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

image SSE NEWS ARCHIVE - January to February 2004

25 February 2004


"My problem isn't that aviation isn't a problem in terms of emissions" said Alistair Darling. "The correct approach in my view is to look at these problems and try to sort them problem by problem."

24 February 2004 - Parliamentary Committee - James Drewer Reports

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee met this afternoon to hear more evidence for its inquiry into the 2003 Pre-Budget Report. The session focused on aviation and the environment.

Giving evidence was Secretary of State for Transport, Alistair Darling. Accompanying him were Graham Pendlebury, Head of the Aviation and Environmental Division at the Department for Transport, and Head of Economics Michael Mann.

Committee chair Peter Ainsworth opened the session by asking the Secretary of State how seriously the DfT takes climate change. Describing Mr Ainsworth's preamble as "rather loaded", Mr Darling explained that the Aviation White Paper aims to take a long run approach to the future of aviation - and he insisted that the projects proposed will not come into service for a considerable number of years. The White Paper aims to balance the need to expand air travel against environmental consequences, he argued.

Suggesting that the White Paper is "as balanced as the Hutton Report", Mr Ainsworth asked whether Mr Darling accepts that climate change is a matter than must be dealt with. Mr Darling replied that the whole Government is committed to dealing with climate change - but a balance must be struck, with "our need to move around". Where that balance is struck is a matter for debate, he admitted, but the Government regards the White Paper as correct in this regard.

Pointing to a Pentagon's recent report on the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change, Mr Ainsworth suggested that it suggests that it should be treated as an immediate threat to US national security. Mr Darling insisted once more that a balance needs to be struck between these two values.

Mr Ainsworth noted that the Chief Scientific Adviser David King regards the threat of climate change as greater than global terrorism. Mr Darling denied that this is the case, arguing that the threats each poses are distinct and not to be lumped together. Professor King was simply aiming to emphasise his point, Mr Darling suggested.

Mr Ainsworth pointed to the Prime Minister's insistence in a recent speech that climate change is a key issue for world security - and he argued that the White Paper, however, will cause global warming to proceed more rapidly. Mr Darling insisted once again that there will necessarily be environmental consequences of people exercising their rights to move freely. Something needed to be done, he argued, or aviation will end up in the same position as roads and rail.

Mr Ainsworth noted that the Government has done quite a lot to discourage people from using their cars, and asked if it should consider similar measures for aviation. Mr Darling stated that it is not the Government's policy to discourage travel - there is no question of it telling people to stay at home. Taxation of aviation fuel is dealt with by international treaty, he added.

The White Paper includes only one small passage on climate change, Mr Ainsworth contended, suggesting that this is complacent. Mr Darling replied that there is in fact an entire chapter on environmental matters, and since the publication of the White Paper, all the supporting documentation has been made available.

Reducing emissions from aviation represents a "formidable challenge", Mr Darling acknowledged, maintaining nonetheless that there have been considerable improvements in engine technology in recent years. Mr Darling denied however that the DfT is claiming that engine technology improvements will counteract all the effects of expanding aviation. "My argument isn't that aviation isn't a problem in terms of emissions", he declared: "the correct approach in my view is to look at these problems and try to sort them problem by problem".

Mr Ainsworth stated that no-one on the Committee wants to stop people flying - but all are concerned about the rate of expansion planned.

Colin Challen took over the questioning, expressing concern about scientific views on the prospects for improved technology. Mr Darling replied that there will be a "steady improvement and more efficiency" - but he acknowledged that a "step change", such as a move to hydrogen fuel cells, is probably more than 30 years off. The DfT has not predicated its arguments on any such speculative notions, however, he insisted: nonetheless, the Minister repeated his earlier claim that engine performance has improved.

Mr Challen asked whether the potential of dirigibles has been explored, noting that it is not discussed in the White Paper. Mr Darling replied that most people who fly prefer conventional aeroplanes. Mr Challen argued that many people prefer cars to public transport - they need to be convinced to switch. Mr Darling argued that there are strong arguments for switching from air to rail for long-distance domestic journeys and shorter international trips. However, there is little or no substitutability for long-haul intercontinental journeys, he argued. The Government has a duty to look ahead at what is likely to be around in the next 30 years, and plan accordingly - not to plan on the basis of what might be, Mr Darling stated.

Mr Darling went on to insist that the Government has not adopted a "predict and provide" model - pointing out additionally that new aviation infrastructure is always built by the private sector, not the Government. However, he argued, it is clear that the London airports are quickly reaching capacity - as for the rest of the country, the White Paper sets out a framework of what the Government expects to see, and what it believes is necessary to cope with it. The White Paper is only a framework document: if the demand predicted does not arise, there will be no business case for building the new infrastructure, and it will not happen, the Minister declared.

Mr Challen argued that the Government is in fact following a "promote and provide" policy. Mr Darling denied this - although the Government is in favour of economic growth and choice. "I generally believe that the approach that we have taken is a reasonable one", he insisted, maintaining that the DfT does have proper regard for the environmental issues.

Mr Challen repeated his claim that the White Paper suggests nothing that will limit or manage aviation growth - and rather it plans for unchecked growth. Mr Darling replied that the Government aims to permit people to travel, while being aware of the environmental consequences. "Our policy not, crudely what you would call demand management", he argued.

Mr Challen expressed concern about the prediction that by 2030 British residents will make 103 million outward bound flight, while only 75 million foreigners will come to the UK. He suggested that aviation growth will harm the tourism industry. Mr Darling argued once again that travel cannot be regarded as a bad thing in itself - provided that the environmental consequences are balanced. He suggested that Mr Challen's questions imply that the Government should prevent people from travelling abroad.

It is necessary to look at emissions as a whole, Mr Darling argued: aviation emissions need to be dealt with in a number of ways, some of which can only be addressed at the international level.

Mr Challen noted that petrol is taxed very highly, and in order to manage demand, and he asked why this cannot be done for aviation fuel. Binding international treaties govern aviation fuel taxation, Mr Darling stated, noting that it is not just the USA that objects to reform. Aviation by its very nature is international, he warned. Mr Challen asked whether the Government argues for reform. Mr Darling replied that it does, and tends to get some sympathy from European countries. Mr Pendlebury stated that he recently chaired a meeting on this matter in Canada: the problem is that only western European countries seem willing to speak out in favour of measures more demanding than voluntary agreements. Developing countries and the USA are "deeply hostile" to any sort of demand management or economic instruments, he insisted.

Mr Challen asked if air passenger duty increases have been considered. Mr Darling replied that this is a matter for the Treasury, but he pointed out that APD was never introduced as an environmental measure - "it is a pretty blunt instrument".

Mr Ainsworth asked why the supporting documentation was not published at the same time as the White Paper. Mr Darling replied that this was largely a matter of logistics. He insisted that the White Paper is the start of the process, not the end.

Malcolm Savidge turned to emissions trading. Acknowledging the legitimacy of travel, Mr Savidge warned that unless economic instruments are used to control the growth of flights, "there is at least the possibility of catastrophic climate change". Mr Darling admitted "I don't dispute in general terms what you're saying", maintaining that the DfT attaches considerable importance to climate change and to getting an emissions trading scheme into effect.

Mr Savidge asked if an emissions trading scheme will be one of the priorities of the UK's EU presidency in 2005. Mr Darling confirmed that this is indeed the case, noting that there is more commitment to doing something about emissions in Europe than in the rest of the world. He insisted once again that it is not only the US that is an obstacle - many developing countries, that have experience of environmental damage, are also opposed. He denied that an emissions charge has been abandoned as a plan, and he acknowledged that it is being discussed at the EU level. Mr Pendlebury noted that the European Commission commissioned some report on an emissions charge recently - but simply published it without any commitments to action. "There's not really much appetite for it", he admitted.

Mr Savidge asked if the UK would consider unilateral action if an EU scheme could not be agreed. Mr Darling stated "the mood in Europe is rather different to the rest of the world", but he warned "I don't think we can act unilaterally".

Joan Walley picked up Mr Savidge's point about emissions trading, asking what account should be taken of aviation's particular contribution. Mr Darling explained that talks are taking place about how to bring such a scheme into being - but he insisted that any scheme should not be allowed to collapse because certain elements cannot be inserted into it.

Mr Ainsworth argued that emissions trading is the "only show in town" with regard to environmental protection in the White Paper. Mr Darling replied that there are other measures, but he maintained "we do need to give it our best shot" - and he denied that alternatives should be prepared because the scheme must be persisted with.

Ms Walley suggested that it would be likely that there would be a "half share" of aviation emissions under any agreement between the destination and origin country. If that is the case, she asked what impact this what have on the 60 per cent carbon target. Mr Darling insisted that there is no established methodology yet for internationally allocating emissions. One of the problems the UK has is its large share of international aviation - as does the Netherlands, he noted. How the Government can deal with international emissions depends on how they are allocated, the Minister argued.

Ms Walley asked what modelling has been done on this. Mr Darling replied that no work can be carried out until the initial questions have been answered. Mr Pendlebury agreed, however, that domestic emissions reduction targets would have to be reconsidered if international aviation emissions were allocated to countries. Ms Walley argued that for this reason modelling work needs to be carried out in order to see what level of expansion of aviation would be acceptable, were this to be the case. Mr Darling insisted that "we haven't actually got to that stage". Mr Pendlebury stated that the White Paper models what the DfT thinks emissions will be up to 2050, under three different scenarios.

Ms Walley warned that without any modelling of what the impact of a trading scheme might be, the DfT can hardly adopt any sort of position in respect of an EU emissions trading scheme. Mr Darling argued that there are two distinct arenas: Europe, which is much further advanced; and the wider international scene, post-Kyoto. He insisted that there are too many variables to make modelling worthwhile.

Mr Ainsworth suggested that "reconsidered" as referred to by Mr Pendlebury can only mean "water it down". Mr Darling replied that it is premature to speculate about this area, as there are political decisions to be made, as well as the variables referred to earlier.

David Chaytor sought information from Mr Darling about the "stringent environmental limits" required for the construction of a new runway at Heathrow. Mr Darling replied that nitrogen dioxide levels must be reduced - as they are too high at present anyway. Levels must be compliant with EU requirements by 2010, he stated: work has begun on identifying the sources of these emissions, adding that they are not all from aircraft. The M4 and M25 play a role as well, he suggested. BAA already has a plan for improving performance in this regard, Mr Darling pointed out, while the Government is looking generally at ideas such as road pricing and improving the rail links in and out of Heathrow.

Mr Chaytor asked for a timescale for these improvements. "We've got to be compliant by 2010", Mr Darling replied: building a third runway will make that harder. There is still work to be done on preparing the Government's own targets, he added.

Mr Chaytor expressed concern that plans for a congestion charge around Heathrow would sanction demand management for roads, while rejecting it for aviation. Mr Darling replied that congestion charging and road pricing more generally aims to encourage people to use other modes of transport - not to stop people from travelling. Mr Chaytor argued that congestion charging has the effect of posing the question of whether a trip is really necessary. Mr Darling admitted that it can have that effect, but that is not the purpose of the London congestion charge.

Mr Chaytor asked how many people in the area of Heathrow will continue to be affected by pollution if a third runway is built. Mr Darling replied that this is dealt with in the White Paper, but he argued that the effects on particular people would depend upon the specific location and character of the new buildings.

Our Comment: No change in Mr Darling's views - nothing must interfere with anyone's wish to travel by air here, there and everywhere. Like Nero fiddling while Rome burned, Alistair Darking will still be trying to solve all his problems while the polar ice caps are melting and East Anglia is sinking under the sea.

Pat Dale

22 February 2004


The Government appears to have selected the SERAS assessments that conflicted with their favoured policies and subjected them to further remodelling exercises on the grounds that the SERAS assumptions were too conservative and that recent developments have changed some of the parameters.

Other assessments, notably the predictions of future passenger numbers, have been left intact in spite of objections from many knowledgeable quarters that the predictions were too high.

Both Air Quality and Noise emission levels have been subjected to further exploration by consultants on behalf of the DfT.

Air Quality

Faced with predictions that the European Directive that maximum allowable levels of NOx and NO2 would be breached at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, it is perhaps predictable that consultants would be instructed to do their sums again. BAA was quick to carry out its own assessments at Heathrow and Gatwick and BA joined in with results of their own research. Their work was not confined to computer modelling - it included some monitoring and also detailed analysis of pilot and aircraft behaviour as well as further investigations into the contribution from off airport traffic.

Our Comment: Some of the conclusions were based on a rosy eyed view of the future behaviour of airlines and vehicle owners but the information collected was essential if predictions that were to be made could be seriously considered.

The Government has followed the same pattern and reviewed the SERAS predictions. It has used much of the BAA and BA work though it has not agreed with all their conclusions. It has succeeded in reducing the number of people exposed to breaches of the Air Quality Directive in 2015, when one additional runway is built, to zero at Stansted, 52 at Gatwick, in a range of scenarios, between 16 and 11,000 at Heathrow, and zero at Birmingham.

The report is very careful to draw attention to the fact that in all cases of future air quality predictions there is "significant uncertainty". What actually happens might be better or worse. However, this has not deterred the Government from presenting the results as sufficient to justify their proposals.

How has this significant improvement been achieved?

For a brief account of the details of the new parameters and sensitivity tests
refer to the responses to the White Paper

The new Sensitivity Tests carried out for Stansted included the following:

* New aircraft fleet mix data for forecast year.
* Revised 2002 aircraft type base data. An assumption that the new aircraft available would reduce NO2 emissions by an average of over 25%.
* New road emission factors likely to be introduced by the European Commission, though not yet officially formulated.
* Revised method for estimating background NO2 levels (as for London Region)
* Reverse idle for aircraft (where relevant).
* Reduced thrust for aircraft (where relevant).
* Preconditioned air available on all stands , mainly electrical airside power units.
* New method for calculating near road NOx/NO2 conversion ratios
* Changes to the airside vehicle fleet giving a 50% reduction in NO2
* Changes in holding patterns with a 30% fall in delays.

Note: The Report states that these last 2 reductions have been applied in all cases, but they are not listed in the Stansted test scenario. This needs further explanation.

Only one test was run for one extra runway, wide spaced, in 2015. A further test was included for two extra runways in 2030.

7. Results

The comment is made that the tight definition of the runways near to the boundaries strongly affect the results as population points are close to the end of the roll.

Contours are provided for 40 mgm/cu.m (limit for annual mean for human health) and for 30 mmg/cu.m limit for vegetation. No persons or dwellings are exposed, the contour remains within the new airport boundary. The vegetation limit appears to just cross the north west corner of Hatfield Forest though the maps supplied are small scale and will need careful analysis. As a matter of interest projections for 3 runways include 19 people subjected to NO2 breaches but only 2 houses!

General Comment: It is clear that most of the parameters used in these sensitivity tests have been developed from work done at Heathrow and to a lesser extent at Gatwick. They have been adapted for Stansted. The activities at Stansted are quite different. At Stansted, there are a mixture of low cost and small schedule airlines. The biggest preoccupation of low cost carriers is to save money and they have not, so far, shown any interest in reducing emissions, only in reducing fuel costs and turnaround time. It is uncertain how this affects NO2 emissions in practice. In addition the cost of new aircraft will play a big part in their decision on what new models to buy, Ryanair have already ordered theirs, we do not know whether the Stansted fleet mix allows for this.

There are also a number of assumptions that could be challenged as being too optimistic, especially the projected fall in engine NO2 emissions, - in view of the recent ICAO decision that future standards of NO2 engine emissions should only be reduced by 12% in place of the anticipated -28%.

A detailed analysis is needed, with more information on the Stansted modelling and also results for two runways at 2020. It reinforces the view that the choice of Stansted was taken without a proper assessment of the likely problems.

Pat Dale

21 February 2004


Reports in the local press highlight the decision of the four Councils most affected by an expanded Stansted Airport to mount a challenge to the White Paper proposals for an extra runway at Stansted

Uttlesford and East Herts District Councils, and Essex and Herts County Councils have launched the opening salvo by writing formally to the Transport Secretary Alistair Darling.

They are challenging the choice of Stansted, the failure to carry out an environmental impact assessment as required by European law, and they question the decision to site a second runway so far from the existing one.

Lord Hanningfield, the leader of Essex County Council expressed concern that the "land grab" would provide sufficient land to allow the building of two more runways on the same site.

Alan Dean, the Leader of Uttlesford Council declared that the Council would not be railroaded by central government on this issue and that all Councillors were agreed on the decision taken at the meeting on the 10th February to prepare a legal challenge to the proposals.

21 February 2004


"Putting you in the picture"

Terry Morgan, the Managing Director has given an up-beat report on what he calls "Sustainable Growth" of Stansted airport during the last year.

Passenger numbers grew by 16.6% to 18.71 million in 2003, while the number of flights only grew by 12.1% to158,784 PAMs, 186,477 ATMs overall. This is because the average passenger aircraft is carrying 117.8 passengers compared with 113.2 in 2002, cargo planes are fewer in number but are carrying more tonnage.

This last statistic might be described as cold comfort for those who live under flight paths.

He goes on to report a fall in off track-keeping, improvements in public transport services, new routes and new airlines, notably Air Polonia, and declares that BAA have satisfied 10 of the Planning conditions imposed by the Council though he does not list which these are.

BAA have contributed 10,000 towards the purchase of another vehicle for Uttlesford Community Travel. They have informed all residents likely to be affected by the proposed expansion about their Home Value Guarantee Scheme for "residents whose homes will unfortunately be lost". For those whose values may be affected they are about to propose a Home Owner Support Scheme.

They admit that they still have no idea of the exact future boundaries, how the runways will be operated, where the flight paths will be, how large the terminal will be and what road and rail improvements will be needed.

Our Comment: It seems extraordinary that not even BAA know where the necessary flight paths might be. How can any plans be made before this basic question is answered? Can the airspace even accommodate all the extra planes?

Pat Dale

21 February 2004


A Letter to SSE

Dear Sir

Unlike Heathrow and Gatwick airports, Stansted is surrounded almost entirely by arable farmland.

It is a well established fact that emissions from aircraft are harmful in the extreme.

The trees in Hatfield Forest are suffering badly and many are dying.

It surely therefore follows that the crops growing in the fields around Stansted (covering thousands of acres) are affected by such pollutants.

If this is indeed the case, once the crops enter the UK food chain the number of people exposed to these pollutants must be immense.

We hear a lot about EU limits on emissions regarding homes etc. I wonder if any research has been done into the effects of such pollutants on crops?

Furthermore, I wonder what legal rights local farmers have whose crops are regularly damaged by such pollution. Extra costs and safeguards would presumably need to be put in place to monitor such damage. Will BAA ensure that farmers are recompensed for what would be an ongoing situation, year in, year out?

Kind Regards

Christopher Sewell

19 February 2004


When the Aviation White Paper was published on December 16th it stated that certain technical documents would be published at the same time. Among these was one of great importance to both Heathrow and Stansted. It was supposed to explain why the Government had decided that no new runway could be built at Heathrow because the European Directive on Air Quality would be breached. It was also expected to explain why the Government had decided that this would not occur at Stansted, in spite of the fact that the SERAS predictions had shown that there would be a breach at Stansted too. Only 21 people admittedly, but everyone has the right to clean air. In addition, Hatfield Forest would be threatened by pollution.

This document was reported as not ready for publication until last week. Now a copy has been placed in the House of Commons Library but it is still not available from the Government Publications Centre. They have no copies as yet! Nor do they have a date when they are likely to receive them! Those who have been able to personally obtain a copy of the sole House of Commons document have been able to study it. Below is the Report from the Guardian newspaper and a press statement from HACAN concerning Heathrow.

We understand that no such detailed report is available on the Stansted situation but the number of people likely to be exposed to poor air quality has conveniently fallen to zero. The assumption appears to be that a detailed assessment will have to be made as part of the planning application. As soon as we can get a copy we shall study it.

This is not good enough. Not only have much delayed public documents been released to Parliament but are not yet available to the public and decisions have been made about Stansted that appear not to have been based on sound science (the Government's much quoted mantra)

Pat Dale


Government study highlights need for four-mile M4 tunnel to meet European laws
on pollution if third runway is constructed

Andrew Clark, Transport Correspondent - 19 February 2004 - The Guardian

Controversial plans for a new runway at Heathrow airport have been thrown into fresh doubt by a government study which concludes that the only way to meet European pollution laws would be to enclose the nearby M4 motorway in a tunnel.

A Department for Transport report, which has been placed in the House of Commons library, has confirmed that a third landing strip at Britain's biggest airport would be illegal under European law with out radical measures to tackle emissions from aircraft and surface traffic to the terminals.

It says the only scenario in which pollution could be lowered sufficiently to meet EC regulations would be to build a tunnel over a four-mile stretch of the M4 and impose a 20 congestion charge to deter travellers from driving to the airport. The findings also say one of the existing runways would need to be extended to allow aircraft to take off further away from residential areas.

British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and BMI British Midland have led the aviation industry in lobbying for expansion at Heathrow, where take-off and landing slots are so scarce that they are changing hands for up to 10m each.

The report, based on modelling work by consultants AEA Technology, is a supporting document to the DfT white paper on aviation, which backed an unprecedented expansion of Britain's airport capacity in December.

In the white paper, the transport secretary, Alistair Darling, backed a new runway at Heathrow in principle. But he told parliament he would only give the green light if "stringent environmental limits can be met".

His officials are particularly concerned at European legislation which will make it illegal in 2010 for residents to be subjected to nitrogen dioxide emissions of more than 40 microgrammes per cubic metre of ambient air.

The newly disclosed study says meeting the directive will involve covering a four-mile stretch of the M4 between the M25 and Hounslow, west London, at a cost estimated by environmentalists at 200m. A spur road to the airport would also need to be covered.

The tunnels would need to be equipped with industrial-strength scrubbers which are "100% effective" at removing nitrogen dioxide emissions - which environmentalists claim would be impossible.

Anti-airport campaigners around Heathrow greeted the report with delight. John Stewart, chairman of the residents' group Hacan ClearSkies, said: "If they're talking about having to put the motorway in a tunnel, this really isn't the real world. It shows the government is chasing an impossible dream in a third runway."

Friends of the Earth campaigner Richard Dyer said: "This is really drastic action they're talking about. It might just about solve the problem but it would be enormously expensive."

A DfT spokeswoman said the report had "informed the decisions" taken in the aviation white paper. She said: "Heathrow was ruled out as a first option and Stansted was put in its place because of the acknowledgement of problems with emissions at Heathrow."

Airport operator BAA, which runs Heathrow, pointed out that the research suggested emissions would improve towards 2020 as aircraft engines become cleaner.

A BAA spokeswoman said: "We have been quite clear that the air quality at Heathrow would not meet 2010 EU directive levels and that it would have to be resolved before another runway could be built.

"The government provides a good starting point with the modelling they have published but we have a lot more work to do before we are in a position to apply for planning permission."


M4 would need to be put in tunnel if Heathrow is to meet EU pollution standards, claims Government Report.

A report just published by the Department for Transport has admitted that part of the M4 would need to be put in a tunnel if air pollution levels at Heathrow were to come even close to meeting the legal limits set by the European Union if a 3rd runway was to be built. It also found that any plans to end runway alternation at the airport are likely to result in illegal pollution levels.

The report is one of 27 documents issued by the Department last week to accompany the Aviation White Paper that was published on 16th December.

It found that extreme measures would be required to meet the EU legal limits if a third runway was built by 2015:

* The M4 would need to be put in a tunnel between junction 4A and junction 3;

* The M4 spur road would also need to go into a tunnel;

* The southern runway would be need to be extended 1 mile eastwards;

* The total number of planes at Heathrow would need to be limited to 550,000 each year, well below the 650,000 capacity.

Even with these measures in place, the report found that 27 homes would still be experiencing air pollution levels above the EU legal limit. Without these measures in place almost 5,000 homes could be affected in 2015.

The report also found that, if runway alternation was abolished on existing runways between 7am and 5pm by 2010, the additional planes could result in almost 10,000 dwellings with pollution levels over the legal limit.

John Stewart, Chair HACAN ClearSkies, said, "The Government should stop chasing its impossible dream of a 3rd runway at Heathrow. Even on the widely optimistic assumption that planes will become 40% quieter over the next 20 years or so, pollution levels around the airport will still be illegal. Any responsible government would be dealing with existing pollution levels rather than coming up with madcap schemes like putting the M4 in a tunnel. In a sane world this report should kill off any idea of a 3rd runway."

17 February 2004


A Report by David Gow in The Guardian - 16 February 2004

Michael O'Leary, Ryanair's combative chief executive, is to offer half of his fleet's seats free over the next 5 years by cutting the last remaining frills from his low-cost airline, he said yesterday.

Mr O'Leary, struggling for the first time against both falling profits and declining passenger numbers, said he wanted to save more than 1.3m by fitting non-reclining seats on his new fleet of Boeing 737 planes.

Ryanair's list of savings also embraces the removal of window blinds, headrest covers (possibly replaced by advertisers) and seat pockets to cut cleaning and turnaround costs.

This could save the airline more than 300,000 on running costs for each new plane. But Mr O'Leary's biggest savings would come from persuading passengers to take only hand luggage on board.

He said that people were quite happy to take their own bags on to buses, so why not planes? The aim is to cut time and money spent on checking in luggage, baggage handling and storing lost property.

"It's not just a question of staff. It would mean smaller airports, simpler facilities and lower charges. It could deliver savings of up to 20% for the airline." Baggage-laden passengers would pay more for their seats.

Mr O'Leary's plans are his immediate response to this month's ruling by the European Commission that Ryanair must repay up to 3m in unlawful state aid provided by Belgium for flying into and out of Charleroi airport in the depressed south of the country.

He said then that the "disastrous" EU ruling would add 10 a ticket to low-cost carriers while the EU Transport commissioner says a truer cost would be an extra 6 a ticket.

Ryanair is forecast to see full-year earnings decline by 10% this year.

Our Comment: It would certainly be considered an advantage by many passengers if there were fewer reclining seats. Every reclining passenger means one behind who runs the risk of being squashed. As for the rest of the economy measures - Mr O'Leary is being a little unrealistic. Even backpackers carry enormous loads on their backs. Where is all this inevitably larger amount of hand luggage to be stored? At a certain point "no frills" travel will become "No comfort" travel - with extra security checks, air travel is already reaching that point.

We would also remind Mr O'Leary that part of his profits have been made at the expense of our environment, our health and our future, and that includes his own future because no one can escape the long term effects of climate change. We must also note that Passenger numbers dropped in spite of free offers, and this places a big question mark over the Government's forecasts for air traffic, the main reason for the expansion planned for Stansted and other airports.

It is a great pity that on the opposite page of the same Guardian is a report about the efforts of Eurotunnel to obtain more capital in order to pay their debts. They have secured an agreement to enable them to run freight trains straight through the tunnel on to French and continental destinations. This is a development that should be supported in all our interests. Perhaps Michael O'Leary should be advising them how to expand their services?

Pat Dale

12 February 2004


A Cornish MP says it could be time to kick cut-price airline
Ryanair out of services to Newquay.

BBC News - 4 February 2004

The low-cost airline has been given discounted landing charges by Newquay airport since it started services to Cornwall in March 2002.

But airport bosses claim the reduced rates have forced the airport into a 750,000 debt.

Executive members of Cornwall County Council, which runs the airport, are expected to meet on Wednesday to discuss the future of the airport.

North Cornwall MP Mr Tyler, whose constituency includes Newquay, said the deal with Ryanair should never have been agreed.

He said: "At the moment we are paying a huge amount to subsidise Ryanair's profits and their passenger fares and the only people that seem to be benefiting is Ryanair."

"I am sure we would get another low-cost airline to come in, but bribing an airline to give us a cut-price deal doesn't make long-term sense for the county."

"What we need are viable airlines with viable services and a viable airport."

"We don't want a subsidised airport which pours money into the profits of any one particular airline."

EC ruling

The number of passengers at Newquay has soared in the past two years, from 85,000 a year to nearly 250,000. It is estimated that the airport brought in more than 17m into the Cornish economy last year.

But Mr Tyler said it should not be at the expense of council tax payers.

"I don't think we should be in anyone's pocket and we should be looking around at who can produce the best deal, not just for passengers going in and out of Cornwall, but for the council tax payers in the county."

Mr Tyler's concerns follow a European Commission ruling that subsidies paid to Ryanair by a Belgian airport are illegal.

Ryanair has refused to comment on the future of the Newquay to Stansted service in the light of the ruling.

11 February 2004


But report states thousands of people still affected by
aircraft exhaust emissions that breach EU legal limits

"AirportWatch" Press Release - 9 February 2004

Later this week (w/c 8th February 2004) the Department for Transport will finally publish a report looking in detail at air quality issues that are preventing a green light for a 3rd Runway at London's Heathrow Airport.

The report, promised in December alongside the "Future of Air Transport White Paper" (para 11.55, page 121 of the White Paper) was prompted by airport operator BAAplc and major Heathrow airline, British Airways, complaining bitterly to Government Departments, including direct approaches to No. 10 and Prime Minister Tony Blair as well as the Treasury, that previous studies had, in their view, greatly overestimated the air quality problems at Heathrow and were holding up a 3rd Runway at Heathrow.

The delayed new report has tried to control the forecast unlawful breaching of the EU NO2 limits by:

Studying the effects of placing the M4 spur to the airport in a tunnel - in effect "burying" emissions from road traffic heading for Heathrow

Re-locating the entire length of the Southern Runway at Heathrow further south - this could potentially alter the way harmful aircraft exhaust impacts on nearby houses

Investigating whether ending runway alternation at Heathrow during "rush hours" only would worsen air quality - it does, the report will say

Despite this desktop exercise, with a price tag of hundreds of millions of pounds to implement, the report acknowledges there are still hundreds of homes and thousands of people in Harmondsworth, Sipson, Harlington, Hayes and West Drayton affected by air quality breaches.

The White Paper was keen to suggest that the air quality problem at Heathrow could be solved but even the DfT's latest "blue sky" thinking still shows major difficulties around Heathrow now as well as in the future.

And last week in Montreal, the UN ICAO body controlling the environmental performance standards of aircraft worldwide, has yet again set weak standards for future aero engine NO2 performance that falls far short of what would be needed to offset the growth in emissions predicted at Heathrow. ICAO set a -12% stringency that will lead to a worldwide NOx increase of between 148-151% worldwide by 2020 from aero engines.

Jeff Gazzard, "AirportWatch" Director said:

" This delayed report shows that trying to expand Heathrow by ending runway alternation let alone the madness of trying to build a 3rd Runway results in continuing unlawful levels of a major pollutant that is damaging to human health. Instead of acting as consultants to BAA plc and British Airways and collectively trying to dump more and more air pollution on the heads of people around Heathrow, it's about time the Department for Transport realised the key issue at Heathrow is not to find ways to force more air traffic into West London but to set limits that ensure complete compliance with legal air quality limits that are being breached NOW, let alone in the future."

"The Department for Transport must stop trying to lower the hurdles its client industry cannot clear and recognise that Heathrow simply cannot be allowed to grow any further."

10 February 2004


The Guardian has been regarded by many as one of the more
environmentally conscious daily newspapers. Many were surprised
when 3 weeks ago a big agvertisement for Guardian Travel offered
two flights for the price of one. Following a number of letters of protest the Guardian published the following article. It may be of interest to SSE readers.

Flying in the face of the facts - by Ian Mayes - 24 January - The Guardian

In case you missed it, here is a letter to the editor published in the Guardian on January 13: "Headline on Thursday [January 8]: 'Global warming to kill off 1m species'; Friday: 'Top scientist attacks US over global warming'; Saturday: '2 for 1 offer on flights to US.' Joined-up thinking?" This was one of a number of letters, some sent directly to the paper's environment correspondents, in effect accusing the paper of hypocrisy in propounding environmental concerns on one hand while promoting flights, a major pollutant, on the other.

I shall come back to that.

At the beginning of December, I devoted this column to the Guardian's first social audit, published with the title Living Our Values. The headings on the column read: "The readers' editor on ... a frank look at the Guardian's behaviour as a company: to practise or just to preach?"

More than 200 of you have written in for a free copy of the audit, which is also available on the Guardian website, at www.guardian.co.uk/readerseditor.

In the audit, under the heading "Environment", we quote Tony Juniper, the director of Friends of the Earth: "It is difficult to overestimate the impact of the Guardian and Observer. The Guardian is certainly considered the voice of progressive and sound environmental thinking both in the UK and in Europe. The feedback we get from the US is that its influence is growing there, too, through the Guardian's websites ..."

"As a company, as opposed to a newspaper, it does not have a leadership role yet, but no media company does. The most important thing is for the Guardian to continue playing its absolutely vital role in sustaining the environmental debate, but it is also important to put sustainability into practice."

A note in the same section records that in the employee opinion survey, the results of which are quoted throughout the audit, a third of staff disagreed or disagreed strongly with the statement, "GNL [the Guardian, Observer and Guardian Unlimited], as an organisation, has effective environmental practices."

While noting a modest reduction in the number of company cars, among other measures, it says: "Apart from cars, our main source of pollution is air travel by our staff. Last year [2002] the company spent 520,000 on flights."

One idea under discussion at the Guardian - there was a meeting on the subject on Thursday - is to seek more systematically to balance the effects of travel by Guardian staff with an equivalent investment in environmentally beneficial projects.

A precedent was set within the company through its organisation, in association with National Grid Transco, of a one-day conference on corporate social responsibility in London a year ago. The Guardian asked Future Forests to estimate the amount of greenhouse gas produced by the conference, mainly in travel - it came to 41 tonnes of carbon dioxide - and then to balance it by planting trees. They were planted in Bowden Farm Wood in north Devon.

To return to the promotional offer of two transatlantic flights for the price of one. The environment editor, and the environment and agriculture correspondent of the Guardian were among those who saw it as, to put it very mildly, completely in conflict with the Guardian's editorial policies on global warming. They could perfectly understand its conveying an impression of hypocrisy on the paper's part.

There are no figures for the recent two-for-one offer but about 6,500 readers (taking 13,000 airline seats) responded to a similar offer a year ago. No one I have spoken to in the Guardian believes the curtailment of such offers, let alone airline advertising, is a serious option.

Both the executive editor (development), who coordinated the Guardian's social audit, and the environment editor believe offsetting carbon emissions with forms of environmental compensation provides the most readily available practical measure.

The environment editor pointed out: "Several charitable trusts freely calculate the greenhouse emissions on any flight and invite people to 'offset' them by paying a bit to plant trees, for instance." The extra cost on most return flights to Europe would be about 5, on a return flight to New York 10, and to Sydney 30. Would you be prepared to pay? Should the Guardian give you the option to pay on the flights it promotes? What do you and your company do at present?

There is an air travel emissions calculator at www.climatecare.org. Some of the correspondents on this subject were part of a lobby prompted by Media Lens (www.medialens.org).

Our Comment: While tree planting helps reduce CO2, the mathmatics are not entirely satisfactory. In the case of aircraft flights there are two other bad effects that add significantly to climate change. The first is Nitrogen oxides emissions, the second is the effect of contrails. Trees are not going to help remove these! However, another question, relevant to our local concerns, might have been to ask how many of the staff expected to want to fly 3 times as often each future year , and if they wanted to, could they afford the actual costs of the extra holidays (assuming they took cheap fare flights) and would they really miss out if they did not take those extra flights?

Pat Dale

7 February 2004


Uncorrected Transcript of Oral Evidence
Taken Before the Liaison Committee

The Prime Minister - Tuesday, 3 February 2004

Q86 Mr Ainsworth: Can I ask you, Prime Minister, about the role of Number 10 in the whole question of sustainable development. Is Number 10 playing its parts in that agenda?

Mr Blair: Yes, in two ways. First of all, in the discussions that we have about so called "liveability" at a local level, but then most particularly in relation to issues to do with sustainable development at an international level, like Kyoto.

Q87 Mr Ainsworth: I still want to look at the process here rather than the policies because I was very struck, and you would have presumably seen this, by the remarks made by your Chief Scientific Adviser shortly after Christmas in which he said that "climate change is the most severe problem that we are facing today, more serious than the threat of terrorism." Do you agree with that?

Mr Blair: Looking very long term, if I look at when my children are my age, yes, I think it is the key issue that faces us. In the short term, frankly, terrorism and the issues we have been talking about earlier are of critical urgency. I think you can get into a rather cerebral debate about which is more important than the other, but I certainly agree, I think that sustainable development and the issue of climate change is of fundamental importance to the long term security and stability of the world.

Q88 Mr Ainsworth: I think many people were pleased when your Government signed up to a 60% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 but were perplexed by the announcement of a dramatic increase in aviation capacity. I am just wondering how you square the concern that obviously is being expressed about climate change with a policy which is developing at a rapid rate the fastest growing source of climate change gas.

Mr Blair: It is difficult because potentially the two are in conflict with each other. What we are looking at for our G8 chairmanship next year is an initiative that helps us investigate the full extent of the scientific and technological possibilities of reducing the damage that aviation fuel does. It is just not feasible to say that we are going to cut the number of journeys that people make.

Q89 Mr Ainsworth: But it is not a question of cutting, is it? It is a question of massively increasing. That is what the Department of Transport is doing. I just wonder the extent to which the Department of Transport is joined up to other parts of Government that are working rather hard to achieve a better environment.

Mr Blair: It is joined up but there is a very clear policy issue, is there not, because, for example, on the runways there is no doubt that we need them unless we are going significantly to reduce the number of journeys that are predicted for the future that people are going to make, and I so not see how we do that. Therefore, I think we have got to come at this from another route, which is to look at the science and technology in relation to the fuel issue whilst at the same time pursuing a whole lot of other methods that can actually reduce climate change emissions. I think there is every possibility of doing that, both in relation to cars and in relation to aviation fuel but it is going to require a heavy investment for the future.

Q90 Mr Ainsworth: Do you believe that the structures are there in government to enable this to be done?

Mr Blair: Oh yes, there is no doubt at all about it. Let me tell you that a major part of the discussion before the White Paper on aviation was published with Defra and with the other relevant government departments and a major component of that discussion for the aviation White Paper was, how is this going to be consistent with our Kyoto obligations? There was debate about that and we could have gone even further, frankly. I suppose a lot of people in the transport industry would have preferred us to go even further than we did in the aviation White Paper but we came to the view that it would be irresponsible not to accept, given the dramatic increase in the number of people using flights, that we were going to need extra capacity and that we were not, at least in the short term, going to be able to obviate the need for that.

Our Comment: He cannot really believe that technological improvements can neutralise the effects of a massive increase in aviation traffic, the manufacturer's predictions have made that clear, - or that changes in fuel use by cars and HGVs could compensate. The only conclusion is that the sacrifices must be made by vehicle owners, restrictions that would enable the government "not to reduce the number of journeys (flights) that are predicted for the future that people are going to make". This is the old concept, "predict and provide", cast aside when the Government was first elected, but now coming back into favour with all the difficulties and flawed planning forgotten. The much lauded concept of Sustainable development is dying.

Pat Dale

7 February 2004



by Caroline Gammell - PA News

The recent balmy weather is the warmest on record for a February, it was revealed today. The weather had people reaching for their bikinis and shorts earlier in the week as temperatures smashed all previous records.

Overnight on February 3-4, the minimum temperature was 11.2C - beating the next highest temperature of 10.3C in 1923. Monitored by the Central England Temperature (CET) series, this record has been kept since 1878.

On Wednesday a temperature of 17.9C was recorded at Gravesend, Kent, beating a previous high of 16.8C in Durham in 1993. The mean temperature on Wednesday was 12.5C, pipping the next highest of 12C in 1960.

This record goes back even longer, to 1772. David Parker, from the Met Office, said: "The natural variations of weather patterns often show marked departures from normal. But, because recent studies have shown that most of the global warming observed over the last 50 years is attributed to human influences, it is not unreasonable to conclude that human behaviour has played a significant part in the figures released today."

The temperatures were recorded at the Met Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, which is based in Exeter. They found temperatures across central and southern parts of the UK were around eight degrees Celsius above normal on February 4.

Meteorologists attributed the warm weather to a tropical source of air which has come across from the Atlantic Ocean. Temperatures on the surface of the sea were about two or three degrees above normal.

4 February 2004


Comment from The Green Party
4 February 2004

LONDON Euro-MP Jean Lambert has called for a 'congestion charge for capital's skies' to force airlines to meet the true costs of cheap flights following the EU's landmark ruling that Ryanair must pay back its Charleroi subsidies.

Speaking at a European conference on transport pricing, the Green Party MEP said: "So-called cheap flights are not cheap when you take into account their overall costs, so I welcome yesterday's decision by the Commission with regard to Ryanair and Charleroi airport.

"The Ryanair ruling is very welcome, but barely scratches the surface of hidden subsidies and tax-breaks benefiting the aviation industry. We need a level playing field for transport, so public money isn't spent promoting the most polluting modes of transport."

Mrs Lambert, who is a member of the European Parliament's Petition's Committee, said a high volume of the complaints it received from across the EU regarded the environmental, social and economic costs of transport infrastructure development.

She added: "Air and road travel are in urgent need of pricing reform to reflect their true costs - the EU should examine London's congestion charge, which has reduced traffic by 60,000 car movements daily in the charging zone, as an example of how to use economic measures to encourage sustainable transport choices."

4 February 2004


O'Leary threatens to sue all airlines receiving state aid
Richard Adams - The Guardian - 2 February 2004

Ryanair went on the offensive yesterday threatening a wave of litigation against competition both on and off the ground if it loses out in a ruling by the European commission later this week.

Better known for its cut-price fares and cut-throat tactics, the Irish budget airline headed by Michael O'Leary vowed to launch costly legal actions against rival airlines and state-owned airports if it is forced to repay subsidies it has received from several regional airports.

The report goes on to describe the expected ruling of the European Commission that payments made by the publicly owned Charleroi airport to entice Ryanair to use the airport breached the EU competition rules and would have to be paid back. As Ryanair has similar sweetheart deals with a number of other publicly owned airports the company could soon be owing large sums of money.

Ryanair has made a statement that "If there is an unacceptable decision, Ryanair will not only appeal it but has instructed its advisers to initiate state aid cases and complaints against every other airline flying into every state airport which offers concessions and discounts. Repayment at Charleroi could force all of Europe's airlines and airports to retrospectively make payments as similar arrangements are in place in almost every member state."

Mr O'Leary has already discontinued services to Strasbourg after a French court ruled that similar subsidies must be stopped.

Our Comment: The ruling would be a serious blow to Ryanair's finances. However, European tax payers have not apparently been consulted about the use of public money to subsidise the tickets of foreign tourists. Surely tax free fuel should also count as state aid?


BBC News - 3 February 2004

As expected, the EU commissioner announced that Ryanair would have to repay nearly 3 million to Charleroi airport. Payments by public airports to airlines to encourage them to use their airport was not allowed under EU competition rules. It was suggested that tickets might need to rise about 5 to meet additional costs.

Michael O'Leary expressed his disgust with the decision and, presenting himself as the champion of the ordinary passenger prophesied that low cost airlines and their passengers would suffer all over Europe. Some of his rivals actually disagreed, local taxpayers might benefit.

Our Comment: The question of the cost of airline tickets is bound up with environmental subsidies as well airport sweeteners and cross subsidies from other activities such as car hire. "No frills" is a legitimate way to save money as well as many other management improvements. Saving money on fuel, thanks to special tax treatment, is not, as it distorts competition with other forms of transport. Neither is it fair that ever increasing numbers of short haul flights should be allowed to create more local pollution and aggravate the already serious onset of climate change. It is time that the Government began to implement the promises made in the White Paper both on local pollution and on emissions trading. These measures are only minimal but at least they are a beginning.

Pat Dale

4 February 2004


BAA Profits Fly in the Face of Euro Rules
2 February 2004

Airport operator BAA, expected to announce huge profits on Monday is being unfairly funded by UK tax payers via the European Investment Bank (EIB), according to a coalition of environmental and social justice organizations.

The coalition which includes Friends of the Earth, MEPs, respected academics and grassroots organizations has written to the European Investment Bank calling on it to stop financing the UK's massive airport expansion plans which breach its own investment and environmental policies.

The EIB has a remit to fund projects that are environmentally sustainable and economically sound developments. However, the EIB has provided virtually a billion Euros worth of loans in the last 5 years to BAA, who are a chief player in the aviation industry which is the fastest growing source of CO2, the chief contributor to climate change. The EIB is also breaching its own statute by lending money to projects where funds are available from other sources on reasonable terms, BAA admits that it could easily have got the funds it received from the EIB elsewhere.

UK taxpayers fund the EIB, yet the Government says that the aviation industry receives no Government support. The bank provides virtually interest free loans and has provided finance for BAA projects like the expansion of Heathrow and Gatwick airports for many years.

Friends of the Earth Aviation campaigner, Richard Dyer commented:

"This is another case of taxpayer's money being used to prop up the hugely polluting aviation industry, the EIB should scrap the handouts it gives to BAA and other airport developers immediately "

Friends of the Earth International finance institutions campaigner Hannah Ellis commented:

"Current EIB financing of the aviation industry is not only in breach of European Union principles but also the EIB's own statute. The bank should only invest in projects that truly do contribute to 'social and economic cohesion' in the European Union, as per the EIB's original mandate."

"The great majority of airports in the UK are operated on a commercial basis whether privately or publicly owned - the exceptions are airports receiving Objective 12 money and small airports assisted by local councils such as those in the Scottish highlands and islands - DfT Aviation White Paper Dec. 2003."

4 February 2004


Anger as airline responds with surcharge on all its fares
Andrew Clark - The Guardian - 31 January 2004

Ryanair faced new criticism last night for adding a 50p charge to all flights after a judge ruled that the airline had stretched its "no frills" policy too far by forcing a man with cerebral palsy to pay 18 (one way) for use of a wheel chair.

In a landmark case yesterday the Irish budget airline was ordered to pay 1,336 to Bob Ross, from Islington who objected to the fee charged when he took a Ryanair flight from Stansted to Perpignan 2 years ago. This included 36 for the chair hire, 300 to buy a chair for further flights, and 1000 for injury to Mr Ross's feelings. The judge ruled that the airline had breached the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act.

Ryanair reacted furiously, describing the decision as "defective" and insisting it would appeal. It had now added a 50p surcharge to the price of every seat to meet the cost of wheelchair provision.

The Report continues with Ryanair's claim that the cost of the chair ought to have been born by BAA as it was in most of the European airports. BAA counterattacked by pointing out that most of these airports used by Ryanair were small ones anxious to attract airlines. At Stansted all the other airlines except Cyprus Turkish airlines provided their own wheelchairs.

We are also told that the surcharge should raise 12m a year and that the Disability Rights Commission calculated that 2p per passenger would have been sufficient.

29 January 2004


What will the EU Commissions' verdict be?

The EU Commission has been investigating the deal between Charleroi airport and Ryanair for the last 2 years. This deal is one of the ways by which Ryanair is able to offer cheap tickets. Continental airports wanting to attract tourists are prepared to pay the airline to fly there. Some of these airports are financed by public money, including Charleroi. In other words, local taxpayers are footing the bill for the passengers' cheap flights. Whether they think this is worth while in order to benefit from tourist spending is not known, no public debates have been reported.

The EU has acted following complaints from other airports not so generously inclined and it is expected that the Transport commissioner will strongly object to the practice and require Ryanair to repay a sum of between 3 and 7 million back into the public purse. There are other complaints to consider and further repayments maybe ordered in relation to other airports.

Michael O'Leary has delivered a vitriolic attack on the Commission describing its probable decision as "communist" and an attack on low air fares everywhere. He has sworn to appeal to the European Court of Justice so the final settlement may be another 2 years away. His anger was no doubt aggravated by the fact that his ticket sales fell this January, profits have fallen by 7% during the last 3 months and the share price fell by 2 a share.

A pay freeze for employees has been threatened and a deferral of 5 of the planned new aircraft.

Mr O'Leary has provided a lot of excuses for this fall in performance, such as increasing competition from cheaper fares being offered by BA and Air France, and of course from easyJet, always ready to enter battle with rivals, especially Ryanair.

This battle for ever cheaper flights is bad for all of us. It encourages unnecessary flights, discourages the airlines from purchasing new aircraft with lower emissions and will, if it increases in intensity lead to a squeeze on both employee wages and conditions and may prejudice safety. With the very real concern about the pace of climate change it is time that the Government took another more realistic look at the true cost of too cheap flights. It is also committed to consider a plan for the promised emissions trading scheme for aircraft . Will it be part of the promised paper on "Aviation and Global Warming?"

Pat Dale

29 January 2004


BA has announced that 300 million must be saved in staff costs during the next 2 years in order to fill the 1.5 billion hole in its pension fund. The Unions are naturally concerned that this must mean job losses.

BA has not long finished a restructuring exercise in which 13,000 job were lost. Ticket prices have been lowered, but sales are not as good as expected.

Our Comment: The Government forecasts are beginning to look a little out of date.

Pat Dale

29 January 2004


House of Commons Written Answers - 26 January

Aircraft (Carbon Dioxide Emissions)

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the effect on carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft by (a) 2010, (b) 2020, (c) 2030 and (d) 2050 arising from the proposals in the Aviation White Paper.

Mr. McNulty: The Department will publish a paper, "Aviation and Global Warming", in due course, which will include an analysis of the impact on emissions from the proposals in the Aviation White Paper.


John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the total value was of (a) technical and financial contracts, (b) technical consultants used on a call-off basis and (c) financial consultants used on a call-off basis by the section of (i) his Department and (ii) predecessor departments with responsibility for aviation, in each year since 1992.

Mr. McNulty: The Department was formed on 29 May 2002. In 2002-03 and the first 9 months of 2003-04 consultancy valued at 71.19 million and 4.74 million respectively was commissioned in relation to aviation.

27 January 2004


Alistair Darling accused of disrespect to the local community

At a special Council meeting on January 26th there was unanimous support for a motion proposed by the Group Leaders of the Council. The motion was:

1. The Council does not accept, nor agree with, the Government's support for a second runway in its Air Transport White Paper and therefore re-affirms its opposition to such development at Stansted Airport.

2. The Council agrees to continue its campaign against a second runway to protect the rural quality of life in its area and, in particular, it will:

* Consider any legal action which seeks to prevent a second runway
* Consider any studies which seek to prevent a second runway
* Work with other local authorities and organisations to further its policy
* Work with SSE (Stop Stansted Expansion) to prevent a second runway
* Continue to inform and consult the public on the issue of a potential second runway

3. The Council re-affirms its existing arrangements, namely the Chief Executive in consultation with Group Leaders, to continue the Council's campaign for opposing a second runway.

4. The Council writes to the Secretary of State for Transport to express its disappointment that he has not accepted the Council's invitation to visit the area to see the adverse impact of a second runway at Stansted.

Councillor Alan Dean, the Leader of the Council, started the debate by expressing his regret that the Secretary of State, Alistair Darling, had not even acknowledged the invitation that had been sent to him. This complete lack of response was very disrespectful to the local elected Council and cast doubt on the much repeated intentions of the Government to work with local Councils and local communities.

He reminded Councillors that the plans described in the White Paper were not a "Done Deal" - there were many hurdles, notably the financing of the runway itself and the extra infrastructure needed to accompany it. The motion was seconded by Councillor Mrs Godwin who was very concerned about the infrastructure costs that would not be paid for by either the Government or by BAA, even though they would essential for the needs of a greatly expanded population.

Councillor Ketteridge, last year's Council Chairman, added his complaint against the Government for their complete failure to liase with the local community.

Other Councillors joined in the debate and made a number of important points:

* The White Paper's attitude to the adverse effects of airport expansion on the environment, the mitigation proposals that are a combination of vague proposals and optimistic hopes. It is wrong to seek to manage the environment for the benefit of the aviation industry.

* BAA's misleading advertisement claiming that adverse effects could be eliminated by mitigation measures and compensation. It should be refuted by the Council. It is impossible to mitigate against the effects of such an expansion of the airport.

* The Council should be preparing an Environmental Impact Assessment now in preparation for the BAA application.

* It was essential to convince the Regional Assembly.

* It was essential that residents did not become disheartened and assume that the battle was lost.

Brian Ross, from SSE's executive committee, speaking to the meeting, said that SSE members, after careful research were convinced that the Runway proposal could be defeated. The three points of attack were:

* The question of the commercial viability of the proposed development
* The requirements of Planning law
* Legal challenges to a number of issues relating to the development.

SSE was arranging 68 public meetings between now and May where local residents could discuss their views and plan action.

Pat Dale

27 January 2004



The latest money maker from Ryanair has now been launched with a leaflet put through many residents doors. Ryanair now has a credit card, and to encourage its use, if you buy 10 return flights, you will get one free. There are introductory benefits and the possibility of winning a monthly prize draw if you book hotels with the card. However, credit cards may be very convenient, but they are a way of borrowing money at quite a high rate of interest. They cannot be described as "saving", even if one in eleven booked flights is free!

Many credit cards donate a proportion of profits to charity - Ryanair believes that charity begins at home.

Can anyone calculate the tonnes of carbon dioxide that 11 Ryanair flights, to Perpignan for example, will produce? Perhaps Eurostar should also start a credit card? - and French Railways.

Pat Dale

27 January 2004


Air Traffic Emissions Reduction Bill

The Air Traffic Emissions Reduction Bill was introduced into the House of Lords on 16 January by Lord Beaumont of Whitley. It has been very briefly described in Recent News both initially and after the debate over the second reading.

The debate can now be read in full. You are recommended to read the points that have been made. It is a Bill that should receive general support from all who are concerned about the effects of aviation on the environment.

Pat Dale

23 January 2004

The Government's Conclusions

This document can be found on the DfT website, www.dft.gov.uk/aviation

The original consultation paper dates back to July 2000, a time when the application by BAA for the expansion to 25 mppa was being debated, long before the realisation of the full horror of the plans in the Future of Aviation consultation document.

The Government says that much thought has been given to the establishment of a central regulatory body, but it has been decided to continue with the policy of encouraging local solutions to local problems. Aerodromes will be provided with "greater means to regulate flying behaviour". Powers given to management will be "enabling and clarifying".

1. The recent Aerodromes (Noise Restrictions) (Rules and Procedures) Regulations have now come into force. They require aerodromes to follow a "balanced approach" in dealing with noise problems and implementing the EU Directive 2002/30/EC.

* They can use "economic incentives" to reduce noise.
* They must not impose unnecessary measures beyond those needed to achieve their environmental objectives.
* No discrimination between airlines or aircraft on the grounds of nationality.
* Must consider costs and benefits.
* Restrictions based on an aircraft's noise performance must use the international ICAO standard.
* Must establish the environmental objectives first

2. The enabling power to set up a noise amelioration scheme will apply to all aerodromes.

3. Infringements should be dealt with by civil law.

4. There will be Guidance issued on the measures that could be introduced.

5. The area to be covered by any scheme should be within the air traffic circuit but can extend out along noise preferential routes and CDAs when these can be monitored.

6. The Secretary of State will not have power to compel aerodromes to draw up schemes or to agree them with the local authority. Neither will there be power to intervene in any dispute between aerodromes and their local authority. There are reserve powers to designate an aerodrome under the 1982 Act if voluntary schemes are inadequate.

7. The relevant section of the 1982 Act will be amended to allow charges to be imposed for non-compliance with noise mitigation measures such as deviations off course.

8. Designated Airports. This includes Stansted, Heathrow and Gatwick. The Government will amend the 1982 Act to clarify the power of the Secretary of State to limit how often aircraft can take off or land at specified times during the day or night. It is suggested that the present night quota system could be changed and rely on a noise quota only without a movement limit. The Secretary of State would also be given clear powers to direct the use of a particular runway and also to allow the imposition of surcharges.

9. There will be no change in the arrangements for setting up Consultative Committees but revised guidance has been issued.

Our Comment: Very little help for those living round airports except those that have never had any local agreements over noise mitigation. No change at Stansted except to clarify the powers already being exercised. The suggestion that the movements limit should be removed from the night quota needs very careful thought. It could lead to more flights of quieter aircraft, not necessarily beneficial to those living under the flight path. Also, technical changes to reduce the engine noise can increase the greenhouse gas emissions, notably nitrogen oxides.

No thoughts as to reconsidering the average levels of noise considered to be annoying from the present 57 decibels to the WHO recommended level of 50 decibels, a level considered to be the desirable limit out of doors. The relevant passage from the WHO Guidelines reads: "To protect the majority of people from being moderately annoyed during the daytime, the outdoor sound pressure level should not exceed 50 dB LAeq. These values are based on annoyance studies, but most countries in Europe have adopted 40 dB LAeq as the maximum allowable level for new developments (Gottlob 1995). Indeed, the lower value should be considered the maximum allowable sound pressure level for all new developments whenever feasible." There were no questions in the original consultation paper on actual noise levels. Surely it is time that the present out of date standards are looked at again?

23 January 2004


Written Answers

Flight Paths

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidance his Department has issued to airlines in respect of flight paths that take commercial aircraft above 30,000 feet.

Mr. McNulty: The Department has not issued any guidance. When designing air traffic services routes, airspace planners are bound by the provisions of guidance material contained in the ICAO Air Traffic Services Planning Manual-Doc. 9426. In addition, the operational approval and aircraft certification given by the Civil Aviation Authority to aircraft operators covers the operation of aircraft at all phases of flight at any level.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what environmental assessment has been made of the (a) benefits and (b) disbenefits of commercial aircraft flying at (i) 20,000, (ii) 25,000, (iii) 30,000 and (iv) 35,000 feet.

Mr. McNulty: No specific assessment has been made of the benefits and disbenefits of flight at these altitudes. However, research jointly undertaken by DLR (the German aerospace agency) and Manchester Metropolitan University within the European research project, TRADEOFF, looked at the hypothetical impact of reducing cruise altitudes on contrail coverage and its radiative forcing (a measure of the climate impact), as well as the effect of increased fuel consumption (and hence CO2 emissions). The research concluded that flying at lower cruise altitudes reduced contrail formation but increased fuel consumption.

Any detailed assessment would have to explore these trade-offs further. The research was not intended to suggest changes in operating practices, which would need full international agreement.

Air Passenger Duty

Mr. Moss: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the (a) percentage rate and (b) actual tax revenue for air passenger duty was in each year since 1994.

John Healey: (a) Air passenger duty is not set as a percentage rate but as a monetary amount. Current air passenger duty rates are as follows.

EEA DestinationsNon-EEA Destinations
Standard Rate
Reduced Rate

(b) Air passenger duty revenues for 2002-03 were 816 million and are published in HM Customs and Excise's Annual Report (HC52). Historic revenue figures can be found in table 2.1D of Financial Statistics published by the Office for National Statistics.

23 January 2004


James Drewer reports - 22 January 2004

The Transport and General Workers Union (T&G) has announced that it will be meeting with FLS company bosses tomorrow to formally protest against job cuts planned for Manchester and Stansted Airports and the transfer of work out of the UK, which the company announced last Friday.

T&G's John Street said: "When passenger numbers are growing and there are plans to expand both Stansted and Manchester airports, we find it hard to accept why the company is planning to cut back."

The T & G, the largest trade union at Danish-owned FLS, will be joined by representatives from the other unions involved as the campaign to save the jobs gathers momentum.

"Over four hundred and twenty skilled jobs stand to be lost if these plans are implemented,' said the T&G's John Street. 'When passenger numbers are growing and there are plans to expand both Stansted and Manchester airports, we find it hard to accept why the company is planning to cut back."

In its statement on Friday, FLS admitted that to transfer the work from Stansted and Manchester to Dublin would also require cost savings. "To save money we believe FLS are going to have to spend more to transfer the work done in the UK," added Mr. Street. "All told this just doesn't add to sensible planning. What it does seem like is boardroom desperation but with our members paying with their jobs."

The T&G met with Eastern Region MEP Richard Howitt on Saturday. He has agreed to support the workers' case and endeavour to arrange a meeting with Danish MEPs. Mr. Street is to meet MPs representing the local Stansted and Manchester constituencies affected later this week and there are plans for the UK trade unions to meet their counterparts in Dublin.

23 January 2004


Shortage of capacity at Heathrow is becoming damaging. Even so, an overseas airline would sooner pay an extra 10 million for a single slot there than take up one of the many "free" vacant ones at Stansted, London's third airport.

The Times, Business Section - 21January 2004

Heathrow landing slots take off

NEIL KINNOCK banned trading in aircraft landing slots when he was the EU's Transport Commissioner. Fortunately, the practice continues informally at crowded airports such as Heathrow, providing one of the best indicators of changing market realities in air travel.

The latest auction of coveted pairs of Heathrow take-off and landing slots has allowed both Virgin Atlantic and Qantas to outgun British Airways and park their tanks on its lawn. Virgin's acquisitions will cause the most teeth-grinding at BA, even though it already controls two fifths of the slots and recently managed to pick up some more from the wreckage of Swissair.

The extraordinary feature of the sales by the Walker family's flybe was, however, the record 20 million counted out by BA's Australian partner for just two pairs of peak-time slots. This is thought to be twice the normal rate in other recent transactions, including Virgin's.

Slot trading can allow the best economic use of scarce airport space, speed adjustment and be to the mutual advantage of both expanding and financially troubled airlines. Qantas's record purchase also shows something deeply embarrassing to officialdom.

Shortage of capacity at Heathrow is becoming damaging. Even so, an overseas airline would sooner pay an extra 10 million for a single slot there than take up one of the many "free" vacant ones at Stansted, London's third airport.

Ministers accept that there is a shortage of London runway capacity. Alistair Darling's pusillanimous political expedient, just laid down in a new policy White Paper, is to build a new runway at Stansted. Decisions over a new runway at Heathrow have been shelved for years, instead of being given conditional approval now.

This hot potato, which is central to the development of British aviation, will be left to some unwitting future Transport Secretary, in the forlorn hope that it may cool down. BA may be its own worst enemy but Whitehall runs it pretty close.

22 January 2004


NO says the Government
House of Lords - 19 January 2004

On Friday Lord Beaumont of Whitley's Air Traffic Emissions Reduction Bill received its second reading. Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, until recently chairman of the now disbanded Freedom to Fly Coalition, set out the arguments for the aviation industry. She said that while she was concerned to keep emissions to a minimum the Bill is not the right or practical way to achieve this and that it is full of misleading assumptions.

Lord Davies of Oldham spoke on behalf of the Government. He said that the Bill does not put enough emphasis on the economic significance of the airline industry and therefore the Government would find it hard to support the Bill.

22 January 2004

Have you ever met Germaine Greer in a local supermarket?

COUNTRY NOTEBOOK - If Cambridge is so full of clever people, why can't the city solve its problems?
by Germaine Greer - 17 January 2004 - The Daily Telegraph

The train was making the usual heavy weather of the trip to Liverpool Street station when the lady opposite leaned forward and whispered: "I'm with you on Stansted." Things have come to such a pass in this neck of the woods that people who are not opposed to the expansion of the airport must keep their mouths shut if they don't want to be shouted at.

People sidle up to me in the supermarket and murmur encouragement, and that's as far as they dare go. Anyone who considers opposition to the airport expansion futile and thinks that time and money would be better spent minimising its adverse consequences is represented as "for" it come what may.

It is now "Germaine's" airport and "Greer's" planes. "Greer wants Essex to be concreted over." "How can you be in favour of the rape of north-west Essex," whined one who had sent me the same "Stop Stansted" greetings card as three of her neighbours in Takeley. Another was signed by one who declared himself "concerned about the environment and England's balance of payments", implying therefore that I wasn't. Actually, I'm so concerned about the environment I don't send Christmas cards at all, thus doing my bit to reduce fuel consumption and the felling of trees.

It doesn't do to try to refine people's thinking on these issues or nudge their train of thought on to a track that might actually take it somewhere. Two years ago, I was asked to participate in a debate organised by the Cambridge and District Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Cambridge Union on the motion "Cambridge will have to double in size or die".

The flyer trumpeted: "This burning issue of what to do with Cambridge and how to manage its future is becoming more and more contentious and is going to get worse. Do we develop Cambridge for the benefit of the business community and local prosperity, but at the expense of the environment and the green belt?"

I was asked to "oppose" the incoherent motion and I consented. All the participants were aware that in Cambridge a shortage of labour and skills hampers every enterprise from the most modest to the most ambitious. The dearth of affordable housing long ago reached crisis point and remains stalled there. Villages have become chunks of suburbia as every square foot of land inside the envelope has been sold off. Cars are parked nose to tail up and down every village street and still nobody can find anywhere to live. Prices of houses in gimcrack new developments are obscene.

So what was I going to argue? I argued that it wasn't a question of Cambridge doubling its size or dying, but of Cambridge doubling its size and dying, of pollution, tedium, congestion and ugliness. If the Cambridge footprint was to spread until it had absorbed the neighbouring villages, the price, in terms of degradation in the quality of life, would be unpayable.

Suburban sprawl is a logistical nightmare. Delivery of services and the management of the needs of the very young, the very old and the infirm is far more difficult amid the trackless waste of suburban housing. I should know. I endured life in outer suburban Melbourne for 20 years before I came to Britain.

It was my impression that we accomplished something smarter than a mere rhetorical exercise that evening. The actual vote was immaterial. The discussion produced a consensus of councillors, architects, academics and interested parties. There was no denying that Cambridge would grow regardless, but that growth could be of a kind that didn't result in a featureless waste of undistinguished housing; the city could grow in population without growing in area.

Parkland could be preserved; safe access to community hubs could be organised. Someone spelled out the argument for building a satellite city as a better solution than simply allowing vast tracts of cheap housing to engulf the surrounding land. Cambridge is full of clever people and attracting more every day. It didn't seem entirely unlikely that an intelligent solution would be found to the problems that have accompanied the city's success.

Until now. This is how the evening of December 5, 2001 is remembered by Cambridge City Council's executive councillor for the environment. In a letter to a newspaper, she declared: "Some time ago, in a Cambridge Union Society debate about the future growth of Cambridge she [Greer] seemed happy enough on the `no growth team', arguing that Cambridge couldn't possibly take any more development." As you see, that was not my argument, just as the debate was not a Cambridge Union Society debate. Let us hope that the executive councillor will be more responsible in planning Cambridge's future than she is in recalling its recent past.

Our Comment: If she is opposed to urbanisation round Cambridge why support the same process round Stansted, Great Dunmow, and Elsenham?

Our guide to the best of British pubs. This week: Three Horseshoes

by Adam Edwards - 17 January 2004 - The Daily Telegraph

The end is nigh for the Three Horseshoes. The recent announcement of a proposed new runway at Stansted airport has probably done for the ancient drovers' pub at Molehill Green, which, if not razed, will in future sit where jumbos flop. So, before it becomes less visible than a free drink on a no-frills flight, I felt it incumbent upon me to pay a flying visit.

The Three Horseshoes, the old sign for a blacksmith, stands on the edge of Molehill Green, a mile to the north-east of the airport. While the surrounding countryside looks somewhat desolate, as the faded "Stop Stansted expansion" signs flap from the verges, the pebbledash pub, with its steep pitched thatched roof and tall red-brick chimneys poking high into the sky, still stands proud. This picturesque scene is given an Essex daub by the flag of St George flying above the pub sign and the wide-wheeled, dark-blue "hot hatch", with an exhaust the size of a turbofan jet engine, being offered for sale outside.

The owner of the Three Horseshoes, Punch Taverns, does not appear to have altered the interior of the 500-year-old building for a generation. It is rooted in those Thatcherite years that were personified by the county's residents. The dark-red carpet still swirls and a cream leatherette sofa and matching easy chair in the corner is quintessential 1980s Essex. I ordered a traditional soya-bean burger and frozen chips from a menu of yuppie classics (lasagne, etc) at the low-beamed central bar and then retired to a corner with a pint of the local Greene King IPA.

At the next-door table was a group of youthful pensioners, including one with a leathery tan and a miniskirt, discussing self-catering holidays in Spain. I thought to myself that it will be a sad day when the demolition men arrive. The heir to the Three Horseshoes will doubtless be an anonymous airport lounge serving Continental keg beer and takeaway Thai fish cakes.

The Stansted authorities will pay little heed to the county and its past. Molehill Green, its hectares of ancient woodland and its olde worlde beamed boozer that invites memories of bottle blondes, shell suits and razor-cut hair, will be at best a white stiletto footnote in history. Three Horseshoes, Molehill Green, Essex (01279 870313).

22 January 2004



Air Passenger Duty

John Barrett: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the case for changes in the basis of air passenger duty from payment per passenger to payment per flight, and for relating it to the amount of carbon dioxide and other pollutants produced during the flight; and if he will make a statement.

John Healey: The use of economic instruments to encourage the aviation industry to take account of and, where appropriate, reduce its contribution to global warming, local air pollution and noise pollution was considered in the Air Transport White Paper, published in December 2003. The White Paper supported widened use of airport charges linked to the level of local noise and air pollutant emissions. In addition, we announced that, as part of the Government's commitment to using economic instruments to help tackle greenhouse gas emissions, the UK will push hard at international level to secure agreement on including aviation in the EU's emissions trading scheme.

Levels of all taxes, including air passenger duty, are reviewed Budget-by-Budget, taking account of a range of social, economic and environmental considerations.

Air Transport

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what advice he received from the National Air Traffic Service on the feasibility of the proposals contained in the White Paper on "The Future of Air Transport" (a) prior to publication of the White Paper and (b) subsequently; (2) what assessment his Department has made of the impact of the proposals in the White Paper on "The Future of Air Transport" on the design of UK airspace; (3) what discussions his Department has held with the National Air Traffic Service on the impact of increased airport capacity at (a) Heathrow and (b) Stansted on the design of London Terminal Area airspace; (4) what simulations have been undertaken by the National Air Traffic Service of the impact of increased airport capacity in the South East on the design of London Terminal Area airspace; (5) what assessment he has made of how long it will take the National Air Traffic Service (NATS) to (a) design and (b) implement changes necessary to the London Terminal Area airspace as a result of the proposed increases in airport capacity in the South East; and when NATS expects to begin this work.

Mr. Darling: The studies that preceded "The Future of Air Transport" included a high-level assessment of airspace issues by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the body responsible for the planning and regulation of UK airspace, and National Air Traffic Services (NATS). This work concluded that the necessary airspace capacity could, in broad terms, be provided safely through the redesign of airspace and the introduction of enhanced air traffic techniques and systems. Copies of the relevant report have been placed in the House Libraries. Both organisations also responded to the consultation that preceded the White Paper. In their response, NATS supported the need for new runways in the South East and expressed a preference for development at existing airports.

Paragraphs 12.25-12.27 of "The Future of Air Transport" set out the Government's expectation that the CAA will make early progress in bringing forward a programme of work, involving other key bodies including NATS, for the redesign of airspace to accommodate forecast growth in air traffic.

19 January 2004


Letter in the Essex Chronicle
Fresh Controversy over Airport - Shortage of Water Worry

From Pat Bruce of Pleshey

It was disgusting, but not surprising, that the vitally important issue of water was not mentioned in BAA plc's optimistic forecast of the effects of a second Stansted Airport runway on the local environment. (Chronicle advertisement January 1st).

It was not mentioned, of course, because BAA plc does not want to set the alarm bells ringing throughout the county. But Chelmsford residents should be aware of the implications.

Essex is the driest county in Great Britain and is classed as "semi-arid" by the United Nations. Even for the present population supplies are inadequate with 50% of water requirements being derived outside the county.

In March 2001 - well before a second runway at Stansted was officially suggested - the Environment Agency produced a report on "Water Resources for the Future". With reference to the Anglian region it talks about a prediction by government planners for an 800,000 population increase by 2025 for the whole of the region. The report states that with careful management water demands for that increase might be met.

A second runway at Stansted would mean several more million people - passengers and airport workers - needing water well before 2025 - not just a paltry 800,000.

So Stansted alone will require more water than can be supplied - and this is before any general increase in the population is taken into account.

Add to this depressing scenario, a recent Forestry Commission report which predicts that over the next few years summer rainfall in the south-east will reduce by 20% with increasing temperatures causing higher evaporation and longer periods of drought.

No wonder BAA plc ducked the water issue. It seems an insoluble problem and a very good reason why a second runway should be rejected.

19 January 2004


Expansion means urbanisation
From the Essex Chronicle

Colin Jarvis of Friends of the Earth , West Hanningfield writes:

The BAA plc at Stansted states "What a new runway means for our community". In a nutshell it means urbanising rural Essex by more development, more noise, and more roads. If you want to fly more then it may be good news.

The downside is that huge swathes of Essex, including the Chelmsford area, will suffer aircraft noise and pollution as more flight paths are created. Increasing amounts of carbon dioxide will be released into the atmosphere, For villages and towns at each end of the runways there will be no let up in the constant disruption caused by take-off and landing.

Rural Essex is becoming urbanised bit by bit, year by year. Well done to Essex County Council for launching a legal challenge but, at the end of the day, each of us has to make a decision to fly less often to protect a fragile environment or pay a high "price" later.

19 January 2004


Amanda Brown, the Environment Correspondent of PA News reports from the House of Lords that Green Party peer Lord Beaumont of Whitley will urge support for his private member's bill which is being debated at its Second Reading.
16 January 2004

This is a bid to halt UK airport expansion through curbs on polluting aircraft fumes. The Private Bill, the "Air Traffic Emissions Reduction Bill", requires the Government to set targets for reducing all greenhouse gas emissions linked to aviation.

The Government has only considered carbon dioxide in its climate change plans, although aviation is currently the fastest growing source of other greenhouse gas emissions which includes nitrogen oxides. Exhaust fumes from aircraft at cruising altitudes are much more damaging than the same emissions at ground level and there have been many warnings from leading scientists of the threat to the world's weather systems if climate change is not checked.

Lord Beaumont of Whitley, said: "It's as simple as this - to meet our commitment to reducing emissions we need to reduce emissions from aircraft. If you're trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions it's perverse to exclude the fastest growing source of those emissions.''

The Bill would require a 5% cut in aviation emissions by 2010, compared with 2000 levels, then a 10% cut by 2015 and a 50% cut by 2050.

Lord Beaumont continued: "Emissions targets would help us to achieve the 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that we need to help stop climate change.''

The Report continues by quoting John Whitelegg, Professor of Sustainable Transport at Liverpool John Moores University and a leading Green Party spokesman. He said his party could solve this problem. "In the short term, the Chicago Convention could be partially circumvented by putting charges on emissions and on air traffic congestion. This would help reduce demand where currently demand is stimulated by huge tax breaks and hidden subsidies. The charging level proposed by the Green Party would also raise revenue for sustainable transport projects in the short term."

"It would raise more than 170 million from Heathrow airport alone in the first year. If this Bill goes through, it will be the beginning of the end of a policy of mollycoddling the aviation industry with tax breaks and hidden subsidies. And we'll see some real progress on climate change.''

Our Note: The Chicago convention is an international agreement under which no country is able to tax aircraft fuel.

19 January 2004


It can be found on the website of the Eatern Region Local Government Confernece (www.eelgc.gov.uk) under Regional Planning Studies

Regrettably very little has changed from the draft consultation report in spite of the many objections. The main difference is that we now know that we have to focus on the housing predictions made for one extra runway. The tables and forecasts remain substantially the same as far as Uttlesford and the "core area" are concerned. Unchanged are the proposals for the extra housing to be accommodated in Harlow, Braintree, Great Dunmow and Stansted, with a relatively smaller increase in Bishop's Stortford and the long term aim of a new settlement at Elsenham and Felsted.

The additional housing proposed (21,600 by 2021 and 47,800 by 2036) would change both Stansted and Great Dunmow into medium size towns and Harlow and Braintree would become larger than Cambridge. This is the same mix as before which would inevitably mean virtually continuous development all the way from Loughton and London to Saffron Walden.

It has to be remembered that the consultants, Colin Buchanan were given the job of putting forward a strategy for accommodating the housing required for the future population in the area, taking into consideration expansion at Stansted airport. The population increase expected was projected until 2021 and 2036 and even without any airport expansion the inward migration predicted was considerable and could be described as unrealistic and reminiscent of the "predict and provide" philosophy - supposedly out of fashion, but also resurrected in the aviation White Paper.

At the same time the authors of this report have continued to maintain that the numbers of employees that would be required by an expanding airport would not even be as many as BAA and SERAS forecast. This means that a significant number of the additional houses required would be for people choosing to come and live in the area and not those who would come to work at Stansted. The result is that not only has space to be found for all the infrastructure needed for both groups, but jobs have to be provided for those not working at Stansted.

Uttlesford and the so called core area are caught in John Prescott's grand design of encouraging mass migration into this area as well as Alistair Darling's wish to promote flying as the transport for the masses.

John Prescott might pause and reflect why people want to live in our area. A considerable number want to live in or near the countryside. Once our area is covered with buildings and roads it will cease to attract. There has to be a limit .

The Environmental Limits to Development

Everyone quotes these words, but how are the limits defined? All too often the main factor is the interests of those pressing for development. Colin Buchanan's report describes at length how the different areas have been studied and their "environmental capacity" has been assessed. However, even when it is clear that the capacity is being exceeded they persevere with their expansion recommendations.

The following quotations from the Report suggests what their recommendations ought to have been.

The Results of Settlement Growth Assessment

Para 3.3.5 There is no settlement with a clear priority for growth. All settlements have some constraints to growth...

Para 3.3.6 It is also clear that wherever significant development is allowed to occur then infrastructure requirements will arise and will need to be addressed. Road and rail enhancements are specific major concerns..

Para 3.37 Water, or lack of it, is another significant infrastructure issue. Only Braintree has some existing capacity and is currently not relying on water transfer. However, in the longer term the situation at Braintree is reported as likely to change if development occurs, indicating that substantial development is likely to exhaust supplies..

Para 3.3.8 Health and schools infrastructure also needs significant investment. Limited spare capacity exists in schools so only limited amounts of new development could be accommodated without an increase in provision.

Much effort by the planning departments has gone into fitting in the present accepted predictions for the period up to 2011 and these figures have been incorporated into existing Regional, County and Local Plans. These plans have been careful to avoid invading the countryside and so will retain the basic pattern of the countryside. Trying to squeeze more and more houses in, as the report admits, will not only change the nature of the chosen settlements forever, but the loss of the surrounding countryside and the increase in traffic generated will affect us all.

A major limitation , the lack of water, should on its own, be sufficient to restrict development. It is a pity that the consultants were not asked to include an assessment of how much development could be accommodated without exceeding reasonable capacity limits - limits that should have been debated by residents and by local Councils before the study even began.

Pat Dale

16 January 2004


No change for 2004/2005
After that - there will soon be a review of the situation


Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: (Mr Tony McNulty)

On 8 April 2003 we announced (Official Report, col 9-10WS) publication of a consultation paper on night flying restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. The present night restrictions regime for those airports applies until 31 October 2004: the consultation paper explained our proposal to defer our intended review of those night restrictions and to continue the present regime for a further year. The consultation period ended on 11 July 2003.

Briefly, the reasons for our proposal were:

(a) that it seemed wise to defer consultation on a long term night noise policy until the responses to the consultation on The Future Development of Air Transport in the United Kingdom: South East, including views about the appropriate review cycle for night restrictions, had been considered and the Air Transport White Paper published, thus enabling all options to be considered in the light of the wider policy context;

(b) that it seemed preferable to wait until we had the judgment of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights on a case concerning the 1993 night restrictions regime at Heathrow before reviewing our objectives and bringing forward detailed proposals for a further night restrictions regime;

(c) that European Directive 2002/30/EC requires us to describe the environmental objective(s) for each airport concerned, before proposing and assessing what restrictions would be appropriate in order to achieve those objectives, and we considered it preferable to establish those objectives in the context of the White Paper.

The proposal to extend the current night restrictions regime for one further year indicated that all the common arrangements - the hours of the restrictions, the system for classifying aircraft and other detailed aspects of the regime - should continue unchanged until the end of the summer season 2005 (30 October 2005).

We also proposed that the movement limits and noise quotas for the winter season 2004-05 and for the summer season 2005 should remain the same as those for winter 2003-04 and summer 2004 respectively at each of the three airports.

The consultation paper also:

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

(b) explained how we intend to take forward the results of two reviews relating to the classification of aircraft for night restrictions purposes;

(c) explained how we intend to take forward the results of a separate review of the departure noise limits and the related noise monitoring arrangements.

The consultation responses encompassed the full range of interests, including airport consultative committees, local authorities and parish councils, environmental and other groups and individuals from around all three airports, plus airlines and aviation bodies. The decision that I am announcing today relates only to the arrangements for 2004-05.

After careful consideration of all relevant points made in the responses, we have decided to extend the night restrictions regime at all three airports as proposed. The reasons for doing so remain largely as set out in the consultation paper and summarised in this statement, and were accepted by many of those responding to the consultation. We welcomed the judgment of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, received three days before the consultation period closed. That judgment clears the way for our forthcoming review of policy on night flights at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.

There was a wide but not universal acceptance among those who responded specifically on the proposal to extend the current regime for a further year, that this was appropriate, although a substantial number of local authorities and local groups from around all three airports indicated that they want a reduction in night flights, or a complete ban, in the longer term. There was some comment on the size of the movement limits and noise quotas for 2004- 05, especially from those commenting on the findings of the main technical review about the classification of aircraft for night restrictions purposes.

The issue that has attracted attention from this review is the finding that the version of the Boeing 747 most commonly operating at Heathrow during the restricted hours was noisier in normal operations than its certificated noise levels by the noise certification procedures of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). There are many reasons why monitored noise levels will not match certificated noise levels, particularly because certification testing is carried out under strictly controlled meteorological and acoustical conditions and using defined flight path procedures which may differ from those used in-service. However, we have drawn the results of the work to the attention of international experts currently examining the ICAO noise certification requirements to ensure that they reflect modern operating practices and conditions.

Some consultees suggested or implied there should be an immediate substantial cut in the noise quotas if these aircraft were not reclassified. The Government does not accept immediate action would be appropriate. This is a matter which the Government believes should be considered in the context of the new arrangements and requirements which flow from Directive 2002/30/EC (now transposed into domestic law: SI 2003 No. 1742) when the wide ranging review takes place.

At Gatwick and Stansted the mix of aircraft operating at night is different, as are issues relating to the size of the noise quotas. The 1999 decision included small progressions (downwards at Gatwick, upwards at Stansted) in the noise quotas over the five years of the night restrictions regime. In the consultation paper we indicated that we had considered whether to continue these progressions for a further year but that, as the progressions were small and the services operating at night were in a considerable state of flux, we believed it better to have no change between the last year of that scheme and a one year extension. None of those who responded to the consultation paper suggested an increase in the quotas for Stansted but at Gatwick some local consultees suggested cutting the movements limits and noise quotas which are currently under used, particularly in winter. Given the difficulty in the current consultation round of establishing whether and to what extent any cut might be appropriate, the Government remains of the view that the status quo should be maintained pending a full consideration of all the issues.

We have therefore decided that, at each of the three airports, the movement limits and noise quotas for the winter season 2004-05 and the summer season 2005 shall be the same as those for winter 2003-04 and summer 2004 respectively. These are:

Winter Season 2004-05
Movements Limit Noise Quota

Heathrow 2550 4140
Gatwick 5250 6640
Stansted 5000 3550

Summer Season 2005
Movements Limit Noise Quota

Heathrow 3250 5610
Gatwick 11200 9000
Stansted 7000 4950

This decision maintains the balance struck between the conflicting interests in 1999 (Official Report 10 June 1999, cols 378-379). We are satisfied that this will remain the appropriate balance for 2004-05 whilst we carry out the further review of night flying restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.

Copies of all the responses, except where the author has requested confidentiality, are available for six months for inspection by prior appointment at the DfT Library and Information Centre, Ashdown House, 123 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6DE.

I am placing in the House library a summary of the responses, including points relating to the general principles and policies underlying the night restrictions and to the ways in which we intend to take forward the results of the reviews relating to the classification of aircraft for night restrictions purposes and of the separate review of the departure noise limits and the related noise monitoring arrangements. The responses on these other matters will be taken into account in developing proposals for the next night restrictions regime for consultation in due course. The summary of responses is also available on the Department's website: www.aviation.dft.gov.uk

16 January 2004


All fossil fuel burning increases climate change, but aviation, per
passenger Km, is the worst offender. The UK is in danger of spoiling the previously good national record by promoting a major expansion in air traffic.

'US climate policy bigger threat to world than terrorism'
by Steve Connor, Science Editor - The Independent - 9 January 2004

Tony Blair's chief scientist has launched a withering attack on President George Bush for failing to tackle climate change, which he says is more serious than terrorism.

Sir David King, the Government's chief scientific adviser, says in an article today in the journal Science that America, the world's greatest polluter, must take the threat of global warming more seriously.

"In my view, climate change is the most severe problem that we are facing today, more serious even than the threat of terrorism," Sir David says.

The Bush administration was wrong to pull out of the Kyoto protocol, the international effort to limit the emission of greenhouse gases, and wrong to imply the protocol could adversely affect the US economy, Sir David says. "As the world's only remaining superpower, the United States is accustomed to leading internationally co-ordinated action. But the US government is failing to take up the challenge of global warming."

"The Bush administration's strategy relies largely on market-based incentives and voluntary action ... But the market cannot decide that mitigation is necessary, nor can it establish the basic international framework in which all actors can take their place."

Results of a major study showed yesterday that more than a million species will become extinct as a result of global warming over the next 50 years. Sir David says the Bush administration is wrong to dispute the reality of global warming. The 10 hottest years on record started in 1991 and, worldwide, average temperatures had risen by 0.6C in the past century.

Sea levels were rising, ice caps were melting and flooding had become more frequent. The Thames barrier was used about once a year in the 1980s to protect London but now it was used more than six times a year.

"If we could stabilise the atmosphere's carbon dioxide concentration at some realistically achievable and relatively low level, there is still a good chance of mitigating the worst effects of climate change."

But countries such as Britain could not solve the problem of global warming in isolation, particularly when the US was by far the biggest producer of greenhouse gases on the planet. "The United Kingdom is responsible for only 2 per cent of the world's emissions, the United States for more than 20 per cent (although it contains only 4 per cent of the world's population)," Sir David says.

"The United States is already in the forefront of the science and technology of global change, and the next step is surely to tackle emissions control too. We can overcome this challenge only by facing it together, shoulder to shoulder. We in the rest of the world are now looking to the US to play its leading part."

Advisers to President Bush have suggested climate change is a natural phenomenon and criticised climate researchers for suggesting that rises in global temperatures are the result of man-made emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

But Sir David says the "causal link" between man-made emissions and global warming is well-established and scientists cannot explain the general warming trend over the past century without invoking human-induced effects.

The Cambridge academic, who was born in South Africa and emigrated to Britain, implies that the US has a moral obligation to follow the UK's lead in trying to limit the damage resulting from rising world temperatures and climate change.

"As a consequence of continued warming, millions more people around the world may in future be exposed to the risk of hunger, drought, flooding, and debilitating diseases such as malaria," Sir David says.

"Poor people in developing countries are likely to be most vulnerable. For instance, by 2080, if we assume continuing growth rates in consumption of fossil fuels, the numbers of additional people exposed to frequent flooding in the river delta areas of the world would be counted in hundreds of millions assuming no adaptation measures were implemented."

President Bush has said more research on global warming is needed before the US will consider the sort of action needed to comply with the Kyoto protocol, but Sir David says that by then it could be too late. "Delaying action for decades, or even just years, is not a serious option. I am firmly convinced that if we do not begin now, more substantial, more disruptive, and more expensive change will be needed later on."

Britain is committed to cutting its emissions of greenhouse gases by 60 per cent from 1990 levels by around 2050 and believes other developed countries, such as the US, should follow suit. Bush officials say that would damage their economy and provide an unfair advantage to the country's international competitors. But Sir David says that it is a "myth" that reducing greenhouse gas emissions makes us poorer. "Taking action to tackle climate change can create economic opportunities and higher living standards," he says.

A spokeswoman for the US State Department said that she was unable to comment directly on Sir David's article.

Our Comment: Sir David should address himself to the UK transport policy as well as to the US.

16 January 2004


Record-Setting Number of Passengers Ride High-Speed Eurostar Train
Ian Hobson Reports - 13 January 2004

Nearly 1.7 million passengers - the highest number for any quarter since the launch of service in 1994 - travelled on the famed high-speed Eurostar train between London, Paris and Brussels in the fourth quarter of 2003. While most passengers are European, the Rail Europe Group reported a 16.5% increase in the number of North Americans purchasing tickets compared to the same period a year earlier. Rail Europe is the official North American distributor of Eurostar.

During the same time frame (October-December 2003) Eurostar also increased its leading share of the transportation market against all the airlines [see chart p.2] to 66% of the London-Paris route, compared to 13% for the nearest competitor, British Airways. On the London-Brussels route, Eurostar's share rose to 48%, while all competitors lost market share (based on Civil Aviation Authority data).

New high-speed track in UK cuts travel time, increases punctuality

"The most likely explanation for the increase in passengers and market share is the opening in September of new high-speed track on the UK side, enabling the train to run at top operating speed in England, as well as the Continent," notes Fabrice Morel, President of the Rail Europe Group.

"This not only reduced travel time in each direction -- between London and either Paris or Brussels -- by 20 minutes, but also helped improve punctuality significantly -- by 12% over the same period in the previous year, with 87% of Eurostar trains operating within 15 minutes of schedule." While Eurostar has run at 186 mph on dedicated high-speed track in France and Belgium for years, until September 2003 it had to share conventional rail track in England with slower trains.

Also contributing to higher sales, according to Morel, is a new range of lower ticket prices announced in July, starting as low as $90 US/$124 CAD roundtrip in standard class, $164 US/$226 CAD in first class.

10th anniversary enhancements

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Eurostar service this year, several enhancements are planned: fully-refurbished train interiors, new attendant uniforms and a new shopping area at check-in at Paris Gare du Nord station.

Currently there are 14 departures in each direction London-Paris, nine between London-Brussels (including recently announced nonstop service). Travel time is 2 hours 35 minutes London-Paris, 2 hrs 20 minutes London- Brussels.

16 January 2004


Busiest December on record for BAA Airports
13 January 2004

Ten million passengers travelled through BAA's seven UK airports in December, an increase of 6.2% compared to December 2002. The airports experienced their busiest ever December Christmas period and handled a record number of passengers in the calendar year 2003, up 3.6 per cent at 131.1 million, compared with 2002.

In the calendar year six of the group's seven airports experienced their highest ever traffic levels, with Stansted in particular exceeding expectations, up 16.6% in 2003, to 18.7 million passengers. Only Aberdeen suffered a reduction.

Most major markets saw increases in December, with European scheduled traffic performing strongly, up 9.9%, North Atlantic traffic up 2.1%, and other long haul traffic up 8.7%. Domestic routes grew by 4.2% whilst European charter traffic dipped 3.3%.

Stansted had a strong month, up 21.4%, whilst Heathrow, up 3.4%, and Gatwick, up 3.9%, continued their steady improvement. Southampton's new network of scheduled services supported an 81.7% increase and the Scottish airports grew by 2.1%.

The increase in air transport movements at BAA airports in December of 2.1% was significantly less than the growth in passengers, reflecting higher load factors. Cargo tonnage rose by 1.6% in December, continuing its gradually improving trend.

14 January 2004


BAA have claimed publicly that their latest poll has shown that "57% of the local population support a new runway at Stansted and only 33% are opposed". These are BAA's words. Here follows an analysis of the poll and criticism of this statement, made after studying copies of the slide presentation of the "Local Community Research" carried out by Mori researchers at the end of October 2003. Others may have differing interpretations - if so, please send them to Recent News.

The Methodology

This is standard and Mori has a good reputation for their selection of people to question. Results are corrected for any possible selection bias. The interviews are by telephone and only the exact words of the question can be used, as well as the amount of prompting for answers. 1000 residents were selected, living within a "specified radius" of the airport (not specified but about 15 miles). This included all those in the postal districts of CB10 and 11, SG 9 - 10, CM 17 - 24 and CM6, in other words a rough circle encompassing Saffron Walden, Ware, Harlow, Bishop's Stortford and Great Dunmow, but not extending as far as Braintree. This tends to under represent those living under the North East of the flight paths, especially those in the Dedham Vale area.

The Overview

This gives the broad conclusions of the poll - they may be written by the researchers but who briefs them on the background? The commissioning client?

* The first statement made is biased. "Expansion of the airport is the top of mind concern with one in five local residents citing spontaneously. This is not surprising as the survey took place following various high profile anti expansion campaigns - and against the backdrop of generally active and professional anti expansion groups." Is BAA's publicity machine regarded as ineffective?

Contradicting this statement is the fact that the poll reports that when asked who they would contact first with an issue or question relating to the development of the airport the majority, 27%, would contact BAA direct, 17% the local Council and 12% their MP, only 3% - anti-expansion groups. (We should note that point for the future!)

* Traffic congestion is a consistent concern for all, both that related to the airport and further away. The comment is made that those complaining may be contributing to the congestion by participating in school runs etc! This must qualify for the statistical dunce prize of the year.

* Noise is described as a "low ranking concern for all". This statement is incorrect. Noise is given the top score in answer to the question "Overall, what advantages/disadvantages, if any, do you think the airport has brought to local people in this area (top 5 mentions)".

Day noise heads the disadvantage list (48%) with night time noise second (36%), traffic congestion falling to 3rd place at 28% and air pollution 14%, with more noise from traffic at 9%. (The remainder had no complaints).

* We are also told that over half of all residents (52%) use the airport at least once every 6 months to meet or drop off other people and that "around one third actually use the airport themselves to fly in or out" What a surprise! Actually one third of residents USE the airport themselves! Bearing in mind that about 50% of UK citizens fly somewhere each year surely Stansted is failing the needs of its local residents? What is even more interesting is that 22% never go near the airport either to meet people or to fly themselves.

* Disappointment is expressed that local residents do not seem to fully appreciate the benefits that BAA has brought them in terms of investment in community projects or contributions to local education and training. Neither do they believe that BAA tries to involve them in their decision making. Hardly surprising since most times the decision has already been taken, any consultation is perceived as a waste of time.

* On the subject of expansion issue must be taken with the actual questions asked

* All questions asked in a poll should be clear and concise so that the answering options are understood. They were not. We therefore disagree with the last of the conclusions of the poll that "the residents of Stansted recognise the importance of developing capacity in the South East and are most likely to nominate their own local airport as their first choice for development, challenging the not in my back yard phenomenon."

What are the reasons for disagreement with this statement?

* Most of the questions in the poll relate to the views that local residents have about the airport and BAA at the moment. They are straight forward and are not likely to confuse. The answers are what would be expected, the main advantage is that the airport has provided employment locally (68%) and the disadvantages are those of any airport, mainly noise. Surprisingly only 7% believe that the airport has boosted the local economy.

* The question "Thinking about the airport generally would you say that you were favourable or unfavourable towards it?" shows that views are changing. In 2001 82% were very or fairly favourable and only 9% unfavourable. This time those favourable had fallen to 65% and those unfavourable risen to 27%. This fall is probably because of the rapid increase in the number of flights (and so noise and pollution) and also in the amount of airport related traffic, without any significant number of unemployed local people needing airport jobs.

* These views are opinions on the airport at the moment.

* The last questions asked concerned the possible expansion of the airport.

* The first, "How important do you think it is that airport capacity in South East England is expanded over the next few years?" Note, no mention of an extra runway. Answers showed that 58% thought it important, 21% very and 37% fairly. 39% did not consider it important. A comparison with Heathrow and Gatwick shows that at Heathrow 69% thought it important and at Gatwick 65%.

The next 3 questions were the key questions:

* "At Stansted the Government is considering 3 new runways. Would you support or choose 3 runways?" The Answer: 71% opposed and 24% supported this.

* "BAA is advising the Government against 3 new runways. An alternative for the Government is 2 new runways. Would you support or oppose 2 new runways?" Answer: 57% opposed. 38% support.

* "A third option for the Government is 1 new runway at Stansted. Would you support or oppose I new runway?" Answer: 37% opposed. 57% support.

The way these questions are phrased suggests that Stansted is the chosen airport for new runways. The third question suggests that there are only 3 options available, 3, 2 or 1 extra runway. At the end of a telephone interview with over 20 formal questions, few would be analysing the questions very carefully. Why was the simple question not asked? "Do you want another runway at Stansted airport?"

* The poll produces another answer which does not appear to have a question. This is that short term expansion without a runway produced 69% support with only 25% against. Without the question it is impossible to comment but it suggests that more was said after the questions reproduced above.

* The last question was "The Government could decide to increase capacity at any of the three main airports in the South East. At which airport do you think the Government should build a new runway? Answer: 33% at Stansted, 23% none, 23% at Gatwick 12% at Heathrow.

Once again the implication in the question is that such an increase is inevitable. In addition there is now no mention of a new runway in the opening sentence. The assumption is made that it is a new runway that is needed. In spite of this 58% did not want ANY expansion at Stansted. This disagrees with the figures previously quoted when it is claimed that 69% supported expansion without a new runway.

The claim that 57% of the sample of 1000 residents supported a new runway at Stansted is repeated in the BAA full page advert in the Reporter. It appears to be of a doubtful validity and was influenced by the way in which the question was phrased. The postal survey carried out in Uttlesford District was heavily criticised by BAA at the time when it was reported that 89% of the respondents voted against any extra runways. The area covered by this survey was smaller and a higher proportion of the voters lived near the airport. 38,000 residents were circulated and 69% responded. The advantage of a postal vote is that the questions asked can be carefully considered and looked at rather than heard over a telephone. Which survey most reflects the views of local people? Make your choice!

Pat Dale

12 January 2004


by Pippa Crerar, Political Staff - PA News - 8 January 2004

The airline industry cannot "continue to expect to be exempt" from environmental impact rules and controls, Environment Minister Elliot Morley warned today. However its growth had to be considered and a global solution sought, he insisted at Commons question time.

Labour former Environment Minister Michael Meacher accused the Government of being "inconsistent" by expecting demand management on roads but not in the air. Shadow environment secretary Caroline Spelman said last month's aviation white paper had spread blight "far wider than was necessary".

But Mr Morley insisted it addressed the issue of environmental impact on people living close to airports and under flight paths. He told MPs: "The air industry cannot continue to expect to be exempt from regulations and controls in relation to the impact of CO2 and the impact on the environment." The Government was holding European Union talks about applying carbon trading to EU flights.

"This is a global industry - it does require a global solution - we should not rule out any kind of approach in relation to looking at the growth in air transport," Mr Morley said.

"The growth in air transport is a reality. We can't ignore that either but I think we must accept that the air industry globally must come within controls that recognise this environmental impact and also reduce some CO2."

Mr Meacher had asked: "Is it not inconsistent for the Government to pursue demand management for road transport, via motorway tolling and congestion charging, but then for the aviation white paper to reject demand management in respect of air travel where the climate change impacts are far greater?"

He added: "What are you doing to ensure that air transport is urgently brought within the Kyoto protocol, that emission caps are allocated to airlines so that they can progressively be reduced via emission trading over time, and that enforceable limits on noise and air pollution are placed on individual airports so that local residents don't bear all the environmental costs?"

Ms Spelman said the environmental audit select committee had criticised the Government's failure to undertake a proper environmental impact assessment for airport expansion plans. "Now that omission has been compounded by the white paper which has spread blight far wider than was necessary." She asked what assessment the Environment Department had made on the impact on taxpayers where an airport was in council control.

Mr Morley said many of those airports had pressed for expansion along the lines of the white paper. He added: "Of course there will be costs which we would expect the airport authorities to deal with - they understand that very well in relation to their expansion plans."

"Any airport which is subject to a plan for expansion would be expected of course to do the environmental impact assessment."

12 January 2004


Update No. 37 - 8 January 2004 - UK Airport Expansion

The major announcement for the sector, before Christmas, was Transport Secretary, Alastair Darling's, White Paper setting out the future of air transport in the UK for the next 30 years. It was promptly awarded The Guardian's prime award - the Unsustainable Development Award D in its Eco Gongs 2003: 'Darling came up with an expansionist aviation white paper, with its new runways and ludicrous forecasts for ever-increasing air travel and the prosperity this will bring to Britain.'

The Council for the Preservation of Rural England, the National Trust, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings were all quick to protest. Even English Heritage voiced fears over the future of Historic Essex. However Darling's decision was apparently based on an extensive public consultation during which half a million responses were received.

Where does this leave protesters? CPRE through its website www.cpre.org.uk urges readers to continue campaigning through its regional branches. The National Trust suggests that the Government should think again or its plans "will face the severest of opposition through the planning system when the real impact becomes apparent on the ground". In the South East of England, interest is now focused on the threat to the Stansted area, and a very active local protest campaign continues.

6 January 2004


New Labour's Contrail
Juliet Jowit - The Observer - 4 January 2004

Plans to expand air travel massively over the next 25 years mask a terrible cost in environmental pollution.

What is it about flying? We seem obsessed by it. So much so, our government appears willing to sacrifice any environmental principles to its aviation policy. Perhaps this national urge to travel started in the latter days of the Empire when the few were carried off to Karachi in luxury aboard Imperial Airways flying boats. Their romance and glamour continued with Concorde until its commercial demise last year. These days, though, it's the many who want to colonise - if only the bars and beaches of the Mediterranean and beyond.

This Christmas about the same number of people were booked to fly in and out of Britain as would go to church. Over the next 30 years, say government forecasters, the number of people flying in and out of the UK could nearly treble.

Wishful doubters can quibble about the forecasting, but the Government says it must be responsible and plan ahead, in case it is right. That argument sounds fair enough, but it totally (wilfully, even) ignores the Government's own role in determining those numbers.

We only have to go back a few years to the heyday of Labour interest in transport and environment. Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott oversaw a massive department encompassing transport, environment and 'the regions'.

After three years in power the initial radicalism of a new government was somewhat tempered, but in July 2000 it published an ambitious 10-Year Plan for transport. The key promises were to tackle congestion and pollution, and Labour promised 180 billion would be spent over the decade to achieve these twin aims.

So by how much did they hope to cut pollution? Take carbon dioxide, the main gas blamed for global warming. By 2010, Ministers expected emissions to be 1.6m tonnes lower than they would have been without the 180bn plan. They also forecast savings of 5,000 tonnes of nitrogen oxides and 100 tonnes of PM10 particulates, which are blamed for breathing problems.

Skip forward to December 2003 when Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for the now slimmed-down transport department, published a White Paper setting out government policy on aviation for the next 30 years. Most attention focused on which London airports would be expanded to cope with the forecast growth - Stansted, possibly Heathrow, with Gatwick in reserve - and the noise and pollution concerns of local residents.

Much less was said about the bigger environmental questions, but the paper admits that by 2030 UK aviation will generate 59-66m tonnes of CO2 - double the levels of 2000. This would be a quarter of the UK's total contribution to global warming by that date, it adds coolly. Oh, and emissions from planes at high altitudes are up to four times greater than ground emissions.

The inevitable consequences

The numbers are clearly loopy. Roughly speaking we are talking about 10m tonnes more CO2 per decade generated by the political spinelessness of aviation policy - dwarfing the hard-earned 1.6m tonnes saved by a 10-year plan which will cost 180bn. In the future many industries will work hard to meet the Government's promise to cut carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2050 - only to see much of their hard-won gains wiped out by air travel.

The good news for Ministers is that they won't break their international agreements to cut carbon emissions because aviation is excluded. But it's not just numbers that reveal the massive inconsistency of the Government's stand. Take Darling's much more recent statement, first made last summer and oft repeated, that the country must consider road pricing as a future way to reduce British demands to drive further and farther. The alternative, to keep building roads to cater for growing demand, was 'not acceptable either in cost terms or in environmental terms,' he said.

Contrast that to the aviation White Paper's approach to the similar desire to fly more

There is no talk of limits of acceptability or demand management here: 'It's essential that we plan ahead to meet the pressures we know we'll face as a result of a growing economy, and in a world where people can and will want to travel more for both business and leisure.'

Moving on from the glaring contradictions, the Government does at least admit there are environmental concerns. To off-set this inconvenient by-product of flying, the aviation industry must 'pay the price' of the damage it causes, Darling reiterated in December.

In principle, this is, again, ludicrous. You don't turn a blind eye to crime because criminals are asked to 'pay a price' by going to jail or doing community service. And, if the theory really worked, you'd expect 'paying the price' would result in a zero increase of the damage inflicted - which the White Paper itself admits won't happen.

In practice the idea of aviation paying for the mess it causes seems cynical. The same White Paper rejected higher taxes on the aviation industry or on passengers, because it would 'not be effective' to act unilaterally in a global industry.

The Government proposals, unlikely to succeed?

But within days a Whitehall official also admitted an alternative proposal in the White Paper was unlikely to succeed. This was the idea from the airlines and airports themselves (always suspicious), that the aviation industry should be included in an international greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme whereby companies are 'incentivised' to cut pollution by a declining quota each year. If they don't cut the emissions, they have to buy credits from companies which have or pay a fine. The official said the UK Government would use its presidency of the European Union in 2005 to push for this change - but immediately conceded the US was expected to reject the idea.

The alleged benefits

Finally, the Government has made much of the 'benefits' of aviation - suggesting they might be worth the environmental price. These are, chiefly, the economic stimulus to jobs, investment and productivity, and that cheaper flights allow the less well-off to fly.

However, these arguments - for most of which there does not appear to be any independent research - have been seriously challenged. Some critics argue that investment in aviation would simply be made in other industries, others claim aviation will actually create more economic harm than good.

Meanwhile, the Institute of Public Policy Research think tank says most of >the people taking up the extra flights will be business people and existing middle-class passengers making more trips. And, even if the IPPR is wrong and more of us than ever take to the skies, the logical extension of that Government position would be to make pubs and theme parks tax-free zones.

The Consequences

So we have a fast-growing, highly polluting industry which the Government is unwilling to contain at home and unable to restrain abroad. This is not just an extreme 'green' view: both the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution and the Environment Agency have expressed concern about the Government's policy. And Ministers at Defra, the environment department, are believed to have demanded higher standards.

The White Paper has been published, but no runways have been built, so it is not too late for a change of heart, for government to recognise the true cost of unlimited flying and to set an example to the world by stemming it.

Otherwise we cannot trust Labour's commitment to the environment further than the travel agent's door.

5 January 2004


BAA's Version
BAA produces a full page advert in this week's local press

As we would expect, BAA's version is very different to our own, more realistic expectations. They appear to believe that it is possible to manage the needs of an ever increasing number of passengers without any change in the surrounding countryside. This in spite of the fact that passenger numbers will rise each year up to 82 million, - 64 million more than the present day 17 million, with a threefold increase in the number of flights, rising from today's nearly 180,000 to well over 500,000.

What does the advert claim?

1.      BAA recognise that many people will be very worried, so they want to give us all as much information as possible. "Environmental and community concerns will be our priority". There will be community consultation and BAA will carry out an environmental impact assessment. We can, they say, manage the expansion responsibly. It will be called Stansted: Generation 2.

Comment. It would be better if BAA were honest about the huge change that an extra runway would make to most people's lives - changes that are supposed to be in operation by 2010.

2.      They confirm that the new runway will be in the same position as in the consultation map, - with a maximum land take and a new terminal (and no doubt car parks, retail area and all the trappings of a modern airport). The first phase will open in 2010.

3.      BAA claim that 57% of the local population support the idea of a new runway and that only 33% opposed.

Comment. This claim is based on the results of a Mori poll carried out last October. We have not seen the details of this poll but the previous poll claimed an even greater majority in favour of expansion. When studied the reasons for this enthusiasm were obvious, the questions were designed to get such an answer. This is no reflection on Mori polls in general, it is a warning to check the actual wording of any questions that are asked before taking the results seriously. We prefer to accept the Uttlesford District referendum vote that showed 89% of the local people were against any extra runways.

4.      BAA ask the question, will Stansted become a second Heathrow? Naturally their answer is "No". Their reasons are that Stansted is less urban than Heathrow was before expansion and planners will want to ensure that development is minimised.

They claim that it will costs them 4 billion and that they are confident they can find the money.

Comment. Be realistic please! Are all the extra 47,000 employees going to travel to work from outside the area? If so, imagine the traffic congestion. What about the industry that is expected to be attracted to the area to secure the anticipated economic boost? What about the new roads and rail links that are required? What about the inevitable pollution, - noise and air? The new Stansted is planned to be bigger and busier than Heathrow today.

There are considerable doubts as to whether BAA can finance the runway especially since the CAA has ruled out any cross subsidies from other BAA airports.

5.      BAA go on to list the impacts, 47,000 more jobs (they believe, fewer), 100 homes lost, 700 hectares of farmland, 8000 more people in the official noise nuisance area.

Comment. No thoughts about the thousands who will be under flight paths outside this official area except the statement that BAA aim to limit the loss of properties, preserve or relocate local heritage and minimise noise and other impacts. Once again, BAA should be honest, there is a limit beyond which no-one, however good their intentions can mitigate these effects.

6.      There will be more economic prosperity for the area. More opportunities for local people to travel. Only half the local community fly from Stansted each year and another runway will mean that more people will have the opportunity.

Comment. Has any local person been prevented from flying because of lack of opportunity? What is more surprising is that even with Ryanair offering virtually free fares 50% of us still do not rush to spend our money on more and more European cheap flights! Will all of us ever want to fly 3 or 4 times a year? Much money has to be spent once at the chosen destination and some of us actually prefer visiting other parts of the UK, with greater benefit to the local economy than airport expansion.

7.      How will the new runway affect air quality? The answer -" Few, if any, people will be exposed to pollution levels above EU limits."

Comment. BAA are more cautious than the Government is in the White Paper, where it is stated that the Government is confident than no people will be affected by levels of pollution above EU limits, quoting BAA's own results of 3 months measurements actually measured at the airport in 2001. They also refer the reader to the work done at Heathrow which sets an idealistic scenario where by 2015 there are no pollution problems. Presumably BAA know the limitations of the review that they carried out in 2001, a review that was intended to denigrate the assessment that their own consultants had carried out for the 25 mppa expansion, an assessment that predicted that EU limits would be exceeded by 25 mppa, leave alone 82 mppa!

A technical paper was supposed to accompany the White Paper but it has yet to be published. It is being examined, according to an official, to "check the results" before publication. This document will, we hope, reveal exactly how much more work has been done on reassessing the amount of pollution likely to occur with one extra runway at Stansted. We suspect none! It is very unsatisfactory when vital technical documents are not available at the same time as the policies which are presumably partly based on these same technical assessments. Our prediction is that the EU limits will be breached, it is time we had an up to date assessment.

8.      Road and Rail links. Nothing specific, simply a commitment to improve links together with the SRA, rail companies, Highways Agency and local authorities to deliver what is needed. Road congestion will be "minimised" Public transport will continue to be supported by BAA. Other rail users will not be affected and BAA will pay for improvements needed for the expansion. The Government should pay when non airport users benefit.

Comment. No mention of the new link road to the M11 passing near Henham, or the need for a new rail tunnel, or extra rail and station provision into London, all affecting properties and more of the countryside. It is very difficult to see how any of the local roads can be improved as all go through the larger villages and towns of the area.

It seems very likely that there will be a big difference of opinion on exactly how much BAA will fund. It is also unlikely that extra Government money will be available to fund any rail or road improvement that is considered as benefiting non airport users. How on earth is this distinction to be established?

9.      Will my home be affected? - BAA will do their best to limit these effects. The new Home Value Guarantee scheme is then introduced. Most people have had a glossy leaflet about this already (see the press release on the website)

Comment. The White Paper itself says that the airport operator must introduce such compensation schemes as early as possible. BAA were so prompt with their suggestions that the scheme was clearly ready for publication. However good such a scheme nothing can really compensate families for having to move from their home, neither can it compensate for the destruction of irreplaceable buildings or the loss of farmland and the countryside .

10.      Noise. BAA admit that even with quieter aircraft the numbers exposed to noise will increase. They promise to put into practice all the measures that will help to reduce noise.

Comment. No mention of the Government's failure to consider implementing the World Health Organisation's lower noise annoyance threshold of 54 decibels., or even to consider it as a good benchmark locally. .BAA have had several years to implement all the measures they list. There are no new ones except the hope that the aircraft of the future will be quieter. The recent relative improvement in the effects of increased flight numbers is entirely due to international regulation on the aero-engine manufacturers, no credit to either the airlines, the airports or the Government.

BAA finish by expressing the wish to listen to local views about detailed proposals for the new runway. The Government will "continue the important work of co-ordinating the proposals for Stansted with local and regional authorities and others, to ensure that planning processes take full account of housing, transport and other issues".

Comment. What on earth does this last sentence mean? Perhaps BAA wish to point out that these vital matters are not their responsibility!

Nothing has changed. Nothing that BAA can do can alter the fact that another runway will, within the next 10 years, be disastrous for life as we know it. All for the assumption that more cheap flights to Europe are needed. No long haul airline is going to move to Stansted with the possibility of another runway at Heathrow.

This runway is unsustainable and not commercially viable. SSE is continuing to oppose expansion as it has in the past.

Join us if you have not done so, and come to the meeting on
8 January at Stansted Mountfichet School at 7.30 p.m.

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