alistair Darling, the Transport Secretary, not to be swayed by "exaggerated" claims from green campaigners about pollution.
Our Comment: Well, they would be worried about fares, but to suggest that warnings about pollution are exaggerated indicates considerable ignorance about the situation and a complete lack of consideration for those who might be affected by airport expansion. In the unlikely event of demand expanding to levels that would mean that only the wealthy could fly, perhaps a Regulator should be appointed, with responsibilities similar to those of the Rail Regulator. Air fares are now indirectly subsidised, if this is to continue then this would be a logical development.
Ryanair's Subsidies are challenged
Ryanair has admitted that one factor in it's ability to offer such cheap air fares is the fees it receives from European airports wanting to attract more tourists to their immediate area. However, public airports are not supposed to use public money for such purposes. The practice at Charleroi airport has been found to be illegal and an appeal has been made. Now the same complaint is being made at Strasbourg airport. Ryanair has declared that it will find another private airport near to Strasbourg, such as Baden Baden. However, there are disadvantages to passengers when small relatively unknown airports are used. Passengers may be faced with an hours or more coach journey to the place they wish to visit. This is not an attractive proposition for business travellers for whom time is more important .
The Financial Times commented in their Leader on the situation on August 29th - it appeared to commend the practice and suggest that perhaps it would be in order if public airports could pay a fee provided it did not outbid a private airport. Their suggestion was that attracting planes from congested airports to smaller ones might a sensible policy. If this meant that new runways are avoided in the UK perhaps it should be encouraged in the UK! How many Regional airports would be prepared to offer such a subsidy?
We do not use so much water - BAA responds to SSE
SSE's press notice (see this site) on the serious water situation that could arise in Essex if Stansted expansion went ahead has drawn a response from BAA. SSE calculated that the present water consumption was 12 million litres per week, which would rise to about 50 million if there was one extra runway, nearer to 110 million litres if the necessary houses and urban development was taken into consideration. BAA says that at the moment only 11 million litres a week are used. Not very reassuring!
Especially as they admit that water usage rose last year by 10.9%, and, although they can now collect and record consumption data, they have no action plan as yet for saving water. This is rather surprising as the application to expand to 25 mppa was made over 2 years ago and water consumption was raised then as one of the limiting factors.
25 August 2003
"ABSOLUTE NONSENSE" - THE REPORTS ON SUNDAY 17 AUGUST
The Reports in the Sunday Times and the People that the Government had
already made its mind up about the need for three new runways in the
south-east were "absolute nonsense", one of those shadowy spokesmen for the
Government is reputed to have said, followed by "The Ministers have not even
seen an analysis of the responses to the consultation yet".
This raises the question, who introduced the rumour? This rumour was also
backed up by a statement from an alleged government spokesman.
As Norman Mead said to the press, "I think it is a sprat to catch a mackerel
and a way just to test the water to see the response from the public".
In these days of public revelations about spin and counter spin over
Government policies, we all become very suspicious of alleged government
departmental spokesmen, and we have to remember that even more spin is
produced by those who, for a variety of reasons, want airport expansion. We
believe they are mistaken in their belief that such expansion is either
urgently necessary or economically desirable.
We can also be certain that the residents living round Charles de Gaulle,
Amsterdam and Frankfort airports would, if the pessimistic prognostications
ever came true - and they were threatened by a mass exodus of flights of
dissatisfied overcrowded passengers from the UK - respond in exactly the same
way as we are doing, and demand that environmental limits be set on aviation
So, respond to such rumours and make your views known! A good start might be
on the subject of NOISE COMPLAINTS. BAA have claimed (another spokesman)
that SSE have been urging people to make complaints and the suggestion is
made that many of them are unnecessary or incorrect.
We ask, how many of us have FAILED to complain because we know that BAA
can't do anything about it, or it is not convenient to do so, or we do not
always have a pen ready to note the time, or the time to rush to the
telephone and make a complaint.
By definition, a complaint should refer to a noise incident that has annoyed
us. It is generally accepted that a noise of over 70 decibels interferes
with conversation/concentration. This is annoying. The responsible
aircraft may at the same time, as far as BAA is concerned, be within the
accepted parameters, i.e. within the flight path, at the right height, or
not subject to any local agreements designed to reduce noise. It is still
annoying to those who complain and it should be registered. Perhaps we
should keep weekly diaries and send them in.
It is impossible to operate an airport without creating a noise nuisance
however good the rules and regulations. The argument is about what the
limits of tolerance should be for any individual airport. Numbers of
residents affected is important, but not the only factor.
The character of
the local area is just as important. Society has chosen to preserve large
countryside areas, not just to preserve agricultural land and wildlife and
attractive villages, but also to provide places where everyone/anyone can
enjoy the natural surroundings in relative peace and relaxation. This is
especially important near London and other large cities. NIMBY should be
replaced by NIABY - "Not in Anyone's Back Yard".
18 August 2003
TRUE OR FALSE?
Has the Government made up its mind already, only 7 weeks after the end of what was supposed to be a genuine consultation on the future of aviation?
Have we all been taken for a ride? Two articles appeared in the Sunday press - The People and the Sunday Times:
AIRPORTS CLEARED FOR £18BN RUNWAY BOOST
by Vincent Moss 17 August 2003
'Jumbo Reward to Economy'
THREE major airports are to get the all-clear for massive expansion - boosting Britain's economy by £18 billion. Ministers have approved new runaways at HEATHROW, GATWICK and STANSTED.
Anti-pollution campaigners who have been fighting the controversial schemes will be furious. But delighted business chiefs said it would mean NEW JOBS, MORE TRADE and CHEAPER FLIGHTS.
The Government is convinced that extra runways - a third one at Heathrow and a second for both Gatwick and Stansted, in Essex - are vital to prevent Britain losing trade to European rivals.
A senior Government source said: "If we don't respond to the demand for more air travel, we will lose out in a big way."
"People will not put up with frustrating delays and higher air fares just because we have hit capacity at our airports."
Daniel Hodges, director of Freedom to Fly, said: "The decision to give the green light is a brave decision - but the right one. It will create thousands of jobs and bring in billions of pounds in trade."
Transport Secretary Alistair Darling is considering a raft of new aviation taxes to ease the fears of environmental campaigners.
A tax hike on passenger duty could add £100 to the cost of a family holiday for four on long haul flights.
But even with any new taxes, pro-campaigners believe people will enjoy even more bargain flight offers across the world.
Stansted's new runway is likely by 2015 and Gatwick's after planning restrictions run out in 2019.
Heathrow, which handles 65 million passengers a year, could see £10 billion in extra business by 2030.
Last night, the Department for Transport would only say: "We are due to make an announcement later this year."
The Sunday Times
Eben Black reports:
THREE NEW RUNWAYS IN THE SOUTHEAST TO RELIEVE AIRPORT CONGESTION
The Government will give the go-ahead for three new runways in southeast England later this year to expand the capacity of the country's airports.
Our Comment: The report goes on to say that the decision will be made public at the end of November or the beginning of December. Senior executives at BAA have already been told of the plans as have other interested parties in the industry.
As in The People's report Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick are the choices and the Sunday Times goes on to repeat the claims about the increased economic benefits that this expansion will bring. Claims that have been shown to be grossly exaggerated in the evidence submitted by SSE and by other objectors.
Is it a coincidence that BAA is trying to raise over £8 billion pounds to secure the money necessary to build all these runways? And the transport infrastructure to service them? Would £8 billion be enough?
These reports are probably wishful thinking - if they were true then the Government would be guilty of not only holding a dishonest consultation, but also of leaking decisions to selected recipients long before the expected date of the White Paper.
ALISTAIR DARLING SHOULD MAKE AN IMMEDIATE STATEMENT ABOUT THESE REPORTS. If they are untrue then the papers concerned should publicise a retraction. Many thousands of people are affected by such decisions and we are entitled to know the truth.
14 August 2003
BAA's Annual Report "Towards Sustainability" for April 2002 to March 2003 tells us what has been accomplished and what is planned for the future
The Managing Director, Terry Morgan, gives an account of the years history, giving pride of place to BAA's successful application for permission to expand terminal facilities to cope with 25 mppa, to which 169 conditions or obligations were attached. He says, Uttlesford Council has "tailored the outcome" to "the priorities of local residents". (Rather a sweeping statement!) The somewhat dubious Mori poll that found that 7 out of 10 of a sample of Uttelsford residents supported expansion is quoted, no mention of the leading questions that were asked!
He refers to the Government's aviation consultation and reiterates BAA's views that airport capacity in the south-east must grow as air travel is vital to the economy and to employment, but concedes that the environmental impact has to be considered. Regrettably, BAA considers that this impact only needs paying for in terms of external environmental costs, with mitigation or compensation for the environmental impact!
This belief, that environmental impact can be commercially neutralised, is repeated in the two page spread that asks the question - What is sustainable development? - and answers the question in relation to Stansted by describing BAA's Strategy for sustainable development.
What is this Strategy?
This is described in terms of the aim of making it one of the core components of BAA management policy, with the policy of reducing the environmental, social and economic impact in all the fields of airport activities. This includes involvement with the community , consideration of community concerns, acting as a responsible major local employer and setting targets to help promote policies.
The aims are all ones that any responsible company should be adopting, and there is no doubt that BAA have gone some way to put them into practice, though many could have been implemented long before the 25 mppa application.
The problem is that in the present state of aviation technology no airport can ever claim to provide a sustainable transport service. Mitigation only offers a little reduction in the unpleasant effects of aircraft activities. Yet the term is used as though these effects can mostly be neutralised and those that are left can attract payments which will compensate for the damage done. Money, however, cannot buy tranquillity, clean air or slow down climate change.
The opening phrase of the Strategy is the only aim that can genuinely be regarded as sustainable, "Promoting a vision for cleaner, smarter growth in aviation.". Later on is promised "Influencing solutions for wider environmental improvements and aviation's contribution to climate change directly through the industry as well as Government and bodies such as Airports Council International and the ICAO".
We would suggest that any strategy for sustainable development that supports significant air travel growth before the vision of cleaner growth is likely to become a reality is dishonest or, at the best, unrealistic. If BAA really believes in "Green by Design" Aviation and in acting to reduce the threat of climate change, let's hear what practical steps they will be taking about it .
During the year there were 16.75 million passengers, and 177, 991 ATMs. There are 200 airport companies employing 10,500 people and over 3,500 jobs off-airport. There are 15 scheduled airlines flying to 109 destinations and 14 charter airlines to 31 destinations. 192,166 tonnes of freight were handled.
BAA is implementing a formal environmental management system. A manual - and supporting documents - have been produced and appear to have reached the stage of being considered by the Executive Committee. The aim is to "embed" the use of the system this year and develop an environmental programme. Such progress is good news, but why was it not in place before?
The DfT might be a little surprised to be told that they are responsible for both regulation and control of air noise. BAA says it is committed to working with them, NATS and the airlines to minimise noise levels.
They have a 10 point plan:
* All aircraft tracks will be monitored and bad track keeping will be taken up with the airlines. A surcharge of £500 will be payable by recurrent offenders.
* Vectoring off height for 4 of the NPRs -Noise `preferential Routes- (not the 2 Buzad NPRs) has been raised to 4000 feet.
* Agreements with NATS on the use of CDAs, (continuous descent approaches), deviations from NPRs and heights at which aircraft start their final approach to land.
* Fines for aircraft breaking the departure noise limits.
* Persistent offenders will be reported to the DfT for permission to ban them.
* Landing charges will be graded according to the noise grading of the aircraft.
* No marketing support for those using hushkitted aircraft.
* Limitation of training flights, banned on Sundays and public holidays.
* The use of GPUs and APUs will be discouraged where the silent electrical ground power units are available.
* A Flight operations committee has been set up to investigate concerns. It includes pilots and air traffic control staff. There is also a Noise and Track Keeping Working Group which includes community representatives, and a Flight Evaluation Unit which deals with noise complaints and community relations.
Various other intended improvements are listed. Our comment is that all these improvements have been promised for some time and could have been implemented before. They only reduce noise marginally and, although track keeping and CDAs reduce the number of people experiencing the loudest noise, those under the tracks experience more, as do those outside the average noise annoyance area of 57dB who also live under a track - we have measured noise levels up to 80dB in such a situation. The more planes the more annoyance, not to mention the possible effects on health, maybe due to the stress effects of annoyance.
The biggest single contribution to noise reduction has been from regulation - no more very noisy chapter 2 aircraft allowed to land (although similar Military aircraft are!).
BAA has made a significant contribution to encouraging the use of public transport to and from the airport through their Surface Access Strategy and the Stansted Area Transport Forum, though community involvement in the Forum is nil. The airport has established an integrated transport exchange, though the bus station is fairly primitive but is to be improved. The number of employees using public transport has at last increased, possibly because of the introduction of the cheaper Travel card, though BAA's targets are not very challenging (from 88% to 80% by 2010). Passenger use is more satisfactory with 34.5% on public transport but the target was 36%. With the present rail hold-ups one cannot blame those who decide not to risk losing their plane.
If BAA is expecting to increase the airport workforce by recruiting from Harlow and North London, more thought will have to be given to transport that meets the need of shift working.
We need to remind BAA that Airport traffic exacerbates the congestion on all the roads around and many of this largely rural network has become subject to "rat runs" used by people either avoiding airport traffic or using short cuts to go to and from the airport. This is inevitable and we shall soon see the effects of another 10 mppa and the increase in car parking spaces at the airport. The new A120 will, when finished, attract more through traffic lorries though there will be much benefit for the residents of Takeley.
Climate Change and Renewable Energy
Only the effects of the airports own activities are considered! A target of a 3.5% reduction in CO2 production against "business as usual" was achieved and surpassed (6.2%). An energy management action group has been set up and much detail is given of all the various energy savings measures. Not a word about the aircraft - the airport's reason for existence! BAA cannot of course directly influence aircraft performance but, with their stated aims in the sustainability strategy of promoting clean air travel and influencing policy makers, surely there should be some thought of action?
Local Air Quality
The Local Air Quality Strategy has been reviewed and the policy is described in a flow of words probably designed to conceal the fact that there is very little they can do to maintain satisfactory air quality. Aircraft emit pollutants, as do vehicles. Vehicles can be electrified and engine design has been vastly improved, but aircraft are still pouring out the same mixture of pollutants, and until international action is taken to encourage new aircraft design local air pollution will remain a major hazard of airports.
BAA are undertaking a monitoring survey especially of NO2 but no results are given, except to say that a detailed modelling exercise has shown that the levels of NO2 and PM10 will be no worse at 25 mppa than they would have been at 15 mppa! We assume they are referring to that carried out for the 25 mppa application. This is cold comfort - exceedances of NO2 were forecast both at two places outside the airport boundary and of course at the terminal building and in the nearby car parks. (The reason there is no predicted increase is because all vehicles will have to, by law, have reduced their emissions to an acceptable level by 2010. Not so aircraft.) The results of monitoring should be available publicly as are noise measurements.
They also give a short explanation of how aircraft hardly ever jettison fuel. Presumably this is to suggest that the numerous complaints about droplets from the sky and odours around the airport are not due to aircraft. This, of course, is not so - partly burned fuel can be emitted from an aircraft as well as a mixture of volatile organic chemicals, all of which eventually or immediately come down to earth. This problem should be included in any air quality strategy.
BAA have a waste contractor Sita who also own the Edmonton incinerator. We learn that they have managed to recycle 20.49% of their waste, surpassing their target of 19%. Congratulations! BUT 61.2% was used for energy recovery, presumably ferried to Edmonton and incinerated. This incinerator has a very poor track record for emission exceedances, which of course fall on the residents of Edmonton. In their climate change and energy targets, have BAA allowed for the journeys between Stansted and Edmonton and the CO2 emitted by the incinerator?
Water Quality and Consumption
Possible contamination of the local water courses is the responsibility of the Environment Agency and some details of the measures taken to deal with this are described. What is just as important is the increased water consumption that will come from the current expansion. Apparently this has increased by 10.9%. There is no formal plan to reduce water use, but a good system is in use for collecting and recording water consumption data! Congratulations! This is welcome news in an area regarded as a dry area! It will be more welcome when it leads to action.
BAA is committed to ensure that environmental considerations are taken into account for all new major developments. They claim that plans are subjected to an environmental assessment of the best way to carry them out and they claim that much of the aggregate used was recycled and that energy efficiency of design is monitored. 81% of construction waste was recycled.
Biodiversity and Heritage
Much of this section describes what has already been achieved, although much land has been dug up during the last 2 years with the recent new developments and the slip roads from the M11, as well as the new A120. Apparently a colony of Great Crested Newts has been translocated (Why?). There was no annual survey of wildlife last year but BAA has agreed to participate with the National Trust in a survey of Hatfield Forest and Eastend Wood. (The Trust are very concerned about damage from the deposition of nitrogen emissions.)
This section is devoted both to community activities and to staff policies such as training and health and safety, presumably to demonstrate how BAA is a positive force in the local community.
This last section attempts to analyse BAA's role in stimulating local economic activity and helping to regenerate the lower M11 corridor by providing employment and training facilities.
The Report has been independently verified by Casella Stringer who have commented on the strategies and targets set and made some recommendations largely urging more of the same.
There is a feed back form which should be filled in. Copies of the Report are available at email@example.com
5 August 2003
MORE DETAILS OF THE COMMITTEE'S REPORT
The Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee
The full report makes very interesting reading. Not only are their conclusions very much to the point, but the report of the oral evidence also shows that there was some tough questioning, especially of Alistair Darling.
Here are some of their most important comments and conclusions:
"Future Growth in air travel and CO2 emissions"
They tabulate the forecast growth of CO2 emissions, comparing them with the Government's target of 60% reduction by 2050, as was initially proposed by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution.
Year||Total UK emissions |
Million tonnes CO2
Million tonnes CO2
70 - 80
175 - 200
2050. 60% target|
They point out that by 2030 aviation could account for 90% of the Government's 2050 target. It would soon wipe out the entire savings the UK would have to make to achieve the target!
The Committee accepted that there would be improvements in aircraft design but they could not see that essential changes would be achieved within the next 50 years.
They state "We regard the proposed growth in emissions into the atmosphere by the aviation industry as unsustainable and unacceptable. Were such growth to occur, it could totally destroy the Government's recent commitment to a 60% cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050."
Sustainability and demand management
"In emphasising economic and social objectives for airports, the DfT is placing a lower priority on environmental objectives, and is focussed more on mitigating the environmental impacts rather than avoiding them where possible."
They go on to discuss the forecast growth and prices of air fares. They comment that the DfT's assumption is that fares will fall by up to 40% in the next three decades, a situation reminiscent of the price of motoring where a relative fall has lead to road congestion, more pollution and a lack of investment in public transport.
To quote: "We are concerned that the Department should have released a major consultation which assumes that passenger numbers will increase by 4% every year for thirty years and that fares will decrease by up to 40% over the same period without a far more extensive discussion of the underlying implications of such assumptions."
On demand management: "In the case of roads, the Government does seem finally to have accepted the need for some form of congestion charging or road pricing framework. Yet the Secretary of State entirely refused to accept that, in the case of aviation, congestion may need to be dealt with in a similar way. We were astonished that he denied that there was any parallel in this respect between road transport and aviation. He re-iterated his opposition to "pricing people off planes" and the frequency with which he used this phrase reinforced our perception that the DfT is little interested in sustainability."
"In our view the Government should aim to decouple growth in air travel from economic growth, as it has been attempting to do for roads. To achieve this it must be willing to use a range of fiscal and other policy instruments to manage behaviour. This might go well beyond the need to incorporate cost externalities - as indeed the Government has accepted in the case of waste."
They criticise the presentation of the appraisal tables in the consultation and supporting documents. They consider that the Government has broken its own guidelines and that it is impossible to compare and assess the benefits of different degrees of expansion or to compare benefits and disbenefits of Regional and South-East expansion.
They also criticise the use of the figures for economic benefits of airport expansion produced by the OEF and the failure to consider other studies such as the SACTRA report. They quote the figures given for tourism which omit to include the losses of outward tourism.
"It is disappointing that neither the Treasury nor the DfT have conducted any recent analysis of the overall economic impact on the UK of the aviation sector, and in particular an analysis of the growth in aviation which is proposed."
They also criticise the methodology used in appraising the benefits that the different expansion options might bring. They say that the DfT has failed to follow Treasury Guidance by including benefits to foreign travellers. Neither have they included the environmental costs. If the costings had been correctly done they calculate that there would be no economic benefits in runway expansion.
They consider that the DfT should voluntarily comply with the forthcoming EU Directive and carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the proposed options
Quantifying Environmental Costs
They comment that the Treasury estimates of environmental costs in Aviation and the Environment is £1.4 billion a year rising to £4.8 billion in 2030. This is almost entirely for global warming, apart from £25 million for noise and £119 - £238 million for local air pollution .This takes no account of the effects on landscape, tranquillity, heritage sites and biodiversity. These costs should be included.
In the case of noise the figures are based on an out of date paper and the revised figures are £27-66 million for Heathrow alone. These figures do not consider the possible effects of noise on health, or the nuisance value of the noise experienced by those living further away from airports.
Their conclusion is that there are good grounds for questioning the accuracy and the comprehensiveness of the environmental costs quoted by the Government. They suggest that the exercise may be fundamentally flawed and may be a waste of time if there is a move towards emissions trading systems.
Government Policy and the Future
They comment on the absence of fuel tax on aviation fuel, regarded by many as a subsidy of £9 billion. In terms of CO2, road transport pays £150 per tonne of CO2.
The Treasury made it clear that it was not policy to equalise tax treatment between different forms of transport but did not provide good reasons. The Committee said that they should clearly set out what the principles are of their policies.
They go on to discuss the contention that low air fares are justified on grounds of social equity. They point out that buses and trains are mainly used to get to work whereas planes are mainly used for leisure purposes.
"We can see no reason why aviation should be treated differently to motoring in terms of fiscal policy, and why it should not be taxed to earn revenue. We do not consider that it is possible to justify the favourable treatment it currently receives on grounds of social equity."
"It is not for the Government to discriminate between different forms of leisure activity and provide support for some and not for others."
Subsidies for air services to remote parts of the UK are fully justified.
Aviation Taxes or Charges - The Scope for Action
The Committee recommends that the current air passenger duty should be replaced by an emissions charge levied on flights. It should initially be set at a level to raise £1.4 billion a year and be subject to an annual escalator. The question of introducing VAT on tickets for domestic flights should be considered.
They advise that the Government should take a leading role in introducing duty on aviation fuel or an emissions trading scheme, both with the EU and the ICAO. It should decide whether the latter could start initially within the EU.
They also recommend that the single till should be replaced by a dual till system and that through the EU slots should be regularly auctioned.
Their final criticism makes the point that the present available airport capacity could accommodate a growth of 2.5 times the present capacity. It is unrealistic for the Government to try and pick winners for expansion and irresponsible to ignore the need to minimise global warming. The Government must commit itself to managing demand - it has failed to consider its own energy policies outlined in the recent Energy White Paper. The aviation growth proposed would wreck the aspirations this Paper contains.
29 July 2003
A REPORT WE CAN WELCOME!
The Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee puts the Environment first
James Drewer reports:
The much awaited Budget 2003 and Aviation paper from the Environmental Audit Committee has been published today, and from a quick read through it seems like a truly excellent report.
The EAC believe the Government has resigned itself to a massive increase in air travel without taking equivalent measures to combat the inevitable increase in pollution.
They say that all the Government's energy policies aimed at limiting the amount of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere - such as the recently much-publicised wind farms - are being completely negated by the aviation industry:
Earlier the Chairman outlined his views:
The recently replaced chairman of the Committee, John Horam, speaking on BBC Radio Four's 'Today' programme emphasised that planes produced "an enormous amount of pollution".
"If you add in what's called radiative forcing - all the white stuff that comes out of the back of planes - it is actually very damaging," he said.
"If they went ahead with unconstrained abandon, they could produce about 200 million tons of carbon dioxide a year by 2030."
"That's a huge amount; you're talking about 75 million tons at the moment from the aviation industry, so it's probably trebling it:"
"And that's more or less the total figure which the Government is trying to get it down to in that year, so you're totally negating all the efforts to have an improvement in global warming."
He agreed, however, that the Government could not and should not prevent people from travelling, but he thought they could take "a more cautious look" at airport expansion.
He also emphasised that the problem had to be dealt with on an international basis, beginning, he thought, with the European Union and he suggested a limit be set for 10-15 years time on the amount of carbon dioxides planes would be allowed to emit.
In addition, he believed the aviation industry should themselves take measures to combat pollution by such things as improved technology, a limit on the number of flights and possibly an emissions trading system.
The committee argues that the forecast growth in UK aviation could accentuate global warming and destroy the Government's recent commitment to cutting carbon dioxide emissions.
The Government has pledged to reduce the level of carbon dioxide emissions from the UK by 60 per cent - with a target date of 2050 - under the Kyoto protocols.
However John Horam said: "The forecast increase in passengers - from 180 million passengers a year now to over 500 million by 2030 - will have a huge impact on global warming."
The report goes on to criticise the DfT for apparently failing to acknowledge the potential impact of the aviation industry given the new context of the Government's environmental objectives.
Mr Horam said: "The DfT airports consultation fails to take on board the new direction in policy initiated by the Energy White Paper, while the growth forecast in aviation - even on a constrained basis - will wreck the aspirations it contains."
The committee also accuses the DfT of emphasising the economic and social objectives for airports to the detriment of the environmental concerns.
In what will surely be a huge blow for pro expansionists, the committee also concludes that there is enough capacity within the current infrastructure.
Mr Horam said: "There is enough potential in existing airports to meet future demand - if we make rather more realistic assumptions than the DfT has done."
"We cannot get away from the fact that airlines pay no tax on aviation fuel - whereas 80 per cent of the price motorists pay goes to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Government needs to use a range of fiscal and other tools to decouple the growth in aviation from economic growth."
Some feedback from the industry on today's report:
Airport Operators Association Press Notice -
MPs' report sets back the debate on sustainable aviation
28 July 2003
Commenting on today's report by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, Airport Operators Association (AOA) Chief Executive, Keith Jowett, said:
"In the space of a few weeks we have the spectacle of two parliamentary committees publishing reports which are completely at odds with each other. The Transport Select Committee's report on aviation identified the economic and social benefits of aviation as critical to the UK and as such called on the Secretary of State to make speedy decisions in the national interest about where additional capacity should be provided. Just when it looked like all stakeholders in aviation were beginning to have a constructive dialogue about sustainable growth that debate has been set back by the polarized position taken by the Environmental Audit Committee."
"Retreating to opposite sides of the fence doesn't help anyone. It is hard to see how the Environmental Audit Committee - which received evidence from most of the same stakeholders as the Transport Select Committee could come to such a view."
"Stranger still is the fact that the Committee is advocating pricing people out of flying as a means of addressing the serious issues which are raised. It will be a brave MP who tells their constituents that they will no longer be able to take their hard earned holidays abroad or travel to see distant friends and relatives, let alone tell the businesses located in their constituencies that the air links on which they depend will no longer be affordable."
For more information please contact Michelle Di Leo on 020 7222 2249 or mobile 07734 101086 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
BA "disappointed" by MPs' report
British Airways today expressed disappointment at the conclusions of an influential group of MPs on the future of the aviation industry.
Crucially, the airline disagreed with the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee's recommendation for Air Passenger Duty (APD) to be replaced with emissions charges levied on flights.
It also questioned the Committee's contention that there is enough capacity within the current infrastructure to meet future demand.
A BA spokesperson said: "We are disappointed that the Environmental Audit Committee has not recognised the success of the aviation industry in dealing with environmental issues in the past and the potential for emissions trading to allow airlines to reduce or offset the growth of global warming in the future."
"This is a much better way forward than the large tax increases being advocated by the committee."
The issue of expansion at one of the airports in the South East has long proved to be a controversial one.
The cross party committee ensured that today was no exception by asserting that there is enough potential within the current infrastructure to deal with future demand.
However, BA stated: "Contrary to their view there is a strong economic case for a programme of runway expansion."
The airline championed: "Heathrow as the UK's global hub" adding: "This would deliver substantial benefits to the UK's economy and society as a whole even when global warming costs are taken into account."
29 July 2003
WILL ALISTAIR DARLING ALSO TAKE NOTE?
Paul Brown, Environment Correspondent - The Guardian - 28 July 2003
The UK's most eminent climate scientist is accusing Tony Blair of failing to stand up to George Bush on the issue of climate change and putting mankind in jeopardy. He says global warming is as great a threat to the world as weapons of mass destruction.
In a blistering attack on George Bush for "an abdication of leadership of epic proportions" and Tony Blair for taking no action for fear of offending him, Sir John Houghton, former head of the Met Office, writing in today's Guardian, says that global warming is real and here now, killing people through heatwaves and storms.
He says: "If political leaders have one duty above all others, it is to protect the security of their peoples."
"Yet our long-term security is threatened by a problem at least as dangerous as chemical, nuclear or biological weapons, or indeed international terrorism: human-induced climate change."
"The parallels between global climate change and global terrorism are becoming increasingly obvious", yet no action is taken by either leader, he says.
Sir John, who also served as co-chairman of scientific assessment for the 1,000-strong group of scientists on the UN intergovernmental panel on climate change, said he had no hestitation in calling global warming "a weapon of mass destruction".
He details the record number of 562 tornadoes in the US in May and the 1,500 people who died in a 49C heatwave in India six weeks ago, saying that these events are claiming as many lives as terrorism.
Although Tony Blair has said there can be no genuine security if the planet is ravaged by climate change, Sir John said words were not enough. They had to be matched with adequate action.
He says everyone now knows that the US is the world's biggest polluter, and that with only a 20th of the world's population it produces a quarter of its greenhouse gas emissions.
"But the US government, in an abdication of leadership of epic proportions, is utterly refusing to take the problem seriously, and Britain, presumably because Blair wishes not to offend George Bush, is beginning to fall behind too."
Sir John says it is also vital that Russia ratify the Kyoto protocol, the international treaty designed to begin reducing greenhouse gases, so that it can at last come into force. But while the US refused to cooperate, it was difficult to see how the rest of the world can make much progress on the much tougher longer-term problem. "So Tony Blair has a challenge ahead. The world needs leadership, and the British prime minister is well placed to stand at the head of a new 'coalition of the willing' to tackle this urgent problem."
"He is also uniquely placed to persuade President George W Bush to join in this effort, given their commitment to making the world safe from 'weapons of mass destruction'."
Sir John adds: "But even if he fails to persuade George W, there are other allies who would still respond to his leadership - even if this means opposing the United States until such time as it no longer has an oilman for president."
"If Tony Blair were to assume this mantle, history might not only 'forgive' him, but also endorse Britain's contribution to long-term global security."
Our Comment: Could the UK Government, after those warning words, plan a massive expansion of UK aviation knowing the likely adverse effects on climate change? Tony Blair should be convincing our EU partners as well as Bush, that would curb the continued threats from the pro-expansion lobby of vastly expanded activities at Amsterdam, Charles de Gaulle or Frankfurt threatening the well being of the UK economy.
28 July 2003
WHAT THE PAPERS SAID
"Taking it out on airport operators - but they need more capacity before they can compete"
by Clayton Hirst - Financial Times - 21 July 2003
The widespread frustration with Britain's inability to match airport capacity to surging demand in its crowded south-east corner boiled over into a trenchant report last week by the House of Commons transport committee. The MPs took their anger out on BAA, the airports group, calling its ownership of seven UK airports, including the three main London airports of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, "deeply flawed". Declaring that the government should not count on BAA to expand airport capacity in the south east, the committee recommended that BAA should have its monopoly broken up. Failing that, the government should "align" regulation of the airports group better with its own goals.
In fact, BAA and the government are closely aligned in their indecision on where to expand capacity, even in the run-up to this autumn's aviation white paper, the first for 20 years. The government is weighing four options for runway expansion and BAA has invited it to choose among the three that concern its London airports. BAA is "hiding behind the government" rather than giving it a lead, the committee complains. Yet this is hardly surprising, given all the political sensitivities in choosing new runways.
A more serious point is that by virtue of running the three London airports together, BAA is congenitally unable to choose between them. The logic of breaking BAA up would be that each of its component airports would push harder to expand. It is undoubtedly true that the management of a stand-alone Heathrow airport company could, and would, be single-minded in pressing for a third runway there. And it might succeed, if planning and environmental hurdles could be overcome. A third Heathrow runway would be economically viable.
But Gatwick or Stansted, which BAA has subsidised out of Heathrow profits, might not be able to afford on its own the huge investment and long payback period involved in building new runways or terminals - unless it got help from the taxpayer. The Commons report says "the government should take a leading role (in airport infrastructure) and provide financial support if necessary". This is certainly the pattern in much of continental Europe. But would Britain want to revert to this, having got used to BAA's shouldering airport costs for 17 years?
Previous calls by MPs for BAA's break-up have been rebuffed, most recently by the Competition Commission last autumn. Applying competition to the airport group could be double-edged. Ending BAA's cross-subsidising of its airports and airport activities might block rather than encourage new runways, or raise rather than lower airport charges.
A break-up may make sense - but probably only after the long-overdue expansion of airport capacity. BAA airports would then have the spare slots to make competition between them a reality. But such expansion has to be led by the government.
Our Comment: The "Long-overdue expansion of airport capacity" - Where are the arguments to substantiate that statement? What was Terminal 5 at Heathrow intended to do but expand airport capacity? What about Stansted's extra 10 mppa? What about the second runway at Manchester airport? Is there no end to the demands for more and more.
BAA faces flak over £1m perks for MPs
by Robert Lindsay, Associate City Editor - The Express - 19 July 2003
AIRPORTS operator BAA yesterday refused to allow shareholders to vote on its policy of handing MPs £1.1million of free parking permits a year.
Private shareholder Brian Ross asked why the tradition of annual passes, originating from the days the airports were publicly owned, were not declared in the annual report as political donations.
All 837 British MPs, MEPs and members of the House of Lords are given free permits for London and Scottish airports worth £1,300 a year.
The politicians all have a say on BAA's hugely controversial plans to expand airports across the South-east.
Chairman Marcus Agius admitted the board had sought a barrister's advice on whether it had to obtain shareholder consent for the passes and was told it was not necessary.
Agius said in a prepared statement: "This has never been an issue of wide shareholder concern before and the board has been happy to allow it to continue as long as it is confident BAA's administration of the concession is lawful and proper."
When Ross pressed him, he said: "We have only had letters from eight shareholders in total [about this] and there are 381,000 shareholders. This is something we believe we have behaved properly about in the past."
Agius was also subjected to flak about BAA's apparent about-face on a third runway at Heathrow. A committee of MPs said on Thursday the company had been "wilfully misleading" when it was trying to gain approval for a fifth terminal at the airport by ruling out a third runway there.
Now it has the go-ahead, it has included the runway as one of the options the Government should consider. Local residents and Friends of the Earth staged a protest outside the meeting and during the session FoE's Paul de Zylva asked why the company had "misled" the public.
Agius said: "I object in the strongest possible terms... We have not misled anybody, we operate to the highest ethical standards."
Chief executive designate Mike Clasper said: "It isn't our proposal, it's one of the options that we think the Government should choose from."
Demonstrators also staged a protest against noise and enivonmental damage they fear will follow BAA's planned expansion of Stansted Airport in Essex.
BAA stands by MP parking perk
by Lachlan Johnston - The Daily Telegraph - 19 July 2003
BAA, the airport operator that owns Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, yesterday rebuffed a shareholder vote on its free car parking passes for parliamentarians, claiming it has "acted properly" on the issue.
BAA refused to allow a motion brought by private shareholder Brian Ross at its annual meeting yesterday, which calls the free parking a political donation that requires shareholder approval.
Mr Ross, who is campaigning against the expansion of Stansted Airport, said he had the required support of 100 BAA shareholders to put a motion to the meeting, but BAA said his request to put a motion had come too late.
Mr Ross has estimated the parking passes available to all 830 politicians to be worth £1.1m per year, while BAA has shareholder approval to donate just £20,000 per year to politicians.
BAA chairman Marcus Agius defended the passes in the meeting, saying BAA had received advice from the Electoral Commission, the Department of Trade and Industry and BAA's legal advisers that shareholder approval was not required. The advice indicated that, as the passes were available to politicians from all parties, they did not need to be declared.
"The advice we received was unequivocal," he said in response to a question from Mr Ross. "There is no point of principle here. We are quite quite comfortable we have acted properly."
Mr Agius said BAA had received just eight letters on the parking issue from a shareholder base of 381,000, and therefore did not believe it was an issue for most of its shareholders.
However, Mr Agius refused to answer Mr Ross's question regarding the potential tax liabilities BAA would incur, if BAA were ever found to have benefited from providing passes to MEPs and peers.
Mr Agius also told shareholders that the construction of Heathrow's new Terminal Five was slightly ahead of time and on budget at this stage.
BAA also defended its executive and director pay packages, which remuneration committee chairman John Hoerner said had actually "slipped" when compared with others of its size.
BAA admits runway error
by Andrew Clark - The Guardian - 19 July 2003
BAA's new chief executive, Mike Clasper, yesterday accused his predecessors of making an "error of judgment" in assuring residents around Heathrow during the 1990s that the airport did not need any new runways.
Just a month after the retirement of outgoing boss Mike Hutchinson, Mr Clasper told shareholders previous management had "misjudged" the "political will" surrounding expansion at Britain's biggest airport.
At yesterday's annual meeting, held just days after a committee of MPs called for the break-up of BAA, directors faced hostile questions about the construction of new runways.
John McDonnell, the Labour MP for Heathrow who is a shareholder in BAA, accused the board of being "disingenuous" to his constituents in its plans for the airport.
He cited a letter sent by BAA to residents during a planning inquiry for a fifth terminal, in which the company said it neither wanted nor supported an additional runway.
In a u-turn this year, the company urged ministers to build extra landing strips in the south-east, saying it would support construction at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted.
Mr Clasper said with "20-20 hindsight", the company should not have given assurances to residents. He said, at the time, BAA believed there was no political desire for expansion.
"One can always say that at the time, if we'd had 110% foresight, if we'd known that in a few years the government would ask us to consider airport expansion options, we might have taken a difficult decision," said Mr Clasper.
"Clearly, on the political will, we did make a misjudgment," he continued. "We made an error of judgment."
BAA rejected calls from shareholders to scrap its policy of giving free car parking passes, worth £5,240 a year, to MPs. The company said it has taken legal advice that the passes did not constitute "political donations", although chairman Marcus Agius agreed to keep the policy under review.
Mr Agius also criticised the transport select committee for advocating the break-up of BAA. He said the company had invested £1m a day in national infrastructure since privatisation 17 years ago. "I can't see this appealing to a chancellor with so many pressing demands on the public purse."
Pinocchio demo at BAA meeting
by Dick Murray - The Evening Standard - 18 July 2003
ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners in Pinocchio-style long noses today protested outside the annual general meeting of airports operator BAA, claiming the company had broken promises.
About a dozen protesters from Friends of the Earth wore the noses outside the QE2 Conference Centre in Westminster.
FoE aviation campaigner Paul de Zylva said: "They have been economical with the truth. During the Heathrow Terminal 5 public inquiry, BAA repeatedly claimed that it would not lead to a third runway, but now they are backing one."
There were also some protesters from the group Stop Stansted Expansion.
"We want an end to expansion at all South-East airports," said Mike Fairchild, 64, of Little Hadham, near Stansted.
"We want introduction of a tax on aviation fuel to dampen demand so no more expansion is necessary."
BAA does not need fixing
by Robert Cole - The Times - 18 July 2003
As construction workers dig the foundations of Heathrow's Terminal 5, archaeologists are making exciting discoveries about the living and farming habits of our prehistoric ancestors. In Westminster, meanwhile, MPs on the Transport Select Committee suggest that BAA, the airports operator building the new facility, is a dinosaur that should be consigned to the annals of history.
The FTSE 100 company owns 93 per cent of UK airport capacity in the crucial South East of England market. It therefore looks ripe to have its dominant position not only reviewed, as was suggested by MPs yesterday, but dismantled. To some, BAA, unlike many other former state-owned industries, has been sadly underexposed to the chilly but invigorating winds of competition.
And monopolies are bad news, right? Any industry that is protected from competition by dint of statute or the presence of a dominant single enterprise will lead to complacency and inefficiency. It will inhibit innovation and wealth-enhancing development as a matter of course, and, ultimately, bring disadvantage to consumers, investors and employees. Open market forces, for all the ills they may bring, can be relied on to work for the common good more effectively than even the most well-intentioned, well-informed and intelligent state controller, regulator or overmighty private enterprise.
But the contention that BAA is monopolist is not quite as obvious as it may seem.
For one thing, it faces stiff competition, in at least parts of its business, from airports on the near-Continent. The race to host hubs for long-haul carriers is especially competitive. BAA is kept on its toes by airlines. They may whine that landing fees are kept artificially high because of the position BAA enjoys. But the airlines are also demanding customers. BAA has its part to play making air travel competitive enough to encourage passenger growth, and win custom from other forms of transport.
Since most of BAA's revenues come on a per-passenger basis, the company has a vested interest in seeing large numbers pass though its terminals. If fees are too high it will lose more on the volume side of the equation than it gains from keeping the profit margin unreasonably wide. At the same time the Civil Aviation Authority has proved itself an effective regulator and mock-competitor. Although the CAA carries the disadvantages of any watchdog, it has policed the company relatively sensibly and sensitively. It has allowed innovation and development to continue: witness the reconstruction of Stansted and BAA's ability to self-finance the £10 billion Terminal 5. If the role performed by BAA would be better executed by a coterie of daughter firms created by a break-up, private entrepreneurship should be trusted to effect the change.
Pseudo-competitive pressure exerted on management by the threat of dismemberment focuses attention on efficiency. And these pressures will be enhanced only when - and it probably is a "when" - the Government surrenders its golden share in the firm.
If the Government sees fit to authorise the creation of an additional airport in the South East of England, it can promote competition without the disruption of a root-and-branch restructuring of the industry, by awarding the licence to someone other than BAA. Some may argue otherwise, but the UK airports regime is not broken and while it is always possible to improve things, it needs no fixing of the sort envisaged by the Transport Select Committee.
OFT on stand-by as MPs demand break-up of BAA
by Russell Hotten - The Times - 18 July 2003
Pressure mounted for a competition inquiry into BAA yesterday after a powerful committee of MPs added its weight to calls for the company's monopoly on UK airports to be broken up.
The all-party Transport Committee blamed a shortage of airport capacity in the South East on BAA's dominance, a view echoed by the UK's biggest airlines.
BAA, whose authority at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports gives it control of 93 per cent of capacity in the South East, called the committee's report "naive and full of self-contradictions". But it comes at a sensitive time for the world's biggest airports operator, with the Government reviewing the location for a new runway - or airport - in the South East. BAA also owns Scotland's key airports.
The committee has no power to demand that BAA be pulled apart but its report will form an influential part of the review. The report said: "It is ineffective and inappropriate to have a single private-sector operator controlling such a large part of our aviation infrastructure." The committee said that if the Government decided not to break up BAA then "it must undertake a thorough review of the way in which it is regulated."
But Mike Clasper, chief executive of BAA, said that a break-up would make it harder to raise funds for airport investment, such as building the new Terminal 5.
"The committee last called for the break-up of BAA in 1998 and was dismissed by the Government then. Judging by the quality of its arguments today it will be ignored again."
Airlines, which earlier this year were outraged when the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), BAA's regulator, allowed the company to make big increases in landing charges, welcomed the report. They say that more competition would lead to lower charges.
Ray Webster, chief executive of easyJet, said: "Consumers will always be ripped off by monopolies and we welcome the committee's contribution to the debate. We have long been concerned about the disparity in charges between airports which operate in a truly competitive market and those that exert monopoly control."
Sir Michael Bishop, chairman of bmi british midland, said: "We have been forced to the conclusion that the competitive dynamic around BAA's position is broken and it must be fixed."
British Airways, BAA's biggest customer, has refused to be drawn into the debate over the operator's monopoly. But it is though that BA would welcome a split up.
TBI, the UK's second biggest airport owner, said the time was right for an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading. Of 116.9 million passengers travelling through the South East's main airports last year, 108.9 went through BAA facilities. Of the 180 million people using UK airports, 127 million were BAA customers.
The OFT said yesterday that it would study the report. Any investigation would make recommendations to the Competition Commission. The Transport Department, whose golden share in BAA is being challenged by the European Commission, said a break-up was a matter for the Competition Commission and CAA. BAA shares fell 6p to 485p.
An airport blockbuster to reckon with
City Comment - The Daily Telegraph - 18 July 2003
LOOK out planespotters. What's that overhead, engines roaring. Why, it's Gwyneth Dunwoody (Labour, Crewe) looking for somewhere to land. The famously irascible Transport Committee chairman has been circling for months and guess what? Everywhere she wants to land is owned by BAA, the airports operator run by Mike Clasper.
Mrs Dunwoody wants to get Mike's clasp off Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, by breaking up BAA's south-east airport monopoly. She reckons it gives BAA perverse incentives to encourage airlines to divert to Stansted rather than address lack of capacity at Heathrow and Gatwick.
Neither is she impressed by BAA's self-serving proposal that new runways be built at its south-east airports and its invitation to the Government to pick three of four options. She calls this "hiding behind the Government".
She's right. Mr Clasper calls Mrs Dunwoody "naive", but it's inconceivable that, were it privatised today, a single company would be handed London's three major airports. Were BAA forced to demerge Heathrow, the new owners of Britain's major airport would be focused on expansion, rather than droning on about how that would affect BAA's "system" of airports. Perhaps shareholders at today's annual meeting should raise the issue, before something even larger than Mrs Dunwoody drops on BAA from a great height.
BAA monopoly under fire
by Alistair Osborne, Associate City Editor - The Daily Telegraph - 18 July 2003
THE all-party Transport Select Committee yesterday called for BAA's monopoly of south east airports to be broken up.
The committee, chaired by Gywneth Dunwoody, said the shortage of airport capacity in the south east was "largely the result of the dominant position of BAA", which owns Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.
It found that BAA's control of these airports "led it to being unresponsive to market demands, encouraging greater use of Stansted rather than addressing the problem of lack of capacity at Heathrow and Gatwick".
It added that rather than provide "clear proposals for the provision of new runway capacity", BAA suggested four runway sites (Heathrow, Gatwick and two at Stansted) and left it to the Government to "select up to three. BAA appears to be hiding behind the Government," it said.
BAA hit back calling the committee's conclusions "naive and full of self-contradictions".
Mike Clasper, chief executive, said BAA had "invested £1m a day, every day, for the last 17 years, at no cost to the taxpayer".
Breaking up the group would make it "much harder to raise the huge investment sums necessary", Mr Clasper said.
"The committee last called for the break-up of BAA in 1998 and was dismissed by the Government. Judging by the quality of its arguments, it will be ignored again."
BAA shares fell 6 1/2 to 485 3/4 p.
MPs condemn dominant position of BAA and demand airport operator's break-up
by Kevin Done - Financial Times - 18 July 2003
The break-up of BAA, the airports group that controls seven UK airports including the three main London airports Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, was demanded by a Commons inquiry yesterday.
The cross-party committee of MPs said that the dominant position of BAA meant the ownership structure of the UK's airports was "deeply flawed".
The attack drew an angry response from BAA, which said the MPs' main conclusions were "naive and full of self-contradictions".
Separately, the Labour majority on the committee gave implicit support for the construction of a controversial third runway at Heathrow to increase airport capacity in the congested south-east of England.
The committee also issued a firm recommendation against the building of a greenfield site four-runway hub airport at Cliffe on the north Kent coast, one of the options in the recent government consultation on adding airport capacity.
The MPs said that airport development in the UK should be "centred on targeted expansion of existing sites" and called for the provision of new capacity "at the earliest opportunity".
On BAA, the committee said it was "ineffective and inappropriate to have a single private sector operator controlling such a large part of our aviation infrastructure".
If the government was wedded to maintaining BAA in its current form, a thorough review should be undertaken of the way in which it was regulated, and the government should not assume that extra capacity in the south-east should be provided by BAA. "In our view it would be more appropriate to break up its monopoly," it said.
The committee's report also accused BAA of "hiding behind the government" in failing to give firm guidance on where future runways should be built and attacked it for its role in the protracted four-year public inquiry over the building of fifth terminal at Heathrow.
In the inquiry, which ended in 1999, it recommended that the planning inspector should rule out a third runway at Heathrow as part of the price for winning the go-ahead for the fifth terminal. A few weeks ago, however, it put forward a third runway at Heathrow, as one of the main options for increasing airport capacity in the south-east.
Mike Clasper, BAA chief executive, said that breaking up the company would not be a remedy for the shortage of airport facilities in the south-east. "With Britain's ground transportation system already creaking through lack of investment, this thinking is perverse," he said.
BAA under fire over MPs' perk
The Evening Standard - 18 July 2003
AIRPORTS operator BAA has brushed aside shareholder concerns about its provision of free parking for MPs.
Speaking at the firm's annual meeting, BAA chairman Marcus Agius refused calls to put the perks to a shareholders' vote. He also ducked questions over whether the company could have amassed a tax liability over the car park passes.
BAA offers annual passes - each worth more than £5000 - to all MPs, MEPs and working peers, a hangover from its State-owned days. But the company has come under fire over the perks because of the Government's investigation into where to locate new runways.
'BAA is making these political donations without shareholder approval and without any mention of these in the annual report,' said small shareholder Brian Ross. 'I am concerned about BAA giving donations worth £1.1m a year to those who have the responsibility for decisions about airport expansion.'
But Agius replied: 'This concession has never been an issue of wide shareholder concern before, and the board has been happy to allow it to continue as long as it is confident that BAA's administration of the concession is lawful and proper. At the time new legislation on donations and transparency came into effect two years ago, BAA took advice from the Electoral Commission, the DTI and lawyers. The advice was that this was not a donation for which prior shareholder consent was required. I am confident this is correct, especially since we had it rechecked with leading counsel recently.'
Anger at 'U-turn' on runway
NEW BAA chief executive Mike Clasper was labelled 'disingenuous' by Heathrow's Labour MP amid claims at the annual general meeting that BAA had performed a U-turn over the possibility of a new runway at the airport.
BAA rejected the notion of a third runway when it got the go-ahead for Terminal 5. But Clasper told shareholders it had now presented a new runway at Heathrow as an option to the Government in its inquiry into airport expansion because the Government had asked it to.
Hayes & Harlington MP John McDonnell said: 'I find Mike Clasper's comment disingenuous. We were told at the T5 inquiry that BAA would not support a new runway because of the devastating effect on the local community. Now it has ruled it in. BAA should take more seriously the findings of the Transport Select Committee, which said BAA had at worst been 'wilfully misleading' on the issue.'
Commons calls for break-up of BAA
by Kevin Done, Aerospace Correspondent - Financial Times - 17 July 2003
The House of Commons transport select committee called on Thursday for the break-up of BAA, the world's leading airports group that controls seven of the country's airports including the three main London airports Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.
The cross-party committee of MPs said the dominant position of BAA meant that the ownership structure of the UK's airports was "deeply flawed".
The attack drew an immediate angry response from BAA, which said the MPs' main conclusions in the report titled Aviation and published on Thursday were "naive and full of self-contradictions".
Separately the Labour majority on the committee gave implicit support for the construction of a highly controversial third runway at Heathrow to increase airport capacity in the congested south-east of England.
The committee also issued a firm recommendation against the building of a greenfield site four-runway hub airport at Cliffe on the north Kent coast, one of the options put forward in the recent government consultation on adding airport capacity.
The MPs said future airport development in the UK should be "centred on targeted expansion of existing sites" and called for the provision of new capacity "at the earliest opportunity".
On BAA they said it was "ineffective and inappropriate to have a single private sector operator controlling such a large part of our aviation infrastructure".
If the government was wedded to maintaining BAA in its current form, a thorough review should be undertaken of the way in which it was regulated, and the government should not assume that extra capacity in the south-east should be provided by BAA.
"In our view, it would be more appropriate to break up its monopoly."
The select committee report also accused BAA of "hiding behind the government" in failing to give firm guidance on where future runways should be built and attacked it for its role in the protracted four-year public inquiry over the building of a fifth terminal at Heathrow.
In the inquiry, which ended in 1999, BAA recommended that the planning inspector should rule out a third runway at Heathrow as part of the price for winning the go-ahead for the fifth terminal.
A few weeks ago, however, it put forward a third runway at Heathrow as one of the main options for increasing airport capacity in the south-east.
"At best, the company was culpably short-sighted when it told the Terminal 5 inquiry that an extra runway at Heathrow would be unacceptable for environmental reasons; at worst, it was wilfully misleading," said the MPs.
Mike Clasper, BAA chief executive, said that breaking up the company would not be a remedy for the shortage of airport facilities in the south-east. It would have the opposite effect, making it much harder to raise the huge investment sums necessary. The burden for this funding would fall firmly on the taxpayer.
"With Britain's ground transportation system already creaking through lack of investment, this thinking is perverse," he said.
BAA's free parking for MPs slated
by Citizen reporter - Harlow Citizen - 16 July 2003
A BRITISH Airports Authority shareholder from Birchanger has hit out at the airport operator for giving more than (GBP)1m worth of free parking a year to MPs at its seven UK airports.
Brian Ross, who is also an active member of campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion, claims the company's policy amounts to a "political donation" and could sway the Government's decision over building extra runways in the South-East, including at Stansted.
Mr Ross has written to the top 250 company shareholders about the free parking policy and intends to raise the issue at BAA's general meeting on Friday.
He said: "BAA does not have shareholder permission to give political donations on this scale. New legislation introduced two years ago states that all political donations have to be declared and companies must have approval from shareholders. The free car park passes for MPs do not have shareholder permission, nor have they been declared by BAA."
He said the gesture could sway MPs when they had to decide over airport expansion.
A spokeswoman said: "The idea that BAA could sway somebody by giving them free parking is absolutely ridiculous. The free passes are available to all MPs, MEPs and lords no matter what their political persuasion or views.
"This practice has been in place since before BAA was privatised, and when the legislation was introduced two years ago it was fully investigated by our lawyers and the Electoral Commission to ensure the company was not breaching any regulations. As far as we're concerned this is all above board."
28 July 2003
COMMENTS ON THE TRANSPORT SELECT COMMITTEE'S REPORT
Ken McDonald gives his views:
The Select Committee heard many diverse views from self-interest groups within the aviation industry. Its report tries to find a way through the myriad of geographical, technical, logistical, financial and social issues that were raised by those who gave evidence from their perspective within the industry.
However, the few who gave evidence without self-interest had messages that are harder to answer. The Committee's response to these is to bury its head in the sand. Those witnesses had two key messages - firstly that aviation is contributing to global warming and we don't know what the long term consequences of that will be, and secondly that aviation is dependent on fossil fuel that will run out within two generations.
It is very hard to get your mind round those longer-term global issues, politically unacceptable to acknowledge them, and seemingly impossible to do anything to turn them round. So, the Select Committee has joined the lemmings, side-stepping the real issues and contributing to the debate only on how fast and in which direction we should approach the precipice.
Comments follow from those who want expansion
FREEDOM TO FLY
Select Committee Report "Seals Case For Runway Expansion"
Committee Calls For New Runways At "Earliest Opportunity" - 17th July 2003
The Transport Select Committee report on Aviation, "Seals the case for runway expansion", aviation coalition Freedom to Fly said on Thursday.
According to the influential all party Committee of MPs, Ministers should commence, "the provision of new capacity at the earliest opportunity."
It warns, "Constrained capacity in the South East will lead to further reductions in regional access to London airports which we believe will have serious impacts upon their economies. It will also increase some services in the regions creating pressure for runways outside the South East. Doing nothing is not an option".
The Committee also rejects calls for measures to artificially constrain demand by pricing passengers out of the market saying, "Artificially pricing the poor out of the sky is no answer to equality concerns".
Commenting on the report, Freedom to Fly Director Dan Hodges said: "This report seals the case for runway expansion. Not only does it underline the economic, social and employment benefits of new runways, it stresses the importance of commencing their construction at the earliest possible opportunity. We have had a good debate but the time has come for Ministers to give the go ahead for the new capacity the UK aviation industry so vitally requires".
Our Comment: Freedom to Fly have ignored the cautionary recommendations of the Committee, the need to ensure that Air Traffic Control can deal with any significant expansion, their concern over aircraft emissions and noise, which, if taken seriously, would require expansion to be considerably limited. They also ask for a definition of sustainable aviation. Can Freedom to Fly supply their version?
THE DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT
A spokesman for the Department for Transport: "The department welcomes publication of the select committee report, which was carried out in the light of the government's consultation on the future of air transport.
"We will want to take careful account of its recommendations in reaching decisions in the air transport white paper later this year."
Rod Eddington, chief executive of BA, said: "I welcome the transport select committee's report which is very thorough and covers a wide range of issues. I am pleased that the committee recognises the urgent need for new capacity in the south east.
"We are in no doubt that for Heathrow to maintain its position as a prime European hub, expansion there is needed as a matter of urgency."
A spokeswoman for Virgin Atlantic said: "Virgin Atlantic welcomes the findings of the House of Commons Select Committee, which has added its weight to the campaign for more runway capacity in the South East.
"The consensus of opinion is now overwhelmingly in favour of developing new runways at existing South East airports.
"We urge the government to move swiftly to publish a firm decision on where these runways should be located and the order in which they should be constructed, as well as setting a strict timetable for their completion."
Our Comment: "These runways"? How many? Is Virgin Atlantic contemplating entering the cheap flights market? (The Government forecasted that this was the area where demand would continue to rise, we need to remember that all these arguments are mainly about an increase in Tourist traffic, either every UK citizen spending their holiday abroad, or the present 50% who choose to fly taking several trips each year.)
20 July 2003
THE REPORT OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS TRANSPORT COMMITTEE ON AVIATION
Published 16 July
This Report is wide-ranging and it makes a number of interesting comments, many of which are critical, expressed in terms that are very much to the point. There are no specific recommendations as to which airports should be expanded, only principles that should be followed.
The most disappointing feature for us is that they accept the Government's predictions on future demand, and they also repeat the much quoted phrase "Doing nothing is not an option". However, they do say that there have to be limits for environmental reasons, but do not make any suggestions as to how those limits could be controlled, except to urge the Government to press for an international climate change emissions trading scheme.
They also accept that we should all be entitled to take a holiday abroad - by air, and, even though only 50% of people fly at the moment, they appear to believe that the other 50% will soon wish to join the exodus. They also believe that the number of foreign tourists are likely to increase, thereby reducing the financial loss to the UK. They are opposed to deterring travellers through price rises because it affects the poorer members of society - they quote figures that suggest that those from lower income groups do take advantage of cheap flights, that it is not just the better off taking more holidays. They do not visualise the rail service as being able to provide an adequate regional service to London from areas some distance away, and certainly not from the Highlands and Islands. They make the point that the necessary improvements to the rail infrastructure would lead to a fair amount of environmental damage.
What Are Their Recommendations?
* The forecasts represent a reasonable assessment of future demand. A decision on future development is very necessary and "brave!" It will relieve uncertainty. However, the Government must keep policies under review and monitor progress.
* Firm decisions are overdue. The South East is the biggest aviation market and capacity problems must be resolved.
* Monitoring of the cheap no-frills carriers is necessary, they have shown the greatest growth in recent years. Policies must be adaptable.
* Scheduled airlines should be bonded like charter aircraft to provide consumer protection.
* A major national hub airport is essential. Regional services need to be able to feed into it. While Regional airports will develop more point to point services they still need to be able to connect with other services through a London hub.
* The Government must define what it means by a sustainable aviation policy. It must set out the framework "where the amount we fly does not jeopardise environmental or economic goals".
* The Committee does not believe it is feasible to impose a fuel tax.
* The Government must pursue the development of an international climate change emissions trading scheme for aviation.
* A shortage of runway capacity can, through stacking and fuel wasting, harm the environment. Extra capacity should be used to improve operations so that environmental effects are reduced. Government guidance is needed.
* In the longer term radical changes in aircraft design will reduce the environmental effects of aviation. Investment must be encouraged through international action on standards and regulations to provide incentives.
* Any expansion of night flights must not compromise noise protection standards. It may be necessary to promote a dedicated airport for freight.
* There is "scope" for international regulation to set maximum noise levels. Airports should be given the statutory power to fine aircraft that fly off-track. Local Plans should ensure that residential areas are separated from noise sources, there should be local agreements about noise limits, noise insulation and compensation should be adequate. Penalties for breaking noise limits should be used for the benefits of local communities. Airports should set key environmental indicators. More research is needed on the effects of the number of flights (presumably as opposed to average noise levels).
* There is an immediate need for Air Quality assessments that are soundly based.
* To develop a new airport on a greenfield site would have too big an environmental impact. This applies to both Cliffe and to any off-shore site.
* The Government should:
Make the best use of existing facilities.
Expand existing airports on a case by case basis.
Dismiss the construction of new airports on greenfields.
* BAA is criticised for not having a definite expansion policy and for telling the Terminal 5 inquiry that a third Heathrow runway would be unacceptable, and now changing their minds.
* The CAA is criticised for not having promoted any plans for airport expansion in the past, and for quarrelling with the Competition Commission over the single till.
* BAA is criticised for being a monopoly owner of all three London airports. The Committee wants the Government to break this up or to regulate it. The Government should play a leading role in airport expansion and needs to provide extra finance for infrastructure that is needed.
* Slot allocation needs reforming and the EU Commission is criticised for holding it up.
* Much advice is given on the UK and EU policies towards the ICAO, the proposals for a Transatlantic Common Aviation Area and for redrafting the Chicago Convention.
* There is an urgent need for further work on the Air Traffic Control implications of expansion and whether NATS can cope in its present form.
* It is vital that Regional services to Heathrow and Gatwick and other Crown dependencies are retained. The Government should consider designating some routes with a Public Service Order. BA are criticised for threatening to cut such services in order to release slots for more profitable ones.
* Regional aid and the development of regional air services should be consistent and cohesive.
* When the Policy is decided the Government must include explanations and advice of the issues of infrastructure, zoning, housing, schools etc.
* Good road and rail links are essential and the airport authority should make significant financial contributions, but the Government should finance the links with the wider transport network.
* A dedicated freight airport may be needed to avoid too much night noise nuisance.
* The question of developing feeder airports to a main hub rather than expanding the hub should be considered, e.g. Northolt (Heathrow) and Redhill (Gatwick). Such existing airports could act as a regional London airport and passengers could be rapidly transported to Heathrow or Gatwick. Such a system could be in operation quite quickly while a new runway would take 10 - 15 years to build.
There are some interesting ideas and criticisms. What is missing are ideas as to how demand could be managed. How do you persuade people that their "Right to Fly "has to be limited? Virtually no mention of Stansted. Surely the arguments against building an airport on a greenfield site should also apply to a plan to double the size of an existing airport into a greenfield area!
17 July 2003
DOES BAA WANT EMISSION CHARGES?
BAA has responded to the Government's consultation on the Economic Instruments of Aviation
The Company agrees that all industries should cover their "Known and Verified" external costs. It wants a range of measures to achieve this, and an end to Air Passenger Duty, which they say does nothing to motivate improved environmental performance.
BAA want "smart economic instruments" to incentivise improved environmental performance and prevent damage to the environment rather than meeting the costs of the damage. The right measures would reduce aviation's negative impacts at source.
This is why the company is helping to develop an international emissions trading scheme to help reduce climate change, and also supporting congestion charging to fund public transport access to airports.
The suggestions are somewhat blunted by the insistence that any charges should not disadvantage UK aviation, and once again BAA claims that the industry pays for its own infrastructure and receives virtually no subsidy as do other methods of public transport. Presumably cheap fuel, the absence of tax, is not regarded as a subsidy!
The basic idea is a good one. Until aircraft design is able to reduce both CO2 and nitrogen oxides emissions, as well as noise, the damage to our environment and to our health will continue to increase as long as air traffic increases. The problem is that no one has yet manufactured an aircraft capable of exhibiting improvements in all these emissions. The temptation is for airlines to press for fuel efficiency as this saves money, and it also saves CO2, but not nitrogen oxides. Quieter aircraft have been promoted mostly by Government and international agreements setting limits on noise emissions and excluding chapter 2 aircraft from UK airports. There are no such measures in force to coerce airlines into reducing NOx emissions, though the present EU Air Quality Directive has made the industry consider the problem of poor air quality round airports. The recent consultation exercise has highlighted the fact that all three London airports will have serious problems if they expand.
What has BAA done about it? They have carried out their own assessment of the situation at Heathrow, supported by the main user BA, and claim to have found that not only is the situation not as bad as the Government's consultants prophesied, but that far more of the pollution is coming from the local traffic. Whose responsibility? Naturally, they say, the local Council!
This is exactly what was said in the environmental impact assessment carried out by BAA for the Stansted expansion up to 25 mppa. They found that the air quality in two areas around the airport would not meet the EU Directive. The Local Authority would be responsible for dealing with the situation was the conclusion.
This is not the attitude that suggests a great urge on the part of BAA to really push for an effective local emissions tax on polluting aircraft, or a concerted drive to further the development of more sustainable aircraft. To date it seems that the manufacturers are willing but it is the airlines who pay for the planes, who have to be persuaded. If BAA is really prepared to put efforts into promoting cleaner aircraft then they will have the full support of very many people. They must start by admitting that their activities cause the problem and that they cannot either refine it away in a new computer programme, or put the responsibilities onto the Local Authority. Why not introduce an emissions charge now on dirty aircraft as well as on noisy ones? BAA claim that business is expanding with new budget airlines flying from Stansted. Now is the time to set up a pilot scheme - where more fitting than at the Airport we all hope (except BAA) will remain "The Airport in the Countryside"?
17 July 2003
MORE NEWS ABOUT NOISE
FROM THE DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT
New Law on Managing Aircraft Noise
Aviation Minister Tony McNulty has announced a new procedure for the management of aircraft noise at the UK's busiest airports.
New regulations will mean that when plans to deal with noise problems at major airports are being drawn up, the following measures will have to be taken into account:
* The use of modern, quieter aeroplanes
* Using procedures to reduce operational noise (in other words optimising the use of Air Traffic Management procedures so that aircraft are flown as quietly as possible, consistent with safe operation)
* The effect of land-use planning and management policies in preventing or limiting noise sensitive development around airports
* Restricting, or possibly banning, aircraft from operating.
The Regulations will come into force on 6 August 2003 and implement EU legislation into UK law.
The EU Directive and new Regulations:
* Are designed to ensure that consistent procedures governing the introduction of new noise-related operating restrictions at airports are established across the European Union.
* Will initially apply to our eight busiest airports plus London and Belfast City airports.
* Do not require action to counter noise to be taken but set out a process that must be followed where such action is being contemplated.
* Put in place a framework within which a 'balanced approach' to managing aircraft noise can be implemented on an airport-by-airport basis.
WE AWAIT THE DETAILS OF THE REGULATIONS!
The phrase "do not require action to counter noise..." is a little worrying.
9 July 2003
NO RELIEF FROM NIGHT NOISE:
THE EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS REVERSES THE
A majority of the Judges decide that Heathrow Night Flights are necessary for the
GRAND CHAMBER JUDGMENT IN THE CASE OF
HATTON AND OTHERS v. THE UNITED KINGDOM
The European Court of Human Rights has today delivered at a public hearing its judgement in the case of Hatton and Others v. the United Kingdom (application no. 36022/97). The Court held
* By twelve votes to five that there had been no violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life and home) of the European Convention on Human Rights; and
* By sixteen votes to one that there had been a violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy).
The Court held, by fifteen votes to two, that the finding of a violation constituted in itself sufficient just satisfaction for any damage sustained by the applicants. Unanimously, it awarded the applicants 50,000 euros for costs and expenses.
1. Principal Facts
The eight applicants, all British citizens, live or lived near Heathrow Airport, London. They are Ruth Hatton, born in 1963 and living in East Sheen; Peter Thake, born in 1965 and living in Hounslow; John Hartley, born in 1948 and living in Richmond; Philippa Edmunds, born in 1954 and living in East Twickenham; John Cavalla, born in 1925 who, from 1970 to 1996, lived in Isleworth; Jeffray Thomas, born in 1928 and living in Kew; Richard Bird, born in 1933 and living in Windsor; and Tony Anderson, born in 1932 and living in Touchen End.
Before October 1993 the noise caused by night flying at Heathrow had been controlled through restrictions on the total number of take-offs and landings; but after that date, noise was regulated through a system of noise quotas, which assigned each aircraft type a "Quota Count" (QC); the noisier the aircraft the higher the QC. This allowed aircraft operators to select a greater number of quieter aeroplanes or fewer noisier aeroplanes, provided the noise quota was not exceeded. The new scheme imposed these controls strictly between 11.30 p.m. and 6 a.m. with more lenient "shoulder periods" allowed between 11 and 11.30 p.m. and between 6 and 7 a.m.
Following an application for judicial review brought by a number of local authorities affected, the scheme was found to be contrary to a statutory provision which required that a precise number of aircraft be specified, as opposed to a noise quota. The Government therefore included a limit on the number of aircraft movements allowed at night. A second judicial review found that the Government's consultation exercise concerning the scheme had been conducted unlawfully and in March and June 1995 the Government issued further consultation papers. On 16 August 1995 the Secretary of State for Transport announced that the details of the new scheme would be as previously announced. The decision was challenged unsuccessfully by the local authorities.
2. Procedure and Composition of the Court
The application was lodged with the European Commission of Human Rights on 6 May 1997 and transmitted to the Court on 1 November 1998. It was declared admissible on 16 May 2000.
In its Chamber judgement in the case, delivered on 2 October 2001, the Court held, by five votes to two, that there had been a violation of Article 8 of the Convention, and, by six votes to one, that there had been a violation of Article 13. Under Article 41 (just satisfaction) each applicant was awarded 4,000 pounds sterling (GBP) for non-pecuniary damage and GBP 70,000 for costs and expenses.
On 19 December 2001 the Government requested that the case be referred to the Grand Chamber and on 27 March 2002 the panel of the Grand Chamber accepted that request. A hearing was held on 13 November 2002.
Judgment was given by a Grand Chamber of 17 judges, composed as follows:
Luzius Wildhaber (Swiss), President
Jean-Paul Costa (French)
Georg Ress (German)
Giovanni Bonello (Maltese)
Elisabeth Palm (Swedish)
Ireneu Cabral Barreto (Portuguese)
Riza Türmen (Turkish)
Viera Stránická (Slovakian)
Volodymyr Butkevych (Ukrainian)
Bostjan Zupancic (Slovenian)
Nina Vajic (Croatian)
Snejana Botoucharova (Bulgarian)
Anatoli Kovler (Russian)
Vladimiro Zagrebelsky (Italian)
Elisabeth Steiner (Austrian)
Stanislav Pavlovschi (Moldovan), judges
Sir Brian Kerr, ad hoc judge
and also Paul Mahoney, Registrar.
3. Summary of the Judgment
The applicants alleged that Government policy on night flights at Heathrow airport gave rise to a violation of their rights under Article 8 of the Convention and that they were denied an effective domestic remedy for this complaint, contrary to Article 13 of the Convention.
Decision of the Court
Article 8 of the Convention
In accordance with its supervisory function, the question before the Court was whether, in implementing the 1993 policy on night flights at Heathrow airport, a fair balance had been struck between the competing interests of the individuals affected by the night noise and the community as a whole. Under Article 8 § 2 of the Convention, restrictions on the right to respect for private and family life are permitted in the interests of the economic well-being of the country and for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. It was therefore legitimate for the Government to have taken into consideration the economic interests of the airline operators and other enterprises and the economic interests of the country as a whole.
In previous cases in which environmental issues had given rise to violations of the Convention, the national authorities had failed to comply with some aspect of domestic law. In the present case, however, the policy on night flights had been found to be compatible with domestic law. Environmental protection had to be taken into account by Governments in acting within their margin of appreciation and by the Court in its review of that margin, but it would be inappropriate for the Court to adopt a special approach to environmental protection by referring to a special status of environmental human rights.
The Court noted that the introduction of the 1993 scheme was a general measure, rather than a particular one aimed specifically at the applicants. The State therefore had to be left a wider choice as to the various ways by which it could fulfil its obligation under Article 8 to give due consideration to the particular interests affected. The Court noted that there were difficulties in establishing whether the 1993 scheme had actually led to an increase in night noise and was unable to reach any firm conclusions on that point. However, there was nothing to suggest that the authorities' decision to introduce a scheme based on the quota-count system was as such incompatible with Article 8.
Regarding the economic interests which conflicted with the desirability of limiting or halting night flights, the Court considered it reasonable to assume that the night flights contributed at least to a certain extent to the general economy. It could be inferred from the studies commissioned by the Government on the economic value of night flights that there was a link between flight connections in general and night flights, and it could readily be accepted that there was an economic interest in maintaining a full service to London from distant airports. It was very difficult to draw a clear line between the interests of the aviation industry and the economic interests of the country as a whole. Airlines were subject to substantial limitations on their freedom to operate, however, including the night restrictions which applied at Heathrow. The 1993 scheme had subsequently been modified, moreover, to restrict operators further.
A further relevant factor in assessing whether a fair balance had been struck was the availability of measures to mitigate the effects of aircraft noise generally. The applicants did not contest that the house prices in the relevant areas had not been adversely affected by the night noise. Since only a limited number of people had been adversely affected by the scheme (2 to 3% according to a 1992 sleep study), the fact that they could move elsewhere without financial loss was significant in assessing its overall reasonableness.
With regard to the procedural aspect of the case, the Government had consistently monitored the situation and the 1993 scheme had been preceded by a series of investigations and studies carried out from as early as 1962. The new measures introduced under the scheme had been announced to the public by way of a consultation paper published in January 1995. The applicants could have made any representations they felt appropriate and challenged subsequent decisions if their representations had not been taken into account.
Accordingly, the Court found that the authorities had not overstepped their margin of appreciation by failing to strike a fair balance. It concluded that there had been no violation of Article 8.
The question to be addressed by the Court was whether the applicants had had a remedy at national level to enforce their Convention rights. It was clear, as noted by the Chamber, that the scope of review by the domestic courts had been limited at the material time to examining whether the authorities had acted irrationally, unlawfully or manifestly unreasonably (classic English public-law concepts). Prior to the entry into force of the Human Rights Act 1998, the courts had not been able to consider whether the claimed increase in night flights represented a justifiable limitation on the right to respect for the private and family lives or the homes of those who lived near Heathrow Airport. The Court accordingly held that there had been a violation of Article 13
Judges Costa, Ress, Türmen, Zupancic and Steiner expressed a joint dissenting opinion and Sir Brian Kerr expressed a dissenting opinion, both of which are annexed to the judgement.
9 July 2003
MORE ON NOISE
Mon, 07 Jul 03 House of Commons - Written Question
The following question, regarding Aircraft Noise, was tabled by Dr Vincent Cable and answered by Tony McNulty.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to change the measurement criteria for aircraft noise in the UK to correspond to those of the World Health Organisation. 
Mr. McNulty: WHO noise guideline figures are given in terms of equivalent continuous sound level (dBA Leq) and of the sound event peak (dBA Lmax). Leq is already the established metric for averaging aircraft noise, as recommended in the planning guidance note PPG 24. Lmax and SEL (which takes account of event duration as well as peak level) are also extensively used in describing individual noise events.
In due course, noise contours will also be produced for aircraft noise and for other sources in accordance with the metrics, again based on Leq, prescribed by EU Directive 2002/49/EC.
ANOTHER WRITTEN QUESTION ON NOISE
The following question, regarding Aircraft Noise, was tabled by Dr Vincent Cable and answered by Tony McNulty.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) published in the last two years on the impact of different aircraft noise levels on those affected. 
Mr. McNulty: The Department for Transport commissioned a study into attitudes to noise from civil aircraft sources in England in November 2001; it is expected to report towards the end of next year.
This major study was commissioned following three earlier, smaller-scale studies commissioned by DETR into the effects of noise specifically at night: 'Adverse Effects of Night-Time Aircraft Noise' (CAA R&D 9964); 'Aircraft noise and sleep~1999 UK Trial Methodology Study' (Flindell et al.) and 'Perceptions of Aircraft Noise, Sleep and Health' (Diamond et al.) all published during 2000.
Comment: Surely the Government hasn't already decided not to make any changes? No thoughts of Lden? Special measurements in Rural Areas? No lowering of annoyance levels to more realistic WHO limits?
7 July 2003
THE IPPR CONFERENCE ON SUSTAINABLE AVIATION
Several SSE members attended this important conference, held on 3rd July 2003
Summary & observations by Ken McDonald
Sustainable Aviation: Is the Sky the Limit?
It was disappointing that both Alistair Darling and Brenda Dean of Freedom to Fly did not
The DfT did at least send a substitute, the new Aviation Minister, Tony McNulty, MP for Harrow. Somewhat encouraging that he did stay long enough to hear the presentation by Tony Grayling on the IPPR's report, and also to give responses to a number of questions. He welcomed the IPPR document and all mature debate.
Tony McNulty very much followed the Consultation script in his opening address. He subsequently stated that this was his debut after only 2 weeks in the job, and that he was in listening mode. He seemed to have an open mind. His response to my question about the sustainability of the £15bn tourism trade deficit, growing on the back of low cost airlines, was that it was a factor that must be considered. He gave similarly encouraging / brush off (depending on your level of cynicism) responses to other questions.
Here are some key or interesting points from the speakers. I don't claim to have noted them all, and may have excluded repeats or principles that are already widely known:
Tony McNulty, MP, Aviation Minister: Keynote address
* 140,000 responses to date.
* Compulsory Purchase Bill unlikely to become law before March 2004 - he seemed to think this legislation would be good news for everyone affected.
* Supported twin objectives of strong economy and quality of life.
* No further development is an option.
See full speech below
Maurice Flanagan, Emirates Group: "An airline perspective"
* Much invested by airlines in technology.
* Aircraft development will reduce both noise and emissions.
* Restricting domestic travellers would also reduce foreign visitors.
* Airlines generally unprofitable - globally run up annual losses around US$12 billion per annum.
Tony Grayling, joint author of IPPR report on aviation: "Policies for sustainable aviation"
* Potentially by 2050 UK aviation would generate more CO2 than the total UK target.
* Aviation growth would be at the expense of other economic sectors in the regions through further concentration in the SE, or through exporting tourism overseas.
* Real danger of exporting jobs overseas and from regions to the SE.
* Subsidies were justified for local public transport on both social and environmental grounds, for rail on environmental grounds, but for aviation neither social nor environmental arguments applied.
* Implementation of principles of the 1998 Transport White Paper was overdue.
Government objectives should be for aviation to pay environmental costs, maximise use of existing runways, & encourage less environmentally-damaging forms of transport.
* IPPR proposals: auction take off and landing slots, road congestion charging around airports, international trading in CO2 pollution permits, Environment Agency to regulate noise and pollution around airports, presumption against infrastructure developments that damage environment or heritage sites.
* Social consequences of such actions: slower aviation growth, more jobs in less prosperous regions, better public transport.
* Re social classes: rich fly far more than the poor - don't subsidise the rich in order that some of the poor may then be able to fly - if it were a public policy to allow poor to fly that could be achieved by specific targetting.
Paul Hamblin, CPRE: "The case for constraint"
* Proposals: manage demand, end unfair tax exemptions, make polluter pay, slot auctions, segregate airport tills for aviation services and shopping complexes.
* Aviation demand management should be driven by principles of sustainable development, health, integrated transport, Rural White Paper, Treasury, Energy White Paper.
* Quoted 2001 tourism trade deficit £11bn, not the £15bn of 2002.
Harry Bush, CAA: "Efficient pricing of airport capacity"
* Aviation should bear full environmental costs, but so too should other sectors, such as domestic heating.
* Airports should grow only so far as commercially justified and able to be privately financed.
* Government should limit their involvement in regional airports.
* Seek to get maximum economic benefit per unit of environmental disbenefit - not elaborated, but a good point - the way to handle any limited resource.
* CAA have pressed for dual till, but this was not supported by Competition Commission.
* Slot allocation should be reformed, allowing for example trading and ownership by regional authorities, with auctions for slots at any new development.
* Government should press for progress by EU on slot proposals.
* CAA supports emissions trading.
Richard Brown, Eurostar: "A new era for high speed rail"
* 60% of passengers travelling London - Paris now use Eurostar and 40% London - Brussels.
* Part of high speed link from Channel Tunnel will open later this year, and full line to London will open 2007.
* The new 68mile track will have capacity for 6 trains per hour in each direction.
* Central London to central Paris then 2 hours 20 mins (2:55 now)
* Ebbsfleet to Paris 2 hours with ample parking at Ebbsfleet.
* Extensions to Schipol and Charles de Gaulle under way.
* Potential for extensions to Heathrow & STANSTED !
* Capacity 40mppa will remove need for one runway handling short haul traffic - at much lower local and global environmental cost.
* 2002: 7m passengers on Eurostar, 7m by air to present Eurostar destinations.
2030: 28m by Eurostar, 8m by air to extended range of Eurostar destinations.
* Any demand limitation policy decision is for Government / society to make, not the aviation industry.
Mike Toms, BAA Group Planning & Regulatory Affairs Director: "An airport perspective"
* SE air travel 1/3 leisure + 1/3 business + 1/3 to visit family & friends - i.e mostly not leisure.
* Money not spent on air travel will be spent on other activities that may also have an economic or environmental cost.
* Limited scope for switch from air to rail - perhaps only 5% of journeys.
* Chicago Convention very difficult to change.
* Aviation receives no government support for infrastructure, as do road and rail travel.
* Air travel uses less fuel than single occupancy cars.
* Future projected rate of growth is only half the historical rate.
* Number of people affected by air pollution is overstated.
* BAA actively supports emissions trading.
* No new runways should be built without adequate surface access.
* In 1990s, the three listed buildings affected by Stansted expansion were taken down carefully and re-erected elsewhere.
* Local Authorities have responsibility re air quality around airports.
Colin Beesley, Rolls Royce "Perspective of an industry":
* Environment issues - Noise, air quality, climate change, resource use.
* Sources - Fuel Aircraft, Engines.
* Rolls Royce improvements in last 30 years: Fuel burn - 35% from engines; Noise - 75%; Weight - 30%; smell & smoke virtually eliminated.
* Average aircraft in the UK fleet will be 34% more efficient in 2012 than 1990.
* Law of diminishing returns applies to fuel efficiency as there has long been pressure for improvement.
* Engine design trade-offs need to be understood by policy makers - e.g. noise vs emissions.
* Application of a radiative forcing index in emissions trading or taxation could lead to design changes to reduce financial penalty that actually worsen climate change.
* Not optimistic about finding an alternative fuel source - expects aviation to be the last industry to switch to alternative fuels.
Tim Johnson, Aviation Environment Federation "A community and environment perspective":
* Passenger growth of 4-5% pa environmentally unsustainable
* Growth in Annual Tonne Kilometres (ATK) even worse, 7-8% pa, suggesting people not only fly more often but also further.
* Quoted WHO noise guideline as 55 dBA, not the 50 dBA which SSE has quoted.
* Short term goal - to prevent any increase in greenhouse gas emissions and the number of people affected by noise and adverse air quality.
* Long term goal - to reduce impact of aircraft noise and emissions compared to today.
* Growth in air transport should be linked to satisfying these criteria.
* Targets of ACARE (Advisory Council for Aerospace Research in Europe):
* Reduce CO2 by 50% per passenger kilometre by 2020
* Reduce perceived noise by half by 2020
* Reduce NOx emissions by 80% by 2020
* Minimise the industry's impact on global environment by 2020
* Policy tools available to Governments:
* Economic / regulatory instruments
* Environmental limits
* Potential for modal substitution, e.g. air to rail
* Sydney noise maps an example of possible better ways to define environmental problems.
* Need to improve trust through closer links between industry and community groups.
* Need for an environmental regulator and/or mediator independent from DfT.
* Sustainable aviation policy must include:
* Environmental targets, especially in respect of climate change, and a strategy for how they will be
* Application of economic instruments
* Clear framework for addressing local impacts.
Derek Osborn, Sustainable Development Commission, chairman for most of conference:
* Good that environmental problems are now widely appreciated.
* People in DfT and Treasury seem genuinely open to ideas.
* Announced the publication yesterday of their response to the Government's consultation on Economic Instruments. This is available from:
* Saw SDA role to ensure that Treasury initiative reaches a conclusion.
* Concluded that all sides accepted the need for aviation to bear external costs - the only debate was how much.
Tony McNulty MP - Speech at the Institute of Public Policy Research's
Sustainable Aviation "Is the Sky the Limit?" Conference
Reported by James Drewer
1. I would like to thank IPPR together with Emirates, English Nature and First Great Western for organising this timely conference on Sustainable Aviation and start by passing on the Secretary of State,s best wishes for a successful, informative and productive day.
2. Everyone here will know that the Airports consultation closed last Monday. We have had over 140,000 responses and an intense public debate is underway.
3. A key aim of the recent consultation process has been to ask all parties to examine the wide range of issues concerning the future of aviation - rather than focus on their specific interests, specialisations and concerns.
4. So today, one thing I need to stress is balance. We need to balance maximising economic and social benefits of air transport with minimising its environmental impacts.
5. In essence, we are approaching some very difficult decisions about the future of air travel. But they need to be tackled. Too often long-term decisions about transport have been put off.
6. Later this year, we will publish an air transport White Paper. The paper will provide a policy framework for aviation over the next 30 years or so. In particular, it will give a clear steer on the Government,s preferences on whether and where any major airport development should take place. It will provide the background for any future planning applications from airport operators.
7. And perhaps the real challenge of the White Paper will be to make air travel sustainable. It will also need to be understood within the context of the Government,s planning reform agenda.
8. But let me start by putting this in context. Just as it has done in the past, transport has a very direct effect on the day-to-day reality of people,s lives. It,s played a critical part in social and economic change ^ it will continue to do so.
9. For example, the Victorians created the railway system that enabled people to travel distances that weren,t possible before.
10. The railways couldn,t have happened without the industrial revolution ^ but equally, without developments in how people travelled there couldn,t have been such a massive change in the way people lived and worked.
11. Something very similar is happening now. Developments in transport, communications and information technologies are together transforming our life.
12. People in the remotest of locations can order a wider range of goods now than at any time in the past thanks to the Internet.
13. But they couldn,t get these products without the changes in transport, which can bring items large and small from all over the world to our homes in a matter of hours. It is air travel that,s helping to open up such possibilities.
14. We,re one of the largest economies in the world. And not only does aviation make a major contribution to our economy, but it,s also is a big UK success story.
15. The UK has had one of the most successful aviation industries in the world. Strong competition has created an industry that focuses on the needs of its customers and competes successfully internationally.
16. We have the largest charter sector in Europe. Our no frills carriers are making airlines across Europe more competitive and responsive to customer needs.
17. And at Heathrow we have a world class hub airport. More international passengers transfer through this airport than through any other airport in the world. To put that in perspective one in six of the world,s international passengers start or finish their journey at an airport in the South East of England.
18. We,re part of an increasingly global economy. Britain,s economy depends fundamentally on international trade. And today,s international trade depends heavily on aviation.
19. Britain,s economic strengths are in people-based businesses and knowledge-based businesses. These are precisely the businesses that depend heavily on air travel.
20. We want to get our business executives, as well as our goods to markets across the world, and quickly. In 2001, 6.3 million business trips from the UK were made by air.
21. The more we become prosperous, the more we want choices to travel ^ in this country and across the globe. And demand for air travel is expected to grow.
22. It,s increased sixfold in since 1970. Half the population flew at least once in 2001. And, in terms of financial value, air takes a third of the goods we export ^ that,s £60 billion a year.
23. But the increasing air travel ^ as with other transport ^ affects the environment. It affects noise, air quality and road traffic. All of these are serious concerns for people who live and work near airports.
24. And across the globe, planes discharge green^house gases and particles into the atmosphere. So, air travel affects climate change.
25. We have to ask ourselves how we can plan for the needs of generations to come. How can we make the most of the benefits air travel can bring and to limit the harm it can do?
26. Of course we can,t fully anticipate how our lives will change over the long term. But the Government is clear about what our objectives should be.
27. Aviation should be entirely consistent with our environmental and social objectives.
28. And as we look ahead we must keep these twin objectives in the forefront of our minds. Good quality of life in the future depends not just on a strong economy but on a good living environment too.
29. Of course there are tensions between these objectives. Over the coming months we will seek to reconcile these and reach decisions. Whatever we decide, there will be no shortage of critics. But doing nothing would help no-one and be the worst possible option.
30. This is not [as some critics would have it] about 'predict and provide' - predicting the potential demand and then providing the capacity to meet that demand. But we do need to plan ahead to provide people and businesses with certainty so that they can take informed decisions. And we need to create a sustainable framework within which air travel can develop.
31. We are looking at all the options and we consulted on a wide range, one of which assumed no further capacity in the SouthEast.
32. Our intention has been to offer a range of alternative options, both on how much capacity should be provided, and on alternative locations for capacity development.
33. Remember, there were three main questions in our consultation.
34. The first was how much capacity, if any, is needed. The second question was where any capacity should best be located. And the third question was about how to control the environmental impacts of aviation.
35. As technology develops planes have become more fuel-efficient and emissions and noise from individual planes has reduced significantly.
36. Take noise. New technology, and measures that constrain aircraft, has meant that noise at many of our major airports has reduced significantly in recent years.
37. At Heathrow, for example the number of people experiencing significant noise nuisance is less than a fifth of what it was in the 1970s.
38. With the right encouragement, technology can make more improvements. We,re doing this already with cars. We,re providing the right financial incentives and encouragement for industry to develop ultra fuel-efficient cars. The same can happen for aviation.
39. For example, European aerospace industry leaders have set themselves a research target of a 50% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020.
40. I'm in no doubt that air travel must meet all its environmental and social costs. The polluter should pay.
41. The issue for us now, as the Chancellor set out last November, is what,s the most appropriate set of economic incentives to make sure there,s an efficient environmental outcome.
42. Other controls are already imposed by my Department; for example departure noise limits, are set for the designated airports. And other airports have comparable controls of their own.
43. There are noise preferential routes to avoid overflight of built-up areas wherever possible. And a new Code of Practice published last year promotes Continuous Descent Approaches to help minimise the inevitable noise impact.
44. At the local level there are a number of further things we could do. Indeed, we,ve made some proposals in the consultation documents. These are of course in addition to the existing statutory entitlements.
45. We,ve invited views on whether airport noise insulation schemes should be extended to cover other buildings such as schools and hospitals; whether there should be schemes for purchasing homes or helping with relocation expenses when noise is a significant problem; and for compensating people not legally entitled to noise insulation.
46. We,ll also be very interested to see what additional measures emerge from the consultation.
47. In some cases, parallel action at specific sites ^ for example to minimise loss of habitats, or the introduction of employment and training packages - could help to strike an acceptable balance between the benefits and disbenefits of further growth.
48. We also have to strike a balance between different needs in different parts of the UK. Local economies depend on good air links both for domestic travel and to reach destinations further afield.
49. Connections to a major hub airport will remain essential. But there,s clearly scope for major regional airports like Manchester and Edinburgh to develop more direct services.
50. Improvements we,re making to rail travel will make a difference, particularly with the West Coast Main Line, the Midland Main Line and the CTRL.
51. Rail carries nearly 6 million passengers a year between London and the North East and North West. But rail,s main strength is in city centre to city centre journeys, The domestic air market is different. It caters for many people who either want to connect onto another flight, or to get to somewhere very close to the airport.
52. The numbers are striking. There are = million air passengers from Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle to London. Only a tenth of those -^a mere 77,000 passengers ^ were making city centre to city centre journeys.
53. Growth in the aviation industry will need strategies to tackle the global impacts, including climate change. And we need to control and mitigate the local effects on communities living and working near airports.
54. I don,t see this exclusively as a fight between the aviation industry and the environment.
55. I see it as creating a balanced, sustainable framework for the future of aviation in the UK. Sustainable aviation is not a contradiction in terms ^ it is a prize that we can achieve if we work together. It is the prize that is firmly within our grasp. This is the challenge we now face in devising policies for the next 30 years in the White Paper. It is a challenge the Government will rise to.
5 July 2003
BAA SEMINAR - NOISE AT STANSTED AIRPORT
BAA held the 5th in a series of seminars on noise from the airport, intended to involve the community and acquaint local people with what BAA was doing to manage noise. It was opened by the Managing Director Terry Morgan. He listed out the action being taken to reduce noise and the statistics showing that policies were being successful. The Flight Evaluation Unit had a full-time officer and a Noise Tracking Working Group had been set up. Members of STACC and others from the community were involved. He reminded us that airlines now supplied 100 scheduled destinations from Stansted, 40 more if charter aircraft are included. Stansted fined airlines whose planes exceeded the maximum permitted noise level on taking off and also those who did not keep to the noise preferential routes. The number of infringements had fallen significantly in the last 4 years. In addition there was a voluntary code requiring planes to follow a continuous descent path when possible, airlines had cooperated and noise was much reduced.
Andrew Burke, from the London Air Traffic Control Centre, where he is Head of Terminal Control Operational Support, described the Vectoring Trial
This had been started after an MP, David Jamieson, had suggested that day time planes should not vector off NPRs until they had reached a height of 4000 feet, rather than the present 3000. (4000 is already the rule at night). It was decided to carry out a 4 months operational trial. After the first review in February it was decided to extend it for a full 6 months. It is now to continue permanently.
It was restricted to the NPRs leading east and south-east, CLNR, DVRR from runway 23 and CLNS and DVRS from runway 05. It means that aircraft taking off will not leave these NPRs by day or night until they have reached a height of 4000 feet. It is generally believed that aircraft at 4000 feet do not cause annoyance to those on the ground, unless they are very noisy. The noisiest planes (except military ones) are now not allowed to use the airport.
It is not possible to implement this improvement for those living under the other runways. This is because a main aircraft crossing 10 miles wide passes south of the airport and there could be difficulties if planes from these NPRs were vectoring off at 4000 feet. Stansted itself only handles planes until they reach 3000 feet.
In addition, there are other potential conflicts, Heathrow departures leaving for Clacton route, as well as Luton, and those from London City heading North, not to mention Stansted arrivals from west of Bishop's Stortford heading for runway 23.
(Our Comment: Let us hope that Alistair Darling realises this - how can NATs accommodate all those extra planes if 1000 feet makes all that difference? This question was raised later in the Question and Answer session. NATs commented that it was possible to carry out modelling that would predict future air capacity if air traffic expanded at any airport - it was a very complex exercise if all the consultation options had to be included. It would be an essential assessment when the Government had decided on their final proposed options in the coming White Paper.)
John Williams, Head of Public Affairs, Stansted Airport reported on the Noise and Track Keeping Working Group
He described the work of the Group and its constitution, that included community representatives. He listed out all the current measures intended to reduce noise levels, all of which are well known to SSE members. It would appear that the noise penalties have been helpful in securing cooperation with airlines, as well as landing charges designed to encourage quieter aircraft which, it was hoped, could be extended to deter aircraft with higher emissions. Improvement could also be expected in the phase out of the hush-kitted chapter 3 aircraft.
(Our Comment: However efficient these measures are nothing can alter the fact that aeroplanes make a loud noise and, when they fly overhead, they create annoyance, and with higher noise levels, the evidence is that there will be some more permanent physical and mental effects. Stansted staff may do their best, and have achieved many improvements, but they are all cancelled out as air traffic increases.)
THE BACKGROUND TO POLICY INCLUDING NIGHT RESTRICTIONS
Roberta McWatt, from the DfT then spoke about possible future changes in noise legislation and, of immediate importance, the current consultation on Night Flying Restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. The last date for comments is July 11th.
Future policy is being influenced from a number of directions, EU obligations, the UN, as well as international and bilateral agreements. The UK Aviation policy is being reviewed following the recent consultation exercise, and the EU Court of Human Rights is considering the Heathrow Night Noise compensation claim. A decision is expected on the 8th July.
Two EU Directives have been passed, the first, 2002/30EC, is concerned with operational restrictions at EU airports designed to reduce noise. The second, 2002/49/EC prescribes the assessment and management of environmental noise and relates to all sources of noise
The first describes the measures that should be taken to reduce noise, and notes that harmonisation of measures across the EU would reduce the likelihood of airport competition reducing the possible benefits. Noise restriction measures should be based on the ICAO certificated noise levels. It requires assessments of additional noise improvement measures to be complete by 2004, and how these will relate to the requirements of the second Directive by 2006.
The second Directive aims to harmonise noise measurements and assessments and wants to see noise contours produced for major connurbations as well as airports. It does not introduce limit values though that may come later. It does require action plans to counter noise by July 2008. It also proposes a new way of measuring noise, Lden, in place of LAeq and Lnight. Lden is devised to take account of day, evening and night noise. Its advantage is that it takes more account of evening noise though whether one measurement can express the different effects of day and night noise is debatable.
This proposal, to use Lden, will have to be looked at in the UK, all existing contour maps are expressed in LAeq
In addition, a Regulatory Impact Assessment will be required. This has to consider both the issues and objectives, with a risk assessment and an analysis of the benefits, including the costs. There has to be consultation, notably with small businesses, and the results must be reported. The report must include also proposals for monitoring and enforcement and a Declaration to be signed by the Minister, presumably to ensure that all the EU Governments are bound by their own report's findings.
The UK Night Flying Restrictions Consultation
This proposes that the present arrangements, due to finish in 2004 ( after a review as to future measures) should be extended until the end of 2005, with the Quotas and Movements limits left at the 2004 levels. This would allow more time for the effects of the EU Directives to be considered and the conclusions of the Human Rights Court. In addition the consultation asks some preliminary questions about the intended Review. Should the night restrictions be the same at all three airports? Should there be a specific Code of Practice for each airport? There are several other points that are raised in the document. There will though be a full consultation in due course before any permanent changes are proposed.
(Our Comment: There is very little time left to reply and those without the consultation document would need to borrow one or download it from the DfT website, www.aviation.dft.gov.uk Remember that for Stansted the Quota limit is raised for the year 2003 -2004 from last years level. The Movements limit remains the same.)
Comments must be sent to:
Department for Transport
Aviation Environmental Division 2
Great Minster House
76 Marsham Street
London. SW1P 4DR
Or email: email@example.com
If you wish to make comments on the future of the restriction system there are other reports that are helpful which can be downloaded from the CAA website : www.caa.co.uk/publications/search.asp (click on environment).
Note especially the Review of the Quota Count System. ERCD report 0204. Nov. 2002. Also the Quota Count Validation Study, ERCD Report 0205 April 2003.
These can be obtained (not free) from Documedia Solutions. 37 Windsor Street, Cheltenham, GL52 2DG (01242 283100)
3 July 2003
ALISTAIR DARLING GIVES EVIDENCE TO THE ENVIRONMENTAL AUDIT COMMITTEE
HE GIVES HIS VIEWS ON FUTURE DEMAND FOR AIR TRAVEL
James Drewer reports:
1 July 2003
The Environmental Audit Select Committee met in the afternoon to hear further evidence for its inquiry the Budget 2003 and Aviation.
Giving evidence was Secretary of State for Transport Alistair Darling.
Considering the comments of the many previous witnesses who had called for aviation to be taxed more heavily, Helen Clark pointed out that the sector has a bad reputation as a polluter. Mr Darling acknowledged that this is true, but insisted that addressing this requires global action. However, he warned against simply piling on taxes - as this would not only be politically difficult, but would also be likely to drive former air travellers onto the roads.
Colin Challen suggested that air passengers would be willing to accept a small rise in air fares to combat pollution - warning that the current trend of 2 per cent decline in fares per annum is not sustainable. Mr Darling pointed out that those who have argued for taxation have generally not called for a small rise.
Mr Challen suggested that extra charges and taxes could be introduced incrementally over a period of years - in order to manage expectations appropriately. Mr Darling warned that as people become better off, they will want to travel more. At the end of the year, following the current consultations, the Government will set its position out, the Secretary of State declared.
Mr Challen noted that the consultation is based on the assumption of annual growth in aviation until 2030, and he asked if this is sustainable. Mr Darling insisted that this is one of the questions under consideration in the consultation. 'The whole point of consulting is to say to people - what do you think? Have we got our assumptions right or have we got our assumptions wrong?'
Mr Challen hit back, arguing that it is legitimate to question the Government's premises - which state in the consultation document that the purpose of airports is to maximise economic benefits while 'trying' to minimise environmental harm. Mr Darling replied that the country as a whole will have to reach a decision on the economic importance of air travel - which is great - and balance this against the environmental damage it causes. It is necessary to reach a 'rounded view', Mr Darling argued.
Peter Ainsworth noted that many of his constituents were unaware that the consultation for the south east had closed yesterday, and asked if Mr Darling would continue to take letters for a few more days. Mr Darling stated that he would.
Mr Ainsworth asked if it was a possible outcome of the consultation that it might be found that there is no need for no new runway capacity. Mr Darling replied that he had previously confirmed that doing nothing was indeed an option. 'It is open to people to argue for doing nothing', he stated, adding however, 'given the pressures I can see, just saying this is a problem we don't have to deal with, doesn't seem like an option'. Mr Darling warned that he does not want to see aviation driven into a situation in years to come that road and rail are today, following a lack of planning and investment in the past.
Mr Ainsworth noted that there has been a policy of decoupling growth in road programmes from growth in the economy. Mr Darling suggested that this was not really the case, as there had been a slowdown in the rate of car numbers growth. Mr Ainsworth suggested that in the same way, there must be a limit to the number of holidays people want to take. Mr Darling replied that the traditional model of people taking on one holiday per year is changing, and he argued that 'one of the things we have to take a judgement on is whether the projections are correct'. Once this question has been answered, it remains to consider what must be done to accommodate that, he added.
Asked by Mr Ainsworth if the use of fiscal measures to control demand and supply are under consideration, Mr Darling confirmed that 'this is one of the things we are looking at'. Pointing to the failure of the Landfill Tax at a low level and the Government's subsequent decision to increase it, Mr Ainsworth asked why the latter option is not under consideration. Mr Darling noted that Labour has a commitment not to put VAT on public transport, but insisted once again that there is nothing ruled out at this stage.
Stressing the serious damage aviation does to the environment, Mr Ainsworth pressed the case for higher taxation. Mr Darling insisted that there are a number of ways in which the objective of controlling emissions can be achieved - and the Government's position will be set out in the White Paper. He denied Mr Ainsworth's charge that the Government is still working to a Predict and Provide model.
Malcolm Savidge sought assurances that domestic services will not be affected by any refusal of an additional runway at Heathrow. Mr Darling warned that campaigners on both sides of the debate will make claims to try and support their cases, but he acknowledged that if there is scarce runway space in the context of rising demand, there will indeed be consequences.
The environmentally friendly alternative to domestic flights is rail, Mr Savidge stated, asking if Mr Darling is concerned about the Strategic Rail Authority's lack of plans for the East Coast Main Line - noting the success of the Eurostar in reducing London to Paris and London to Brussels flights. Mr Darling agreed that rail has a role to play, pointing to the time being shaved off the travelling periods for West Coast Main Line destinations.
Sue Doughty noted that the lack of taxation of aviation is effectively a £9 billion subsidy, and she asked why aviation should not be taxed to generate revenue. Mr Darling replied that the Government is considering a number of options. Describing the term 'subsidy' as 'misleading', Mr Darling pointed out that airlines are taxed in line with international agreements - and he warned that a unilateral change in the tax regime would put British airlines at a 'huge disadvantage'. However, he restated the Government's commitment to controlling the pollution aviation generates.
Ms Doughty complained that Mr Darling's comments imply that he is portraying the Committee's position as trying to restrict people from taking holidays. Mr Darling replied that it is necessary to consider the practical implications of what the Committee is considering. 'A policy that is predicated on driving a certain number of people off the airways has its difficulties', he argued, insisting that other options must also be considered.
David Wright sought Mr Darling's view on the predictions made by the head of a budget airline interviewed by the Committee that airports would pay his airline to fly to their sites and that flights could be offered for free in future. Mr Darling questioned whether air travel can be sustainable on footfall alone - suggesting that Mr O'Leary was probably not considering the pollution issue.
Gregory Barker condemned Mr Darling's apparent attempt to misrepresent the Committee's position - particularly during an active consultation. The Committee is considering how best to manage growth in air travel, not 'how to drive people off the airways', he argued. Mr Darling replied that 'if you want to stop people flying, then be explicit about it'.
Mr Barker insisted that there is a fundamental difference between holding back future demand and preventing people from flying. Mr Darling denied this, adding once again that the Government is consulting because it needs to reach a settled view on the costs and benefits.
Ms Doughty suggested that one way of reducing pollution could be by using more efficiency aircraft - and this would be something in respect of which an emissions tax could be very useful. Mr Darling acknowledged this, and pointed once again to the consultation. However, he stressed the need for unanimous international agreement on any such regimes.
Mark Francois suggested that the consultation is flawed in its lack of emphasis on the disbenefits of aviation. Mr Darling replied that the Government is looking to provoke comment. Mr Francois pointed out that in balance of trade terms, tourism actually costs the UK more than it raises, and he argued that the Government should have acknowledged this. Mr Darling suggested that Mr Francois' position amounts to wishing to stop people from travelling.
Mr Francois attacked Mr Darling for continually making this point and refusing to address the environmental question. Mr Darling argued that the Government has deliberately decided to consult on the future of aviation, rather than just coming up with a White Paper. 'Inevitably in a consultation document you will raise some things and not others', he stated, insisting that it is open for people to tell the Government it is wrong. He denied paying lip service to the environmental issue, insisting that he cannot be definitive at this stage, because the consultation is still in progress.
Mr Francois accused Mr Darling of playing up the economic benefits and playing down the environmental damage of aviation. He asked who will pay for the new airport capacity, expressing concern about the prospect of public subsidy. Mr Darling insisted that the airports are almost all commercial operations, and will not be subsidised - apart from a number of regional Scottish airports, which are run by the Scottish Executive. 'I am not afraid of a robust debate, and neither should you be', he added.
Asked by Simon Thomas for his position on congestion charging, Mr Darling stated that London has its own particular needs and stressed the right of local authorities to install schemes if they so wish. However, he admitted that the Department is not being overwhelmed with requests. 'We can't simply seek to build our way out of the problems we face', he noted.
Mr Thomas argued that this was the same approach as the proposed taxation of aviation. Mr Darling denied this, insisting that the explicit aim of the London congestion charge is to reduce congestion, not to keep people out of London. Mr Thomas argued that the road pricing seeks to make people pay the cost of the environmental impact of their choices. Mr Darling insisted once again that the aim of congestion charging, and of increasing rail prices, is not to prevent people from travelling. He denied that the Ten Year Transport Plan seeks to reduce road use, arguing that it only seeks to reduce congestion.
Mr Darling declared once more that he does not rule out any policy, but solely wishes to make it clear that all the alternatives have their downsides.
Our Comment: Mr Darling is playing with words. How can road congestion be relieved without cutting the number of vehicles? The intention may not be to stop people from coming into London, and there are plenty of other ways to travel, though many would regard the private car, door to door, as the easist option, and many of these drivers do not need to use a car. Their choice is limited by having to pay a charge for that extra ease of travel. Maybe they will decide not to travel into London - they have not been prevented from travelling, but their choice has been limited, and for a good cause, to relieve London pollution and time wasting for those who have to use a car.
Alistair Darling appears to be using the same argument to justify meeting unconstrained demand from UK citizens for the freedom to fly as often as they wish. He suggests that two overseas holidays a year may become the norm. He does not appear to be concerned about the loss in the tourist balance sheet, or the fact that UK tourist resorts are losing business and jobs.
Raising the price of air travel to pay for environmental damage is not a congestion charge (though it may become one if air traffic management difficulties mount up) but the result could be the same - a number of people will decide to use alternative means of travel, or will decide to holiday in the UK. No one is stopping them travelling by coach or train. No one is suggesting we must build new railways so that travellers can be sure of a seat.
Coach fares compare favourably with even the cheap air fares, the journey may take longer, but when all the check in and out times are added to air travel the difference is not so great. Coach operators pay full taxes, lower if they use greener fuels. It is doubtful whether all the would be tourists will materialise, but , if they do, is it really much hardship if some can't get bookings whenever they want, and have to travel by other means that are environmentally and socially more desirable? All forms of activities are limited in capacity for a variety of reasons - why is aviation such a special case?
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