| SSE NEWS ARCHIVE - December 2003
27 December 2003
WE WISH YOU A MORE SUCCESSFUL 2004
The White Paper was a disappointment to us all, but the policies proposed are
unsustainable. So- thought, work, and action must
continue for as long as it takes.
was with great sadness that we learnt of the death of Peter Carter-Ruck, who has done so much to help the battle against Stansted expansion. He will be missed by all.
death was fully reported in the National press, here is the announcement from
the Essex - wide East Anglian Times:-
Libel lawyer dies
December 22, 2003 00:16
LIBEL lawyer Peter
Carter-Ruck has died aged 89, his daughter said.
said her father passed away peacefully in his sleep on Friday night after a
Mr Carter-Ruck's legal battles with satirical magazine Private Eye
and various national newspapers on behalf of a string of A-list clients made
him an iconic figure in Fleet Street, where he was both dreaded and respected.
In his time he
represented stars and public figures including Laurence Olivier, Spike
Milligan, Harold Wilson, Cary Grant, Lucian Freud, and Cecil Parkinson.
He set up Peter Carter-Ruck and Partners in 1982 but retired as a partner in 1996.
senior partner at the firm, today paid tribute to him as a man of "great
charm" with a dry sense of humour who was devoted to his family and his
"It's very sad for
us all," Mr Stephenson said.
"I worked very
closely with him for many years and learnt a great deal from him. He always set
the highest standards in terms of the service he gave to clients."
"It really was an
outstanding example of how to conduct litigation."
He added: "When he
was working with clients in stressful situations he had the ability to see the
"That made it a
pleasure to work with him."
He said Mr Carter-Ruck, who died at his home in Great Hallingbury,
Essex, had a "kind of love-hate relationship" with Private Eye despite his
repeated legal success against the satirical magazine.
"Underlying it was
a great deal of respect for him and his work," Mr Stephenson said.
Mr Carter-Ruck's wife Ann died around a year ago.
"They were devoted
to each and I'm sure that was a great loss," said Mr Stephenson.
"I know it was
very difficult for him."
In recent years Mr
Carter-Ruck had devoted much of his time to the
campaign to stop the expansion of nearby Stansted
announced earlier this week that it was backing plans for a new runway at
airport by 2011 or 2012.
More Local Press notices:
FROM THE EAST ANGLIAN TIMES.
New runway would destroy rich heritage
December 24, 2003 05:48
A PRESERVATION group
has warned the proposed expansion of Stansted Airport
would lead to the destruction of historic buildings and sites on an
But a spokesman for the
airport said where possible, important listed properties would be dismantled
and rebuilt outside the new boundaries.
The Society for the
Protection of Ancient Buildings
said in choosing Stansted Airport for the first phase
of airport expansion in the South-East, the Government had chosen the option
that would cause the maximum damage to the country's heritage.
It warned allowing a
new runway to be built at the Essex airport would lead to the destruction of 29
listed buildings and two scheduled monuments - Waltham Manor and The Grange.
A society spokesman
said: "Though the precise siting of the runway will
be up to the airport operator, the Government recognises that it will severely
damage the historic environment.
"The area around Stansted is rich in architectural history, including small
historic villages. Merely stating that these characteristics should be
preserved as much as possible is meaningless in the light of the widespread
development that will follow the airport's expansion."
English Heritage chief executive, Simon Thurley,
echoed the society's view and warned: "The expansion of Stansted
will have a serious effect on local heritage.
"This will be directly
through the loss of historic buildings and archaeology, but also indirectly and
in the longer term through the loss of overall amenity of historic towns and
"The damage will not
just be caused by the new runway itself, but also by the associated
infrastructure and development."
He added: "We remain
concerned about the apparent absence of systematic measures to manage demand
for future air travel.
"We will continue to
press for the maximum protection possible. Heritage is not just about visible
buildings and scheduled monuments, but also the whole of the historic landscape
and buried archaeology."
Airport spokesman said dismantling and rebuilding was an option for some of the
"When the original
terminal was built, nine buildings were dismantled and reassembled," he added.
"It is too early to be
precise about what will happen. But where possible, and where required, we will
look at moving listed properties. That is a clear and stated intention.
"It is still not 100%
certain what the exact land take will be, but the hard work has now begun in
terms of the detail."
Legal challenges planned for runway
December 22, 2003 00:15
East Anglian Times.
AS the reality of a
second runway at Stansted sinks in, pressure groups
and councils across Essex are now exploring every legal avenue to scupper the
The Stop Stansted Expansion campaign (SSE) has stated it is ready
for court action and to challenge the content of the aviation White Paper.
It is committed to
pursuing a challenge to a second Stansted runway
through legal, regulatory and planning routes, notably the UK and European
courts and authorities, as well as the European Commission.
"The phoney war is
over and now the real battle begins," said chairman
A spokesman said:
"SSE is ready for court action on other fronts, too, and stands ready to
challenge the content of the White Paper in other ways."
Areas the campaign will
be studying will include possible breaches of the EU air quality directive; the
fact major expansion of Stansted Airport has already
been considered by two separate public inquiries and a Royal Commission - and
always rejected because environmental costs greatly outweighed the benefits;
complaining to the Competition Authorities in the UK and in the EU on the
grounds BAA has a dominant position in the operation of airports in the south
east and is abusing its market dominance; or a judicial review.
constraints and other challenges would have to be overcome before a new runway
could be built at Stansted and there would inevitably
be a public inquiry to examine any application in detail.
A campaign spokesman
said: "What is clear, however, is that surface access and air quality
issues would be a major barrier to early development of an additional runway at
challenges on competition grounds are likely to be pursued both by SSE and the
aviation industry itself which would be very likely to prevent such
Essex County Council is
also currently examining the possibility of court action.
Tory leader Lord Hanningfield said: "We will be consulting lawyers to
examine the possibility of mounting a legal challenge to this proposal.
"The spacing of
the proposed runway is particularly worrying. Its proposed location maximizes
the blight on the local environment and residents while taking as much space as
possible to allow for further runways to be added without acquiring more land.
"The case for
expansion is far from proven and, perhaps more importantly, the airline
industry simply does not seem to want expansion at Stansted."
Also employing experts
to sift through the paperwork to find any possible legal loopholes is Uttlesford District Council - the authority which will
ultimately deal with the runway planning application.
Liberal Democrat leader
Alan Dean said: "Stansted remains the subject of
expansion speculation and the council is prepared to fight on behalf of its
residents, their quality of life and the region's heritage."
Also at odds with his
party over the expansion plans is Braintree MP Alan Hurst.
He said: "I'm very
disappointed as I'm sure many people are in north-west Essex. But we may have
lost the first round but there are many more rounds to go.
"There is just no
economic case for an extra runway and I do not think it will ever be built
because the aircraft industry does not want it and they have to pay for it, not
MP, Bill Ramell, writes to one of his constituents.
17th December 2003
I am writing to you as
someone who has previously contacted me to express concern about the possible
runway expansion at Stansted Airport.
As you will be aware,
the Transport Secretary, Alastair Darling MP,
yesterday published "The Future of Aviation" White Paper setting out
a thirty year policy framework for aviation development across the country.
I am disappointed that
the Government has decided that the preferred site for the first new airport
runway in the south-east should be at Stansted, but I
am also relieved because frankly the decision could have been an awful lot
worse. We were facing a real possibility that two or even three additional
runways would be built at Stansted and that will not now happen. The
Government has accepted our arguments that expansion on this scale would have
an appalling and unacceptable impact.
The White Paper also
shows that the Government has taken on board the key concerns that l and many
campaigners have been lobbying on with regard to sustainability, the
environment and noise pollution. Rather than the massive expansion in the
south-east many of us feared, the Government has made clear that it is looking
for more limited expansion in the south-east coupled with greater use of
regional airports such as Bristol and Birmingham, as I pressed for in my
meetings with Ministers.
Secretary's statement in the House of Commons yesterday also made clear that
the Government is prepared to legislate to strengthen the regulations governing
noise pollution and will penalise airlines for the continued use of noisy
Additional new measures
to minimise environmental and noise pollution can have an impact. At Stansted for example, measures to restrict noise pollution
have already made a difference, for whilst the number of passengers using the
airport each year has grown from 7 million five years ago to 19 million this
year, the number of people in the local area affected by aircraft noise has
reduced by 70%.
I am therefore seeking
meetings in the New Year with both Alastair Darling
and the Environment Secretary, Margaret Beckett MP, to discuss the kind of
robust measures that will need to be in place prior to the building of any new
runway at Stansted by 2011/2012, in order to protect
both our quality of life and the environment. I will also be raising with the
Transport Secretary the transport infrastructure requirements, particularly in
relation to upgrading the railway line, that will be
needed as a result of one extra runway. Rest assured I will do all I can to
press for the most stringent measures.
I would like to stress
that yesterday's decision is not the end of the road. The White Paper itself
cannot authorise specific site expansion because the Government does not build
runways, it merely sets out the preferred policy framework. Any proposal to
build a new runway will be made by the airport operators who must submit their
plans to the relevant local authority. These plans will then be subject to
normal planning procedures. There will therefore be future opportunities for
you as a local resident to continue to register your concerns about any further
runway expansion at Stansted, should you wish to do
In the meantime, I will
of course be in touch again in the New Year to update you on my discussions
Bill Rammell MP.
suggest he is trying to keep a foot in both camps? Can his constituents direct his attention to thethe comments of the
Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution? (RCEP Response to the White paper.)
The Labour Government cannot keep its promises on climate change and expand
aviation by the amount proposed.
24 December 2003
DISMAY AT SPINELESS
GOVERNMENT - 16 December 2003
Today’s decision by the government to fudge the issue
over another runway at Stansted was greeted with utter dismay
by Uttlesford District Council.
In conjunction with the Stop Stansted Expansion group,
the Council has lobbied on behalf of tens of thousands of
local residents to ensure the Department for Transport does
not allow for another runway at Stansted Airport.
However the Department for Transport has done nothing to
resolve the issue when it gave the ultimate decision for
either building at Stansted or any other airport in the
South East to BAA.
Cllr Alan Dean, Liberal Democrat Leader of Uttlesford District
Council is determined to continue the battle.
“Stansted remains the subject of expansion speculation
and the Council is prepared to fight on behalf of its residents,their
quality of life and the region’s heritage.
“This decision means further years of uncertainty
and blight to the residents of Uttlesford. We will maintain
our stance on opposing any new runways at Stansted.
“The grounds for our opposition are based on sound
economic, environmental and transport arguments. We’re
appalled that the government has deemed to ignore this.
We will continue to fight if any company is reckless enough
to try to pour good money after bad into the green fields
“We will not stand idly by while the threat of bulldozers,
ready to knock down listed buildings and destroy the classic
English countryside lingers.
“All I can say to anyone who tries to build a runway
at Stansted: Whatever you say, whatever you do, we’ll
be fighting you every inch of the way.”
STATEMENT FROM ESSEX
COUNTY COUNCIL - 16 December 2003
Stansted expansion plans are 'unwanted'
Lord Hanningfield, Leader of Essex County Council has
criticised today's proposal to develop a new runway at Stansted
Airport as "unwanted and unworkable".
The only real result of today’s announcement,”
said Lord Hanningfield, “is that thousands of homes
in Essex and Hertfordshire are now blighted until the proposal
for expansion at Stansted is dead and buried.
“If central government thinks that Stansted is the
site of least resistance they will soon be disabused of
that notion. We will be consulting lawyers over coming days
to examine the possibility of mounting a legal challenge
to this proposal.
“The spacing of the proposed runway is particularly
worrying. Its proposed location maximizes the blight on
the local environment and residents while taking as much
space as possible to allow for further runways to be added
without acquiring more land.
“The case for expansion is far from proven and, perhaps
more importantly, the airline industry simply does not seem
to want expansion at Stansted. The decision to allow expansion
at Heathrow makes it even clearer that there is neither
demand nor need for another runway at Stansted. It would
be extra capacity in the wrong place. We will be working
with our neighbouring authorities of Hertfordshire County
Council, East Herts District Council and Uttlesford to make
this case strongly over the coming months.
“Now the government doesn’t just have a policy
of ‘predict and provide’ but also of ‘consult
and ignore.’ The airlines don’t want this, environmentalists
don’t want it and the people of Essex and Hertfordshire
certainly don’t want it.
“The airlines that use Stansted at present are frequently
paid to land at airports in continental Europe. They do
not have a business model that supports the £4 billion
needed to pay for the expansion of Stansted.
“Yesterday saw the opening of the latest stretch of
dual carriageway on the A120 - a development designed to
cope with the initial development of Stansted 20 years ago.
We can only speculate how long it will take to provide the
infrastructure the government thinks the larger Stansted
STATEMENT FROM THE
CONSERVATIVE PARTY - 16 December 2003
Labour blights Britain's airport
Shadow Transport and Environment Secretary
Theresa May has warned that Labour's new aviation strategy
will blight the lives of millions of people living near
She hit out in the Commons after Alistair Darling unveiled
a 30 year plan for air travel involving, a new runway at
Stansted by 2011, a possible third runway at Heathrow by
2020 if certain conditions are met, and more capacity at
Birmingham and Edinburgh.
The Transport Secretary said the plan acknowledged the
benefits of increasing air travel while seeking to reduce
the impact of airports on surrounding communities.
But Mrs May dismissed the aviation white paper as "a
fudge from an incompetent government", and warned that
it would deliver blight to millions of people.
She declared: "What the British people and the airport
industry want is certainty for the future of aviation, but
now they have been condemned to uncertainty."
While airport expansion was a crucial issue, she said the
Government's inconsistent approach had demonstrated "real
incompetence and lack of judgement".
And warning of the massive impact of a new runway at Stansted
will have on already heavily congested road and rail links
to the Essex airport, she told conservatives.com: "The
proposals for Stansted come at the same time as John Prescott's
plans to build thousands more houses on the M11 Stansted
corridor - another example of inconsistency in the Government's
Mrs May added: "The failure to consider how each area
will cope with the increased volume of transport and the
impact that expansion might have on the environment shows
that the Government has failed to demonstrate the joined-up
thinking it promised."
She said: "Far from setting a clear way forward for
air transport in the UK, this announcement is a fudge which
will only deliver blight to millions of people living around
airports across this country. Indeed, anyone living around
any of the airports in the south east is now faced with
THE WOODLAND TRUST
- 16 December 2003
Airport White Paper flies in the
face of good sense
Ill-placed and unnecessary expansion
will damage UK's richest wildlife habitat
Today’s announcement by Alistair Darling that new
runways should be built at Stansted and Birmingham and a
new terminal at Manchester has angered the Woodland Trust.
The Trust has been campaigning to protect the 86 hectares
of ancient woodland and ancient trees at Stansted, 22 hectares
at Birmingham, 75 hectares at Gatwick and 45 hectares at
Manchester that will be destroyed if the expansion goes
ahead. Trees have been growing continuously in these woods
for at least 400 years and they are our richest habitat
for wildlife. They contain more rare and threatened species
than any other UK habitat and only cover two percent of
Ed Pomfret of the Woodland Trust says: “The Government
is ignoring its own conservation policies and is conveniently
forgetting its commitments to protect ancient woodland.
If we really are to have a sustainable aviation policy we
must manage demand to ensure that we don’t damage
this irreplaceable habitat. The proposals in the White Paper
reveal fundamental flaws in Government thinking about sustainable
development and climate change. Ancient woodland must be
protected from these destructive plans.
“Climate change is the biggest threat to biodiversity
and the survival of ancient woods. Aviation makes a significant
contribution to greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate
change and demand must be managed to ensure that damage
to our environment is reduced.”
The Woodland Trust is the UK's leading woodland conservation
charity. It has maintained sustained, long-term opposition
to all airport expansion proposals that threaten ancient
woodland. Most recently, on Tuesday 9 December, Peter Ainsworth
MP presented a petition to Parliament on behalf of the Trust
that thousands of opponents of airport expansion signed.
Despite the fact that damaging proposals at Gatwick have
been dropped for now, the Trust remains concerned that expansion
will be back on the agenda after 2019. Any loss of ancient
woodland is unsustainable as it cannot be replaced or compensated
for. Ed Pomfret concludes: “In support of planned
expansion at Stansted the Government has already approved
other massive housing development in the area which will
cause even further loss and damage to irreplaceable woods
and trees. The South East’s green lungs are being
concreted over. Radical preventative medicine is needed
For full details of the impact of the expansion proposals
on ancient woodland visit www.woodland-trust.org.uk/petition
bmi PRESS STATEMENT
- 16 December 2003
bmi welcomes government recognition that Heathrow needs
additional runway capacity - airline disappointed that Stansted
given priority - any BAA cross subsidy will be challenged
bmi has welcomed the news that the Government recognises
the contribution London Heathrow makes to the UK economy
and that there is a case for much needed additional capacity.
However, the airline has reacted with disappointment that
the Government has recommended the building of a new runway
at Stansted Airport ahead of Heathrow and believes that
this could seriously damage its pre-eminent position as
one of the world's leading airports.
In the Government's White Paper, released today, it decided
that Stansted should be the preferred option despite calls
from the UK's top three airlines that Britain's economic
interests would be best served by building a new short runway
at London Heathrow Airport.
The Government has suggested that a new runway at Heathrow
will not be built until at least 2015 by which time it believes
environmental issues will have been addressed. However,
the aviation industry is confident that these issues will
be addressed well in advance of this date and would expect
any Heathrow timetable for development to take this into
Sir Michael Bishop, chairman of bmi, said: "I am encouraged
that the Government has recognized that Heathrow is vital
to the South East economy. However, I am disappointed that
the Government has not listened to the overwhelming voice
of the people, the airline industry, trade unions and the
UK's business industry who believe that it is vital that
a new runway is built at Heathrow ahead of any development
"It is encouraging that the Government has committed
itself to looking at ways to increase capacity out of the
existing runways at London Heathrow which could include
"We first started campaigning for mixed-mode operations
in 1990, when we published 'Heathrow: How do we meet the
demand?, the first report to look seriously at the benefits
of such operations.
"Even then, we saw mixed-mode as no more than a short-term
option. This remains true today. Heathrow needs new runway
capacity and we need to be planning it now. We are extremely
disappointed the Government has not taken serious account
of the long-term needs of the country's premier international
Sir Michael Bishop added: "The choice of Stansted
for initial development of runway capacity in the South
East poses serious questions about BAA and how it will finance
"We do not believe BAA can fund such investment without
cross-subsidy from its Heathrow operations. But I can promise
that we will fight such a threat every step of the way.
"If cross-subsidy looked likely, we would see no way
in which BAA could sensibly remain in its current form.
We would therefore call for a break-up of the company into
constituent parts which did not hold this sort of monopoly
over capacity in the South East."
19 December 2003
BRIBERY? BAA SAYS SELL YOUR HOUSE NOW!
BAA Stansted launches home value guarantee for local
community - 18 December 2003
BAA Stansted today announced measures to re-assure people
living near Stansted Airport about the effect of airport
expansion on their homes.
Speaking two days after a Government White Paper calling
for a second runway at Stansted, BAA Stansted said that
it would respond promptly to any home owner within the boundary
of the enlarged airport wishing to sell.
Terry Morgan, managing director of BAA Stansted airport
said: "Compulsory Purchase Orders for properties needed
for major developments are usually awarded at the time when
planning permission is granted, often resulting in years
of uncertainty for home owners."
"No-one can be sure how long it will take to get planning
permission for the Stansted expansion, so today we are delivering
certainty and flexibility to those whose homes will unfortunately
need to be taken, with our Home Value Guarantee Scheme."
"Through the scheme, home owners will be able to sell
to BAA at the time that suits them for the full market value
of the property, based on June 2002 values, index-linked
to regional property prices. We will also cover removal
costs. On top of this, home-owners who sell will be entitled
to an ex-gratia payment of 10% of the value of the home
when BAA obtains planning permission."
The exact boundaries of the enlarged airport will be made
public on or before 27 January 2004 and the scheme will
become operational in spring 2004.
Terry Morgan added: "There will clearly be some local
residents whose homes fall on or very near the boundary,
when it is specified. We will deal with these cases as sensitively
BAA Stansted also said that it is planning to introduce
a second scheme, the Home Owners Support Scheme, aimed at
others close to the new runway who want to move but whose
property values have been severely affected by the prospect
"Statutory arrangements are generally limited in this
area, so we intend to provide support for other home owners
close to the new runway, whose property values may be seriously
undermined by the prospect of noise," said Mr Morgan.
The outline of the Home Owners Support Scheme will be
published early in the New Year, for discussion with local
BAA Stansted also committed itself today to an acoustic
insulation scheme for people severely affected by noise
when the new runway opens.
"These schemes offer people significantly better terms
than those usually available. We are determined that we
will engage in regular dialogue with our neighbours at Stansted
to ensure that we do everything possible to address their
concerns," said Mr Morgan.
A public information line for general enquiries on runway
development is available on Tel: 0800 496 0199
19 December 2003
HIGHER FARES THREAT AT STANSTED
Report from the BBC
The British Airports Authority (BAA) has told the BBC
that landing charges could rise by up to £10 to pay for
the planned expansion of Stansted airport.
BAA expects to raise £2bn from higher charges, roughly
half the cost of the new runway due to be ready in 2011.
Low-cost airlines Easyjet and Ryanair, the airports biggest
operators, are opposed to any increase in duty.
Work on Stansted's new runway is a key part of the government's
plans to expand UK airports revealed on Tuesday.
BAA cannot impose any big rises in airport charges, however,
for the next five years.
This is because the Civil Aviation Authority, not BAA,
sets the fee - and in April this year it was capped for
the next five years.
The maximum charge that can be levied this year is £4.89,
increasing in line with inflation each year for the next
But, according to BAA the average fee charge it imposes
is much less than this, at £2.89 per passenger trip.
Stansted users are also unlikely to have the cost of improving
other airports passed onto them in the short-term.
Under the current rules, BAA, which also runs Gatwick
and Heathrow, cannot cross-subsidise its airports.
The news comes as a French court barred airline Ryanair
from receiving subsidies from the Strasbourg Chamber of
Commerce for its Stansted to Strasbourg service.
19 December 2003
LONDON EVENING STANDARD - FIRST REACTIONS
Mass protest as Stansted runway gets
Ministers face legal challenge from airlines and local
Joe Murphy & Hugh Dougherty - 16 December 2003 -
The Evening Standard
THE Government today set out plans to transform air travel
in the South-East - triggering a hail of protests and threats
of legal action.
Transport Secretary Alistair Darling was set to double
the capacity at Stansted by building a second runway at
the Essex airport as part of a package designed to allow
continual air travel expansion over the next 30 years.
His decision was met with dismay by local residents who
said their homes would be blighted.
More alarmingly for the Government, big airlines led by
BA were enraged that their demands for further Heathrow
expansion had been turned down - and they vowed to overturn
the decision in the courts.
But Mr Darling was insisting there was no easy alternative
way to meet the soaring public demand for cheap and convenient
In his long-awaited blueprint, the Transport Secretary
was expected to:
* Suspend plans for a third runway at Heathrow
on air pollution grounds, although the option remains open
for the future.
* Approve second runways
at Stansted and Birmingham airports.
* Reject the 9 billion plan for a
new airport by the sea at Cliffe in north Kent and a new
airport near Coventry.
* Delay further expansion at Gatwick.
* Increase the number of daily flights
at Heathrow by allowing take offs and landings on the same
Today's blueprint is designed to allow air travel to triple
from 180 million passengers a year now to 500 million in
By picking Stansted, Mr Darling delighted the small no-frills
airlines which already use the airport and the move could
encourage more cheap flights.
But the big carriers and airport operator BAA accused
him of making a huge error in failing to back Heathrow.
They claimed a third runway at Heathrow was vital to maintain
the airport's worldwide status.
Mr Darling, however, decided the extra Heathrow runway
was impossible at present because it would breach European
anti- pollution laws and be open to legal challenge. Officials
said the option would be revived once airlines could show
that clean fuel advances would reduce levels of toxic emissions
to safe levels.
Gatwick was saved from being earmarked for expansion by
a legal agreement banning new runways until 2019. But airlines
said they may challenge that.
Legal actions are set to delay any construction work for
around eight or nine years, Transport Department officials
admitted. Campaigners said some of the South-East's prettiest
villages would be ruined by noise.
Brian Ross, of the Stop Stansted Expansion Campaign, said
Mr Darling's plans were "illogical", adding: "The major
airlines do not want it and the budget airlines are not
prepared to pay for it."
John Stewart of HACAN Clearskies, which opposes growth
at Heathrow, attacked the "constant drone of aeroplanes
overhead" and called for higher taxes to curb the rise in
But in a strongly pro-air travel document, Mr Darling
was making clear he believes the public has the right to
fly cheaply and freely. He was expected to signal further
capacity increases at regional airports such as Belfast
International, Cardiff, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Our dream home now faces the bulldozer
Hugh Dougherty - 16 December 2003 - The Evening Standard
WHEN Sarah and Andy Cousins moved to their 500-year-old
cottage near Stansted, they thought they were buying into
an idyllic country lifestyle. Today they faced the news
their house will disappear under a second runway.
But Mrs Cousins, 39, whose Grade II listed cottage is
set to be bulldozed, has vowed to fight the decision.
She and her husband, a BT executive, quit London so their
children - Emma, seven, and five-year-old Matthew - could
grow up as part of the small community of Brick End. When
they moved they were aware they were under the Stansted
But they did not expect to have the airport built on top
of their house.
"Not only would we lose our home, we would lose our village,"
said Mrs Cousins. "When we moved in, the people here had
been given the assurance Stansted would always be an airport
in the country. What is being proposed could hardly be more
Operators welcome Darling's plans for
Robert Lea - 16 December 2003 - The Evening Standard
BAA and a host of regional airport operators emerged as
the big winners in Transport Secretary Alistair Darling's
aviation White Paper today.
Darling gave the green light for a doubling of capacity
to 40 million passengers a year at BAA's fast-growing Stansted
Airport, where a new runway will be built by 2012.
BAA has long argued that Heathrow has the best economic
case for expansion, and Darling signalled a third runway
for the west London hub from 2015, though set against strong
As important for BAA, whose shares were up 3/4p at 475p,
is that Darling has not tried, as some MPs had urged, to
break BAA's virtual London monopoly of Heathrow, Stansted
Luton airport operator TBI's chief executive Keith Brooks
said of the White Paper: "It is tremendous news for us."
Luton will be allowed to lengthen its runway and so increase
its capacity from seven million passengers to 20 million
within five years.
TBI's Cardiff airport is also in line for a major upgrade
while two rival greenfield projects near Bristol have been
dropped. TBI shares, which recently surged on reports of
an impending takeover bid, were steady at 681/2p.
Stansted- based Ryanair warned that while expansion will
provide even greater competition for consumers, airlines
would be hit by the cost of construction.
"It is wrong that BAA is proposing to charge its customers
up front for facilities [at Stansted] they will not be able
to use for several years," said a spokesman.
Darling's flight plan a no-score draw
says the City
Robert Lea - 16 December 2003 - The Evening Standard
THE CITY called Transport Secretary Alistair Darling's
go-ahead for airport expansion a no-score draw today as
the number crunchers began to work out who will foot the
BAA has been given the green light for a doubling of capacity
to 40 million passengers a year at already fastgrowing Stansted
with a new runway to be built by 2012 - the headline of
Darling's aviation White Paper.
BAA was also told it can build a third runway at Heathrow,
but not before 2015 and only with strong environmental caveats.
However, BAA shares slipped 13/4p to 4721/2p as analysts
fretted over who how it will raise the investment.
BMI British Midland led airlines in threatening to sue
BAA if it uses Heathrow landing fees to fund Stansted.
Ryanair, Stansted's biggest user, also warned BAA over
its plans to raise 4 billion for the Essex airport. "It
is wrong that BAA is proposing to charge its customers upfront
for facilities they will not be able to use for several
years," said a spokesman.
Ryanair shares were off six cents at e6.41. Shares in
easy-Jet, another big Stansted user but whose home is at
Luton, were 1/2p firmer at 2851/2p.
Luton operator TBI's chief executive Keith Brooks said
of Darling's White Paper: "It is tremendous news for us."
Luton will be allowed to lengthen its runway, increasing
capacity from seven million passengers to 20 million within
five years. Its Cardiff airport will also be upgraded.
TBI shares, recently boosted by takeover hopes, were steady
The price of airport expansion
16 December 2003 - The Evening Standard
SO IT IS to be Stansted and probably Heathrow, or failing
that, Gatwick. There will be many thousands of people lying
awake tonight wondering how their lives will be affected
as a result of today's White Paper decision to allow not
one but two new runways in the South East. The inclusion
of Gatwick as a possible expansion site after 2019 will
come as a shock, and planning permission for the other two
new runways is still not certain.
The government has recognised that adequate infrastructure
is necessary for economic growth, and that business travellers
prefer Heathrow. But the Transport Secretary, Alistair Darling,
has also taken account of environmental factors beyond his
control. Those living near Heathrow will not be surprised
to learn that air pollution levels there already exceed
European Union limits due to come into force in 2010.
For that reason, a substantial reduction in emissions
must be achieved, a condition strongly supported by this
newspaper, before a new runway can be built. Because there
can be no certainty until 2010 that the emission levels
can be brought down at Heathrow, the go-ahead for expansion
at Stansted is the best option available now. That means
the destruction of historic houses and green fields.
And there is a real question about how workers can be
found to man an airport in the Essex countryside, and whether
enough travellers will wish to use it. However, Mr Darling
has rightly left that question to the markets by stating
that if BAA, the airport operator, can solve those problems
and raise the required 4billion, it should have its new
Stansted runway by 2012. If, by 2010, emissions have been
reduced to the required level at Heathrow, and demand is
still growing as currently predicted, then a third runway
will go ahead there. If not, Gatwick offers an alternative
- albeit unpopular - after 2019.
Co-ordinated international action to reduce the effective
subsidy airlines enjoy through the absence of tax on their
fuel remains desirable in the long term. It is now up to
BAA to show that it can make a success of Stansted, and
compensate affected local residents as fairly as possible.
As for Heathrow, the White Paper's commitment to contain
the environmental cost of expansion there must be honoured
in the spirit and in the letter - or hundreds of thousands
of west Londoners will suffer the consequences.
Anti-Airport Groups Slam Darling Decision
Hugh Dougherty - 16 December 2003 - The Evening Standard
TRANSPORT Secretary Alistair Darling today faced criticism
from anti-airport campaigners in the wake of his backing
for two runways in the South-East.
But the threat of legal action against his plans made
by BA and other airlines was lifted as he gave the go-ahead
in principle to a third Heathrow runway.
Hacan ClearSkies said it would continue to campaign against
a third runway. It said if it can prove the runway would
breach limits on pollution, it could not be built.
Chairman John Stewart said: "We feel we are halfway there.
We have postponed the third runway but the Government has
left people facing noise and blight for years to come."
There was anger in Harmondsworth, the village which would
virtually disappear under a third runway. Resident Barry
Briggs, 55, said: "It seems the residents' feelings do not
Wandsworth council said it could go to court within weeks
to ask for a judicial review of the whole White Paper because
the public did not get the chance to comment on other options
for new airports.
Campaigners against further expansion of Gatwick said
there was no chance of a second runway going ahead after
Brendon Sewil, of Say No Way Gatwick Runway, said: "By
2019 the world will be more concerned about climate change
than extra runways."
Opponents to a new runway at Stansted, who include Jamie
Oliver, were also not admitting defeat. Norman Mead, of
Stop Stansted Expansion, said: "BAA could only proceed with
an extra runway if there were no legal or regulatory barriers
and if there was clear market demand.
"The project would also need to be environmentally sustainable,
commercially viable and capable of being financed. The prospect
of Stansted ever being able to meet these criteria is remote."
However, business leaders said they wanted to see Heathrow
expanded more rapidly than Mr Darling's plan. Colin Stanbridge,
of the London Chamber of Commerce, said: "Vast numbers of
businesses across the South-East will be dismayed that London
has to wait between 10 and 15 years for a third runway at
We need more capacity now - ANALYSIS
Chris Tarry - 16 December 2003 - The Evening Standard
TODAY'S announcement is yet another formula for a failed
transport policy in Britain. It could set us back even further
than we are today.
If you want to establish an international hub at Heathrow,
how can an airport based in Essex possibly be the right
answer? I struggle to understand how a delayed decision
on Heathrow in 2015 is going to help.
Where is the evidence that pollution standards are going
to be any less rigorous than they are now? It is not the
answer. What we need is more capacity now.
At the very least BAA ought to be able to use the Heathrow
runways for takeoffs and landings simultaneously, the so-called
mixed mode option. That could give Heathrow an additional
60,000 takeoff and landing slots a year.
There has been a long consultation period and the final
decision does not take the UK an inch further forward. All
that will happen is that the aviation industry will go backwards
in relation to Europe, particularly compared with Paris
and Frankfurt, which already have more runways than Heathrow.
There is also the question of how to fund Stansted. If
it proves impossible for BAA or others to raise the estimated
4 billion needed to build a second runway at Stansted this
would clearly show the Government has reached the wrong
BAA may find a way of financing the Stansted expansion
from its other airports, but if they do the airlines that
use Heathrow and Gatwick will be up in arms. This might
just be a great day for the lawyers.
The truth is that the consultation has been weak in a
number of areas, particularly in relation to forecasting
the growth at Stansted. The Government appears to have relied
far too heavily on falling air fares from the no-frills
carriers to boost demand at Stansted, while ignoring the
importance of Heathrow.
Industries do mature and growth does slow down. It does
not matter how cheap you make the tickets there has to be
a reason to travel and somewhere affordable to stay when
you get there.
19 December 2003
STANSTED EXPANSION - THE LOCAL MEDIA REPORTS
Stansted: Business looks to opportunities
16 December 2003 - Newsquest Media Group Newspapers
- Essex, Stansted
Essex business leaders have welcomed the opportunities
that the proposed expansion of Stansted airport will bring
to the county.
"The announcement by Transport Secretary Alistair Darling
that Stansted is to get a second runway was no surprise,"
said Nicholas Cook, chairman of the Essex branch of the
Institute of Directors.
"Development anywhere and of any type is always going
to concern residents' groups and environmental campaigners,
but the current restrictions on further expansion at Heathrow
was always going to mean expansion somewhere else.
"Stansted was clearly the front runner right from the
start, driven by factors and influences outside the county.
It is already an established international airport with
good, and improving, road and rail links, well placed to
serve London, the Eastern region and the Midlands," said
"While there were few in the county who would have actively
sought this expansion, we must look at the positive aspects.
There will be huge opportunities for Essex to boost both
the local economy and the image of the county in general
as a player on the international stage, proud to host such
a modern airport."
Stansted: Conservation groups fear for
16 December 2003 - Newsquest Media Group Newspapers
- Essex, Stansted
A medieval forest and a number of historic villages are
set to be demolished by the expansion of Stansted airport
- conservation groups have said.
Following the publication of the Government's White Paper
conservation groups have predicted the increase in air travel
would lead to a rise in polution which could threaten the
survival of nearby Hatfield Forest.
The gardens of Easton Lodge would have to close, while
listed houses in surrounding villages would be knocked down.
The National Trust renewed its call for the Government
to focus on encouraging domestic tourism rather than embarking
on an unnecessary and highly damaging programme of airport
Tony Burton, director of policy and strategy for the National
Trust, said: "The Government should concentrate on getting
tourists to spend their money in Britain rather than encouraging
them to spend more and more money overseas."
Stansted: Ryanair welcomes new runway
16 December 2003 - Newsquest Media Group Newspapers
- Essex, Stansted
Low-cost airline Ryanair welcomed news that Stansted is
in line for a new runway. The Irish carrier said a second
runway at the airport would be good news for passengers,
allowing Stansted's capacity to double from 20m to 40m a
Ryanair's head of communications, Paul Fitzsimmons, took
the opportunity to call for the break up of what it claimed
was BAA's monopoly on London airports.
"It is wrong that BAA would be proposing to charge its
customers, the travelling public, upfront for facilities
they will not be able to use for several years."
Stansted: White Paper welcome from pro-aviation
16 December 2003 - Newsquest Media Group Newspapers
- Essex, Stansted
A pro-aviation group has welcomed the Government's White
Paper which has decided the future of air travel in the
UK for the next 30 years.
Commenting for the Freedom to Fly Coalition, chairman
Brenda Dean said: "This is a bold and very welcomed announcement
"After decades of prevarication the Government has finally
acknowledged the vital importance of additional runway capacity,
not just for the south east of England but through regional
development at Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool,
Newscastle and Cardiff."
"The proposed new runway at Stansted will begin to meet
the increasing demand envisaged over the next three decades,
and the industry is confident it will be able to rapidly
put in place the environmental safeguards to ensure the
door is opened for the capacity increases at Heathrow and
Gatwick, that can guarantee London's position as the premier
global aviation centre."
Stansted: Runway expansion is go
16 December 2003 - Newsquest Media Group Newspapers
Stansted will get an extra runway, Transport Secretary
Alistair Darling has confirmed. The Transport Secretary
ended months of speculation when he released the long-awaited
aviation White Paper to Parliament this afternoon.
It sets out how ministers believe Britain will cope with
the massive rise in airline passenger growth over the next
Mr Darling said the Government supported the construction
of a new runway at Stansted as soon as possible, with a
view to it being operational by 2011 to 2012.
Mr Darling said the Government believed another new runway
would be required in the south east by 2015 to 2020, with
Heathrow as the preferred option.
The decision to base a new landing strip at the Essex
airport is expected to be disputed by campaigners and a
number of airlines, who have threatened legal action.
Stansted: Aiport operator to 'proceed
Airports operator BAA said it would press ahead with
plans for a second runway at Stansted
16 December 2003 - Newsquest Media Group Newspapers
- Essex, Stansted
BAA welcomed the Government's new framework for UK aviation
policy and said it would also work urgently to resolve the
air pollution issues that were a barrier to further runway
development at Heathrow.
"Aviation is vital to the economic and social well-being
of the UK and we are pleased that the Government has taken
such a long-sighted, strategic view in this White Paper,"
said Mike Clasper, BAA's Chief Executive.
"BAA identified four possible options for runway development
in the South East and the Government has chosen two of them.
"At Stansted, we will proceed at once to draw up detailed
plans and to examine the environmental impacts of a second
runway. We will consult closely with the communities affected
and address their concerns as sympathetically as possible."
Stansted: Pilots' union backs airport
The British Air Line Pilot's Association (BALPA)
has welcomed the Government's Aviation White Paper
16 December 2003 - Newsquest Media Group Newspapers
- Essex, Stansted
Jim McAuslan, general secretary of the pilots' union,
said the Government had shown refreshing common sense in
arguing that economic growth and environmental protection
are not mutually exclusive.
"We welcome the White Paper speaking up for the silent
majority who want to fly more often, are encouraged by the
plans for extra capacity outside the south east and the
absence of any increased taxes."
Stansted: Protest group brands runway
Anti-runway campaigners have described the conclusions
Government's White Paper as 'pie in the sky'
16 December 2003 - Newsquest Media Group Newspapers
- Essex, Stansted
"Governments don't build runways," said Stop Stansted
Expansion chairman Norman Mead. "BAA could only proceed
with an extra runway at Stansted if there were no legal
or regulatory barriers and if there was clear market demand.
"The project would also need to be environmentally sustainable,
commercially viable and capable of being financed. The prospect
of Stansted ever being able to meet these criteria is remote."
"The idea of a second Stansted runway is illogical and
undeliverable," continued Mr Mead.
Stansted: Council leader reacts to runway
The leader of Uttlesford Council has described the
White Paper on aviation
as a Government wish list that "won't wash down"
16 December 2003 - Newsquest Media Group Newspapers
- Essex, Stansted
Immediately after the announcement on Tuesday that Stansted
was Whitehall's first choice, Councillor Alan Dean said:
"Despite the fact that the Government has set Stansted first
in the queue, this will not fly because the economics do
not stack up."
"Also other airlines such as British Airways (BA), Virgin
Express all wanted the runway to be at Heathrow."
Mr Dean said he expected the airlines and the BA shareholders
to fight the decisions.
He added that the council would be meeting tonight to
plan their next moves.
17 December 2003
THE AIR TRANSPORT STATEMENT
AND THE PARLIAMENTARY DEBATE
House of Commons - 16 December 2003
The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Alistair Darling): With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a statement on the future of air transport.
Today, I am publishing a White Paper that sets out the strategic framework for development for the next 30 years, against the background of wider developments in air transport. It is necessary to look ahead over a 30-year time scale. It is essential that we plan ahead to meet the pressures that we know we will face as a result of a growing economy, and in a world where people can, and will want to, travel more for business and leisure. Only the Government can provide such a framework to enable everyone to plan ahead.
First, let me set out the context. Air travel remains crucial to our growing economy. Some 200,000 jobs depend on it directly, and some 600,000 indirectly. There has been a fivefold increase in air travel in the last 30 years; indeed, half the population flies at least once a year. The growth in passengers travelling in the low-cost, no-frills sector has been dramatic. Five years ago, just 7 million people flew on low-cost airlines; this year, we expect the number to reach 47 million. A third of the goods that we export by value go by air, and that figure is increasing. Indeed, the amount of air freight at UK airports has doubled since 1990.
The Government recognise the benefits that the expansion of air travel has brought to people's lives and to this country's economy. Its increased affordability has opened up the possibility of travel for many people, and provides the rapid access that is essential to many modern businesses. But we have to balance those benefits against the serious environmental impact of air travel, particularly the growing contribution of aircraft emissions to climate change, and the significant impact that airports can have on those living nearby. That is why the Government remain committed to ensuring that, over time, aviation meets the external costs that it imposes. The White Paper sets out proposals to tackle aviation's greenhouse gas emissions by bringing it within the European Union emissions trading scheme. And the Government will continue to play a major role in seeking to develop new solutions and stronger actions by the appropriate international bodies.
The White Paper also makes it clear that we will legislate to strengthen and clarify the powers to control noise at airports, and to allow us to direct airport operators to levy higher charges on more polluting aircraft. Similar charges in relation to noise have helped to bring about significant noise reductions at the major London airports. But we can, and will, do more to reduce both noise and air pollution.
Some of our major airports are already close to capacity, so failure to allow for increased capacity could have serious economic consequences. But that must be balanced by the need to have regard to the environmental consequences of air travel. Simply building more and more capacity to meet demand is not sustainable. Instead, a balanced approach is required that recognises the importance of air travel to prosperity, but which seeks to reduce and to minimise the impact of airports on those living nearby, and on the natural environment.
I should also make it clear that the White Paper cannot, by itself, authorise any particular development, but it does set out a policy framework for future decisions. In the light of the White Paper it is for individual airport operators to bring forward proposals that will then be subject to the usual planning process. The White Paper sets out a strategic framework for the development of airport capacity. It sets out our conclusions for every part of the country and copies will be available from the Vote Office in the usual way; and I have also written to every Member setting out our proposals in more detail.
Let me set out the Government's conclusions. First, in Northern Ireland, as elsewhere, there has been a rapid increase in air travel. We support the development of Belfast International airport within its existing boundaries to serve forecast demand. The Northern Ireland authorities should be prepared to review the planning agreement affecting traffic volumes and operational hours at Belfast City airport and will also want to consider with the Irish Government the future of the City of Derry airport.
In Wales, in conjunction with the Welsh Assembly Government, we have concluded that Cardiff should remain the main airport for south Wales. It has experienced rapid growth, and extra terminal capacity will be needed as well as measures to improve access to the airport by both road and public transport. We also want to see the development of centres of excellence for aircraft maintenance work both in south Wales and the west of Scotland, as well as in the north-east of England and elsewhere.
We received proposals for a new airport in south-east Wales, but we have concluded, for the reasons set out in the White Paper, that they would not be viable. Instead, we prefer to see development at Cardiff and Bristol. Domestic air services make a major contribution to economic development, so the Welsh Assembly Government are to consider new internal services within Wales, potentially supported by public service obligations. They are also looking at setting up a route development fund, similar to the one operated by the Scottish Executive, which could support new services from Wales. We are also asking some English regional development agencies to consider similar funds for regional airports.
Because services to London airports, particularly Heathrow and Gatwick, are so important to Northern Ireland, Scotland and the south-west and north of England, we are setting out proposals for imposing public service obligations in well defined circumstances, to protect landing slots for services that are vital to the continued economic development and prosperity of those areas.
In Scotland, we and the Scottish Executive anticipate additional runway capacity will be needed in the central belt, probably around 2020, so we propose to safeguard land at Edinburgh for a second runway, together with the associated expansion of terminal buildings. We also recommend that consideration be given to protecting land at Glasgow for a possible new runway; and we also support safeguarding land for terminal expansion. The Scottish Executive have published plans to improve surface access to both Glasgow and Edinburgh airports. The White Paper also sets out proposals that would allow for continued growth at Aberdeen, Prestwick and Inverness. We see no case for a new airport in central Scotland.
In the north of England, we support the development of additional terminal capacity at Manchester, provided that the noise impacts from increased use of the airport are rigorously controlled. We agree that the airport at Liverpool should expand as projected and the runway be lengthened in the future, subject to the conditions set out in the White Paper. We also support plans for expansion of terminal facilities and runway extensions at Newcastle, Teesside and Leeds-Bradford.
In the midlands, we consulted on the option of a new airport to be built between Coventry and Rugby. I can tell the House that, for reasons set out in the White Paper, we do not support developing that new airport. The Government believe that we should make the best use of existing airport facilities and support the growth of existing regional airports, given their importance to economic development and prosperity. Birmingham airport provides an important regional base for a number of airlines and has an expanding long-haul market. Traffic is set to grow, and we support the case for a second runway at Birmingham, to be built probably around 2016, subject to stringent limits on noise.
East Midlands airport is the third largest freight airport in the United Kingdom and is rapidly establishing itself as the largest dedicated freight airport. We therefore support the projected expansion of both passenger and freight traffic at East Midlands airport. We see no need for a second runway at East Midlands, but we will keep it under review in the light of growth in freight and passenger traffic at the airport. As with other airports, we have set out proposals to establish stringent noise controls and to provide mitigation and compensation in relation to noise, and also to deal with blight.
In the south-west, we support the development of Bristol International airport, including a runway extension and new terminal when needed. However, we do not support the option of a new airport north of Bristol. We also anticipate the need for development of more terminal facilities at Bournemouth, as well as future development at Exeter and Newquay.
In Plymouth, the options, including the case for a new airport east of the city, need to be explored further by the local and regional authorities. Proposals for development at a number of smaller airports throughout the country are also dealt with in the White Paper.
I now turn to the south-east of England. The issue of airport capacity in the south-east is significant for the whole of the country. Although the vast majority of travellers using the main London airports are travelling to or from the south-east, the whole of the United Kingdom depends on the range and frequency of services from those airports.
The pressure on existing capacity is already more severe in the south-east than in the rest of the country. At the same time, it is the most densely populated part of the UK. As a result, the pressures from competing land uses and the likelihood of airport growth affecting people are greater too.
Therefore, we must strike a balance between the undoubted importance to future prosperity and the local environmental impact of development. Again, our first priority is to make the best possible use of existing runways that will provide some much needed capacity. That is why we support proposals to make best use of the existing runways, including development to make the maximum use of a full-length single runway at Luton. However, this will not be enough to meet the pressure that will arise over the next 30 years.
In line with the balanced approach that I have already set out, the Government believe that, over the next 30 years, there should be two new runways in the south-east. The first new runway will need to be completed within a decade, but work also needs to start on planning for a second runway, to be built probably around 2015 to 2020.
I shall now set out our conclusions. First, we consulted on the possibility of building a new airport at Cliffe. I have concluded, taking all relevant factors into account, that we do not support an airport there.
Stansted has seen very substantial growth in passengers in recent years. This year, it is expected to handle nearly 19 million passengers, compared with fewer than 7 million only five years ago. Despite that growth, the number of people significantly affected by noise fell by 70 per cent. between 1998 and 2002. There is likely to continue to be strong growth in demand at Stansted and, at current rates of growth, its runway capacity would be used up within a few years. A second runway at Stansted would provide very substantial runway capacity in the south-east, and generate large economic benefits. However, like any such development, it would have significant local environmental consequences.
The local economy is already set to grow strongly. We believe that the Government's objectives for regional economic development would be complemented by an expansion of Stansted. On balance, we have therefore concluded that the first new runway in the south-east should be developed as soon as possible at Stansted airport, expected to be opening around 2011 or 2012. Surface access will need to be improved and, of course, there will need to be strict environmental controls as set out in the White Paper.
Heathrow is the UK's major hub airport. It competes primarily with major continental airports such as Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris. It enables London and the south-east to compete for investment and growth. In addition, London has one of the strongest local catchment areas for international air travel in the world, especially in the finance and business services sector, which rely on global markets and good international communications. Moreover, Heathrow directly or indirectly supports nearly 100,000 jobs. It is a prime driver of the west London and the Thames valley economy.
Without additional capacity, Heathrow's route network will tend to reduce over time, most likely to the advantage of other international hub airports in northern Europe. There is, therefore, a strong economic case for securing the large economic benefits through the addition of a new runway at Heathrow. However, at the same time, that has to be balanced against the substantial environmental impacts at Heathrow.
Although today's jets are 75 per cent. quieter than in the 1960s, and although the number of people affected by severe noise has reduced over the years, noise impacts at Heathrow are many times worse than at other UK airports. The most difficult issue confronting expansion at Heathrow concerns how to ensure air quality nearby is kept at acceptable levels, and to achieve compliance with the mandatory air quality limits for nitrogen dioxide that will apply from 2010.
That is why we said last year that development at Heathrow could be considered only if the Government were confident that levels of all relevant pollutants could be consistently contained within EU limits. Having considered all these matters, the Government have concluded that there is a strong case for a third runway at Heathrow, once we can be confident that that key condition in relation to compliance with air quality limits can be met. We judge that there is a substantially better prospect of achieving that condition in the 2015-20 period, provided that we take action now to tackle the nitrogen dioxide problem, which is work that should be done in any event.
Our support is also conditional on measures to ensure that the total area within the 57 dB noise contour should not increase from last year, as well as on improvements to surface access. We will therefore institute immediately with the airport operator, and relevant bodies and agencies, a programme of action to consider how those conditions can be met to enable the addition of a third runway. For the meantime, the White Paper sets out proposals to work up measures to increase capacity at Heathrow using its existing runways, subject to further consultation and strict environmental controls.
At Gatwick, the Government will not seek to overturn the legal agreement that prevented the construction of a second runway there before 2019. However, land will continue to be safeguarded for possible further development at Gatwick in case the conditions attached to a runway at Heathrow cannot be met. The White Paper also sets out stringent environmental conditions that we expect operators to meet and other proposals to limit and mitigate the impacts that aviation has on the environment, including its impact on global warming.
We are setting out proposals for the development of air transport for a generation. It is essential that we plan ahead now: our future prosperity depends on it. The policies set out in the White Paper will support economic prosperity throughout the United Kingdom; will enable people to make flights at reasonable costs; and will control and mitigate the environmental impacts of aviation. I commend this statement to the House.
Mrs. Theresa May (Maidenhead) (Con): I thank the Secretary of State for prior sight of his statement. This is an important day for the future of our aviation industry, and he is right that important decisions must be taken to set the framework for the industry's future if it is to continue to contribute successfully to the UK economy. But decisions taken today are also of crucial importance for those millions of people who live close to an airport or underneath a flight path, and for the quality of our environment. A difficult balance has to be achieved between competing needs. That is why the Government's decisions need to give clarity and certainty for all involved.
Far from setting a clear way forward for air transport in the UK, today's announcement is a fudge from an incompetent Government, which will deliver only blight to millions of people living around airports across the country. Indeed, anyone living around any of the airports in the south-east is now faced with indefinite uncertainty.
Let us look at the Government's incompetence. They have already been forced by the courts to extend the consultation because they failed at first to include Gatwick in their proposals. The Environmental Audit Committee, noting that the airports consultation did not include a formal environmental impact assessment, went on to say:
"We regard the absence of concise, transparent and strategic integrated appraisals as a major weakness in the consultation documents. The Department's failure in this respect conflicts with its own guidance. As a result it is impossible to assess the overall benefits of different degrees of expansion-or the relative benefits and disbenefits of regional expansion vis-à-vis expansion in the South East."
When Birmingham Airport proposed a new short runway, the Department refused to re-issue consultation documents and include the plan in its public consultation, so the voice of local people on that proposal was not heard. Today the Secretary of State has announced precisely the proposal on which the people of the midlands were not consulted. Does he accept that the Government's failures in the consultation process now make it certain that there will be legal challenge to their decisions, thus blighting the lives of millions of people with years of further uncertainty?
The Government's incompetence is all too clear elsewhere. The Secretary of State says that Heathrow will expand when the emissions problem is solved. But there is nothing in this statement that explains how the Government propose to solve that problem. On page 122 of the White Paper, he says that he has
no plans for further motorway widening" - in that area. He also says:
"The solution will need to be based on improvements to public transport."
Can he confirm that he is announcing no improvements to public transport to bring that about?
The Eyre airports inquiries 1981-83 reported on a possible second runway at Stansted, concluding that it
would be an unprecedented and wholly unacceptable major environmental and visual disaster".
Is the Secretary of State now reversing that judgment and, if so, what has changed to make him do so?
[Interruption.] On page 115 of the White Paper, the Secretary of State said that Stansted enjoys-[Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker: Order. Hon. Members are unfair to the hon. Lady. She is entitled to put her case to the House-[Interruption.] Order. The Secretary of State was heard; the hon. Lady must be heard.
Mrs. May: On page 115 of the White Paper, the Secretary of State said that Stansted enjoys good transport connections by road and rail. Has he tried them recently?
The Government support a new runway at Stansted where the growth has been in low-cost airlines, yet building the runway would mean putting up charges, thus driving away those low-cost airlines. The Government have said that commercial viability is a hurdle that must be cleared by developments on new or existing airport sites, yet the British Airports Authority has told the Government that an extra runway at Stansted would not be commercially viable without cross-subsidy from Heathrow and Gatwick. BAA may well find either that it cannot fund or that it cannot afford a new runway at Stansted in the near future. Given that the Government are making expansion at Stansted a pre-requisite for expansion of capacity in the south-east, what do they propose to do if the funding is not available?
The Government are proposing a new runway at Stansted that local people do not want and large airlines do not want to use and that low-cost airlines may not be able to afford to use. Just who will use a new runway at Stansted?
Not only have the Government not made the proper assessments on which to base their decisions, but it is clear that their right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. At the same time as the Secretary of State for Transport is proposing a new runway at Stansted, the Deputy Prime Minister wants to build tens of thousands of new homes in the Stansted-M11 corridor. One Department says that it is okay to build a runway because there are not many people in the area, yet another Department says, Let's put people there".
Lack of joined-up thinking between Departments is one thing, but lack of joined-up thinking within a Department is quite another. Today, the Department for Transport announced plans to increase passenger numbers at Stansted, Birmingham, Heathrow and possibly East Midlands and Gatwick. That will need better roads and railways to get people to and from the airports, yet the same Department for Transport has made no provision for building those roads and railways.
In Birmingham, the Department has shelved plans for an expansion of the M42-the very road that will have to take traffic going to and from an expanded Birmingham airport. At peak times, the hard shoulder already has to be put into use. Getting to Birmingham by rail depends primarily on the west coast main line, yet only last week the Government shelved some of the planned improvements on that line. That is not a 10-year transport plan; it is not even a 10-day transport plan.
We need railways before runways. Will the Secretary of State confirm that no provision was made for that work in the 10-year transport plan, that the work needed would cost a total of £30 billion and that the Strategic Rail Authority does not have the money?
We were promised joined-up government; what we have is disjointed government. We were promised an integrated transport policy; what we have is a disintegrating transport system. We were promised decisions for the future of air transport; what we have from this incompetent Government are years of uncertainty and serious blight on the lives of millions of people.
Mr. Darling: I am sure that I cannot be the only Member of the House who wonders what Conservative policy on airports actually is. I shall not labour the point as I expect that we shall have many occasions to debate those things, but it occurs to me that if the hon. Lady is serious about being in opposition and about providing a credible alternative, she needs a policy on airport development.
The hon. Lady said that we made fudged decisions, yet she then criticised the detail of the decisions that we announced. She cannot have it both ways. This is the first time for about 30 years that a Government have looked at the long-term requirements for air travel, covering the whole country. We held consultations and listened to what people said and then we had to take difficult decisions. As will, I suspect, become apparent in the next hour or so, the decisions are difficult and controversial.
The hon. Lady mentioned Birmingham. I conclude from what she says that she is against expansion there, as she is against a second runway. However, looking ahead to about 2016, we believe that the airport will need a second runway to help it to develop and to help people living in the midlands who fly just as much as people elsewhere.
It would appear that the hon. Lady is against development at Heathrow, too. I listened to what she said about motorway widening and public transport; but at least we are actually spending money on improving public transport. She is against every penny of it.
On Stansted, it is perfectly true that in 1981 fewer than 1 million people were using the airport. Even five years ago, only 7 million people were using it, but this year it will handle 19 million passengers. Anyone who has ever been to Stansted, and I have been there by both road and rail-incidentally, we have just finished major improvement of the road into Stansted airport-will know that the airport is extremely crowded. That brings us to the nub of the hon. Lady's problem, which is, indeed, a problem that we must all face up to. Of course, increased air travel has environmental consequences, especially for people living close to airports; but at the same time, her constituents, my constituents-all our constituents-are, because of their increasing prosperity, choosing to fly more.
I do not say that we should meet all that demand-indeed, we are proposing less than is actually needed according to some views-but we cannot have a situation in which the Government take the easy option, as successive Governments have done in the past, of doing absolutely nothing and hoping for the best. The decisions are difficult and, yes, I have no doubt that there will be legal challenges-lawyers up and down the country will be rubbing their hands even as I speak-but it is the job of the Government to make decisions and to set out a clear strategy for the next generation. That is what we have done.
John Thurso (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross) (LD): I am grateful to the Secretary of State for letting me have an advance copy of the statement.
The aviation industry is an important and successful contributor to the British economy, both in its own right and as a key driver of economic growth. However, we live in an age where we all accept that the commercial imperative must be balanced against environmental costs and social disruption. I therefore give the statement a very cautious welcome, albeit with considerable reservations, because it accepts that approach. I welcome the recognition of the importance of regional airports, especially their ability to take some of the load from the south-east and to help to manage demand.
Will the Secretary of State confirm the Government's commitment to ensuring that aviation meets its external costs, but will he tell us what over time" means? Are the Government actively working to achieve that aim and when will the Secretary of State set a target date for its achievement? Will he also confirm his acceptance of the polluter pays principle with higher charges for aircraft that pollute more? What is he doing to extend the principle? For example, what is he doing to promote aviation fuel tax, as opposed to air passenger duty? That duty on passengers is equivalent to approximately 10p in aviation tax, yet it provides no incentive for operators to improve environmental performance.
I welcome the announcement that there is to be no airport at Cliffe, although as that was always a non-starter, I suspect that the proposal was a red herring to divert the attention of the environmental lobby. Does he accept our welcome for his statement that simply building more capacity to meet demand is not sustainable? I hope that he will confirm that that commits predict and provide as a policy to the dustbin.
As the Secretary of State said, it is necessary to plan ahead over a 30-year time scale, but has he not missed an opportunity to consider the long-term vision across all modes, particularly with regard to high-speed rail links? Does he accept that the growth in budget airlines is unsustainable and that the budget airline model is fatally flawed until such time as its costs are properly externalised?
Finally, on Heathrow, what assurances can the Secretary of State give that no development will be entertained until a sustainable environmental case has been made? Does he accept that further noise and pollution cannot be imposed on long-suffering residents of the surrounding area? My hon. Friend the Member for Richmond Park (Dr. Tonge) would have made that point had she not been giving the eulogy at a funeral as we speak. Will the Government accept that more could and should be done to manage demand as the essential tool for achieving sustainable growth for our aviation industry?
Mr. Darling: It would have been helpful-although perhaps it is not surprising in the case of the Liberals-if the hon. Gentleman too had a policy for dealing with the problem. The Liberals are in favour of air travel but not airports.
I welcome the hon. Gentleman's comments about regional airports, which are important. On airports in the south-east, it is worth bearing it in mind that about 80 per cent. of people travelling to and from them live in the south-east, so many of their customers are local. He is right that airports outside the south-east are important. That is why we support development at Birmingham, for example, because if people can fly from Birmingham and not London, that will take some of the pressure off London airports.
I also agree with the hon. Gentleman's remarks about aviation meeting its costs, which I mentioned in my statement. The polluter pays principle applies to aviation as much as it does to any other sector, but, as he ought to know, aviation fuel taxation is governed by international treaties. The Government have been arguing for some time that aviation ought to meet its costs, and we will continue to do so. Some of the measures that I announced today, such as giving power to airport operators to charge higher landing fees for more polluting aircraft, will be an incentive to airlines to clean up engines. I agree that predict and provide is complete nonsense-bearing it in mind that runways will be built by commercial operators and no one will build a runway on spec, just in case-and it has never been a policy that I have supported.
On rail links, the hon. Gentleman makes a perfectly good point. The channel tunnel rail link has carried 1 million passengers since the first high-speed line was opened in September-thanks to us rescuing it in 1998-and the CTRL now has more than half the travel market between London and Paris. That is an example of how it can help. He should be clear about managing demand, about which we may hear more. I am clear that, over time, aviation must meet its costs like any other sector, but when people talk about managing demand, in many ways they are talking about pricing people off aeroplanes. In that regard, he is getting himself into tricky waters, unless he proposes to march down the check-in queue at Inverness airport saying to people, I can fly, but you can't."
John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab): This is the first time in 25 years of representing my constituents at local or central Government level that any Government have said no to the automatic expansion of Heathrow airport that has been demanded by the aviation industry. I thank my right hon. Friend for that. Many of my constituents will feel that we have won a decisive battle but not the war. Therefore, may I ask what mechanism he will put in place to ensure the independent assessment of any aviation industry claims that it may have met the environmental conditions that he set out today for further expansion at Heathrow? What process does he envisage for undertaking the review of alternation at Heathrow?
Mr. Darling: There are two points in that. My hon. Friend will know that, following the terminal 5 inquiry, the airport operator, BAA, is already obliged to reduce nitrogen dioxide levels, and that work is in hand to do that. In relation to our evaluation methods, the Department uses a model that is widely accepted as accurate. In any planning inquiry-one would have to take place on a third runway at Heathrow-all the arguments and counter-arguments would be fully tested and explored.
I note for my hon. Friend's comments, for which I am grateful, but there is a difficult balance to be struck at Heathrow. Clearly, there are big environmental problems, which is why I do not believe that we can authorise a third runway there now. He will also be acutely aware, as a west London Member, that Heathrow dominates the west London economy and is critical to the whole of UK aviation. That is why it is a difficult decision. In contrast to what the Opposition said, I believe that the Government must face up to such decisions and take them.
Mr. Mark Prisk (Hertford and Stortford) (Con): The decision to build at Stansted before Heathrow is perverse and will prove unworkable. It will be bad for aviation, bad for the country and bad for the environment. Given that, in 1985, the Government's own inspector concluded that a second runway at Stansted would, to use his words, be an environmental catastrophe, on what evidence is the Secretary of State now reversing that judgment?
Mr. Darling: In 1985, Stansted was used by a very small number of people, and I do not suppose that the inspector, Mr. Eyre, could possibly have foreseen that Stansted would this year handle 19 million passengers-[Interruption.] Hold on. The hon. Gentleman will know, because he knows Stansted airport, that the rise in use of that airport has been dramatic. When I made my statement, I told the House that, looking at the south-east of England, over the next 30 years, it needs two runways. Work needs to start on one now, as, on any view, it would be the end of the decade before the runway was available, and work also needs to start on the second one. If we do not do that, we will end up with increasing pressure to fly that we simply cannot meet. I remind the House that, if only Governments 20 years ago had had the sense to realise the pressures on our road and railway system, we would not have some of the problems that we have today. We need to plan ahead, and if he asks what the grounds are, they are set out in the White Paper.
Mrs. Irene Adams (Paisley, North) (Lab): I congratulate the Secretary of State on having the courage to take the long-term view on aviation. In relation to central Scotland, however, he proposes to safeguard land at Edinburgh airport for future runway and terminal expansion but only recommends that consideration be given to the same at Glasgow. That flies in the face of evidence taken from the CBI, Scottish business, BAA and anyone who was consulted on it. Can he tell me what the terms of that consideration will be? Who will make that consideration, and what is its likely time scale?
Mr. Darling: The position in relation to Glasgow is that Renfrew council, the local planning authority, will be asked to safeguard land for a possible second runway there. In the central belt of Scotland, there will be a need for one additional runway. All the evidence is that pressures will arise at both Edinburgh and Glasgow. On Glasgow, it has become evident since we started consulting that the use of Prestwick has increased dramatically, and that, in effect, the west of Scotland already has two runways, because Prestwick airport is taking traffic away from Glasgow. Whether Glasgow needs a second runway-we are talking about 2020-we do not know. It is sensible to safeguard development there because it would be foolish to rule it out. In any event, terminal development will be needed at Glasgow because its traffic is likely to grow.
All the signs are that the pressure on Edinburgh airport, which has increased dramatically in the last few years, will grow and grow. Clearly, BAA, which owns both airports, will have to decide what it wants to do. We have arranged in the White Paper that there is facility for expansion at both airports. I do not believe that we need two runways in the centre of Scotland-there is no justification for that-but we do need one. The position in Glasgow is being safeguarded, but what is happening with Prestwick and Glasgow means that there are effectively two runways operating in the west of Scotland now. That was not the case even four or five years ago.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth (East Surrey) (Con): The one thing that we were entitled to expect out of this lengthy and painful process was an end to doubt. Does the Secretary of State realise that he has produced a recipe for confusion and blight? What does he have to say to my constituents near Gatwick who will now not know for possibly a decade whether the airport will be expanded? If he has made a decision about Redhill aerodrome, I would be grateful to hear it because he appears to have ducked and dodged decisions on almost everything else.
Mr. Darling: I will forgive the hon. Gentleman because he cannot possibly have read the whole White Paper in the 40 minutes that it has been available. He will find that the Government do not think that Redhill should be expanded.
The hon. Gentleman will know that land to the south of the existing runway at Gatwick has been safeguarded for some time. That safeguarding must be continued and amended slightly in case there is development, but I made it clear right from the start that I did not think that the 2019 agreement should be overturned, and I confirmed that today. That is pretty certain.
Ms Candy Atherton (Falmouth and Camborne) (Lab): How much extra protection will be provided for the residents of Devon and Cornwall by today's announcement given the economic importance of air links to Newquay and Plymouth?
Mr. Darling: I think that my hon. Friend is asking about PSOs-public service obligations-and as I said in my statement, the White Paper sets out the fact that the Government are prepared to step in to safeguard routes from the parts of the United Kingdom, including south-west England, that are further away from London.
Mr. Francis Maude (Horsham) (Con): It is disappointing that the Government have ruled out the long-term serious option of building new airport capacity on the coast, which is happening in most countries where that possibility exists. I am doubly disappointed that they have not removed the blight and uncertainty from any of the existing London airports-in fact, the problem is being compounded. Although the decision not to overturn the 2019 agreement on Gatwick is welcome, how long will it be before the Heathrow issue is resolved? Our constituents in West Sussex need the land that is being safeguarded for the housing that is being imposed on West Sussex by the Deputy Prime Minister. How long will it be before the uncertainty can be resolved?
Mr. Darling: The right hon. Gentleman is not exactly clear whether he wants the housing or not-I rather get the impression that he does not. He will know that the land is safeguarded now, that it has been safeguarded for some time and that it will continue to be safeguarded. I am grateful to him for welcoming the fact that we are not going to overturn the 2019 agreement, which would have been wrong. We have examined proposals for the development of coastal and estuarial airports, but, for the reasons set out in the White Paper, we do not think that we can proceed with them.
Mr. Alan Hurst (Braintree) (Lab): I hope that my right hon. Friend will accept that I am one lawyer who is not rubbing his hands with glee at today's announcement about Stansted. He will be aware of the disappointment and dread caused by the announcement of the expansion. He has already indicated that he is aware of the findings of the public inquiry, which unreservedly damned any second runway. What assessment has he made of the potential profitability of Stansted with a second runway without cross-subsidy from Gatwick and Heathrow?
Mr. Darling: As with any airport development, the private operator must finance airport construction, and, in the case of Stansted, BAA must make such a commercial judgment. I understand that it will say something further in next few days, but it must decide whether it thinks the figures stack up commercially, and the Government will not step in and do that for it.
On my hon. Friend's first point, I accept what was the case in 1985, but aviation has changed dramatically in the past few years. As I said to the hon. Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr. Prisk), even five years ago Stansted had very little traffic; now 19 million people use it. I also repeat the point that, after examining the south-east as a whole-one must examine it as a whole-one sees that it needs two runways in the 30-year period. For the reasons that we have set out, our judgment is that the first runway ought to be at Stansted and that the second one at Heathrow, provided that Heathrow can meet the conditions that we have set out.
Mr. Oliver Heald (North-East Hertfordshire) (Con): Mr. Speaker, your Deputy, the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Sir Alan Haselhurst), and his constituents have, like mine, fought tirelessly against the Stansted expansion. Does the Secretary of State accept that his decision will cause great misery in Essex and east Hertfordshire? How can he explain it to my constituents? It is not a commercial decision-the airlines and BAA have made that clear. It is not an environmental decision-the expansion was described as a catastrophe by the last inspector to examine it-and there is nobody to pay for the infrastructure. Who will pay for the necessary roads and railway links? He gives no answer. It is not good enough for him to talk about the new slip road because that was promised 10 years ago and it is just a catch-up.
Mr. Darling: The airport will be a commercial decision because BAA is responsible for financing and building it. The Civil Aviation Authority regulates cross-subsidy and similar issues between the London airports. I know what was said in 1985, but I have said to the hon. Gentleman and other Members that a lot has changed in the past 20 years. On surface access, the Government have a responsibility for both road and rail.
The hon. Gentleman raised a general point, which we shall return to time and time again, about what he should say to all his constituents. We must balance the fact that airport development has an environmental impact with the fact that more and more of us, including his constituents, are flying more. Such problems are difficult. When I started this process and said that we must press ahead, my senior officials told me that all my predecessors had backed off because the issue is difficult. I can well see why previous Secretaries of State have run a mile from this issue, but I would have been shirking my duty if had not faced up to the difficulties and set out firm proposals to enable people to plan ahead.
Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich) (Lab): The whole House will share with the Secretary of State the much-guarded secret of the expansion of airports in the south-east and welcome the expansion of the regional airports in particular. The reality is that those airports will require flights into Heathrow, which they regard as their lifeline. How will they be protected, will the passenger service obligations be used to ensure that they can fly to Heathrow and what estimate has he made of the cost of not developing Heathrow in the next 10 years? The commercial loss of business to continental airports will be very large. Would he like to tell us what it will be?
Mr. Darling: First, I am grateful for my hon. Friend's remarks about regional airports. I note that she has been entirely consistent because in 1985, which was the last time a Secretary of State came to the Dispatch Box and said anything about airport development, she said the same thing, and she is absolutely right.
The position on Heathrow is that, because of the mandatory requirements relating to nitrogen dioxide, we could not now authorise, approve or support the building of a third runway there. It is clear that, at the moment, a third runway would breach the mandatory NO2 requirements, which is why we believe that work should start on reducing NO2. It should start anyway because we should do everything that we can to reduce it. However, we should keep open the possibility for precisely the reasons that she set out and supports. I made it clear earlier that a third runway at Heathrow could be built provided that we can overcome the problems with air pollution. It would have been wrong for the Government to have said, Yes, just go ahead now", while ignoring the environmental problems that undoubtedly exist at Heathrow.
On my hon. Friend's general point, nobody should be under any illusions: Heathrow is vital not only to the UK but internationally. It is one of the world's leading airports, which is why, no matter what the difficulties, we must do our level best to resolve those problems.
Mr. David Wilshire (Spelthorne) (Con): Does the Secretary of State accept that, on Heathrow, wait and see" is the worst possible answer? My constituents want someone with the courage to say yes or no now. If he were to say yes, he would please just over half my constituents and if he said no, he would satisfy the rest, but instead he will upset them all, especially if he pursues the argument on runway alternation. Uncertainty on Heathrow is bad news. Those who believe that a new runway would safeguard their jobs will worry about redundancy and those who paid a high price for their house will worry that property values might fall. Those who want a better environment will wonder whether they will ever get it.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Many hon. Members want to speak, so they should ask only one supplementary question.
Mr. Darling: I am not sure which side of the great argument the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Wilshire) is on. The White Paper says unequivocally that the Government will support the development of a third runway at Heathrow once we are satisfied that it could meet our environmental obligations. That seems pretty clear to me.
Mr. Dennis Turner (Wolverhampton, South-East) (Lab/Co-op): Speaking on behalf of the 42 members of the west midlands regional Labour parliamentary group, I congratulate the Secretary of State on his firm rejection of a new airport in Rugby, which we opposed unanimously during the consultation. I warmly welcome his decision on Birmingham International airport because the group believes that that will assist the region to meet demand more locally, to generate benefits for economic development and to minimise environmental impact. Will he acknowledge our thanks from the west midlands and may I wish him a happy Christmas?
Mr. Darling: Let me see if I can answer that difficult question. I think that I find myself in total agreement with my hon. Friend.
Mr. John Taylor (Solihull) (Con): Does the Secretary of State realise that his proposal for Birmingham airport was not one of the four options on which my constituents were consulted? The consultation was therefore a sham and an insult to them, and the decision will be challenged.
Mr. Darling: As I said earlier, I am sure that there would have been the possibility of legal challenges up and down the country whatever we did, so we have to accept that. I hope that the hon. Gentleman accepts that the expansion of Birmingham airport will be required at some point in the long-term interest of the west midlands and Birmingham itself. It will probably need a second runway some time after 2016, so the questions will be where that should be and what should be proposed. The proposal that we are prepared to support has the advantage that it suggests a shorter runway than that originally proposed.
Mr. Taylor: It was not one of the options.
Mr. Darling: The hon. Gentleman must contain himself. The proposal represents a better solution, and surely we must all be in the business of providing better solutions for our constituents. If something better is on offer, that is worth looking at.
Mr. David Watts (St. Helens, North) (Lab): I welcome my right hon. Friend's support for regional services to Heathrow. He knows that many regional airports have lost their links, so will he consider how to restore links to airports such as Liverpool?
Mr. Darling: Yes, I am aware of that. The Government's first preference is for all services to be provided on a commercial basis because that represents the best way of ensuring their long-term success. As I said earlier, the Government will consider using PSOs, and the White Paper sets out the criteria under which we would decide whether they would be necessary.
Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South) (UUP): I welcome the Secretary of State's comments on Belfast's airports but may I press him again on Heathrow because we all recognise its importance? How much of the air quality pollution at Heathrow is due to long taxiing and the fact that planes must fly around for half an hour waiting for a slot?
Mr. Darling: There is no doubt that taxiing, aircraft circling Heathrow and aircraft having to wait a long time to take off contribute to pollution, but they are not the major source of the problem. There is an argument that additional runway capacity would mean that there might be less need for aircraft to run their engines when not taking off, but most of the pollution comes from the airfield itself and associated traffic movement around Heathrow. That is why we need to do more not only to get cleaner engines but to improve public transport links to Heathrow. The hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May) criticised me for not widening the M25 further, but I do not think that it could be widened much further there-for all I know, that is her policy. We must ensure that we bear down on pollution on all fronts but we should do that anyway for the good of people living in west London.
Mr. David Marshall (Glasgow, Shettleston) (Lab): I welcome today's deliberate and sensible statement and especially the decision to build a third runway at Heathrow eventually. May I urge the Secretary of State not to allow any slippage and to ensure that the runway is built as soon as the conditions laid down are met because the UK as a whole will otherwise lose out further to Frankfurt, Charles de Gaulle and Schiphol as a result of Heathrow's limitations? I also welcome the protection of slots at Heathrow for Anglo-Scottish services, but will he assure the House that any final decisions on Edinburgh and Glasgow airports will be made on the basis of an absolutely level playing field?
Mr. Darling: Certainly, on the last point, yes. The point that my hon. Friend makes about links between the airports and London is important, so I am sure that he and others will welcome the fact that BMI British Midland yesterday announced a direct flight from Heathrow to Inverness, which British Airways took out of service several years ago, and more flights to Aberdeen. He is right about the risks relating to Heathrow. We have set out our proposals in the White Paper. People have every right to make their views heard on the planning process but I hope that we can make progress quickly for once in this country because we will otherwise pay a heavy price. That has happened with other transport modes, so I do not want it to happen on this matter.
Mr. John Maples (Stratford-on-Avon) (Con): I do not know whether the Secretary of State's decisions about Stansted and Heathrow are right, but he has certainly got the decision on Rugby right. Many of my constituents will be absolutely delighted that the proposal will not be imposed on them because it would have ruined many aspects of their lives. May I tell him that all of us want a major international airport close to where we live, but not too close, so Birmingham will do just fine?
Mr. Darling: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman and agree with him.
Alan Howarth (Newport, East) (Lab): If evidence emerges to show that the increase in capacity foreshadowed by my right hon. Friend today is insufficient to meet demand for long-haul passenger and cargo traffic, will the Government be willing after all to examine open-mindedly and seriously-without prejudice to the outcome-the benefits for aviation, the economy and the environment of creating a new international airport in south-east Wales complementary to the regional role of Cardiff airport?
Mr. Darling: We looked at the two proposals on south-east Wales and, as I said in my statement, the Government did not feel able to support them for the reasons that are fully set out in the White Paper. The White Paper sets out our view of what is necessary and it would be a trifle premature for me to revisit it only an hour after making my statement. I understand my right hon. Friend's point about development at Llanwern but, based on the information that we have, it is not a realistic option.
Mr. Eric Pickles (Brentwood and Ongar) (Con): The Secretary of State made much play of the economic advantage of air travel and of the numbers at Stansted. Surely the growth at Stansted is due to point-to-point travel and highly subsidised flights. Are we really going to tear up two public inquiries and a royal commission to preserve the economic importance of £7 flights to Prague or Eindhoven? Surely the economic case could be made for a hub operation in the United Kingdom. Given the difficulty that was experienced with establishing a hub at Gatwick, what makes him think that Stansted would be able to cope? Surely it is more likely that British Airways will decide to move many of its operations to Charles de Gaulle.
Mr. Darling: In relation to the hon. Gentleman's first point, we do not highly subsidise" airlines. It is interesting that a Conservative Member should criticise the entrepreneurial flair shown by airport operators, and even more surprising that he should call for higher taxation for his constituents. We note that point and no doubt will return to it often.
There is a lot of point-to-point flying at Stansted, but it is increasingly being used as a low-cost hub, with people flying to it and then flying on to other places. I have made my position clear. South-east England needs two runways. The first should be at Stansted for the reasons stated in the White Paper. We also need to consider Heathrow, again for the reasons that we stated.
Ann Keen (Brentford and Isleworth) (Lab): I, too, thank my right hon. Friend for taking note of the environmental impact that a third runway would have on my constituents. I acknowledge the work that campaigning groups, in particular the London borough of Hounslow, have done on that. Does he agree that we need to consider the noise impact on schools in the London borough of Hounslow? I would appreciate it if he could meet me to consider ways in which BAA can assist those schools.
Mr. Darling: My colleagues and I have always made it clear that we are happy to meet our colleagues on both sides of the House. That remains the case and I am happy to meet my hon. Friend, who has already expressed her concerns to me about the environmental impact on the area surrounding Heathrow. She recognises that there is a difficult balance to be struck between the importance of Heathrow to her constituents as an employer and economic driver, and the environmental impacts. She has also raised with me the problem of noise, especially as it affects schools and hospitals. Proposals are set out in the White Paper and we are due to consult generally next year on the noise regime at Heathrow.
Pete Wishart (North Tayside) (SNP): I welcome the announcement that no one Scottish airport will be favoured over any other, but surely many Scottish air services, especially those that go beyond Edinburgh and Glasgow, will be dumped at Stansted. What reassurances has the Secretary of State received that that will not be the case?
Mr. Darling: If I were the hon. Gentleman, I would not use the term dumped". The last time I was at Stansted, many of our fellow countrymen seemed only too happy to be there, not necessarily because they were bound for Essex, but because they were bound for sunnier climates.
The hon. Gentleman would have been better off making a point on PSOs. He will know from his constituency that there is concern about those. The Government have set out proposals to ensure that there are maintained links and adequate levels of supply between the north and the west so that people there can get access into the London airports. I am seized of that point, but the hon. Gentleman should be cautious in what he says about Stansted. I know he and his colleagues have a problem with things south of the border, but they are not all bad.
Lynne Jones (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab): What are the Government doing to bring about international agreements on the liberalisation of long-haul traffic to reduce the number of unnecessary international connecting flights, which constitute a large proportion of the throughput at Heathrow airport? Although my right hon. Friend is correct in saying that the taxation regime on aviation fuel for international journeys is subject to international agreement, that is not the case for domestic flights. Will he consider imposing a taxation regime to raise the revenue stream to enable much bigger investment into high-speed rail links?
Mr. Darling: I welcome my hon. Friend's commitment to liberalising markets. I had not realised that that was where she was coming from. I am slightly taken aback, but I think we can all agree on that approach.
The Government are supporting talks between the European Union and the United States to get a genuine open skies agreement across the Atlantic, because that would be hugely beneficial for people on both sides of the ocean. I suspect, however, that that will take time.
My hon. Friend is right that fuel taxation is dealt with by international treaty. We are taking a lead in trying to ensure that aviation does, over time, meet its costs. On domestic flights, my hon. Friend is right up to a point. We charge air passenger duty, for instance, which brings in about £900 million. However, she is no doubt aware that if we acted unilaterally, airlines would go to a more benign regime, from their perspective, to fill up their aircraft and come back. I am not sure that that would be a desirable outcome.
Mr. John Randall (Uxbridge) (Con): The Secretary of State said that the proposals are for a generation, but for those of us living under the shadow of Heathrow, they will be a blight on another generation. Does he agree that the air quality limits will probably more stringent in 2015? Will the amber light that he gave to a third runway at Heathrow be for a short runway, as suggested in the consultation, or will it be for something else?
Mr. Darling: It is for a shorter runway. During the consultation process, BAA produced proposals to ensure that the runway does not take as much land as originally planned. On Heathrow itself, more stringent environmental conditions may be in place in future, but I do not know what they will be. I do, however, know what they are for 2010, which is why we have to be cautious.
Like many MPs who represent areas around Heathrow, the hon. Gentleman has to balance the environmental impact with the fact that Heathrow is the major employer in west London. The prosperity of west London and the Thames valley depends on it. Given that Heathrow is in competition with Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt, we must do everything we can to ensure that that airport continues to compete in the future. It is a difficult balance to strike, but we have tried to strike it. I appreciate that the decision will be controversial, but we are doing the right thing both on the environmental front and with regard to the future economy of west London.
Sandra Osborne (Ayr) (Lab): I thank the Secretary of State for listening and for recognising so clearly that Glasgow has two airports, one of which is Glasgow Prestwick international airport, which has spare capacity that can and should be utilised. I also welcome his comments on aircraft maintenance. He knows that that is creating many jobs in my constituency and I hope that it will create many more in the future. Has he given consideration in the White Paper to the important role of freight at Glasgow Prestwick international airport?
Mr. Darling: On the last point, I have considered freight. My hon. Friend will know that there has been substantial growth in freight transport at Glasgow, Prestwick and Edinburgh. The three Scottish airports are developing quite a big freight trade.
My hon. Friend rightly draws attention to something that is a problem on the west coast for some of our colleagues. The west of Scotland already has two runways, which is why I said what I did about Glasgow airport to my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley, North (Mrs. Adams). There is no doubt that part of Prestwick's increased traffic is coming out of Glasgow airport. We have to face up to that. It is a quite good thing. My hon. Friend's work, and that of others, in promoting Prestwick has been worth while. The House will remember that not so long ago Prestwick was threatened with closure. It is now doing very well, although the strength of its case has resulted in its being a genuine second west and central Scotland runway.
Norman Baker (Lewes) (LD): I thank the Secretary of State for his announcement on Gatwick, which will be popular in my part of the world. He also mentioned a big expansion of air travel in the UK. On the anticipated effect of his proposals on greenhouse gas emissions, he will know that emissions were expected to double between 1990 and 2010 and, before long, 25 per cent. of CO2 emissions will be from air travel. Will CO2 emissions go up or down as a consequence of his proposals? He says that he wants to ensure that the full environmental costs are met over time. Why is that time not now? What time scale is he applying? Why have the discussion proposals in the aviation and environment paper of March 2003 been kicked into touch for the foreseeable future, on page 41 of the White Paper?
Mr. Darling: In relation to the international discussions, I cannot tell the hon. Gentleman when they will be finalised because they depend on international agreement. In common with just about every other country in the world, we are signatories to the convention and have to reach international agreement. In relation to reducing emissions, I said that we will make it a priority in our presidency of the European Union to bring aviation within the European emissions trading scheme. That will be a significant help. I also said that we would introduce legislation to enable airport operators to impose higher charges for the more polluting aircraft. That will help as well. It has helped with noise already in the London airports. A number of things are being done that I think will reduce aircraft emissions.
The hon. Gentleman and others are right that we must balance the need to ensure that people can travel, because our economy will depend upon it, and to make sure that we are alive to the environmental consequences.
Andy King (Rugby and Kenilworth) (Lab): I thank my right hon. Friend for his clear and categoric statement in the White Paper, at page 92 of which he clearly acknowledges that full account has been taken of the almost uniform opposition to the proposal for a new airport at Rugby, as well as a number of concerns raised in the consultation document. In addition, my right hon. Friend refined the options during the consultation, taking into account the concerns of the people of Birmingham. We thank him for his support of Birmingham airport as well. Will my right hon. Friend say once again that the Government rule out once and for all the option of that new hub airport in the midlands? Thank you.
Mr. Darling: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his thanks. I do not think that I could have made the position any more clear than I did in my statement. I know that my hon. Friend has worked tirelessly against the proposal. Having examined all the evidence and having considered what people had to say, I am clear that the right thing to do was to ensure that we allowed for expansion in the west midlands, but that it should be at Birmingham.
Mr. Anthony Steen (Totnes) (Con): Is the Secretary of State aware that his thought-provoking statement deals with making better use of runway space at Heathrow-not building a new runway but perhaps opting for mixed-mode use, pioneered by British Midland in 1990, which will give much more opportunity for airlines to land without the building of a new runway? Is that what he is proposing in his White Paper? Will he confirm that he will not allow cross-subsidisy from Heathrow to Stansted to finance what Stansted wants to do? Will he ensure that BAA opens to competition any new building of terminal buildings?
Mr. Darling: As for cross-subsidy, that is a matter for the Civil Aviation Authority, which regulates these matters. In relation to the mixed-mode operation at Heathrow, the hon. Gentleman will no doubt be aware that there is a limit on air traffic movements. If mixed mode were to be pursued and if the limit were to be breached, there would have to be consultation. I think that a limit was laid down of 480,000 movements. Mixed mode, depending on whether it was peak hour or all the time, would have an impact on that. It would need to be discussed.
Alan Keen (Feltham and Heston) (Lab): I thank my right hon. Friend and the Government for embarking on a planning exercise. It is a long time since a major industry saw Government involvement in planning. May I thank my right hon. Friend for listening to my constituents, and remind him that there were no page numbers for the Opposition spokesman to quote last time there was a major expansion at Heathrow because there was no Government involvement, no planning and no consultation? I much appreciate what my right hon. Friend has done this time.
If there is any thought of mixed mode at Heathrow airport, I ask my right hon. Friend to listen to us before deciding to use the northern runway for take-offs to the east for the 25 per cent. of the time that takes place. The Cranford agreement has prevented that for the past 30 to 35 years. It is unacceptable for my constituents in Cranford to have planes taking off over the top of them when they are so close to the end of the runway.
Mr. Darling: As I was saying to the hon. Member for Totnes (Mr. Steen) a few moments ago, partly because mixed mode may well result in there being an increase in aircraft movements, it will be necessary to consult. I am also aware of the Cranford agreement, which has been in place for a long time. I appreciate what my hon. Friend has said. He, like many others, has made representations arising from his concern about the environmental impact. I welcome what he said about the importance of the Government being clear as to where they stand-and who knows, we might one day find out where others stand.
Mr. Crispin Blunt (Reigate) (Con): I thank the Secretary of State for his unequivocal rejection of Redhill and the claims made for it by the promoters, including the claim that local people were indifferent. Is he aware that that means that I shall not have to pass on to him 6,000 letters, on behalf of about 10,000 of my constituents, which are sitting in my office as part of the consultation process?
May I ask the Secretary of State about the position of Gatwick as the reserve if development at Heathrow cannot go ahead? Has he not opened up the possibility that he will end up with three two-runway London airports as the end product if development at Heathrow is not possible? Will he answer two specific questions? Would it not have been better for that reserve position to be a third runway at Stansted, given that he will in any case have to build the infrastructure to get a second runway at Stansted? Secondly, how long will the people around Gatwick have to wait before they know whether a third runway at Heathrow is feasible?
Mr. Darling: If the hon. Gentleman had had a mirror he would have been fascinated to see the expressions of some of his colleagues sitting behind him. No, we do not think that there should be a third runway at Stansted. As for Gatwick, our position is that we think that in the south-east of England over the next 30 years there need to be two new runways. That remains our position. In relation to Redhill, I will be extremely grateful to the hon. Gentleman if he keeps the 6,000 letters. I think I speak on behalf of my staff at the Department for Transport when I say that they will be even more grateful than me, given that they have already dealt with many thousands of letters. If the hon. Gentleman can see his way to storing the 6,000 letters in his office, I think my staff will be very grateful.
17 December 2003
STATEMENT FROM TRANSPORT 2000
TRANSPORT 2000 said that the Government had missed an opportunity to manage demand for air travel and had opted instead for just a few warm words on the environment and a go-ahead for expansion of the aviation industry that would exacerbate social and environmental problems.
The environmental transport group was responding to the Government's White Paper on aviation launched today. Despite the welcome principle that aviation should pay for its environmental and social impact, no framework has been announced for making this actually happen. Instead the Government has sanctioned extra runways at Stansted, Heathrow, Birmingham and possibly Edinburgh, with no change to Air Passenger Duty and no change to aviation's tax exemptions in terms of fuel duty and VAT. Transport 2000 argues that a boosted Air Passenger Duty could form an environmental tax on air travel while ending aviation's 'tax-free' status is essential if it is to pay its way.
Stephen Joseph, Director of Transport 2000, said: "We've heard a few warm words on the environment but little more than that. The industry certainly hasn't been given the cold shower it needed to bring it into reality. This was the Government's big opportunity to dampen down demand for aviation and bring its environmental and social problems under control but it hasn't taken it. By opting for significant growth, the Government has issued a passport to much greater carbon emissions, pollution and noise nuisance in the future."
Transport 2000 also criticised the White Paper for underplaying the role that high speed rail could have as a substitute for short-haul flights. Around 45 per cent of air journeys in the EuroControl countries are currently 500 kilometres or less in length: ideal for rail.
17 December 2003
PRIORITY HEATHROW STATEMENT
Priority Heathrow Welcomes Approval of Third Runway
Campaign group, Priority Heathrow, welcomed the news that the government has given the green light for a third runway at the airport.
Commenting on the decision to expand Heathrow, spokesman Andrew Fraser, said: "This is good news for the UK and the aviation industry. We welcome the inclusion of expansion at Heathrow in the White Paper.
The Secretary of State has taken the bold step of approving extra capacity at Heathrow and we welcome his announcement of an action plan to bring this into effect. The Government should now secure the future competitiveness of the UK by ensuring its development is afforded the highest priority.
The aviation industry is confident that the environmental challenges can be met. We urge the Government, BAA and all affected parties to work together and strive to make early progress for the benefit of the community around Heathrow, as well as the wider economic health of the region, in the planning and building of the third runway.
The campaign has highlighted the significant benefits of Heathrow airport, as the nation's hub, over and above other airports in the South-East. Heathrow has the ability to generate greater economic benefits, secure more jobs and form the centre of a truly integrated surface transport network.
Priority Heathrow represents a body of support including businesses, trade unions, Chambers of Commerce and airlines all of whom campaigned for the third runway. The Government can be confident of their continued support throughout the planning and development stages of the new infrastructure.
17 December 2003
Darling Fails To Deliver Sustainable Aviation Policy
"The Government has failed to grasp the nettle of environmental sustainability for air transport. In the long term, the White Paper is set to land a disaster on our countryside."
This was the immediate reaction by countryside campaigners CPRE to the publication today (Tuesday) of the Government's long awaited Air Transport White Paper.
CPRE's Aviation Campaigner, Andrew Critchell, said: "A sustainable air transport policy should be about ensuring that the industry and consumers pay for the very real environmental damage caused by each flight. The White Paper fails to address this challenge."
The White Paper gives Government sanction to two new runways in the South East, at Stansted and either Heathrow or Gatwick, operational by 2020, and one new runway at Birmingham. The document calls for several other airports around England to have runways extended and large new terminals built.
Local environmental damage is to be controlled in terms of mitigation and compensation, with growth allowed to continue unchecked. Emissions trading is supported in order to combat climate change, yet this depends on complex and uncertain international negotiations and will take years to introduce. With no interim measures in the short term, countryside and communities will continue to suffer from this go for growth approach.
Andrew Critchell concluded: "While we welcome a commitment to the long-term goal of emissions trading to combat climate change, the White Paper is fundamentally flawed in its failure to address the need to manage and reduce future levels of growth."
"Why can't the Government understand the direct link between allowing continued massive growth in air transport and the onset of environmental and social problems such as the further loss of the tranquillity of the countryside and damaging climate change."
15 December 2003
LAST STATEMENTS BEFORE THE BIG DAY
THE NATIONAL TRUST
MORE RUNWAYS ARE NOT THE ANSWER
National Trust calls for Government to put domestic tourism before airport expansion
With publication of the Aviation White Paper now imminent, The National Trust renewed its call for the Government to focus on encouraging domestic tourism rather than embarking on an unnecessary and highly damaging programme of airport expansion.
"The Government should concentrate on getting tourists to spend their money in Britain rather than encouraging them to spend more and more money overseas," said Tony Burton, Director of Policy and Strategy for the National Trust.
"Latest figures show that Britain ran up a massive £15.3 billion deficit in tourism in 2002.The country is losing nearly £175,000 every hour, and an ill-considered programme of airport expansion will make the situation infinitely worse as well as inflicting unnecessary environmental damage."
Tourism is vital to many regions of the UK and the Trust believes that the Government should be supporting domestic tourism with better promotion, improved access, quality accommodation and better rail links.
The Trust is also deeply concerned about the environmental impact of the Government's proposed "predict and provide" approach and warns that damage to regional environments and heritage assets could also undermine regional economies.
"Research shows that the economic value of the environment is at least three times greater than that of aviation in several areas of the UK, such as the North East and the South West," continued Tony Burton. "Airport expansion with its side effects of noise, pollution and increased road traffic could also seriously damage the environmental assets on which these regional economies are based."
As Europe's largest conservation organisation and a major force in the heritage and tourism industry, the Trust has first hand experience of the damage aviation expansion can cause to the UK's most valued heritage. Many Trust properties are in danger of permanent damage if some of the expansion plans put forward by Government go ahead.
Tony Burton concluded: "We will be very disappointed if the White Paper promotes the idea of new runway capacity before alternative ways of reducing the growth in flights have been implemented."
THE GUARDIAN HAS ITS OWN FORECAST
Minister opts for Stansted, with deal for Heathrow
Andrew Clark, Transport Correspondent - 15 December 2003 - The Guardian
The transport secretary, Alistair Darling, will tomorrow authorise the biggest expansion of Britain's airport capacity for a generation, including new runways at Stansted and Birmingham, and a "compromise" allowing more flights at Heathrow.
Whitehall sources say he has resisted pressure from the environment secretary, Margaret Beckett, to tone down his plan, which he regards as the most important decision he will take as a transport minister.
He has stopped short of the most controversial option, building a third runway at Heathrow, the country's busiest airport. But he is likely to offer a review of the rule prohibiting the simultaneous use of both existing runways.
To the dismay of environmentalists, there will be no increase in the air passenger duty levied on tickets. But Mr Darling may favour a scheme intended to make airlines pay for the cost of their pollution.
Protesters near Stansted, backed by Essex county council, are preparing to sue the government on the grounds that it has paid insufficient attention to the environmental consequences of a new runway.
Carol Barbone, director of the Stop Stansted Expansion campaign, vowed to block the extra runway at a public inquiry.
Mr Darling's announcement will end 18 months of uncertainty since the publication of a consultation paper. It will finally rule out new international airports near Rugby and at Cliffe in north Kent. Birmingham airport will be favoured for expansion over East Midlands airport. There will also be a long-term decision on airport expansion in Scotland, between Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Airlines may take legal action, led by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, which say they will challenge any attempt to fund a new runway at Stansted by increasing landing charges at Heathrow. The BA chief executive, Rod Eddington, has warned that unless Heathrow gets an extra runaway, British aviation could go into a spiral of descent akin to shipbuilding and coalmining.
In an attempt to dampen their ire, the government will propose ending the restrictions which require Heathrow to alternate its two runways each day, using one for take-offs and one for landings to relieve the noise nuisance.
A review next year will consider full use of both, which could increase the annual capacity from 65 million passengers to 105 million. That is likely to enrage local communities. They say they will never have any relief from noise. Critics say it will complicate air traffic control.
BA said: "It's a short-term fix which will address some of the capacity constraints. But the case for a third runway remains compelling."
The government regards airport expansion as essential to cope with the growing appetite for cheap foreign travel. The number of people passing through the country's terminals rose from 30 million in 1970 to 180 million in 2000, and is forecast to reach 500 million by 2030.
Environmentalists say aviation benefits from pounds 9bn of tax advantages annually. Transport 2000 has suggested that raising air passenger duty, introducing fuel tax, and putting VAT on tickets would squash demand and avoid the need for expansion.
Locals held a procession at Heathrow on Saturday, ending with a carol service in a 15th-century tithe barn which would be demolished if a new runway were to be built.
NOW THE SUNDAY TIMES HAS ANOTHER IDEA
Heathrow bid for 20m extra passengers
Dominic O'Connell - 14 December 2003 - The Sunday Times
THE government is to investigate a scheme to allow Heathrow to handle another 20m passengers a year at the same time as refusing it another runway.
The move, expected to be floated in a white paper on aviation this week, is likely to cause uproar among environmental campaigners but may please the big airlines, which are demanding expansion of Heathrow instead of new runways elsewhere.
On Tuesday Alistair Darling, the transport secretary, will give his decision on proposals for the first new runway to be built in the southeast for 20 years. He is expected to say Stansted is the government's favoured option. He is also expected to reveal that his department and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) are to examine how to increase dramatically the capacity of Heathrow's existing two runways.
Under a long-standing agreement between the airport and local councils, the runways are operated in "segregated mode", with one used for takeoffs and one for landings. Operations are regularly switched to give residents at the end of each runway some respite from the worst of the noise.
Darling wants to consider using the runways in "mixed mode" -where aircraft take off and land on each runway, as they do at most British airports. It would be relatively simple and swift to adopt, given that air traffic controllers at Heathrow are already allowed to use limited mixed-mode working whenever delays to arriving aircraft exceed 30 minutes.
According to a study by Halcrow, a firm of engineers, the mixed-mode system would increase the airport's capacity from 480,000 flights a year to 551,000, roughly equivalent to putting all flights now operating from Luton into Heathrow.
A fifth terminal, now under construction, is already planned to raise Heathrow's capacity from 65m passengers a year to 85m. With mixed-mode runways, this could soar to 105m, says the Halcrow report.
The impact on residents and the environment could be very contentious. With 71,000 more flights a year over London, noise and congestion would almost inevitably increase.
"We are opposed to any change to the operations of Heathrow's runways, whether in segregation or alternation, that would increase the noise impact on residents," said a spokesman for Hillingdon borough council, one of the local authorities that has led the campaign against a new Heathrow runway.
Darling will seek to appease environmentalists by signalling an increase in air passenger duty, a levy paid by all passengers departing the UK.
Mixed-mode would also require the government to lift the 480,000 a year limit on flights agreed as part of the planning approval for terminal five.
To the government, though, the plan has attractions. The proposed new runway at Stansted is opposed by the airlines and would not be ready for at least a decade, according to industry experts.
Wrangles over funding and Britain's long-winded planning process mean it is unlikely to open before 2015, according to sources at BAA, the airports group that owns Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.
"We have three or four other potential avenues for legal challenges to any decision in favour of a runway at Stansted," said Carol Barbone, campaign director of Stop Stansted Expansion.
Airlines have also threatened legal action if any attempt is made to accelerate the construction of a Stansted runway by the diversion of profits from Heathrow.
British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and BMI British Midland yesterday vowed they would not move services to Stansted and would fight for a further Heathrow runway.
"It is impossible to imagine how it could make sense for us to move any operations to Stansted," said Rod Eddington, the chief executive of British Airways.
A failure to expand Heathrow risked dooming the aviation industry to the same fate as shipbuilding, he said. "That is a completely valid comparison. World leading industries need proper infrastructure if they are to stay world-leading."
Sir Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Atlantic, said: "We don't want to see a white elephant built at Stansted and financed by Heathrow."
The white paper, to be released on the eve of the centenary of the first powered flight by Orville and Wilbur Wright, is expected to be cautious in tone. Darling is said to be wary of the threat of judicial reviews.
But he is expected to give the go-ahead to more capacity in the Midlands - possibly with tacit approval for a runway extension at Birmingham -and, in the longer term, an extra runway in Scotland. A new runway at Heathrow, which might go ahead once local emission problems are solved, is not thought likely before 2020.
"The government will be careful only to set out the pre-conditions for development; it expects private sector developers to come forward with the actual proposals," said one source.
"The effect of this could be that development will be delayed even longer."
British Airways is to cut up to 5,000 more jobs in the UK in a revamp of its operations that is expected to include a radical reworking of its route network.
Rod Eddington, the chief executive, warns staff in an internal letter that the airline needed to accelerate its already tough cost-cutting plan, which has seen employee numbers drop by nearly 13,000 to 52,000. The airline was "still too expensive to run", he said.
Also in the Sunday Times is a long article by Germaine Greer extolling the virtues of expansion, which she believes could be accompanied by controlled urbanisation offering a new quality of life if properly planned (though she has no faith in the present Government's ability to carry out such a scheme). She is so used to living with the roar of the motorway that she appears to feel that air noise will not make much difference. We doubt if any town planner, including Ms Greer, can manage to create an attractive pollution free urban environment around a busy airport.
Stansted turbulence. Peter answers back
by Peter Riding - 14 December 2003 - Independent On Sunday
Germaine Greer says she is in favour of one or more runways at Stansted because the rural peace where she lives has already been lost ("Greer and Oliver square up over airport expansion", 7 December) but the current "heavy traffic" is but a tiny stream compared to the river of traffic that will flow with the massive urbanisation that would accompany expanding Stansted to be as large or even larger than Heathrow.
She says airports are a commercial reality. Airports may be an important part of her life, but as far as the commercial reality of the country is concerned, aviation comes below sewage in economic importance.
The Independent on Sunday
Airport expansion grounded
by Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor - 14 December 2003 - Independent On Sunday
Heathrow and Gatwick plans curbed because of global warming fears,
but Stansted will get new runway
Ministers will this week scale back plans for a big increase in air travel and new airport runways in an attempt to protect the climate.
The Air Transport White Paper was originally intended to endorse "unconstrained demand" for world travel, almost tripling by 2030, on the grounds that it would benefit the economy. Instead it will outline measures to restrict growth in order to fight global warming.
The dramatic shift of policy outlined in the White Paper, to be published on Tuesday, marks a personal victory for Margaret Beckett. The Secretary of State for Environment has made toning down the ambitions of the Department of Transport one of her main priorities over the past month. She has spent many hours in discussion with the Secretary of State for Transport, Alistair Darling.
The White Paper will propose only one new runway for London's airports - at Stansted - and another short one for Birmingham. Heathrow will have to wait for another decade before a new runway is considered. There are no plans for new airports.
Originally the Department of Transport planned three or four new runways in southern England over the next 20 years to meet an expected rise in passengers from 180 million a year in 2000 to more than 500 million in 2030.
The first runways were expected at Stansted and Heathrow, with a possible new London airport at Cliffe on the Thames estuary. New airports were also mooted for Rugby and Redhill, Surrey.
The change is, however, unlikely to be enough to satisfy anti-airports campaigners. "We don't expect environmentalists to welcome the White Paper, as they want to see no increase in air travel," said a senior government source. "But it is a hell of a lot better for them than looked possible a few months ago."
The change has largely been brought about by alarm at the consequences of emissions of carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse gases" that cause global warming.
A special report by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution last year said it was "deeply concerned at the prospect of continuing rapid increases in air traffic ... and the serious and continuing impact this will have on the prospects for achieving the necessary overall reductions in greenhouse gas emissions". It pointed out that emissions from aircraft are three times more damaging in warming the earth than those from cars, homes and industries because they are injected directly into the atmosphere.
A report by the House of Commons Environmental Audit committee in July said that, partly because of this, "aviation could become the most significant source of greenhouse gas emissions in the next few decades". It calculated that pollution from increasing air travel could in itself "totally destroy" the Government's commitment to cut national emissions to protect the climate. Ministers were also taken aback by the extent of public opposition to a policy of rapid expansion. The official consultation exercise recorded an extraordinary 400,000 submissions - almost all of them hostile.
The White Paper will propose that air transport is included in a European system of "emissions trading" under which a cap for pollution by greenhouses gases would be set, and industries allowed to trade within it. An airline which came within its limit would be able to sell its excess pollution allowance, while one that exceeded it would have to buy extra rights.
Ministers do not believe that air passenger duty should be sharply increased, because they think it would annoy travellers while yielding little environmental benefit. They are still considering "emission charges" which would be imposed at different levels, depending on the pollution to be released during the flight.
THE FINANCIAL TIMES AGAIN
Travellers face big rise in air passenger levy
by Cathy Newman - 13 December 2003 - Financial Times
British travellers face a big increase in air passenger tax, to be announced by the government next week in an attempt to make aviation foot the bill for its environmental costs.
Alistair Darling, transport secretary, will publish an aviation white paper on Tuesday giving the industry clearance for a massive expansion of the country's airports over the next 30 years. But to head off an expected outcry from environmentalists, he will propose a hefty rise in the duty paid by airline passengers.
One government insider said the annual £800m revenues from air passenger duty would "around double" if the measures were implemented.
Economy passengers currently pay £5 for every short-haul flight, and £20 for long haul. Premium travellers are charged £10 for short haul and £40 for long haul.
Environmentalists welcomed the plans, but described the tax as a "blunt instrument" that had failed to get airlines to conserve fuel or cut pollution. They say passengers and the industry do not pay the true environmental costs of flying. Unlike other forms of transport, aviation is not taxed on the fuel it uses.
The white paper will pave the way for Stansted to get the first new airport runway in the south-east for almost 20 years. Mr Darling is also expected to leave open the possibility of a third runway at Heathrow some time over the next three decades.
Richard Dyer, aviation campaigner at Friends of the Earth, welcomed the likely rise in air-passenger duty. But he added: "We see it as a first step towards a proper environmental charge which adequately reflects the damage that aviation does to the environment.
"What we want is something which will drive airlines to be more efficient, for example an emissions charge. Airline passenger duty doesn't do that. It's something of a blunt instrument."
The group would like the government to tax fuel on domestic flights. It says the industry benefits from tax breaks and concessions totalling £9.2bn per year.
The paper is expected to emphasise the environmental importance of including aviation within the global emissions-trading scheme - aimed at giving companies financial incentives to cut greenhouse gas emissions - and of an EU-wide aviation fuel tax. But the transport department is believed to have backed away from more far-reaching, targeted taxes. Although Britain remains committed to such proposals, they are more difficult to implement, as they require international agreement.
Andrew Cahn, British Airways' government and industry affairs director, opposed an increase in air passenger duty. He said: "We would want the government to work with European partners to find solutions which really address the environmental issues rather than just seek to raise tax revenue from an industry already under huge pressure."
BA already participates in a voluntary emissions-trading scheme in the UK. That scheme is to be introduced across Europe in 2005.
Our Comment: The Last word -we shall see tomorrow who has the right crystal ball - or the right contacts amongst the leakers. One fact is clear, there will be a lot of battles in the next few years, and those with the most staying power will win. Maybe the question will be pre-empted by another round of fierce storms and floods precipitating the need to take urgent action on climate change. Maybe...
13 December 2003
THE WHITE PAPER IS EXPECTED NEXT WEEK
FROM TRANSPORT 2000
The Aviation White Paper: Flying into trouble? - News Briefing
The Aviation White Paper is expected to be published on 16 or 17 December 2003. This briefing looks at the options facing the Government and how Transport 2000 and the environmental lobby are likely to react. The Government will have to make controversial decisions on whether or where to provide new runway capacity, the degree to which aviation should meet its environmental and social costs and whether demand should be managed through a higher Air Passenger Duty.
When it came to power in 1997, Labour saw aviation as a second-term issue. Its Transport White Paper, published in 1998, said very little about aviation. It confined itself to outlining broad principles: the new airports policy would "take account of the demand for airport capacity", "relieve pressure on congested airports in the south-east of England" and "facilitate public transport links to airports, with a particular focus on improved rail access".
The Department for Transport`s (DfT`s) preparation for the Aviation White Paper has been a two-part process. In January 2000, the department put The Future of Aviation out to consultation. This asked for views on aviation policy.
Then, in July 2002, the DfT consulted on the Regional Air Studies, which outlined options for airport expansion across the country. There were seven studies, each covering a different area of the UK. This included Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (as aviation is not a devolved matter). The forthcoming White Paper will cover the whole of the UK. Each of the Regional Air Studies set out options for significant expansion in the area it covered. The DfT has always stressed the fact that it was just outlining options and that many of the proposals would not be included in the White Paper.
The main focus was the South-east. The options for the region were outlined in the SERAS Study. The main options were a third runway at Heathrow, one to three new runways at Stansted, a new two to four runway airport at Cliffe in Kent, a re-aligned runway at Luton (allowing for expansion) and a new airport at Alconbury (concentrating on freight operations). The option of one to two new runways at Gatwick was added in February 2003 after a successful High Court challenge, brought by Kent County Council and Medway District Council, that the exclusion of Gatwick was "irrational".
The other area earmarked for significant expansion was the West Midlands where the main options were a new four-runway airport between Rugby and Coventry (that was seen as an alternative to Birmingham and Coventry airports, which would close if it was built), a second runway at Birmingham, and expansion at East Midlands Airport. In the rest of the country, the Regional Air Studies outlined a policy of making full use of existing airport capacity.
What to expect in the White Paper
The general tone of the White Paper is likely to stress the importance of aviation to the UK economy and to emphasise consumer choice. But it is also likely to argue that growth needs to take place in a sustainable way.
1. New airports will be ruled out
The options of new airports at Cliffe, on the North Kent Coast, and at Church Lawson in the West Midlands, are likely to be rejected. They proved unpopular with local communities and environmental groups. They were also disliked by the aviation industry as it has already invested so much in existing airports.
2. New runways will be phased in over a 20-year timescale
At the beginning of this year it looked as if the Government was set to give the go-ahead to three new runways in the South-east and one at Birmingham. This is what the industry was pressing for. But the Government has backed away from this approach for two main reasons: the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has been concerned that permission for significant expansion may result in the Government's target to reduce the UK's contribution to global warming being breached, and the level, and unity, of opposition to its expansion programme has surprised the Government. The industry has now accepted a phased approach to be a political reality.
Heathrow and Stansted are the front-runners. The White Paper is likely to argue that three new runways will probably be required in the South-east over the next 30 years to meet projected demand. It may just leave it at that and invite developers/airport operators to come up with proposals for runways at Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick. But it is thought more likely that it will indicate some preferences.
Heathrow? Stansted? Gatwick? The big barrier to giving early permission for a third runway at Heathrow is air pollution levels around the airport. The SERAS Study admitted that the Government could not see a way in which levels could be kept below the EU legal limit if a third runway were built. BAA, the airport operator, is known to be concerned that any scheme it might bring forward for a third runway might be thrown out at a public inquiry because of the air pollution problems. But the airlines, and particularly British Airways, along with big business in London, have lobbied hard for a third runway at Heathrow. An option the Government has considered is to go for an additional runway at Stansted first, with the promise to the airlines that it will be prepared to consider Heathrow in 10-15 years if the industry can reduce its pollution levels. It is not thought that the Government will override the Gatwick legal agreement whereby BAA agreed with West Sussex County Council not to consider an additional runway before 2019 in return for permission to use the existing runway to its full capacity.
Birmingham? East Midlands? The White Paper is likely to sanction significant expansion in the West Midlands, possibly a new runway at Birmingham.
The rest of the UK? The White Paper is expected to encourage the full use of existing capacity. This will exclude new runways, but new terminal facilities might need to be built at some airports in due course to cater for increased passenger numbers.
3. The polluter pays principle will be adopted for aviation
The White Paper will confirm the Government's commitment to the polluter pays principle. The Treasury has pushed for this and the aviation industry has accepted the principle of it. The debate will revolve around the level of money to be raised from the industry to reflect its true external costs. The Treasury estimates external costs as £1.4 billion per annum rising to £4.8 billion in 2030. But the Treasury acknowledges that these estimates do not take account of impacts on land use, properties, heritage and ecology, or of climate catastrophe impacts. If those were to be included, the estimated figures would be between £5 billion and £6 billion rising to £29 billion by 2030.
4. Air Passenger Duty may be raised
At present £0.8 billion is raised annually from Air Passenger Duty (APD). It is not an environmental tax and its purpose is to contribute to general taxation. A fierce debate has gone on within the Government on whether this should be raised. In the short-term this is the only tax the Government could impose to dampen down demand (a tax on aviation fuel would require international agreement, an emissions charge could only be imposed at a European level and a Europe-wide emissions trading scheme is unlikely to be fully operational for ten years). DEFRA has argued for a rise in APD, but some in government fear it could be portrayed as a tax on holidays. Its attraction for the Government is that it could be a signal to the green lobby that the Government is not adopting a predict and provide policy.
5. A Europe-wide Emissions Trading System will be endorsed
BAA has been pushing hard for this. The airlines, which would need to pay the cost of trading emissions, have been less keen. But the Government is fully expected to back the BAA position and press strongly within the EU for a Europe-wide emissions trading scheme to be set up.
Transport 2000 welcomes:
1. The recognition that the environmental and social downsides of aviation need to be considered. The campaigning of environmental organisations over the past few years has played a key role persuading government to take more seriously the environmental consequences of aviation growth.
2. The scaling down of its plans for expansion. The Government has drawn back from its original plans to go for a 'big bang' approach to aviation expansion. Instead, it has adopted a phased approach where environmental considerations will form part of any package for future growth.
But Transport 2000 argues that:
1. The Government has been half-hearted in its attempt to manage demand. It has not made full use of the fiscal tools available. The tax concessions received by the aviation industry, amounting to £9 billion a year (through tax-free fuel and VAT-free transactions), artificially fuel demand.
Transport 2000 would like to see:
* A significant rise in Air Passenger Duty
* The imposition of VAT on all aviation transactions
* A firm commitment to an EU emissions charge
* Slot auctioning at the main airports.
Such an approach would eliminate the need for any new runways, even in the South-east. In February 2003, AirportWatch (the umbrella organisation of environmental NGOs and airport protest groups) persuaded the Department for Transport to re-run its forecasting modal (SPASM), feeding in the assumption that aviation would be taxed at the same rate as petrol and with VAT on aviation products. The result? No new runways would be needed anywhere in the UK between now and 2030.
2. The Government needs to address the equity implications of the tax concessions received by the aviation industry. Currently, the tax concessions - and the very cheap fares they make possible - are of most benefit to the wealthiest 10 per cent of the population, the most frequent flyers.
3. The Government has over-emphasised the importance of airport expansion to the economy. The piece of research underlying the Government's economic assumptions, The Contribution of the Aviation Industry to the UK Economy, was undertaken by consultants Oxford Economic Forecasting but was 90 per cent paid for by the aviation industry. It did not take account of the social and environmental costs of aviation expansion. Nor did it factor in the effect of the tax concessions the industry receives from tax-free fuel and VAT exemptions. It also ignored the findings of Transport and the Economy, published by SACTRA (the Government-appointed Standing Advisory Committee on Trunk Road Assessment) in 1997, which found that, in a developed economy like the UK's, the provision of transport infrastructure does not necessarily lead to any gains in economic performance and regeneration. In summary, its critics argue that it paints an unrealistically rosy picture of aviation's contribution to the economy and a flawed basis for policy making.
4. The Government has failed to assess the impact of high-speed rail. Forty-five per cent of the air trips currently made in the EuroControl countries are 500 kilometres or less in length. Many of these journeys could realistically be switched to an efficient and effective rail network. This is the direction both the Germans and the French are taking. Post-White Paper, Transport 2000 will encourage the Government to do some in-depth work on the role that an effective high-speed rail network could play in substituting for short-haul flights.
Friends of the Earth Press Release
Wednesday 10th December
AIRPORT EXPANSION WILL WRECK UK'S CLIMATE CHANGE TARGETS
Margaret Beckett urged to fight new runways
Building new runways stimulating a massive increase in flights will
make it impossible for the UK to meet its targets for cutting climate
change emissions, Friends of the Earth warned today. The environmental
campaign group has written to Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett
urging her to oppose new runway proposals when the Cabinet discusses
the issue later this week . The Air Transport White Paper is
expected to be published next week .
In an open letter to Environment Minister Margaret Beckett, Friends of
the Earth highlighted findings from a recent Commons Audit Committee
warning that Government proposals for a growth in aviation emissions
"could totally destroy the Government's commitment to a 60% cut in
carbon dioxide emissions by 2050" and that the Department for
Transport is little interested in sustainability. Mrs Beckett is
urged to argue for a sustainable aviation policy which reflects the
Government's commitment to reducing emissions.
Friends of the Earth is calling on the Government to introduce a
sustainable aviation policy in its Air Transport White Paper which
will manage the demand for air travel through the introduction of fair
taxation for aviation and lead to genuine reductions in the industry's
impacts, such as noise and air pollution, generation of road traffic
and pressure for built development. The Government's own computer
forecasting model has shown that no new runways would be needed
anywhere before 2030 if fair taxation was introduced.
In a separate development at the International Climate Change
Convention meeting in Milan this week, delegates heard how storms are
becoming more severe in the UK as climate change starts to affect our
Friends of the Earth's aviation campaigner Richard Dyer said:
"If the Government allows more runways, it will miss its targets to
tackle dangerous climate change. We've heard already this week how the
UK is experiencing more severe weather as a result of climate change.
Knowing this, it will be the height of irresponsibility for the
Government to permit airport expansion. Mrs Beckett must not let the
airline industry's insatiable demand for more runways push Ministers
into destroying Tony Blair's ambitious and welcome promise to protect
our climate by cutting UK carbon dioxide emissions by 60% by 2050."
13 December 2003
THE EVENING STANDARD JOINS IN WITH MORE PREDICTIONS
Airlines pose legal threat to Stansted runway plan
by Hugh Dougherty, Home Affairs Correspondent and Elizabeth Hopkirk - 12 December 2003
The Government is facing a mounting threat of legal action when it formally
gives the go-ahead to a second runway at Stansted Airport.
An increasing number of airlines are consulting lawyers to try to avoid
picking up the bill for the £4 billion project through increased landing
The announcement on Stansted - which will rule out a third runway at
Heathrow for at least 15 years - could come as early as Monday and will
plunge the Government into fresh controversy.
The anger of airlines, and the opposition of residents around Stansted,
could hold up the project.
The Government has been forced to choose Stansted as the "least worst
option" because of concern Heathrow will exceed European Union pollution
limits due to come into effect in 2010.
But airlines that use Heathrow today made a last-minute call for a third
runway at the west London airport, saying Stansted, in Essex, would be a "
white elephant ". Rivals British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have formed an
unlikely alliance and other key airlines, including British Midland - which
flies as bmi - and American Airlines, are also backing the call.
Even the budget airlines that use Stansted are opposed to the second runway
plan as they fear BAA, the company that runs the airport, would levy higher
landing charges to pay for it.
Ryanair today branded the proposal a "rip-off ", saying the runway could be
built for a fraction of the cost. EasyJet said BAA should not be allowed to
increase charges to fund the project.
Airlines could go to court individually, and some may apply to the European
Commission to claim competition rules are being broken by the Government.
American Airlines said: "We have no wish to subsidise the construction of
runways at Stansted by means of the profits earned by BAA at London
Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson also criticised the plan. "If the Government
go with Stansted, I think they will have bottled out of what is actually
needed for this country," he said.
A spokesman for British Midland said: "We would consider all our options.
It's quite simply not acceptable for us to subsidise development at an
airport we don't operate out of."
Residents and environmentalists are also drawing up legal challenges.
Pressure group Stop Stansted Expansion is likely to claim the Government is
wrong to give the go-ahead to the runway without examining in detail what it
will do to the environment. Carol Barbone, the group's campaign director,
said: "We do not believe the plan can go ahead without a full and proper
environmental impact assessment - and that has not taken place.
"We have every confidence the courts will back us in that and halt a second
The Government, and many airlines, say some sort of airport expansion in the
South-East is desperately needed.
Ministers say the demand for flights is set almost to double by 2015, and
without expansion the skies face gridlock. They also warn that failing to
cater for the growing demand for air travel could seriously harm the
13 December 2003
THE NEW STATESMAN ASKS -
AVIATION - WHAT'S ON THE HORIZON?
SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT TO THE XMAS EDITION OF THE NEW STATESMAN
The supplement is 30 pages long. It gives a summary of the case for and against expansion with short articles written by a range of commentators from Mike Clasper to the RSPB. It
has two pictures of the SSE demonstration in London though only general information about the various protest groups. There is nothing new, but it is a good read ! A pity it was not produced last Xmas!
11 December 2003
LAST MINUTE PUSH FOR HEATHROW RUNWAY
Business Travel Briefing
by Roger Bray - 9 December 2003 - Financial Times
The UK's Guild of Business Travel Agents has added its weight to pressure on the government to sanction an extra runway at London's Heathrow airport.
The Guild has written to Alastair Darling, transport secretary, to try to head off a likely decision to expand Stansted airport instead. This would endanger Heathrow's position as the world's premier international airport, says Philip Carlisle, chief executive, and would "jeopardise Britain's position as a major trading nation".
He estimates that, of all business passengers using the two airports, more than 90 per cent use Heathrow. One reason is that, while Stansted has become an important base for low-cost carriers, it has failed to attract enough long-haul services to capture a large proportion of business travel and is unlikely to do so over the next 20 years, says Mr Carlisle. "It is a fundamental tenet of any business that you take new products to market - you don't try to take the market to the new products. A Stansted runway is a squandered runway."
11 December 2003
PRESSURE GROWS FOR MORE HEATHROW FLIGHTS
by Barrie Clement, Transport Editor - 9 December 2003 - The Independent - London
HEATHROW WILL handle up to six million more passengers even if the Government decides against a third runway at the airport.
A long-awaited White Paper on the future of air travel in Britain is expected to pave the way for a far more intensive use of the west London complex which could have a dramatic impact on noise levels in the area.
If the airline industry fails to persuade ministers of the need of another runway at Heathrow, the Government is expected to offer concessions which would mean 10 per cent more flights using existing facilities.
It is understood that the White Paper, due out on 16 December, will propose a review of laws and other undertakings which limit the level of noise suffered by nearby residents.
Under the restrictions to be reviewed the two existing runways are used alternately for take-offs and landings. Take-offs are considered to generate considerably more noise than landings and present procedures give respite to residents during parts of the day.
However "multi-modal" use of the airport would placate the airport's company, BAA, and the major airlines, all of which are campaigning against the expansion of Stansted as opposed to Heathrow.
Officially sanctioned leaks ahead of the White Paper have indicated that the Government is ruling out immediate expansion of the west London airport because pollution would breach new European standards being introduced in 2010.
Dan Hodges, director of Freedom to Fly, which advocates an extra runway at Heathrow, said: "We are convinced that it is not a question of if, but when Heathrow gets another runway."
John Stewart, spokesman for ClearSkies, said: "Runway alternation is what makes life bearable in west London."
Our Comment: Officially sanctioned leaks? Disgraceful if true. Once again predicted pollution at Stansted is ignored. It seems that only numbers count when an environmental protection law is broken. If this is so it would be setting a dangerous precedent.
11 December 2003
A NEW EARLY DAY MOTION FOR SYMPATHETIC MPS TO SIGN
House of Commons
Centenary of Powered flight and the UK aviation industry
Tabled by Theresa May on 9.12.03
Total Signatures 6
That this House notes that 17th December marks the centenary of powered, sustained and controlled flight; congratulates the UK's aviation industry for playing a major role in both civil and military aviation during that period; believes that aviation is critical to the UK's prosperity; recognises that air travel is essential for business and economic success; realises that almost 180,000 people in the UK are directly employed by the industry and that well over half a million jobs depend on aviation; understands that much of our tourism industry depends on the availability of air travel; appreciates that people in more remote parts of the country require air services for essential journeys; applauds the industry for successfully competing in a deregulated market and opening up air travel to all through lower fares; and wishes the industry well in facing the challenges that need to be addressed as it enters its second centenary.
EDM 212 Opposition To The Option To Construct
A Third Runway At Heathrow Airport
Tabled by John Randall on 4 December 2003
There are now 12 signatures to this EDM (see Recent News 9th December). It now has an amendment.
Amendment tabled by David Wilshire
Line 1, delete from 'recognises' to end and insert 'the substantial opposition to and support for the option to construct a new short runway at Heathrow Airport, as set out in the Future Development of Air Transport in the UK; notes the serious environmental and quality of life implications it might have on surrounding areas (including from increases in the number of air traffic movements and the creation of new flight paths); also notes the possible economic damage that would result from the failure to build the additional short runway (including major job losses and falling property values); and calls on the Government to remain committed to the statement that a new short runway at Heathrow will not be permitted unless all relevant airport generated pollutants can be contained within EU limits.'
10 December 2003
NO NEW RUNWAYS
A Bill has been introduced into the House of Lords
Green Party Press Release - 8 December 2003
Tomorrow Green Party peer Lord Beaumont is to introduce a new parliamentary Bill that would serve to prevent the building of any new runways at UK airports.
The Bill, officially called the Air Traffic Reduction Bill, would require the government to set targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation industry - which would mean limiting air traffic itself. And with air traffic growth nipped in the bud, the case for any major airport expansions, such as proposed new runways, would be completely undone.
Lord Beaumont of Whitley, the Green Party's only current representative at Westminster, comments: "There are communities all round the country whose quality of life is diminished by the bad neighbour effect of their local airport. And the problem will of course keep getting worse if air traffic continues to increase."
"But the problems facing people who live near airports - severe though they are - are the tip of the iceberg."
Bill would force aviation industry to pay its way.
The Greens have been pointing to aviation's economic downside since the mid-1990s. Lord Beaumont explained today: "Our aviation industry gets a tax break of over £9 billion a year. Then there are hidden costs of almost £4 billion a year, not to mention a balance-of-payments deficit of £11 billion a year attributable to tourism, most of which is by air.
"And aviation is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. With climate change possibly posing the gravest threat to our economy in the coming century, we simply must set limits."
"Aviation must become a sustainable industry and must be made to pay its way."
The Air Traffic Reduction Bill would require:
* A 5% cut in aviation emissions by 10, compared with 2000 levels
* A 10% cut by 2015
* A 50% cut by 2050
John Whitelegg, Professor of Sustainable Transport at Liverpool John Moores University and the Green Party's Spokesperson on sustainable development, has welcomed the Bill. He said today:
"These targets are challenging, but then so is climate change. The world's leading scientists say we need a 60% cut in CO2 emissions worldwide by 2050. That translates into a 90% cut for a relatively high-polluting country like the UK."
"All other sectors of the economy are expected to pull their weight in helping stop climate change. It's entirely unreasonable that the aviation industry imagines itself excused."
Reducing demand for air transport would involve international agreement on the taxation of aviation fuel, which under the Chicago Convention cannot be taxed. In the short term, the Greens are proposing that the Chicago Convention be partially circumvented by emissions/air traffic congestion charging. A new report is published by the Green Party today, showing how such charges could raise more than £170 million a year from Heathrow airport alone.
Lord Beaumont concluded: "If this Bill became law, Britain would truly be taking the lead in a crucial area of sustainable development."
10 December 2003
IS BAA TOO CLOSE TO THE DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT?
Runway is a closed case
Letter from David W. Kent - London Evening Standard - 5 December 2003
Hugh Dougherty (BAA accused of trying to influence the decision over Stansted runway, 2 December) is correct in the concerns his article raises over the impartiality of the Government's so-called "consultation" on the expansion of airports in the South-East.
Earlier this year, I attended a presentation by the development director of BAA. The closeness of the connection between BAA and the Department for Transport, in particular, and the Government in general was nothing short of breathtaking.
We were told of the direct links from the BAA chairman to the Deputy Prime Minister's office, the placement of ex-BAA directors in DfT consultancies, and routine advice from BAA to DfT advisers over airport expansion projects. The only doubt that seemed to exist in BAA's mind was not whether one new Stansted runway would be sanctioned, but where best to build the next one after that.
The audience was incredulous as to where the labour for "the largest construction project in Europe" would be found, since BAA currently has to subsidise train travel for employees from north London as there is full employment in north-west Essex. At that point, the speaker reminded us of John Prescott's plans for the urbanisation of the M11 corridor and the modification of planning procedures that would allow things to move swiftly ahead.
Many left the forum unprepared to accept that such things could happen in this country. Others left concerned not only over the extent of this collusion but for the future of our political processes.
David W. Kent
Saffron Walden, Essex
9 December 2003
BRANSON ANGER AT REPORTS OF A STANSTED RUNWAY
Monday, 8 December - BBC Television News 24
Sir Richard Branson, the chief executive of the Virgin empire, has spoken of his anger at reports that the Government is expected to put Stansted airport forward for a new runway as opposed to Heathrow.
Sir Richard argued that the decision had more to do with the votes of people living around Heathrow instead of the pollution risks that are expected to be given as the reason for the decision.
Speaking on BBC News 24's 'Business Today', Sir Richard said: "If the Government goes with Stansted, I think they will have bottled out of what is actually needed for this country. Stansted will be something of a white elephant."
"All the market research that we have done indicates that people want to have a new runway at Heathrow as that is a convenient airport, that is what will keep the country going. We should have had an extra runway at Heathrow years ago, but Government after Government bottled out of making that decision."
Sir Richard continued: "I do not believe this is all about environmental reasons. I think if it goes to Stansted it will be because of the election in a couple of years' time. There are lots of fields around Stansted and there are people around Heathrow so they might lose votes."
"We have proven there is no environmental issue about putting another runway at Heathrow. We believe it stays completely within the EC guidelines. Obviously any extra plane is going to create something extra in the air, but whether it lands at Stansted or it lands at Heathrow is surely irrelevant?"
Sir Richard concluded by pointing out that the "air above Stansted is not that far from the air above Heathrow."
9 December 2003
NO MORE RUNWAYS WHATEVER THE WHITE PAPER SAYS
Councillor Alan Dean, Leader of Uttlesford District Council,
makes a statement that we all support
This is the letter sent to the press
6 December 2003
Dear Sir or Madam:
The expected date for publication of the aviation White Paper draws close. I
want to thank the many thousands who have campaigned against any extra
runways at Stansted for the past 18 months. The "No More Runways at
Stansted" campaign has been one of the best supported and best run community
campaigns ever. Government ministers have admitted this to me. The message
has got across loudly and strongly that Stansted is the wrong place.
Stop Stansted Expansion backed by Uttlesford District Council and everyone
who has taken part should be proud of the professional and principled
resistance to threatened aviation madness in the Southeast.
Governments do not build runways, so I remain confident that no more runways
will be constructed at Stansted, whatever words the White Paper contains.
The airlines that use Heathrow are dead against Stansted. The airport is
already a financial millstone around the necks of BAA shareholders. It isn't
paying its debts. No sensible banker will invest more in runways and
terminals that have to be cross-subsidised from Stansted's west London
This industry is reliant on uncertain tax breaks provided by taxpayers like
your readers. It would be a green (naive) business that poured good money
after bad into the truly green fields of Essex.
Whatever policy Mr Tony Blair and Mr Alistair Darling put out in the next
few days, Uttlesford District Council will fight on to preserve the quality
of life of residents in Essex and Herts and to retain an environment that is
fit for future generations.
Councillor Alan Dean
Leader, Uttlesford District Council
9 December 2003
NEWS FROM PARLIAMENT
House of Commons Written Answer
Mr. Hopkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether external agencies have been contracted to analyse the responses to the consultation into the Future Development of Air Transport in the UK; and if he will provide details of his Department's processes for analysing the responses.
Mr. McNulty: The vast majority of responses have been analysed by officials. Analysis of more detailed and technical responses has been carried out by a team of consultants with expertise across a range of subject areas. Responses to the NOP consultation questionnaires have been analysed by NOP. Departmental officials have been responsible for supervising all parts of the analysis process and for the preparation of advice to Ministers on its conclusions.
The results of the analysis will be published alongside the air transport White Paper before Christmas.
New Early Day Motion
EDM 212 Opposition To The Option To Construct A Third Runway At Heathrow Airport
Tabled by John Randall on 4 December 2003
Mr John Randall
Mr Iain Coleman
Mr Tony Colman
Dr Jenny Tonge
Mr John Wilkinson
Total Signatures 6
That this House recognises the vast opposition to the option to construct a third runway at Heathrow Airport, as set out in the Future Development of Air Transport in the UK, and the serious environmental and quality of life implications it would hae on surrounding boroughs and residents throughout London, including increased levels of noise from aircraft, the creation of new flight paths and further deterioration of air quality; is aware that levels of nitrogen dioxide already exceed the limit s set by the European Union; calls on the Government to remain committed to the statement that another runway at Heathrow would not be considered unless it could be confident that levels of all relevant pollutants could be consistently contained within EU limits; further notes that a third runway would only be able to handle a fraction of the expected increase in demand for air travel and that a sixth terminal would need to be built to make this proposal a viable option; and believes it would be a short-term solution that would inevitably lead to further expansion of the airport.
9 December 2003
MORE FROM THE PAPERS
Budget airlines to pay high price for runway
by Paul Marston, Transport Correspondent - 4 December 2003 - The Daily Telegraph
LOW-COST airlines face a 70 per cent increase in landing charges to help to finance the construction of a second runway at Stansted. The Government is poised to announce that the Essex airport should be the first location for new runway capacity in the congested South-East, with Heathrow possibly following by 2020.
The decision, expected to be published in a White Paper in two weeks, will enrage airlines such as British Airways and Virgin, which will face higher charges at Heathrow and Gatwick to finance expansion at a base they do not use. All three airports are owned by BAA. But Ryanair and Easyjet, the dominant carriers at Stansted, will also be presented with steep increases when their current discounted deals expire in 2006 and 2007. Ministers insist that the pounds 4 billion cost of the new runway must be met by the aviation industry. At present, Stansted users pay an average charge of pounds 2.89 per passenger.
This is likely to rise to the permitted maximum of pounds 4.89, a hike of 69 per cent, and increase sharply again after 2008. Michael O'Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, said he saw no reason why the company should have to pay higher fees until the runway opened, probably in 2013.
Liberalise long-haul air services rather than opting
to increase airport runway capacity
by Ray Webster - 4 December 2003 - Financial Times
Sir, I was fascinated to read the latest instalment ("BA to sue if Stansted gets runway", December 1) in the dispute between the government and British Airways over additional runways in the South East. We do not often agree with BA but EasyJet firmly believes that there should not be cross-subsidisation between users of Heathrow and Stansted airports. BA does not want to contribute to an additional runway at Stansted; EasyJet does not want to contribute to Heathrow's Terminal 5.
However, BA's bleating - along with that of Virgin Atlantic and BMI British Midland - misses the point, as the debate on airport expansion makes the fundamental mistake of assuming that there will be no change to the wider regulatory environment.
Heathrow is busy partly because of the 30 per cent of its throughput that is unnecessary and wasteful connecting traffic. Open skies in Europe resulted in a flourishing of direct point-to-point services that bypass hubs such as Heathrow. Governments now need to have the courage to make the same efforts to liberalise long-haul air services.
What BA needs is the right to fly from Paris, Zurich or Amsterdam to New York, Tokyo or Johannesburg. This in turn would eliminate its wasteful connecting flights, free slots at Heathrow and relieve the pressure for another runway. Surely this would be a better aim - rather than reaching for the concrete?
Ray Webster, Chief Executive, EasyJet
Greens propose new airport taxes
A new report shows £13 billion annual hidden subsidy to aviation - and proposes first step towards a level playing field
Emissions taxes that could increase air travel costs by 20-30% should be levied on airports, says a new report from the Green Party to be published today.
The proposals have been given a warm welcome by experts and Greens in office. In praising the report, John Whitelegg, Professor of Sustainable Transport at Liverpool John Moores University, said today: "People are always being told their regional airport makes them better off. But as this report shows, society is actually giving massive hidden subsidies and tax breaks to the aviation industry."
He added: "Air travel isn't cheap, it's just heavily subsidised. People who don't fly are subsidising people who do, and people who fly occasionally are subsidising people who fly a lot. And generally speaking it's poorer people subsidising wealthier people."
Darren Johnson, Leader of the Greens on the London Assembly, commented: "Since we first proposed an air traffic congestion charge, we've seen the idea gain momentum. The IPPR and parliament's own Environmental Audit Committee have both said we need to start levying serious taxes on aviation."
Dr Caroline Lucas, Green MEP for South East England and former EU parliamentary Rapporteur on Aviation and the Environment, said: "Aviation is the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gases, and climate change could devastate our economy in coming decades if we don't do the right thing now."
She added: "We still need international agreement to tax aviation fuel, but we can't wait for it. We need to take action at the national level now. The Green Party's proposed taxes would very neatly circumvent the international ban on aviation fuel tax."
Lord Beaumont of Whitley, who plans to introduce an Air Traffic Reduction Bill through the House of Lords soon, said today: "These sort of financial measures are just what's needed to level the playing field and start reducing demand for air transport, which is essential if we're to tackle climate change.
The Green Party's new report says that:
* Last year the UK aviation industry benefited from some £9.2 billion in tax breaks.
* In the same year, the industry's "external" or hidden costs amounted to £3.767 billion, including £2.128 billion for its share of the economic damage caused by climate change.
* The tax breaks and other hidden subsidies are equivalent to every man, woman and child in the UK donating £220 to the aviation industry.
9 December 2003
THE GUARDIAN ASKS THE REAL QUESTION
The cost of flying: LANDING US IN IT: The cost of flying falls; passengers rejoice. Meanwhile, the aviation industry enjoys an ongoing tax holiday and pollutes without check. Are we carried away by a huge con?
by Rachel Shabi - 6 December 2003 - The Guardian
There is something not quite right, but the prospect is otherwise so glorious that the "wrong" bit gets forgotten. The little voice in our heads that wonders how flying became so freakishly cheap is easily drowned out by the other, louder voice that marvels at this amazing, newly acquired opportunity to travel abroad as often as we please. Not that long ago, most of us would have been lucky to score an annual two-week vacation off this damp little island. Now, cheap flying has turned the world into an adventure playground, and all manner of travel possibilities - be they cultural, commercial, restful or just plain hedonistic - are laid wide open to us. Thanks, seemingly, to clever cost-cutting tactics from the no-frills operators, we can fly return to Barcelona for £24; Stockholm for £6.99; Brussels for 99p. We can grab a cheap city break to Prague - Prague! - and still be back in time for work on Monday.
It looks as though taking regular leisure flights, once a luxury pursuit - a jet set, perma-tan, status indicator - is now a practice that has been socially liberated and handed over to the masses. And we can't quite believe our luck, because cheap, frequent flying is just magic. It's fantastic. It's unbelievable.
What's really unbelievable, however, is that we continue to ignore that little voice in our heads, the one that says this can't be right and wonders: where's the catch? We are in the midst of a flying rampage, set to continue unabated, and seemingly encouraged by the present government, which has predicted that, by 2030, 500 million passengers will be flying in and out of the UK every year, an almost threefold increase on the 180 million annual passenger figures for 2000. Such a growth would require five Heathrows to accommodate it. And the reality is that, however much we love taking cheap flights, aviation is a dirty, greedy business, ravaging the planet and ransacking the public purse.
That's not to suggest that all passenger flights should be banned. But at almost every step - from the idea of affordable flying for all to the mantra that flying creates boundless business benefits for Britain - the aviation industry's rationale is a con. To those under the illusion that flying is, in any true sense of the word, cheap, John Whitelegg, professor of sustainable development at the Stockholm Environment Institute in York, says, "All it really means is that the airlines are very successful in transferring the costs on to someone else." And that someone else is, usually, you.
Popular thinking has it that the UK budget operators - EasyJet, Ryanair, Go (formerly part of British Airways, now part of EasyJet) and Buzz (once owned by Dutch airline KLM, then taken over by Ryanair) - were pioneers of an especially low-cost formula, although, as travel journalist Simon Calder explains in No Frills, his account of the modern flying phenomenon, this model was pinched from the US low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines. But let's not quibble since, in any case, it would be churlish to deny that these airlines have hit on great-leap-forward ideas in cutting ticket prices.
Essentially, they have trimmed away the excess in the finances of flying. They take their planes in and out of airports that are less expensive to land at, during less costly takeoff times, and keep their fleet in the air as much as possible in between. They save money on airport charges by taking remote check-in desks and eliminating buses or those Star Trek-style connection corridors that take passengers from the terminal to the plane. Then they slash more costs by bypassing the commission-grabbing travel agents with online or telephone bookings. They also do away with fripperies such as free in-flight food and loyalty schemes.
In fact, low-cost airlines do away with so much of the frill of flying that they can practically give tickets away and make a profit. Granted, there are still price gripes: bargain offers often seem to apply only to specific, advance bookings; flights are often delayed; the cost of transport from remote destination airports into the cities they are supposed to serve can be a hefty add-on. But the savings gleaned through these business practices are, you'd have to say, transparent.
The whole enterprise starts to get murky, however, when you learn that certain budget operators are paid by regional authorities to fly into particular airports. In September, Ryanair had to suspend its flights between Stansted and Strasbourg while a French court considers whether the subsidy the airline receives from the Strasbourg chamber of commerce, which owns the airport, is illegal. Through this case it emerged that airport authorities - which are often publicly owned - offer incentives to airlines to attract flights, hoping extra visitors' spend will boost the regional economy. The European commission is investigating whether another such deal, involving Ryanair at Brussels's Charleroi airport, breaches fair competition rules.
Back in our stratosphere, the Scottish executive announced in September that a new, direct flight from Inverness to Birmingham is to be set up by Eastern Airways, a regional airline, using cash from the executive's pounds 6.8m route development fund. This same fund was earlier this year committed to "development" by BMI British Midland, Germanwings, Duo and Ryanair, all flying from Edinburgh and Glasgow to European destinations.
Ryanair, meanwhile, says that publicly owned airports (such as Strasbourg) account for fewer than 20% of its total flight destinations, and a spokesperson for EasyJet says that taking subsidies from local authorities is "not a practice that we would engage in. It would be defamatory to suggest that". Nevertheless, one reason airports can offer good deals to the airlines is because, often, they are paid to do so by local authorities.
That's just one example of how airlines in general are fingering the public purse in order to offer cheap flights - and, in this context, all flights are "cheap", even full-price scheduled flights on national carriers. By current calculations, the aviation industry is thought to receive as much as pounds 10bn in tax exemptions, which can effectively be described as a giant public subsidy - the campaigning group Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (Hacan) has calculated that a single person on the average wage of pounds 25,000 is paying an extra pounds 557 a year in income tax to meet the cost of aviation's tax exemption. Implausibly, no airline pays tax or VAT on fuel, a nonsensical anomaly dating back to a second world war agreement, the Chicago Convention, which was established that, in the name of the harmonious international relations that would ensue from developing air travel, the fledgling aviation industry should be encouraged.
Brendon Sewill, an economist and former adviser to the Treasury, has documented the nature of this tax dodge in his report, The Hidden Cost of Flying. He says, "Petrol for cars is subject to duty at 45.82p a litre and VAT at 17.5% of the price after payment of duty. The result is that motorists pay around 75p a litre, while airlines pay around 18p." If plane fuel were to be taxed at the same rate as car fuel, by the Treasury's own estimates this would raise an annual pounds 5.7bn in extra revenue. "Ever since Churchill raided the road fund in 1926, chancellors of the exchequer have seen the revenue from petrol duty as a valuable way to finance general public services," says Sewill. Such a tax is considered fair and progressive, yet both concepts are ignored when it comes to aviation.
The industry has also managed to avoid paying VAT on any aspect of air travel: tickets, aircraft purchase and maintenance, baggage handling, aircraft meals. It is all zero-rated - at a cost to the public of around pounds 4bn a year.
In other words, flying is classed as a social necessity, along with food, books and buses. We can also add to that figure the pounds 0.4bn cost of duty-free goods on flights outside Europe. This exemption helped BAA, which owns seven UK airports, including Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, amass pounds 412m in revenue from retail for 2002-2003. BAA can be said to run shopping centres as much as it does airports (its revenue from airport charges for the same period was pounds 690m) and its retail profit is factored into the calculation of its landing fees by the Civil Aviation Authority, keeping these fees - and, therefore, flight fares - artificially low. Such a practice has led commentators to question whether the airport authority should be allowed to operate a "single till", that is, use retail profits to fund the flying sector of its operations.
Heathrow, for example - the world's busiest international airport - has the lowest landing fees in the world. "A first-year economics student would tell you that Heathrow should have the highest landing charges," says Whitelegg.
The airlines do make some contribution to the public purse via the air passenger duty introduced in 1993, which the government is said to be "seriously" looking at doubling, from pounds 5 to pounds 10 for each European flight. This proposal prompted EasyJet, for one, to pronounce that such a measure would "price people out of the sky". But, at present generating an annual revenue of pounds 0.9bn, passenger duty barely scratches the surface of the sum of tax breaks that this industry has amassed. Added to which, we haven't even looked at the external costs of this industry - namely pollution, noise and its impact on climate change.
Noise pollution is often described as an "annoyance", a fairly innocuous term to convey the range of fallout effects, from sleepless nights and hearing loss to increased blood pressure and impairment of learning capacity in children. Already, the noise around our airports is in excess of World Health Organisation limits. Air pollution, meanwhile, is cited as an aggravator of existing respiratory problems such as asthma, and contributes to impaired lung function and lung disease. According to Whitelegg, "Around a million people in the UK are currently affected by noise and air pollution."
Any increase in Britain's flying capacity will mean more people will suffer these effects and the experiences of those already suffering will be exacerbated. The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) argues that the effect of flying is "to reduce and erode the quality of life of people who live around airports, and people who live in or enjoy the countryside".
So we're not just talking about a few whingers living under a flight path. And we're not just talking about the quality of life in Britain, either. Flying is currently thought to be responsible for around 3.5% of the UK's gas emissions causing climate change, not a steep figure when compared with other climate change villains such as motoring (around 18%) and the energy industries (35%). The trouble is that, as aviation grows, so too does its climate change contribution - and at a faster rate than any other sector. By 2050, if the industry grows as much as the government predicts, its contribution to greenhouse gas production will rise to 75%, according to the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP), which advises the government. Via its energy white paper, the government has committed to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 60% by 2050 - the amount that scientists think necessary to stop the downslide. Other industries will be fined for their emissions, but aviation gets away scot-free. Dr Peter Hinchcliffe, secretary to the RCEP, argues: "It doesn't make sense for them to be getting away with it." In fact, the airlines have invested in new planes that emit less pollution.
Infuriatingly, however, they have managed to finesse a way out of inclusion in the Kyoto agreements on emissions, on the grounds that developing an internationally functional system is too complicated. By any definition, this amounts to free-riding: efforts to meet the government's targets will be negated by the industry. Dan Hodges at Freedom To Fly, a lobby group comprised of airlines, BAA, unions and the CBI, says, "Verifiable external costs should be paid by this industry, which is committed to paying those costs." He adds that Freedom To Fly is campaigning for three new runways to be built in the south-east, a figure well below the number that would be required to accommodate the government's predictions on aviation growth (and hence its predictions on climate change).
It would be difficult to overestimate the impact of flying on climate change. Such an impact has been deemed by environmental scientists to be between two and four times as damaging as that of other polluters, because the bad gases from planes are released directly into the most sensitive part of the atmosphere and because, in addition to carbon dioxide, flying creates condensation trails and nitrogen gas, both further contributors to global warming.
Travel by plane is so fast that we forget the distances involved and corresponding amounts of (tax-free) fuel consumed: one person flying from here to Miami will produce climate change emissions equivalent to one car clocking up 12,000 miles. And every Boeing 747 seats 350 people. Nobody is saying that air passengers to Miami should swim there instead, but such figures put the "polluter pays" principle into stark perspective. A Europe-wide (at least) agreement on charging for these damaging emissions would place responsibility with the airlines, which would pass some of it on to passengers. The RCEP suggests we start with a charge of pounds 35 for a single ticket, which might go some way to ending the disconnection between flying and its impact on our world. And it may also shift our perception of flying, which tends to come over as a basic right but which is still, in global terms, pure, lucky luxury. After all, what will happen when the populations of China and India start using planes as much as we do?
And while we're on the subject of rights, here's another fallacy. The flying industry touts itself as the great liberator of the skies, turning air travel into an affordable pursuit for all. According to Whitelegg, the implication is that "the single mother on a council estate in Liverpool can now go on holiday to Torremolinos three times a year". Earlier this year, transport minister John Spellar told the Royal Aeronautical Society that flying "enables substantial numbers of people to go on holiday overseas in a way that previous generations could only dream about". He added that people in lower income groups made 9m more flights than they did 10 years ago.
Several campaign groups have countered that, far from democratising the skies, low-cost flying has reinforced the divide. According to the CPRE, 4.5% of the UK population makes 44% of all flights, and a Mori poll published in 2001 found that people most likely to have flown that year were those earning over pounds 30,000. And the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) reports that travel remains highly skewed towards the better off: people from the top three social classes fly four times more often than those from the bottom three. The IPPR report on aviation states: "If the same social distribution of flights persists in 2030, the very richest could be taking on average more than 10 flights a year, the poorest only one." Even on budget airlines, the top three social classes are taking 75% of the flights - anyone might afford a pounds 1 plane ticket to Brussels, but you still have to pay for accommodation, food, transport and entertainment at the other end. Meanwhile, forms of transport more likely to be used by low-income groups have been subject to price hikes. Friends of the Earth says that, between 1984 and 1999, bus fares rose by 42% on average, and rail fares by 35%. By contrast, over the past 10 years, air fares have dropped by 42%. It is clear who benefits from aviation's tax concessions, and at whose expense.
The trend for cheap flights, according to Hacan, is being fuelled by a growth in the market for second homes. The number of these purchased abroad by Brits is thought to be around 50,000 a year, and second-home owners make an average of six trips to them a year. Shown by Royal Bank of Scotland research to be top of the British wish-list, the explosion in second-home purchases abroad is, effectively, facilitated by low-cost flying. Linda Travella, chair of the Federation of Overseas Property Developers, said in the Times last year, "Why would you buy here when you can go to Italy extremely cheaply and rent it out when you are not there?" Using present growth rates, Hacan predicts that, by 2012, an extra million people will have bought a second home overseas and will be taking 12m flights a year to get to it.
Having a second home abroad, unless you have some connection to the country, such as work or family, is a bit like keeping a mistress. It's setting up a getaway retreat, a source of pleasure, with no intention of committing to it in any meaningful sense (just "rent it out when you are not there"), meanwhile siphoning resources away from the relationship with the country of residence. It is wanting the best of both worlds, thereby undermining the worth of either - why fix a relationship if you have another lover; why waste energy trying to improve your community when you can escape it for a better one?
It raises the question: if the great thing about Britain is the financial ease and regularity with which you can flit from here to your overseas retreat, why live here in the first place? Cheap flying, in the context of the second-home market, is about funding a lifestyle for a specific sector of society. And, while a privileged elite benefit, we all pay for the habit.
Yet, despite its true cost and the figures on who really flies, it looks as though the flying industry is going to be encouraged to grow even more. New runways have been proposed at Heathrow, Stansted and in Scotland, and new airports in Kent, the Midlands and Cambridgeshire. The Department of Transport introduced its 2000 consultation paper on aviation, a prelude to the white paper due this year, with this statement: "Aviation is a great success story, and one of the major strengths of the UK economy, both now and for the future."
To put this into context, aviation represents around 1.4% of our GDP. Sewill adds further perspective: "Aviation is the 29th most important industry in the UK, according to its contribution to the gross domestic product. Slightly more important, at 28 in the league, is sewage." This government seems to have accepted wholesale the assessments of a report by the Oxford Economics Forum (OEF), even though the report was 90% funded by the aviation industry. The OEF report argues that aviation is the engine driving our economy, which would collapse if we did not meet the demands for increased air travel.
Not surprisingly, campaigners have suggested that this doctrine might be flawed, and point to a few spurious claims made in the government's consultation paper. One is that aviation generates incredible employment prospects. Citing that 1,000 direct jobs are created by every million air passengers, the report proceeds to multiply these, factoring domino-effect employment that would be "induced" by those initial new jobs in the industry.
The trouble is that using this "multiplier effect" does not make any sense in practice: "If every industry applied the multiplier, we would need to colonise Mars to accommodate all the workers, and be shipping in 10 African nations on a weekly basis to fill those jobs created," says Jeff Gazzard at the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF). If every industry claimed multiplier jobs, you'd end up with more hypothetical jobs than exist in reality.
Shifting from business to leisure, the report also cites that flying brings into the economy pounds 9.9bn in tourism pounds. That's all well and good, but what about the pounds 13.4bn that leaves the country by the same mechanism? More tourist money flies out of this country than into it - and if we were to apply the favoured multiplier tool to this figure, we'd probably find devastating amounts of knock-on employment lost because of that, too.
The government consultation paper also raves about the investment that flies into the country because of our plane infrastructure, so that corporations are falling over themselves to set up business bases in Britain and will continue to do so if we build more airports. Yet a government report by the Standing Advisory Committee for Trunk Road Assessment (Sactra), which in 1999 put together a comprehensive study of transport and the economy, questions such an analysis. According to Sactra, in an advance economy such as the UK's, there are more relevant factors that affect an area's regeneration, such as its skills workforce, location and quality of life.
The argument that regions with airports reap the benefits of economic development is dubious on several levels, too. For one, if a privately owned airport such as Liverpool's John Lennon is so cushioned by local authority investment that it "doesn't even know what the free market is", says Whitelegg, it becomes difficult to quantify its real contribution to the region. Moreover, internal aviation has an impact on public transport. There are 7,000 daily air passengers between Heathrow and Manchester.
Clearly, these people should be on trains - Manchester is, after all, a mere two hours away from London by rail. The reason they are not is that the trains are seen as rubbish while the planes are subsidised. In the UK, 18% of flights are domestic. Over in mainland Europe, however, governments work to eliminate rather than accommodate the need for nonsense flights. When the French national railway introduced a three-hour train service on the 789km route from Paris to Marseille in 2000, for example, the airlines virtually gave up on that route. The same thing happened between Paris and Lyon. When Germany rolled out high-speed trains, Lufthansa closed its Hanover-Frankfurt route.
Not only that, but we lag several light years in mindset behind the continent when it comes to investing in high-speed rail. Instead, we continue to give planes credence over trains. Allan McLean, corporate affairs manager at Virgin Trains, Scotland, says he doubts the airlines would have been able to achieve what his company has achieved if they worked in the same environment as the rail industry. "They have complete flexibility to do what they want." He adds that local authorities are "always speaking up in favour of new air routes, making money available and making favourable deals for flights to and from regional airports", while ignoring the benefits that might flow from improved rail networks.
There are, of course, instances in which it would be difficult to argue against a flight subsidy - for example, committing cash to plane links to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland seems fair enough, given the social and economic benefits that this provides to people living on remote terrain. But, these exceptions aside, it is just plain stupid that European countries with greater land available for airport expansion are pushing the rail option, while overcrowded and land-challenged Britain favours flying. John Stewart, of the campaign group AirportWatch (comprising, among others, the AEF, Friends of the Earth and the CPRE), says, "We have become spoiled with cheap flights, which are more available here than on mainland Europe. We are by far its biggest users." In this sense, the low-cost carriers have created an appetite for cut-price plane tickets, making it impossible for the rail network, which is already on its knees, to compete.
On top of which, the idea that all cities crave the tourist pound is put into question by both Dublin and Prague authorities bemoaning the impact of the cheap flight weekender. Earlier this year, while bars put up signs reading, "Please, no groups of drunken British men allowed", Czech officials approached British authorities to complain about the spiralling numbers of violent, boozed-up Brits who were taking debauched weekends inthe capital, attracted mostly, it seemed, by cheap flights and cheap amusements in the city. In Dublin, meanwhile, the influx of weekenders grew so irksome that stag and hen parties were banned in its Temple Bar district in 1998.
This is the dark side of our love affair with the cheap, short-trip getaway. No one would wish to forgo the undeniable pleasures of foreign travel - though it is clear that we need to swallow the idea of paying its true cost. But, arguably, this particular type of travel is pure consumerism as applied to leisure, an intensification of leisure time to counter the intensification of working hours. If the sectors of society that are flying more frequently fall into the hard-working, cash-rich, time-poor echelons, then what is the short and cheap getaway if not a sop?
The government's consultation process on aviation drew 300,000 responses, a hefty figure by its own admission and indicative of the level of concern over the subject. (A significant proportion of that concern, however, may have come from residents of Cliffe in Kent, home to both a protected bird sanctuary and a proposed new airport.) A spokesperson for the Department of Transport says: "We stand by the consultation paper. People's views, be they organisations or individuals, will be taken on board."
Campaigners, however, dispute that assertion. "The consultation process has been 110% useless," says Whitelegg. "This government is convinced that the British economy is dependent on globalisation, and that this absolutely relies on aviation. To challenge that is to challenge a religious belief."
Others, meanwhile, have suggested views will be taken on board only if voiced by the aviation industry. Fingers have been pointed at the lobby group Freedom To Fly and its links to government. "There is a terribly close connection between New Labour and BAA," says John Stewart at AirportWatch, citing as one example the fact that BAA's director of public affairs, Steve Hardwick, took time off prior to the last two national elections to work at Millbank. Freedom To Fly has among its members Brenda Dean, a Labour peer; Joe Irvin, who advised John Prescott during his first term, was until recently its director.
Dan Hodges, director of Freedom To Fly (and Glenda Jackson's son), insists his group does not have disproportionate influence. "I know the environmental groups have the same amount of access to government," he argues. Yet some of these groups counter that this is simply not the case: "AirportWatch has had two official meetings since the close of the consultation period, neither of them exclusively," says Paul de Zylva at Friends of the Earth (one of the campaign groups that makes up AirportWatch), "but prior to that we were trying to get meetings with ministers, informally or form ally, since the government brought out its consultation paper in December 2000. It just didn't happen."
Even ministers question the might of the flying lobby. Chris Mullin, Labour MP, wrote earlier this year that he had learned two things during his 18 months as aviation minister: "First, that the demands of the aviation industry are insatiable. Second, that successive governments have usually given way to them."
That this industry may have, as de Zylva puts it, such "cosy ties" with new Labour could well be the breaking point in terms of the government's credibility in directing plane policy. Because here it is again, an industry with power way beyond its merit dressing itself up as an egalitarian opportunity-provider. This is why Sewill says, "Protest against a runway is not just about bulldozing up a bit of countryside, but is symbolic of what sort of world you want to live in."
The aviation lobby, that curious cabal of interest groups, is potentially facing an equally unorthodox alliance of opponents - a union of road-turned-plane protesters, anti-corporation activists, climate-conscious environmentalists and nimby middle England. If and when the first bulldozer rolls up to turn the earth in preparation for that first new runway, we might well find out just how powerful an alliance this is.
4 December 2003
GWYNETH DUNWOODY MAKES HER VIEWS KNOWN
House of Commons
Debate on the Address
Gwyneth Dunwoody: My last point is also a negative one, but it is a wet Monday and it seems appropriate. All Secretaries of State, especially those with responsibility for transport, are allowed one mistake. The present Secretary of State for Transport is widely regarded as a responsible and hard-working Minister. He has produced some good results and is pulling together several disparate policies. I admire what he is trying to do and believe that he sincerely wants to make the system work. That is why it is sad that the suggestion has leaked that Stansted will get the new runway. That is nonsense. The local people do not want it, the airlines do not want it and the passengers do not want it at Stansted. I am not sure who does want a new runway at Stansted or where the money will come from.
On the whole, the Government have a good record of taking fairly sensible decisions and trying to make them work. However, if we fail to grasp the nettle of development at Heathrow, which is essential for our economic development, we shall do for aviation what we did for ports and what we may be doing now for railways. Because we have been prepared to allow the infrastructure to decline and have ignored opportunities for development, we have handed much economic - quite apart from social and political - development to our opposition on the continent, in this case, and to anyone who wants to pick up a market that we have apparently abandoned, in other cases. There is no case for the development at Stansted. It is a barmy idea. I know that and the Government know that. The Government are sensible, so why not - for once - risk saying something that is not popular? Giving the runway to Heathrow would not make the Government much loved by obsessive lobby groups, but it would be in the interests of the United Kingdom to develop extra capacity at Heathrow. If that is not acceptable to European institutions, perhaps we could break the habit of the past 20 years and tell them where they can go, along with some of their other colleagues.
4 December 2003
MICHAEL O'LEARY HAS HIS SAY TOO
Darling should give the go-ahead for second runway at Stansted
and let competition begin
by Michael O'Leary - 3 December 2003 - Financial Times
From Mr Michael O'Leary.
Sir, Loath though I am to argue with an august editorial in the FT, you could not be more wrong about the second runway at Stansted ("Settling for second best at Stansted", December 2).
Should the government decide to proceed with a second runway at Stansted it would be the most forward-looking decision on behalf of British consumers and visitors in more than 50 years. An additional runway at Stansted would provide a platform for development of more routes and additional frequencies for low-fare, point-to-point airlines which is finally forcing the high-fare airlines at Heathrow to lower fares and offer a better deal to the travelling public. The further expansion at Stansted would also end the oppression of point-to-point passengers who have been forced through the hell-hole that is Heathrow for the past 20 years just to fill up the empty seats on the connecting flights of the high-fares carriers.
A second runway at Stansted would increase competition, increase choice and lower fares for British consumers and visitors. This is precisely why high-fare airlines such as British Airways and Virgin oppose it. We urge transport secretary Alistair Darling to take the brave decision on behalf of British consumers and visitors, approve a second runway for Stansted and let the competition begin!
Finally, Mr Darling should go further in the interests of competition and consumers. Let us break up the BAA monopoly into three separate companies running Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted independently in the interests of the users of those airports. This would bring about a new era of low-cost facilities development at these airports, allowing each of the three airports to build additional runway facilities as they independently require them, and would at last usher in some badly needed competition between the main London airports. It is only with competition that UK consumers and visitors can look forward to lower fares and improved services, something that they have been denied for many years by the high-fare airlines and inefficient facilities at London Heathrow, and the BAA monopoly.
By all means let us build a second runway at Stansted, but let us go further and break up the BAA monopoly and allow Heathrow and Gatwick to build additional runways should they so wish. Who knows, in time Heathrow may even build a low-cost, consumer-friendly Terminal 5, and not the multi-billion pound white elephant presently proposed, and being subsidised by higher charges on passengers and airlines at Gatwick and Stansted.
Michael O'Leary, Chief Executive, Ryanair
Our Comment: Well, he would say that, wouldn't he? Who is going to pay for the new runway? Ryanair? Or will he ask the airport operator for a bonus payment for choosing Stansted?
Low-cost carriers must bear cost of expansion
by Frank Knowles - 3 December 2003 - Financial Times
From Mr Frank Knowles.
Sir, Your editorial "Settling for second best at Stansted" (December 2) suggests you have mislaid your usual capacity for rational economic analysis. You normally (and rightly) deplore uneconomic infrastructure spending, but you applaud the suggestion that uneconomic expansion of Stansted should be funded by charges at Heathrow. If Ryanair and other low-cost airlines want to increase flights at Stansted, let them and their passengers bear the cost.
What happened to your support for the "polluter pays" principle? Whatever the white paper may say, the environmental and economic arguments against expansion at Stansted are insurmountable on a standalone basis, and another runway there cannot be justified or funded economically without precisely the sort of cross-subsidy the FT usually abhors. You should stick to your free-market principles and change your stance.
Frank Knowles, Clavering, Essex
4 December 2003
ANOTHER REASON FOR NO EXTRA RUNWAYS
Aircraft vapour trails 'have big impact' on climate change
by Kevin Done - 3 December 2003 - Financial Times
Vapour trails left by aircraft have a significant impact on climate change, according to recent scientific research, a UK expert on global warming claimed yesterday.
David Lee, professor of atmospheric science at Manchester Metropolitan University, said recent studies had suggested the impact of condensation trails was much more significant than previously believed, in particular in the creation of cirrus cloud that had a radiative effect on the atmosphere.
Prof Lee also dismissed suggestions that expected improvements in aircraft technology could outweigh the impact on global warming of the expected high rate of growth in air travel in coming decades.
Previous studies based on data from the early 1990s had suggested that aviation accounted for around 3.5 per cent of the causes of global warming and that this share would rise to around 5 per cent by 2050.
Research conducted for the European Commission had suggested that the contribution of aviation could be closer to 8 per cent than 3.5 per cent, said Prof Lee. However, the "scientific uncertainties" of the research were still high. "It could be wrong. As we understand more we may have to change the results."
He said studies had suggested the impact of "radiative forcing" from aircraft could be greatly reduced if aircraft flew at lower altitudes, with the impact reduced by up to 47 per cent by flying 6,000 feet lower than normal cruising altitudes of 35,000 feet.
Such a move would increase fuel consumption, however, and expose passengers to more turbulence.
The research will add to the controversy surrounding forecasts for the future growth of air travel and lobbying by environmental groups for the introduction of much higher levels of taxation and emissions charges on the aviation industry.
The UK government is in the final stages of preparing a White Paper on aviation policy, which most significantly must put forward plans for additional runways in the already overcrowded south-east of England.
It is expected that concerns about local air quality around London Heathrow, the world's busiest airport, could rule out the early construction of a third runway there, the option favoured by the airline industry and much of the UK business lobby. Instead it is expected that Stansted airport, London's third largest airport which is chiefly used by low-cost carriers, could be chosen.
4 December 2003
BAA ACCUSED OF TRYING TO INFLUENCE DECISION OVER STANSTED RUNWAY
by Hugh Dougherty - 2 December 2003 - The Evening Standard
THE row over the controversial decision to site a new runway at Stansted Airport deepened today.
Airports operator BAA stands accused of using an extensive Whitehall lobbying team to influence the outcome of the Government's consultation on coping with growing demand for air travel.
Ministers and the company are already facing possible legal action by an unlikely alliance of airlines and environmental campaigners if, as expected, Transport Secretary Alistair Darling gives the go-ahead for a second runway at the Essex airport later this month.
Critics claim the second runway would be a "white elephant" that would be unlikely to meet the need for extra capacity on long-haul flights that now operate out of Heathrow and Gatwick.
The extent of BAA's lobbying campaign for Stansted can be revealed for the first time today.
Its 12 permanent in-house lobbyists have secured various meetings with ministers before the final decision about where to site extra capacity.
Critics accuse the former state-owned company of using its links to government to open doors.
In recent years it has seconded an employee to Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's office, and two former chief executives have got posts on government quangos. The firm is also Britain's biggest political donor, paying 1.3 million a year so MPs and MEPs can have free airport parking.
Campaign groups raised questions about links between BAA and the consultants who drew up the expansion plans and analysed the public response to them.
The Department for Transport used a firm called Halcrow to analyse the financial and environmental aspects of expanding the South-East's runways - despite the firm also working for BAA.
And a second firm of consultants, Avia Solutions, which analysed public responses to the expansion, has four former BAA executives among its directors. Stop Stansted Expansion said there were serious conflicts of interest.
Director Carol Barbone said: "The Department for Transport seems to regard itself as BAA's fairy godmother."
"The excessively close relationship between BAA and the Department is not ideal for transparent decision making. BAA will face the mother of all battles if it tries to put an extra runway at Stansted."
Analysts say there is little case for expanding Stansted instead of Heathrow - many say that BAA would be unable to secure the funding needed to pay for the extra runway and associated costs such as road and rail links.
Independent aviation analyst Chris Tarry said Stansted was not the right place to put a new runway and added: "Airlines do not want to move to Stansted."
The Department of Transport and BAA were unavailable for comment.
4 December 2003
HAS MR DARLING HEARD THIS NEWS?
Force of Attraction - Japanese magnetic train sets new world record
by Justin McCurry - 3 December 2003 - The Guardian
A magnetically levitated or "maglev" train set a world speed record in Japan yesterday, reaching 361mph during a manned test run.
Maglev is part of a government project to develop faster, quieter trains. Japan's conventional bullet trains, introduced in the 1960s, are among the world's fastest.
Once at speed, the maglev train hovers 10mm above the track by means of the principle of attraction or repulsion of magnets; superconducting coils in the train, and under and on both sides of the track, raise it, propel it forward, and guide it to follow the track.
Suspended in the electromagnetic fields, the train creates little noise or vibration, while the track is not subject to wear.
The idea was demonstrated in the 1950s by the British scientist Eric Laithwaite, and in the 1980s Britain was first to introduce a commercial service, at Birmingham airport. But it was found unreliable, and replaced by a bus service in 1995.
The big test will come in Germany, where maglev trains will connect Berlin and Hamburg from 2005.
2 December 2003
MORE SPECULATION ABOUT THE WHITE PAPER
British Airways Says Stansted Runway Unviable
1 December 2003 - Dow Jones International News
LONDON (Dow Jones) - British Airways PLC (BAB) said Monday that building another runway at Stansted airport, rather than at London's Heathrow, would be financially unviable and open to challenge.
The comments follow speculation that the U.K. government will decide a third runway at Heathrow, the world's busiest international airport, would breach upcoming European Union environmental legislation.
Instead, the government is likely to announce in the next few weeks, that Stansted airport - which is further away from London and in a less populated area than Heathrow - would be the best place to expand the region's airport capacity.
However, British Airways, Heathrow's largest tenant, said funding for another runway at Stansted wouldn't be forthcoming.
"We're awaiting the publication of the government's white paper on the future of aviation and we will consider our options when we're clear on the government's position," a BA spokeswoman said Monday.
"We believe it's not financially viable to build another runway at Stansted because it would require cross subsidy (from other airports) and that would be anticompetitive and open to challenge," she added.
Landing fees at Heathrow are more expensive than those at Stansted, which is largely used by budget carriers Ryanair Holdings PLC (RYAAY) and easyJet PLC (EZJ.LN).
But both airports are owned by BAA PLC (BAA.LN) which has been criticised in the past by airlines for using the money earned at one airport to fund development at another.
A BAA spokeswoman said the company was waiting for the government's decision, but she said problems surrounding E.U. pollution limits, due to be introduced in 2010, could be overcome.
Late last month BA Chief Executive Rod Eddington along with rivals Virgin Atlantic and BMI British midland, wrote to Prime Minister Tony Blair saying that Heathrow is more economically significant to the U.K. than Stansted.
A spokeswoman at the U.K. Department of Transport said any stories regarding the white paper on aviation are purely speculation because the report is yet to be published. No date has been set for the publication. However, it will likely be announced before Parliament breaks up on December 18, she said.
BA looks for room in Europe: Airbus and EC to examine production of 7E7
* Heathrow runway veto could prompt search for new hub
* Challenge to ban on over-60s
Terry Macalister - 1 December 2003 - The Guardian
British Airways might develop Zurich or Paris as a second hub if the government gives its approval to a third runway at Stansted in Essex rather than Heathrow.
The airline is looking at all its options amid increasing speculation that transport secretary, Alistair Darling, is going to back Stansted rather than Heathrow, the home and main hub of BA.
The British carrier has a smaller interest in Gatwick but no presence at Stansted and would not want to straddle three UK bases with capacity limitations at all of them.
In the first instance it would launch a challenge against any ruling in favour of Stansted, claiming its development would have to be wrongly cross-subsidised by users of Heathrow. Both airports are operated by BAA.
But a continental airport, such as Zurich, with plenty of scope for physical expansion, would be of interest especially if BA were - as many expect -able to merge with Swiss.
BA's chief executive, Rod Eddington, and his rivals at BMI British Midland and Virgin wrote to Mr Darling expressing their concern about any Stansted scheme.
"We don't think it would be financially viable to build another runway at Stansted without cross-subsidy," a BA spokesman said.
"Our belief is that if that were the case it would be anti-competitive and definitely be something that would be open to challenge."
He refused to comment on the establishment of a secondary hub out of the country but sources close to the airline admitted this was one of the options that would be considered. "BA does not have a secondary hub currently but it makes sense to look at centres such as Charles de Gaulle [Paris], Frankfurt and Zurich, where the airline already has key services for business travellers," said one insider.
The airline has not given up hopes that Heathrow can be expanded. The expansion of Stansted would undermine Heathrow and potentially push international travellers towards using Paris or Amsterdam as a hub, according to BA.
BA threat to sue if Stansted gets runway
by Robert Wright - 1 December 2003 - Financial Times
British Airways has said it will consider legal action if the government chooses to build new runways at Stansted instead of Heathrow, where it is the heaviest user.
The threat follows a Financial Times report on Saturday that Alistair Darling, the transport secretary, was set to refuse permission for a third Heathrow runway in the short term.
Mr Darling will instead give permission for expansion at Stansted, London's third-busiest airport, when he publishes an aviation white paper this month. The extra capacity is needed for an expected rise in air passenger journeys into the UK from 117m at present to 300m by 2030.
British Airways said it believed that BAA, operator of the UK's main airports, could not fund Stansted expansion without increasing landing charges at Heathrow. Since British Airways operates at Heathrow but not Stansted, it argues that its landing charges would be used to cross-subsidise the building of capacity for its competitors. Stansted is particularly popular with low-cost airlines such as EasyJet and Ryanair.
British Airways believes it would have a clear legal case to have such cross-subsidy prevented.
Virgin Atlantic, the other UK transatlantic operator from Heathrow, also maintained its stance that its favoured option was expansion at Heathrow.
The government is thought to have been persuaded against allowing a third Heathrow runway by the pollution levels in the area. Permission may be given later, if cleaner aircraft and car engines reduce the pollution levels.
Concern about pollutants around Stansted, in Essex, is less grave because it is not as busy as Heathrow and the surrounding area less densely populated.
The second choice for expansion of both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic would be Gatwick, south of London. Both airlines already operate there.
However, expansion there has been ruled out because Gatwick's local county council, West Sussex, has won assurances that there would be no further expansion at the airport until 2019.
In the run-up to the decision on where to expand capacity, the airline industry has argued that the market would prefer expansion at Heathrow and that any decision not to expand there would handicap the UK air travel industry.
Residents' groups around Heathrow have opposed any expansion, however, and welcomed news of Mr Darling's decision.
During consultation Eurostar, the international train operator, argued against any airport expansion. It said many short-haul journeys could be eliminated after 2007, when the fast line to the Channel tunnel is completed. High-speed train services have reduced demand for air travel in many parts of continental Europe.
THE LEX COLUMN
1 December 2003 - Financial Times
Disagreement will hang like a dark cloud over the British government's choice to expand Stansted Airport and not Heathrow. But, despite the undoubted economic case for expanding London's notoriously crowded hub, environmental concerns cannot be ignored. It is better that a firm decision is taken on building a runway at Stansted, with one at Heathrow to follow soon after, than that discussions continue for another decade.
More airlines should now ask themselves if they really need to be at Heathrow, or whether it is just its prestige that keeps them there. Already, some have relocated, cashing in on valuable landing slots in the process. More should follow.
THE FINANCIAL TIMES AGAIN:
Not content with reporting the alleged contents of the White Paper
before it is published, a Leader article (December 2nd)
gives full support to Stansted expansion!
Settling for second best at Stansted
But preparations also need to be made to expand Heathrow
Whatever the merits of possible measures to restrain the rate of growth in air travel in order to reduce air pollution, demand will still more than double by 2030. So the need for some expansion of airport infrastructure around London is inescapable.
Heathrow presents by far the best economic case for expansion. It is already an international hub. And such hubs with spokes fanning out to many other countries are of national importance, because they allow a greater range of destinations and greater frequency of flights than purely local demand would justify. But Heathrow has been losing market share to rival European hubs, because it is so congested and therefore The white paper to be published later this month on UK air transport over the next 30 years looks sure to provoke a major dispute. Boxed in by European Union pollution regulations that hinder expansion of Heathrow, the government is resigned to designating Stansted as the first airport in the country's crowded south-east corner to get a new runway in nearly 20 years.
Such a decision will be challenged by the big international airlines that use Heathrow, on the grounds that they would be subsidising Stansted's expansion through the fees they pay to BAA, the group that owns both airports. The government will, rightly, resist. But it must couple its immediate preference for Stansted with practical plans to preserve Heathrow as a main hub.
prone to delays. A fifth terminal, due to open in 2008, will enable it to handle 50 per cent more passengers - but only if they arrive on bigger aircraft. Its existing two runways are already fully used most of the time.
The government accepts that a third runway cannot be added at Heathrow without exposing thousands of neighbouring households to a level of nitrogen dioxide that, under EU rules, will become illegal by 2010. The fact that pollution around Heathrow comes from several sources - the airport itself and the adjacent M4 and M25 motorway intersection - may make remedying it easier. Motorways can be widened to avoid polluting jams and train links to London can be expanded. But until such measures are under way, a third runway has little prospect of winning planning permission.
Among other possibilities, the government has discarded the option of building a brand-new airport at Cliffe on the lower Thames on grounds of financial and environmental cost, and appears inclined to respect earlier commitments not to expand Gatwick. That leaves Stansted.
The case for it is not entirely by default. The Essex airport could use a second runway, with its first now being used close to capacity by low-cost carriers at peak hours. But no long-term strategy worthy of the name could simply plump for Stansted and leave other expansion up in the air. The government must also declare its aim of expanding Heathrow, and start planning to make this feasible.
Our Comment: Stansted's runway already "close to capacity at peak hours"! At 18 mppa! Are the FT seriously suggesting that a second runway is already needed? For whose benefit? It would be financial madness!
2 December 2003
BAA TRIES TO WIN ALL THE OPTIONS!
NEW FROM BAA: Poll shows airport communities
in favour of further runways
1 December 2003
More than half the residents in the local communities around Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted generally favour airport expansion in the South East and support a new runway at the airport nearest to them according to a MORI survey commissioned by BAA, which is being sent to Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for Transport.
The survey results found that 69% of the local community around Heathrow recognise the importance of airport expansion in the South East; similarly, 65% of the local community around Gatwick and 57% around Stansted also recognise its importance. In addition 52% of Heathrow's local community, 59% of Gatwick's and 57% of Stansted's supported the construction of one new runway at their local airport.
Other survey findings provide further evidence of support for new runway development. Another recent MORI Survey of MPs June/July 2003- see Technical details poll showed 72% of MPs recognise the importance of expanding airport capacity in the South East, while research commissioned by the Mayor of London ORC poll for the Mayor of London, June 2003, showed 47% of Londoners are positively in favour of expansion with only 23% against.
Mike Clasper, BAA chief executive said: "This research clearly shows that the majority of the people who live around our airports endorse new runways. Our local communities understand that aviation provides jobs, boosts the local economy and promotes the freedom to travel. "This level of local support for runways, combined with an increasing public desire to fly, further demonstrate the overwhelming case for increasing airport capacity."
Editor's Technical note: Community Survey: MORI interviewed a representative quota sample of 3,005 residents (aged 18+) split evenly between Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted airports. Interviews were conducted by telephone between 1-29 October 2003.
OUR COMMENT: WE HAVE NOT SEEN THE QUESTIONS ASKED, BUT IF THEY WERE ARRANGED AND PHRASED IN THE SAME WAY AS THE LAST MORI POLL THE RESULTS ARE NOT SURPRISING!
Does anyone seriously believe that most people want more noise, more traffic, and more pollution?
2 December 2003
THE INDEPENDENT CUTS THE MORI POLL DOWN TO SIZE
BUT, still forgets that people do live in the countryside round Stansted, and they deserve protection from air pollution too, as do national heritage sites such as Hatfield Forest. The law protects both.
OUTLOOK - Runway battle
By Michael Harrison - 2 December 2003 - The Independent - London
FANCY THAT. An opinion poll paid for by BAA showing that most people who live next to its airports want to see more runways built. Not, obviously, if the runway in question ends just the other side of their garden fence. But, yes, if it means more jobs and greater freedom to fly. What altruists there must be living beneath the flight paths of south-east England.
Clearly BAA and its pollsters managed to avoid Hacan Clear Skies, which lobbies tirelessly against the remorseless growth of Heathrow, and Stop Stansted Expansion. Or perhaps it's just that the airport protest groups punch way above their weight.
Either way, the residents around Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted do not have to wait much longer to discover whether Alistair Darling has chosen to answer their dreams or confirm their worst nightmares. Those who actually manage to get a decent night's sleep, that is.
Sometime later this month the Secretary of State for Transport will announce which airport is to be the site of the first new runway in the South-east in more than half a century. As we disclosed a month ago, the short-odds favourite is looking like Stansted. The economic case for a third runway at Heathrow is overpowering but the political appeal of Stansted, with barely a Labour marginal in sight, counterbalances that. What appears to have tipped the scales, however, is the environmental impact of another runway at Heathrow. Not the amount of the noise in the air but the nitrogen oxide clouds that will be emitted on the ground. At Stansted this is a non-issue because it is built on open countryside. At Heathrow, it is a big problem already and will become bigger still when legal limits on emissions take effect in 2010.
So Stansted it looks destined to be. What Mr Darling then has to get his mind around is who will pay for the new runway. In theory, Stansted should now be self-financing. But that is a fiction.
The airport does not cover its own costs and even now charges less than it is allowed to under its price cap in order to attract airline customers such as Ryanair and easyJet. A new runway will cost at least £4bn, which means much higher landing charges for the low-cost carriers unless the burden is spread around BAA's other airports.
But British Airways has already threatened to reach for its lawyers if airport charges at Heathrow are jacked up to pay for new capacity at Stansted which will be used predominantly by its competitors. Virgin Atlantic will not be far behind.
Denied a third runway, Heathrow has two means of squeezing more capacity out of the existing two. One is to fill the skies over west London with super jumbos. The other is to introduce something called "mixed mode" operation - which means that both runways are used all the time for take-off and landing and local residents get no respite from noise whatsoever. They ought not be to popping the Champagne corks in west London just yet.
2 December 2003
SUNSEEKERS' JETS LEAVE FOLKS BACK HOME UNDER CLOUD
Jonathan Leake, Environment Editor - 30 November 2003 - The Sunday Times
THE British trend for jetting off to the sun is helping to blot it out at home. The vapour trails emitted by jet aircraft are creating a near-permanent haze over parts of the country, new research has shown. Already parts of London and western Scotland, over which many jets pass, are often covered by the hazy clouds they generate.
By 2050 up to 10% of Britain and western Europe will be covered - with the "jet clouds" reducing sunshine and contributing to climate change.
The research coincides with the final draft of the government's aviation white paper, which will set out how Britain's airports should expand over the next three decades. It is expected to support new runways and airport terminals around Britain.
Stansted, north of London, is expected to get the first new runway in southeast England for nearly 20 years. Airlines are lobbying for another at Heathrow. Both will spark big protests from conservationists and residents concerned about noise.
This week, however, David Lee, professor of atmospheric sciences at Manchester Metropolitan University, will warn that more jets will mean increasingly grey and hazy skies. "More aircraft will mean weaker sunshine and warmer temperatures," he said.
Lee has been working on a government-sponsored project to investigate the phenomenon. His main aim is to see whether the amount of cloud could be reduced - by flying lower or slower, for example.
Such work is considered vital with aviation booming. In Britain, the industry is expected to increase from 180m passengers a year now to more than 500m by 2030.
Aircraft exhaust fumes cause several types of problem. The vapour or "con" trails are formed when heated water vapour produced in the engines hits the cold air of the stratosphere and condenses. The narrow linear bands can dissipate over several thousand square miles.
They disperse after several hours, but researchers have found that the other chemicals and soot emitted by aircraft can help more clouds to form - perhaps days after the flight. These clouds add to climate change because they trap heat that would otherwise radiate out to space.
The same chemicals also boost global warming by reacting with oxygen in the air to produce ozone - a potent greenhouse gas. This is in addition to the impact of carbon dioxide produced by jet engines.
Dave Griggs, director of the Met Office's Hadley Centre, which studies climate change, said vapour trails were a complex and growing problem. "About 0.5% of the world will be covered by con trails by 2050, compared with 0.1% in 1992," he said.
"It may not sound much but the impact on climate is important and it will accelerate global warming."
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