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 - March to May 2004

31 May 2004

MORE NEWS ON QUIETER AIRCRAFT

Flying into a silent sky future

by Jo Twist - BBC News Online science staff

Our skies in 20 years' time could be a lot quieter, if research by engineers on "silent aircraft" really takes off. Cambridge-MIT Institute (CMI) engineers have been working on new styles of planes that would be barely audible.

No increase in noise around airports is a key requirement for expansion plans, particuarly at Heathrow and Stansted.

Prof Ann Dowling, CMI's Silent Aircraft Initiative (SAI) leader, said it was vital to take a fresh look at aircraft design to achieve quiet skies.

"Our hope is to ensure noise is central in future designs, and to show in conceptual design what can be achieved if you give it really high priority," she told BBC News Online.

The research includes collaboration with key industry partners, like Rolls-Royce, to use some of its design codes to fundamentally alter a number of the elements of engine technology that contribute most to noise.

Noise at take-off is generated when engine exhaust air mixes with surrounding, calmer air. High-speed fans and compressors sucking air into the engines to produce thrust also make for unpleasant high-pitched whining.

And during cruising and at landing, noise is created by airflow over the body and other parts of the craft.

The ultimate aim of SAI is to make an aircraft with noise that is "barely perceptible", or equal to normal background urban noise, Prof Dowling says.

Anti-noise campaigners have welcomed the steps SAI has made since it started in late 2003.

Starting again

John Stewart, head of Hacan ClearSkies, a lobby group fighting expansion at Heathrow, thinks SAI is the most technological initiative he has seen in decades.

"It is a genuinely interesting initiative and, in that sense, a little bit different from some of the vaguer promises we get from the aviation industry and the government about how technology will solve everything over the next 20 to 30 years," he told BBC News Online. "The current technology just will not do that."

The UK government has estimated that there will be a 4% rise in air passenger traffic every year for the next 30 years. That makes for very busy skies, and technological innovation developed now is crucial to coping with that demand. But making noiseless planes is hard.

SAI starts with the proposition of what an aircraft would look like if low-noise was a key design requirement.

"You can't just do it by incremental changes to current designs," says Prof Dowling. "So we have started again and said what will it look like? It needs much more integration of the air frame and the engine."

Under the UK government's 30-year aviation strategy, both Heathrow and Stansted would get new runways.

At Stansted, it is estimated that 14,000 people would be affected by noisier skies.

A recent report by the Civil Aviation Authority suggested that a third runway at Heathrow could mean that, by 2015, over 800,000 people would experience noise levels above those recommended by the World Health Organization.

The Heathrow runway will not get the green light unless there is no rise in noise.

Blended approach

One of the biggest challenges is reducing the noise of aircraft on take-off, as well as reducing emissions at cruising level. For that, the aircraft geometry has to be reconfigured.

One of the most popular concepts for future aircraft has been the "blended-wing body" design, originally devised by aerospace firm McDonnell Douglas. Prof Dowling believes a blended-wing concept is a strong contender for future craft.

"What looked like a better starting point for us was the flying wing, where you have a triangular shape of aircraft," she explains.

"If you put engines on top of the craft rather than underneath, the air frame shields some of the sound."

It is a starting point, and within the three years SAI has to run, the final result will be different. But already, SAI's designs mean there will be a requirement for radically different aircraft.

US manufacturer Boeing has been considering blended-wing bodies that can also be altered to balance good fuel efficiency with lower noise levels.

"It takes a long time to develop a new aircraft in aerospace, so we can't expect instant fixes," says Prof Dowling, who predicts we will not see really innovative, silent aircraft over our heads for another 15 to 20 years. "But if you don't start, you don't get there," she says.

One short-term option which is being examined by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US is to change the way aircraft approach a runway.

This means existing craft would fly differently on descent, at a fixed throttle setting. Tests on a method of approach developed by MIT have reduced noise by five decibels.

Silence is golden

The development of silent planes could have profound economic impacts, which SAI is also looking at in detail, especially for the viability of an airport's location. If there are quieter planes, people may no longer object to having an airport in their region or neighbourhood, argues Prof Dowling.

Mr Stewart agrees, although he admits it is an ambitious goal and would like to see the planes working in the flesh - or metal - before being convinced. His concern is that silent aircraft design will give airlines an excuse to bring in many more planes. If the new technology produces planes as quiet as the engineers are now proposing, more planes may not be a problem in noise terms. While it is a vision groups like Hacan might well welcome, in the short and medium term, the problem of air noise remains, explains Mr Stewart.

SAI is a £4m academic and industry-supported project at CMI, building on previous research which developed computer models for noise reduction.

OUR COMMENT: Quiet aircraft would be welcome whether aviation expansion goes ahead or not. This article makes no mention of the equally important need to design an aircraft engine that reduces emissions, both CO2 and oxides of nitrogen. Noise is annoying and constant air noise probably has implications for some health complaints. An excess of aircraft emissions will aggravate climate change, cause local air pollution with adverse effects on residents' health and breach the European Directive on Air Quality. Will such a new design also help reduce fuel use? We need more joined-up research before any of the predicted expansion is allowed.

Pat Dale


30 May 2004

MORE COMMENTS ON THOSE MISSING FIGURES

Another article following up the exposure of statistics on aviation's massive increase in greenhouse gas emissions - concealed after pressure from the Department for Transport

An idea whose time has come
By tackling global warming, Blair can show he is not a US poodle

Larry Elliott - The Guardian - 28 May 2004

A month ago, Tony Blair made a big speech about global warming. The prime minister's message could not have been clearer. The Kyoto treaty, for all the haggling, fell far short of what was needed to crack the problem, and time was running out. "The issue of climate change is now very, very critical indeed," he said.

Clearly Blair has been listening to Sir David King, the government's chief scientist, who says that within a century the last humans will be sharing Antarctica with the penguins. Others, however, appear deaf to the warnings.

The Department of Transport has been lobbying furiously to stop the Office for National Statistics publishing data showing an 85% increase in pollutants from the airline industry and a 59% rise from freight transport since 1990. Joined up government or what?

It's easy to see why the mandarins would find the ONS report a tad embarrassing. This, after all, is the department that has sanctioned a fifth terminal at Heathrow and a third London airport to cope with the seemingly insatiable demand for air travel. It would not - as they say in Whitehall - be "helpful" to have this information in the public domain.

Actually, it's helpful to find out which bits of Whitehall are subject to capture by pressure group, and it's helpful to understand the conceptual problem to be overcome if action is to follow rhetoric. In essence, this boils down to whether modern industrial capitalism is compatible with a healthy planet. Does it make sense, for example, for the G8 to pressurise Opec into pumping more crude in order to bring down the cost of a scarce resource? Is it right that airlines pay no tax on aviation fuel, thus aiding their attempts to boost demand by keeping prices low?

Make no mistake, the forces of conservatism arguing for business as usual are powerful. The good news is that they are opposed by an even stronger lobby - the insurance sector - that sees climate change as a real and immediate threat. These guys have seen weather-related claims rise over the past decade; they believe the planet is warming up and they fear the risk of ruinous losses in the not-too-distant future. The latest evidence shows an accelerated rise in CO2 emissions over the past three years, seen by scientists as a sign that the carbon sinks that soak up a proportion of the gas have started to shut down.

Insurance companies, quite rightly, feel that Kyoto is not the solution - even if the Russians now ratify the treaty, as they almost certainly will. They are among the critics who say that the 1997 deal is timid and based on questionable science, and fails to bind every country in the world into solving a global problem. Kyoto is plan A, but the need - as the prime minister correctly argues - is to use it as a springboard to plan B.

The good news is that plan B already exists, and stands to be the long-term solution that Blair is looking for, provided he has the political courage to back it fully. Contraction and Convergence (C&C) provides a three-stage blueprint for coping with climate change. Initially, there would be an international agreement on how much further the level of CO2 in the atmosphere could be allowed to rise before the changes in climate became unacceptable. Once that had been worked out, estimates of how much of the gas was retained in the atmosphere would be used to work out how quickly global emissions needed to be cut in order to meet the target. This is the contraction part of the process.

Finally, once a target was established for cuts in greenhouse gases - one figure is 60% - it would be possible to allocate the fossil fuel consumption that those emissions represented. Although people in rich countries pollute far more per head than people in poor countries, supporters of C&C say that everybody should have a basic human right to emit the same amount of greenhouse gases, and that a date - say, 2050 - should be fixed for arriving at this point. This is the convergence part of the equation. Rich states would be given time to adjust, and in the meantime could buy the right to pollute from poor countries, providing resources for development.

C&C is an idea whose time has come. The Americans have backed the idea, and if Blair has built up political capital in Washington as a result of Iraq, he should think about cashing it in next year when Britain holds the G8 presidency.

Britain's recent experience, the prime minister should point out, shows that countries can cut emissions and enjoy growth. An even better example is China, the fastest growing economy in the world. China is not just switching from coal to gas, but has been investing heavily in alternative energy sources while the UK has been in thrall to the transport lobby: a lesson Blair would do well to heed.


Comment by Jeff Gazzard of AirportWatch

Gag already removed!

Quite why the Department for Transport should seek to shoot the messenger, "Officials try to hide rise in transport pollution", Guardian front page 27 May and "Anger at 'gag' on pollution report", Guardian 28 May, by censoring the ONS figures about the rise in air transport CO2 emissions seems strange - particularly so when the same ministry has itself published work robustly forecasting the same CO2 emissions at 33.4 million tonnes in the year 2000 in its consultation exercise and White Paper background papers over the last few months.

The figure officials seem to be seeking to downplay, 37.3mt CO2 from aircraft exhausts during 2003, is remarkably in line with the Department's own forecasts! An increase of 3.9mt CO2 over 3 years is probably entirely down to the growth in low cost airlines. It is, unfortunately, also broadly in line with the worrying trend of rising, uncontrolled greenhouse gas emissions from UK air travel.

Rather than burying bad news - a departmental news management trait I thought had disappeared when Jo Moore cycled off to take up teaching - the Department for Transport could perhaps tell us why it thinks massive increases in climate change-inducing aircraft emissions are such a good thing. Again, its own estimate of a grand total of more than 70 million tonnes of CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere in 2030 by the 476 million passengers using the expanded UK airports its recent controversial "predict and provide" White Paper seeks to facilitate, shows the enormity of the problem.

This is not good news for the planet or the Government's climate change policies. Our cinema-going policymakers and politicans should realise that the title of this summer's must-see global warming blockbuster "The Day after Tomorrow" is meant as a salutary warning not an exhortation!


28 May 2004

AVIATION IS AGGRAVATING CLIMATE CHANGE

Officials try to hide rise in transport pollution
Paul Brown, Environment Correspondent - The Guardian - 27 May 2004

Official figures showing sharp increases in gases responsible for climate change from air and freight transport were removed from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) report on the environment last week after pressure from the Department for Transport.

In a week when Tony Blair was insisting the issue of climate change was "very, very critical" and Margaret Beckett, the environment secretary, claimed the UK was a world leader in reducing emissions, official statistics would have shown an 85% increase in pollutants from the airline industry and 59% for freight transport since 1990.

Instead the announcement was withdrawn and another substituted which did not mention transport emissions at all.

ONS officials were said to be have been "livid" at the transport's department's intervention. A footnote on ONS releases says "National Statistics are produced. free from any political interference".

The original unpublished release has been passed to the Guardian. Headlined "Rise in greenhouse gas emissions from transport", it says that while overall emissions dropped by 10% between 1990 and 2002 the increase from the transport sector as a whole was 50%.

The largest increase of 85% was from air transport, and even this figure would have risen to over 100% but for the slump in air travel as a result of the attacks on the World Trade Centre, the report said. The road freight industry has also increased by 59% according to the statistics.

Both sets of figures reveal the government's most vulnerable areas on climate change policy. It is being heavily criticised by environment groups for its proposed buildings of new runways, expansion of regional airports and failure to shift sufficient freight onto the railways.

The draft of the report containing the transport emission figures were sent for comment to DEFRA and the DfT. Senior officials at the environment department described the rapidly rising emissions as "somewhat sensitive" and prepared a briefing paper for ministers to field expected hostile questions by journalists. Officials at the DfT actively attempted to stop publication of the release.

Perry Francis, the statistician who compiled the figures at the ONS, said yesterday that transport department officials objected to the form in which the figures were presented. "I was told the DfT did not think it was appropriate to publish them, they spoke to me several times, and in the end I withdrew the report and substituted another which did not mention transport at all".

Mr Francis added: "I would not say I was subject to improper pressure. I just decided I would withdraw it".

His new report published last Friday received no press coverage. However he has placed the statistics on the ONS website "for the record".

Yesterday the DfT denied its intervention had been made for political reasons, and stressed that there was no ministerial involvement. A spokesman said there had been differences between the way the department compiled its statistics and the ONS methods. However, there was no suggestion that the ONS figures were inaccurate.

Mr Blair, writing in this month's edition of the Parliamentary Monitor, said: "Climate change is probably in the long term is probably the single most important issue we face as a global community - the issue is now very, very critical indeed."

Margaret Beckett made a statement on May 18th, two days before the proposed ONS report was withdrawn, that the attack by the Liberal Democrat Leader Charles Kennedy on the UK's climate change record was "absurd", adding "Tony Blair is renowned and respected across the world for his leadership on international climate change".

OUR COMMENT: Leadership involves actions as well as words. Actions have been few and far between and are clearly not enough. Some actions, such as the policy of expanding aviation will clearly undo all the attempts already being made to deal with this "single most important issue". For a start, Tony Blair should exercise leadership and tell Alistair Darling to revise his aviation plans . This will be no immediate damage to anyone or to the aviation industry who are, so we are told, mostly making reasonable profits at the moment. It is very debatable if the future of the UK economy will suffer - there are other industries needing investment. Travellers' choice will still remain. BUT some positive action will have been taken for the future of our environment. We also ask how many other DfT statistics are massaged when considered undesirable?

Pat Dale


28 May 2004

ESSEX COUNTY COUNCIL CONSIDERS STANSTED EXPANSION

The issues and costs that local authorities will face
in catering for expansion around Stansted

Report made to Essex County Council by Geoff Gardner, Head of Planning
at a Council meeting on 24 May 2004

THE CHAIRMAN: We will now get a perspective on the other airport that is being considered for runway development. Geoff Gardner will tell us about Stansted.

GEOFF GARDNER: I will deal with some of the background and impacts, and the interrelationships between airport planning and regional planning. I will also touch on a legal challenge in which we are engaged.

This is a very touchy subject, and I have to enter a disclaimer. These are my own views and do not necessarily represent the Council's views. The figures are calculated but are approximate and will be subject to further analysis. I do not think I am going to say anything particularly startling, but you have to say this. Also, I would not say that some of my numbers have been carefully calculated. They are pretty round numbers, so please bear with me.

The Gatwick Challenge
John Steel was part of the challenge to Gatwick, but a fat lot of good it did us in the end, because it resulted in a second SERAS; but at least it put it an long way into the future. That is good news for Gatwick, but perhaps not for others. Our position on this - that of the county council and the whole region - was to accept the inevitable. To make the numbers add up in response to SERAS, we had to say that we recognised that the full capacity would work. We did a back-of-the-envelope calculation which showed that no more capacity was needed before 2016, but I will not re-run that. That was our position, and we now face dealing with probably two proposals in quick succession.

Government White Paper proposals
I will not spend a lot of time on this. A second runway is proposed at Stansted, to be operational in 2011 or 2012, and they are expecting BAA to do detailed plans in 2004. The capacity of that runway is 81 million - about what Heathrow is doing at the moment - and the word is that the existing runway can take 35 million. But these are very moveable figures. We are fortunate to have taken on someone recently who used to work for BAA, and he has told us a little about what happens behind the scenes. The capacity work by BAA for the first runway gives a figure of about 42 million. All figures are moveable, but that is one we have lodged. The third runway at Heathrow, after Stansted, is not dependent on Stansted going ahead. The second runway at Gatwick will be built some time in the future.

Site Map
This shows the existing Stansted runway in red and the airport boundary in green, with the proposed second runway and airport boundary. This is deliberately lifted from the White Paper, because it is headed "The Government's indicative plan of the proposed new Stansted runway and boundary". In all the discussions so far, BAA do not take this as an indicative plan at all: they take it as "the plan". The other point to note from this map is how wide apart those two runways are - about 2km or 3km. At Heathrow they are an awful lot closer, and with mixed mode - in other words, working both together. So why are these two so far apart? The locals immediately think, "That is so they can slot runways 3 and 4 in between them without requiring too much extra land." I am just speculating.

Noise map
This simplified map shows in green the area affected by noise - it is at 54dBA, and you can use 57 or whatever, but I am taking 54 for the moment. You can see how much larger that becomes with the second runway in the red area. We heard this morning that half the population fly. That means that half do not. If half the people in that red area do not fly, they are not going to be too happy. That is an obvious point, which does not apply only to Stansted.

The Legal Challenge
We have launched a legal challenge. We got a taste for it with Gatwick. It does not go to the heart of Government policy, because lawyers will tell you that that is very difficult. But the White Paper is a little too specific about the location of the runways, for example. Putting maps of that detail into a White Paper goes a little beyond Government policy.

There are no obvious reasons, in our view, why other options for the runway were dismissed in favour of this one. There is not the balance between evaluating environmental costs and economic benefits that we would have liked to see as justification for doing that, although they were trailed pretty heavily in SERAS. Lastly, the funding and viability of all this is not dealt with. It was also trailed in SERAS, but it is not dealt with in the White Paper. We are interested in some of the things that have been said today about how close the two proposals will be at Stansted and Heathrow. We are also aware of the CAA stand-alone assessment: does Stansted work on that basis? We have had some work done, and it needs to be dealt with.

We readily accept that some of these points can be dealt with in a planning inquiry, and we hope they will be, no matter how long it takes. They go to the heart of some of this stuff. I think that the Government, and certainly the BAA, are relying on the fact that it is done and sorted - it is in the White Paper and we cannot talk about it. One of the reasons for our legal challenge is to say that we very much can talk about it.

Housing and jobs
I will now deal with the relationship between the airport growth and regional planning. In the East of England region, we are in the middle of a regional plan, and a slight delay has been caused by the need to find many more houses than we thought we had to find. We are cruising towards a draft of the regional planning guidance in the autumn of this year. Lord Rooker originally said that we did not have to worry too much about the second runway, but he has now told us, "As the thing has been delayed and I am asking for more housing numbers, would it not make sense at least to see what the impact of the second runway will be?" I am generally happy with that - hence the need for my disclaimer - because we need to get this thing over and done with. We do not want wave upon wave of housing coming our way. We need to see the big picture in all of this.

The regional assembly has therefore agreed to a large number of houses in what we call the Stansted-M11 sub-region, around Harlow, with 28,000 more houses and 30,000 jobs - which would roughly double the size of Harlow. That is a large impact, and the local authorities in the area have said that Harlow could expand by about half those numbers and still work. Lord Rooker is asking for even more houses in this corridor, 18,000, and bringing together the houses, the jobs, the airport and transportation goes to the heart of regional planning. The population increase would be about 60,000.

Associated costs
This is where we get into round and probably big numbers. The airport land take on the map I showed you is about 8 sq km (three square miles), and the existing take is 10 sq km. It has nearly doubled the area, as you can see from the plan. More important, the associated urbanisation - the jobs, the houses, the roads and everything else - would take about 15 sq km, very roughly. That is the impact of the second runway on what is still quite a rural area. When we heard just now about the schools and houses in Hounslow, Brian said to me that there are not that many around Stansted, because it is a rural area. Nine square miles (23 sq km) of urbanisation in a rural area is quite significant. The population increase of 60,000 people will all need schools, health facilities and so on. That will have massive impacts on this area.

The Transportation system
The transportation system currently based on the roads is what you see here. There is clearly a need for rail capacity into London. The current 25 million figure at the airport was pretty much said to be reaching the limits of what this system can take.

Transportation costs - major roads
These are some of the major costs associated with that development - not just the runway but all the urbanisation. We need to look at this big picture and not try to break it down. If the M11, the motorway that runs north-south, is improved to the north, it would cost £120 million, but we reckon that another £400 million, plus junction improvements, would be needed to the south, as well as to the north, which have not been fully factored in. The White Paper says that the M25 needs improvement; we reckon £512 million would be needed for that. Even with a dual four on both those roads, I am told that the capacity just is not there for the numbers of people we are talking about.

As for east-west links, the A120 all the way to the A12 at Colchester is partially recognised to the tune of £250 million; we reckon that another £300 million is required. To the west, to link through the A120 to the north of Harlow would cost £400 million. Radial roads around London, which are beginning almost to make an outer radial route, would cost about £150 million, and that is just the small bits we know about. We think that the £800 million that the White Paper says is required for transport infrastructure is an under-estimate. We think it is £1.3 billion just for roads.

Rail improvements
The White Paper recognises that what is known as the West Anglian mainline needs about £700 million of improvements. This is about lengthening platforms and getting trains into Liverpool Street. Even so, there are severe doubts about capacity. A much more radical approach would be needed when cranking the airport up to two runways. We think that Crossrail is the radical way of building real new railway capacity in this area. This is where the numbers get really big - it would cost £10 billion. I suppose that that has not been very carefully costed, but you can understand the scale of all this rather than the detail.

Total Costs
The total transportation costs - I have not begun to say who picks up the bill - are about £13 billion. The White Paper and discussions I have had talk about the cost of Stansted runway 2 being £4 billion. That is just the tip of the iceberg - the bit around the airport and connecting it to the existing road system. These costs need to be thought about carefully before we embark upon a planning proposal which may not be fully thought through. It will impose all sorts of blight on an area, and if it does not stack up and the money is not there, that is a huge waste of everybody's time and the cause of great anxiety. The message about how much this will cost is not directed necessarily at BAA or the airline industry: it is directed at Government. The money has to come from somewhere. Essex is a big place, but it does not have that kind of money - far from it.

Phasing
Stansted is running out of capacity, and BAA have identified a need to achieve the full capacity of the existing runway. They expect that self-standing proposal to be made very soon. On the heels of that is the second runway proposal, and the two get very close. How do you separate them? When does transportation needed for the first begin to stray into the second? Don't you need the big picture before you start down this path? That is the message we are sending. The local authorities have said that they need to see the big picture before they can start to deal with the slices of salami that could lead up to it.

Given the cost, there is no compromise on the infrastructure I have described. We have heard many times from Government and others recently that there is no question of growth without adequate infrastructure, and we do not take that lightly. We are very serious about it.

Working together
We are talking to BAA on a "what if?" basis, given that we are still in the middle of our legal challenge; but we are engaged in this positively. The authorities in the area - two counties and a lot of districts - are dealing with this problem to make sure that we do not have a two-year inquiry, if that is what it comes to, and that there is agreement as far as possible. We are not going to argue for the sake of it, but, if some time is saved, it should be backed up with promises from the Government or BAA to deliver the infrastructure that goes with it.

Finally, we need to recognise the relationship between airport growth and regional and sub-regional planning, infrastructure, houses and jobs. They cannot be dealt with as individual projects: they need to be seen as a whole. Thank you.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Geoff. If ever there was a call for joined-up government, that was it: all about the cost implications and the other challenges.


27 May 2004

"SCREW THE SHARE PRICE"

Comments by Brian Ross, SSE Executive Member

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary is not one to mince his words. His "Screw the Share Price" comment earlier this week signalled his determination to continue the price war amongst the low-cost carriers, despite the impact upon Ryanair's profits and upon its share price.

Michael O'Leary's words will not be well received by City investors already concerned about Ryanair's recent profits warning. There are worries too about the impact of the recent oil price hikes, ongoing problems with the EU Commission on subsidies at Charleroi Airport and elsewhere, and the prospect of EU emissions charging being introduced for air travel. All these factors threaten Ryanair's future prospects.

Ryanair accounts for 70% of Stansted's business and so one assumes that BAA will be taking a close interest in these developments, not least because BAA wants to double its charges at Stansted over the next four years and expects Ryanair to pay up.

And if BAA wants to proceed with its plans for a second Stansted runway, charges would need to virtually double yet again in order to justify the cost of this investment. Mr O'Leary does not seem like the type of individual who would just sit back and accept this and BAA shareholders must be wondering whether its management is being a bit starry-eyed about the financial viability its grand investment plans for Stansted.

This is just one of the many dilemmas that BAA is facing in relation to its Stansted plans and BAA annual results, published last week, highlight the fact that it is not only Ryanair who is finding that passenger growth does not necessarily mean profits growth.


26 May 2004

RYANAIR REFUSES TO REPAY 3M EUROS STATE AID

Kevin Done, Aerospace Correspondent - Financial Times - 26 May 2004

Ryanair is refusing to pay back alleged state subsidies from the low-cost carriers's operations at Belgium's Charleroi Airport.

Michael O'Leary, Ryanair's chief executive, said the Belgian authorities had written to the airline demanding the repayment of about £2m (3m euros). "We have written back to say f*** off" he said yesterday.

He said Ryanair had incurred costs eight times higher in setting up its base at Charleroi and that the airline had the right to offset these costs against the alleged subsidies.

Ryanair yesterday formally launched its appeal against the decision of the European Commission, announced in February, that various benefits it had received at Charleroi, south of Brussels, constituted illegal state aid.

Ryanair said it was asking the European Court of First Instance to annul the Commission's "flawed decision".

Under the state aid rules, a public airport must be able to compete on a level playing field with private airports and offer the same conditions, said the airline. Charleroi airport, which became Ryanair's first base in continental Europe in April 2001, is owned by the regional government of Wallonia.

The airline claimed that the Commssion had "completely ignored" the fact that the airline had lower costs at some private airports.

In addition, the group claimed that the Commission had ignored the fact that the deal was "specifically offered to other airlines willing to make the same investment in the airport as Ryanair".

Ryanair said last month it had struck a new deal with Charleroi that would leave net charges on existing routes from the airport at the same level that first triggered the state aid investigation by the Commission more than two years ago.

OUR COMMENT: It gets more and more complicated! What about competition between private airports owned by the same company? Are cross subsidies from Heathrow to Stansted unfair competition? Or just BAA's own business - apart from the new CAA rules of course!

Pat Dale


26 May 2004

ANOTHER NO-FRILLS AIRLINE/AIRPORT BATTLE AHEAD

Andrew Clark - The Guardian - 26 May 2004

Warwick District Council has failed in an attempt to win a high court injunction stopping Thomsonfly's embryonic operation at Coventry airport.

The local authority claimed that the new budget airline was using an illegally built structure to turn the freight airport in the West Midlands into a passenger terminal.

A judge disagreed, although the Council intends to challenge the operation again at a planning inquiry likely to take place in the autumn.

OUR COMMENT: We understand that the airport owners had built an extension at the airport and allowed the new airline to commence operations without getting planning permission. The airport has appealed against an order to demolish the building and to cease the passenger services. It seems extraordinary that such a development could take place without any planning permission. Our understanding is that the judge decided that the issue should be decided by the Inspector at the Appeal Hearing. The failure to get an injunction to stop flights seems to go against all the relevant Planning Laws but we have not seen the full judgement.

Pat Dale


26 May 2004

GOOD NEWS IN THE BATTLE AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE

Russia "will ratify the Kyoto protocol"
Environment Daily - 24 May 2004

Russian president Vladimir Putin has given the clearest indication yet his country will ratify the Kyoto protocol and thus trigger its entry into force. "We are for the Kyoto process... we shall be speeding up our movement towards ratification," he said after an EU-Russia summit in Moscow on Friday.

Russia's ratification would provide a powerful political boost for the EU. The bloc has championed the Kyoto protocol internationally and aligned its domestic climate change policies closely to the treaty, to the extent of committing to meet Kyoto gas reduction targets even if the protocol doesn't enter force.

Rising concerns in Europe's business community over climate change policy have been strongly linked to fears that Russia might not ratify, which would potentially leave the EU politically and economically isolated. The same fears prompted EU energy commissioner Loyola de Palacio to suggest that the EU needed a "plan B" in case the protocol never entered force (ED 30/01/04 http://www.environmentdaily.com/articles/index.cfm?action=article&ref=15991).

Mr Putin's comments followed the successful conclusion of bilateral talks on the terms of Russia's entry into the World Trade Organisation. Though EU negotiators had consistently denied a diplomatic trade-off between the two issues was on the cards, the president said they had "overlapped".

"The fact that the EU has met us halfway in negotiations on the WTO could not but have helped Moscow's positive attitude to the question of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol," he said.

The European Commission has reacted cautiously to the announcement. Reijo Kemppinen, spokesman for president Romano Prodi, said it was "very positive" but added that "in terms of a time line there's nothing specific yet."

One result of Russian ratification is expected to be an increase in the market price of credits from the Kyoto project mechanisms CDM and JI that many EU governments and firms expect to use to meet their greenhouse gas reduction commitments. Once the protocol enters force both Japan and Canada are expected to enter the market as significant buyers.

Tim Atkinson of carbon market broker Natsource told Environment Daily on Monday that prices had not yet moved, however. "[Putin's statement] sends a signal that Kyoto is getting ever closer, but it will take time to filter through to the market," he said.

Stephan Singer of WWF welcomed the presidential statement: "it will make some governments and businesses realise that Kyoto's here and they'll have to get used to it," he said. But he warned there were "still a lot of anti-Kyoto people" in the Russian power hierarchy and that ratification was not cut and dried.

This realisation may well be behind the EU's guarded reaction. Mr Putin said Russia still had "certain concerns as to the liabilities we shall be expected to assume"; the country's parliament must give its approval before ratification can happen. Moreover,Russia's academy of sciences last week came out against the protocol,joining vociferous presidential advisor Andrei Illarionov .

Under the protocol's rules, developed countries representing 55% of 1990 carbon dioxide emissions must ratify to trigger entry into force. Since the USA abandoned Kyoto in 2001 Russia's participation has become critical to meeting the target. Currently states representing 44% of 1990 emissions have ratified. Russia accounts for another 17%.


CHINA BEGINS TO DEFINE "SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT"

China on the road to nowhere with industrial revolution
James Kynge - Financial Times - 25 May 2004

China's industrial development is unsustainable because its people, resources and environment cannot cope. This assertion, published yesterday, was not the intellectual musing of a green pressure group. It was the conclusion of the State Environmental Protection Administration, a branch of Beijing's Communist governments not known for rhetorical bombshells.

Pan Yue, deputy director of SEPA, said China adopted the west's resourtce-hungry model of development even though it was unsuited to a country with a huge population, limited agricultural land and scarce resources. The solution was to develop renewable energy sources, slash waste and promote recycling. He said "If we continue on this path of traditional industrial civilisation, then there is no chance that we will have sustainable development. China's populace, resources, environment has already reached the limit of its capacity to cope. Sustainable development and new sources of energy are the only road we can take".

The report goes on to detail the rising consumption of resources and land, notably oil and water, and what would happen if expansion continued in the same way as it has in the US and in much of Europe.

OUR COMMENT: Such comments have been made by many in the West, but rarely in such forthright terms by an official government agency. On a smaller scale they are very familiar. The aviation industry in particular is ignoring the limitations of our resources and is being encouraged to do so by the government. Stansted airport is being encouraged to expand to a size that ignores both local environmental limits, water supplies and air space, and would cause more damage to our national climate patterns.


Footnote

Arctic "hit hardest by global warming"
Financial Times - 25 May 2004

Global warming is hitting the Arctic more than twice as fast as the rest of the planet in what may be a portent of wider catastrophic changes, the chairman of an eight nation study said, Reuters reports from Oslo.

An 1,800 page report is to be handed to Ministers in Iceland later this year. Robert Corell, chairman of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment said, "There is a dramatic climate change happening in the Arctic right now...about three times the pace of the whole globe. If you want to know what the rest of the planet is going to see in the next generation, watch out for the Arctic in the next 5 - 10 years".

The report contains evidence of thinning ice, disruption of the habitats of plants and animals and the destabilisation of buildings on permafrost, including an oil pipe line laid across Alaska.

Pat Dale


22 May 2004

SOME COMMENTS ON BAA'S STANSTED RESULTS

Stansted profit nosedives as security and insurance costs take off
by Alan Smith - Business Weekly - 21 May 2004

The financial cost of countering terrorism has hit profits at London Stansted Airport.

Strong growth - passenger volumes soared 15.9 per cent to 19.4 million - boosted total revenues 7.6 per cent to £141m. But the operating profit was down 9.3 per cent to £39 million and operating costs were £15m higher at £102m. Stansted officials said this was "mainly due to heightened security and insurance costs."

Retail revenue of £60 million was £7.3 million higher than the previous year, an increase of 13.2 per cent, and airport charges were 3.8 per cent ahead at £54 million.

Ongoing expansion at the Essex hub brought capital investment of £19 million and airport chiefs say that to cater for the expansion of low cost airlines, £662 million will be invested in facilities over an 11-year period.

Managing director Terry Morgan said: "It has been an exciting and challenging year for Stansted, the highlight of which was the publication by the Government of the Future of Air Transport White Paper."

"This marks an important step and places Stansted at the heart of the revolution in air travel. We have more passengers than ever before and we will shortly welcome our 20 millionth in a 12-month period."

"To manage the rapid growth in traffic we have had to make a step increase in the airport's operating capacity. This has meant investment in additional staff and other operating expenditure, rather than capital investment."

"The operating base now in place should support anticipated growth at Stansted this year and lead to an improved profit performance going forward. Our success has opened opportunities for travellers, businesses and the local community."

"We are confident in our future and expect strong growth in passenger numbers in 2004/05. We are proud to be the fastest growing major airport in Europe."


Mixed Figures for Airport Bosses
Passenger numbers are up, but profits have fallen at Stansted Airport
Saffron Walden Reporter - 21 May 2004

The latest figures show 1.7million travellers passed through the airport in April - an annual running total of 19.8million and a 33.9 per cent growth on the same period last year.

Days later, BAA Stansted announced an operating profit of £39million at the end of the financial year, a 9.3 per cent fall on the previous year.

Managing director Terry Morgan said: "It has been an exciting and challenging year for Stansted, the highlight of which was the publication by the Government of the Future of Air Transport White Paper."

"This marks an important step and places Stansted at the heart of the revolution in air travel."

"We have more passengers than ever before and we will shortly welcome our 20 millionth in a 12-month period."

"To manage the rapid growth in traffic we have had to make a step increase in the airport's operating capacity."

"This has meant investment in additional staff and other operating expenditure, rather than capital investment."

"The operating base now in place should support anticipated growth at Stansted this year and lead to an improved profit performance going forward."

Retail revenue of £60million was £7.3million higher than the previous year, an increase of 13.2 per cent, while airport charges were £54million, up 3.8 per cent.

Capital investment stood at £19million. To cater for the expansion of low-cost airlines £662million will be invested in facilities over an 11-year period.

Operating costs, including depreciation, rose £15million to £102million, mainly due to heightened security and insurance costs.

Carol Barbone, campaign director of Stop Stansted Expansion, said the announcment that profits had fallen despite an increase in traveller numbers indicated a 21 per cent decline in income per passenger, from £2.58 to £2.03.

She said: "This is the lowest of all of BAA's seven airports."

"It is totally at odds with BAA saying, earlier this year when under pressure to explain Stansted's low profitability in relation to the amount of money it had invested, that it expected to substantially increase Stansted's profitability."

Commenting on the passenger numbers, communications director Mark Pendlington said: "We are tantalisingly close to being able to celebrate our 20 millionth passenger this year."

"These figures tell us how right we have been to announce our intention to apply for permission to increase capacity beyond the current limit of 25 million passengers per year."

OUR COMMENT: The reduced profits are blamed on the increased operating costs, mainly due to security requirements. The main report comments that increased "marketing support" was required at Stansted because of the takeover of Buzz by Ryanair. (Did Ryanair get any reduction in charges?) It is also stated that airport charges were put up at Heathrow and Gatwick but not at Stansted. Is another runway at Stansted really a good investment opportunity?

Pat Dale


22 May 2004

COME CLEAN OVER BAA'S WATER BILL

Letter from Peter Riding
Saffron Walden Weekly News - 20 May 2004

South East England has less water available per head than Morocco, Egypt or Kenya. Thames Water have been telling us through the local press that levels in their boreholes, from which they draw underground water, are below average. They say that the steadily growing population in the South East combined with the increasing evidence of climate change will put growing pressure on local supplies. They are asking customers to use as little water as possible.

Meanwhile, Three Valleys Water say that Government proposals for new housing developments could result in them having to provide water for a further 500,000 households. Part of this increase is linked to the proposal to expand Stansted Airport to be a third larger than Heathrow is at the moment.

Three Valleys Water say that they need to invest £150 million over the next five years in upgrading their network of water mains to address the critical issues they face, such as the highest level of customer demand in the driest part of the UK. This will involve higher customer bills - starting with a 15% increase in 2005/6 followed by a 13% increase in 2006/7. Clearly existing customers should not have to bear the burden of investments for developments for which they are not responsible.

Three Valleys Water should now reveal the contribution BAA will be making to these infrastructure investments, given that BAA will benefit not only directly through its increased use of water at Stansted Airport, but indirectly through the housing of thousands of new employees and through the establishment of hotels, offices and warehouses in the Stansted area.


21 May 2004

CORPORATES WARM TO CLIMATE CHANGE

Response to carbon survey increases threefold
Terry Macalister - The Guardian - 15 May 2004

Climate change is racing up the corporate agenda and has even touched ExxonMobil, according to an institutional investors' survey due out next week.

Almost three times as many firms responded to this year's annual survey from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a group of institutional investors holding assets worth $10,000bn (£5,700bn), the same as the US gross domestic product.

British oil groups BP and BG along with banks Abbey National and HSBC were deemed among the best in their class on the basis of the responses.

Compass Group, the caterer, was among the British firms that failed to respond, but so too did aircraft manufacturer Boeing. Exxon - historically antagonistic to the Kyoto treaty and other climate change initiatives - ignored survey questions sent to the top 500 global companies.

But this time the Texas oil firm gave "intelligent and thorough responses", said the CDP, which is backed by ABN Amro, Swiss Re and Jupiter, among others. Next week Exxon is expected to face pressure from shareholders on climate change at its annual meeting.

The number of participating companies rose from 35 last year to 95, with a majority saying climate change presented risks but also opportunities to their businesses. "The world's most powerful investors have an obvious reason for wanting to avert climate change. It would devastate their wealth," said James Cameron, the CDP chairman. "What's positive about our report is that it reveals that the world's largest corporations are increasingly responding to this demand by quantifying and reducing their greenhouse gas emissions," he added.

But Mr Cameron admitted that more than 40% of companies ignored the survey while others offered very weak responses to the questionnaire.

The response from Exxon - and ChevronTexaco - was especially welcome because the list of questions was considerably longer than last year's.

CDP declined to provide any details about the Exxon response, but a spokesman said the exercise could be considered a major breakthrough. "Exxon has been cast in the role of a backward company - but their responses were intelligent and thorough, and suggest they have changed their position. That's progress," he said.

There was equal surprise that a company as potentially exposed to climate change as Boeing should not reply to the survey, especially because the signatories to the disclosure project are understood to control more than 10% of its stock.

CDP believes most business leaders are beginning to take climate change seriously after weather-related disasters cost industry $70bn during 2003. There is also pressure because rules are being developed across the OECD favouring a shift to a low-carbon economy, meaning the "cost of carbon" is becoming a headache for energy-intensive global firms.

CDP analysis suggests even a 5% shift in energy prices could affect per-share earnings by 15%, so risk management and energy efficiency are taking on a new level of importance.

Jeff Gazzard comments:

Not a big surprise that Boeing should fail to respond to the survey from the Carbon Disclosure Project, according to Terry Macalister's article above.

At the launch of its new 7E7 aeroplane a couple of weeks ago, Mike Bair, Boeing's senior vice-president, admitted to a group of journalists that the new plane's appearance had more to do with marketing than aerodynamics, saying that Boeing would even be willing to sacrifice a small amount of efficiency in order to preserve the so-called "Dreamliner's" unique appearance.

What this means is that Boeing are deliberately and calculatedly manufacturing an aircraft with less than optimum fuel consumption just for appearances' sake, a sad reflection on just how far down the list optimising environmental performance is in Boeing's world. Boeing claim that the "E" in the 7E7's nomenclature stands for "Environment". It seems to us that it should stand for "Excessive fuel consumption".

The very fact that the institutional investors behind the CDP scheme hold more 10% of Boeing's stock, as Terry Macalister reported, should be a powerful wake-up call to the aeroplane manufacturer to take climate change seriously - but as long as marketing men are designing Boeing's aircraft to look good instead of letting their engineers squeeze the last drop of fuel efficiency from their airframes, we can't really expect much better.

Perhaps these same investors can be encouraged to demand that Boeing achieve the very best fuel consumption from the 7E7. Every reduction in greenhouse gas emissions helps, which presumably is what the Carbon Disclosure Project is all about. Let's hope they manage to put pen to paper and pressure Boeing to manufacture an aircraft with maximum fuel efficiency.


20 May 2004

BAA PROFITS HIGHER AS TRAFFIC GROWS STRONGLY

Financial results for the year to 31 March 2004 - Published 18 May 2004
Mike Clasper, Chief Executive, paints a rosy picture

"The underlying strength of our airport operations, retail offering and UK passenger traffic has been clearly demonstrated over the year. BAA has served more passengers than ever before, invested record amounts of capital in our UK airports and delivered profit growth. We are confident in our strategic objectives to deliver increased airport capacity, better facilities and improved service."

"Our profit performance has been achieved despite a £54 million adverse impact in the year as a result of accounting for pensions under FRS 17 and the significant investment in our operating base aimed at better levels of service to passengers and airlines. There is absolutely no doubt that improving service quality, both in terms of a passenger's ease of progress through security screening and the availability and reliability of facilities, leads to higher retail income and a more satisfying experience for passengers."

"Looking forward, although the international political outlook is likely to remain uncertain, we believe that robust passenger traffic growth will continue as the UK economy strengthens, along with those of key regions such as North America and Asia. We confirm our forecast of more than 6% growth in passenger traffic at our UK airports this year."

"From 2008, when Heathrow's Terminal 5 opens, our biggest and most profitable airport will have an additional 50% passenger capacity. And as a result of the Government's long-term policy framework for air transport, BAA has the opportunity to continue its leading role in UK aviation and provide vital new airport infrastructure while delivering long-term, profitable growth."

The main part of the Report:

Overview

BAA plc, the international airport company, today announced that for the year ended 31 March 2004 Group revenue increased by 4.7% to £1,970 million (2003: £1,882 million restated1) on passenger traffic growth of 4.4%. Group operating profit2 was up 4.9% to £616 million (2003: £587 million), reflecting the growth in Group revenue partially offset by a 4.6% rise in Group operating expenditure to £1,354 million (2003: £1,295 million restated).

As foreseen, operating costs have increased through a combination of security related pressures and planned investment in higher levels of service. In the two years following the incidents of 11 September 2001 BAA has recruited 1,490 additional security staff, underpinning the company's commitment to the safety and security of all passengers and employees using its airports. The employment costs of these additional staff, along with wage inflation, additional pension and national insurance charges, the investment in maintenance to improve equipment reliability, and the expenditure required to service new facilities have contributed to the growth in Group operating expenditure. Operating costs also include £4 million in respect of the cost of trading property sales (2003: £24 million).

Profit before tax and exceptional items increased by 2.3% to £536 million (2003: £524 million) as a result of the £29 million growth in Group operating profit, £25 million reduction in the Group net interest charge to £91 million (2003: £116 million) and £5 million increase in the Group's share of profit from joint ventures and associates. This was partially offset by the £40 million reduction in FRS 17 finance income (reflecting the value of the pension scheme at 31 March 2003) and the discontinuation of the BMG joint venture profit share (which yielded an operating profit of £7 million in 2003).

The financial year was one of four distinct quarters with results in the first quarter, to 30 June 2003, heavily influenced by the Iraq War and the SARS epidemic, both of which adversely impacted long-haul traffic, particularly at Heathrow where traffic fell by 2.2% and operating profit by 2.3%. Across the UK airports, however, the resilience of short-haul traffic, fuelled by the continued growth of the low-cost airlines, offset the decline in long-haul traffic. Overall, passenger numbers rose in the first quarter by 2.2%. However, the planned increase in Group operating costs offset the growth in revenue, resulting in a 6.3% decline in Group operating profit to £148 million.

The crucial peak summer season, the second quarter to 30 September 2003, saw the first real signs of recovery in long-haul traffic and overall passenger growth of 2.8%, driven by growth of 0.4% at Heathrow, 14.2% at Stansted and 3.4% in Scotland. However, the continued weakness in charter traffic saw Gatwick passenger numbers decline by 0.5%. In the second quarter Group operating profit rose 2.0% to £203 million.

This trend of improving passenger, revenue and profit performance continued into the third quarter to 31 December 2003. Overall, traffic grew by 5.6%, with growth at all three south-east airports (3.4% Heathrow, 1.3% Gatwick and 19.5% at Stansted). We also saw 3.2% traffic growth in Scotland and Southampton continued its dramatic growth, up 72.8% following new route development. Group operating profit increased 8.0% to £149 million.

In the final quarter, to 31 March 2004, despite continued terrorists threats impacting certain routes from Heathrow and the terrible attacks in Moscow and Madrid, performance benefited from the comparison with the start of the Iraq conflict in mid-March 2003. Overall, traffic grew by 8.1%, with Heathrow seeing growth of 7.6% (having been the airport most adversely impacted in March 2003 by the Iraq War). The growth in traffic and a number of one off items during this period led to a 26.1% increase in operating profit in the final quarter (£116 million).

UK airports (including WDF)

Revenue £1,824m (2003: £1,710m restated); operating profit £578m (2003: £557m)
UK airports revenue (including WDF) increased 6.7% for the year, primarily due to the 4.4% growth in passenger traffic, a strong retail performance and the increase in airport charges per passenger at Heathrow and Gatwick. These factors drove the 3.8% increase in operating profit of the airports to £578 million (2003: £557 million), despite the 8.1% uplift in operating expenses to £1,246 million (2003: £1,153 million).

Airport charges
Airport charges increased 7.8% to £717 million (2003: £665 million), largely due to the increase in tariffs at Heathrow and Gatwick and the 4.4% growth in passengers, partly offset by the increased marketing support at Stansted (particularly as a result of the Ryanair acquisition of Buzz at the beginning of the year), Scotland and Southampton. UK airport charges yield per passenger was up 4.1% to £5.33 (2003: £5.12).

Retail
UK airport retailing, including the operations of WDF, performed strongly during the year, despite the significant early challenges presented by the Gulf War, the SARS epidemic and the tobacco advertising ban introduced in February 2003. Net retail income grew by 7.5% (£38 million) to £548 million (2003: £510 million) and net retail income per passenger increased 2.7% (£0.11) to £4.12.

Strong passenger growth, especially to non-EU destinations, combined with the benefit of the maturing new space at Terminal 3, Stansted and Gatwick North terminal contributed towards a full year income of £60 million from airside specialist shops, an increase of 9.1% (£5 million). World Duty Free net retail income grew 9.0% to £145 million in the year.

The continuing redevelopment of catering areas, including the landside balcony at Heathrow's Terminal 1 and the landside and airside offers at Stansted, have also delivered improved choice and facilities for passengers. New outlets were opened during the year at all of our seven airports in the UK, and contributed to a 13.2% increase in catering income to £43 million.

Net car park income rose by 6.8% to £142 million, including a full year's contribution from Glasgow Airport's multi-storey car park. Pre-booked car parking sales via our Customer Contact Centre and the internet now constitute 11% of total revenue in this category.

Operating costs
Wage inflation and the recruitment of a further 740 security staff, following the hiring of 750 additional security staff the previous year, led to additional payroll costs of £26 million in the year. Other key contributors to the growth in operating expenditure of our UK airports included increased pension and national insurance costs of £18 million, an £11 million rise in maintenance costs (reflecting the growth in facilities and the drive for improved customer service), and £3 million additional insurance cost. Rent, rates and utilities have increased, reflecting the physical expansion and new facilities at the airports.

Operating profit
At Heathrow, which accounts for 48% of our UK airports' passenger traffic, the 7.8% growth in revenue offset the increase in operating costs, leading to a 7.1% improvement in operating profit. Gatwick suffered as a result of the 6.1% decline in charter traffic, which together with the planned increase in operating costs led to a 2.2% decline in operating profit.

The rapid growth in traffic at Stansted over the past few years and the completion of a number of capital expansion projects required a significant increase in the operating cost base to allow the airport to function effectively. The growth in the airport's operating cost base offset the 7.6% increase in revenue, resulting in a 9.3% decline in operating profit. However, this stepped increase in operating expenditure should support the continued strong traffic growth anticipated at Stansted, leading to an improved profit performance this current year.

Southampton had a record year, with the 72.8% growth in passengers driving a revenue increase of 46.2% and doubling of operating profit. In Scotland, higher security costs, lower airport charges yields and the costs of restructuring resulted in decline in the overall operating profit of the three Scottish airports of 3.6%.

WDF delivered an overall increase in operating profit of 9.1% as a result of higher sales, tight cost control and improved back office processes. Significant developments in the year included the main shop refurbishments at Terminal 1 and Terminal 4, several new specialist beauty store openings, a highly effective summer fragrance promotion and innovative category management.

The whole Report can be found at www.baa.com

What do the figures tell us about Stansted?

OUR COMMENT: The published information (highlighted above) shows that Stansted's profit fell by 9.3% despite a 15.9% increase in passengers handled. Income per passenger therefore declined by 21% from £2.58 to £2.03. This is the lowest of all of BAA's seven airports - the other airports being Heathrow, Gatwick Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Southampton.

BAA said, earlier this year, when explaining Stansted's low profitability in relation to the amount of money invested at Stansted, that it expected to substantially increase Stansted's profitability.

It appears that these hopes have not been fulfilled. Stansted's profitability has moved in the opposite direction. The explanation given is the "increased marketing support at Stansted" especially in relation to Ryanair's acquisition of Buzz, plus the completion of a number of capital expansion projects requiring a significant increase in the operating cost base.

What this careful phraseology means is that no-frills airlines are not in a position to pay and will not pay the kind of airport charges that are required at Heathrow and Gatwick. That situation is not going to change. It raises again the whole question of the vanishing cross-subsidies. How will BAA Stansted pay for a second runway ? Who is going to invest in such a development?

Pat Dale


19 May 2004

RECENT NEWS REPORTS -
AVIATION, CLIMATE CHANGE & HOUSING

Virgin stalls on superjumbo takeoff
Andrew Clark - The Guardian - 18 May 2004

Virgin Atlantic has surrendered its ambition of being among the launch customers for Airbus's A380 superjumbo, by pushing back its order for the new aircraft by 18 months to late 2007. The airline yesterday blamed the hold up on problems in securing "innovative fittings" for the 550 seat aircraft cabin.

It also cited lack of progress at airports in preparing for the new plane, which has an 80 metre wing span and will need special piers to get passengers on and off.

The article goes on to detail some of Virgin's plans to provide cocktail bars, casinos and buffet style meals. They would have been the second customer with 6 A380s, after Singapore airlines. Air France, Lufthansa, Quantas, Emirates and Federal Express have all signed up.

OUR COMMENT: This plane claims green credentials, with Boeing's 7E7, which carries only 200 to 300 passengers. The fuel reductions claimed will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it does not seem likely that these reductions will solve the problem of aviation's predicted increase in CO2 production, and it will make no difference to the problems of contrails, which also contribute to climate change.

We have to remember that the predictions for greatly improved air quality at Heathrow and Stansted were partly based on the future use of "greener" aircraft. The A380 shows no signs of coming to Stansted unless Federal Express is intending to use it as a cargo plane from Stansted. There is no sign that the budget airlines will be purchasing the smaller Boeing 7E7s, though they feature in the predicted fleet mix for Stansted.


Oil Price Rises
There is no sensible way of trying to dodge them
Leader - Financial Times 15 May 2004

Oil prices are important to the world economy, because we still live off fossil fuels. So, it is a matter of some concern to see oil hit a nominal record high of over $41 a barrel yesterday, even though this is little more than half the 1980 peak, which in real, inflation adjusted terms was $78. And the oil price could stay that high for a while. It has been driven up by a mix of factors, including middle east security worries, booming Chinese demand and continuing US energy extravagance. None of these will disappear quickly.

The Leader goes on to comment that there is not much that most western countries, except the US can do in the short term to further economise on fossil fuel use. Oil importing developing countries are in even more difficulties as they do not have the money to switch to introduce energy saving measures. We are all linked as well by economic globalisation. Although the obvious winners are the oil exporters how they spend or save their money will also affect us all.

The Leader finishes "In the light of all this, there's no cause for the world's oil-consuming countries to repeat the policy mistakes of the 1970s when inflation was allowed to rip and real interest rates to go negative. Luckily inflation is low now, and central bank discipline looks solid. Nor should oil-consuming countries attempt to accommodate oil price rises in other ways, either by lowering oil taxes or increasing oil subsidies. One day oil will disappear, and the sooner the world starts weaning itself off the black stuff the better."

OUR COMMENT: DfT please note. Airlines have already put some fares up (even though their fuel is tax free and so virtually subsidised). What about thinking ahead and managing that predicted increase in air travel? Then we can forget about extra runways. Let aviation and air travellers take their fair share of oil problems.


John Prescott's Houses
Villages built on threats and political muscle
Simon Jenkins - The Times - 14 May 2004

Simon Jenkins writes a blistering attack on current developments in the countryside quoting examples from Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Woking, Sussex, Hampshire, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire. He describes how some unscrupulous developers are using a variety of ways to acquire land, introduce temporary buildings possibly in the guise of holiday caravans or rural workplaces, and then apply for planning permission. When local Councils order them to remove any illegal buildings and refuse permission for any development they appeal, confident that they will win.

Why are they confident? Because John Prescott has announced the government's intention of encouraging a massive house building programme to make up housing "shortfalls". Simon Jenkins comments that he seems to have forgotten that there are 720,000 empty homes, half of which are in southern England. He also attacks the Minister for Rural Affairs who at an Oxford conference apparently while indicating that National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Beauty would be protected went on to suggest that the rest of the countryside would be dedicated to "dynamic rural development".

Simon Jenkins claims that there is a collapse of rural planning and a "parallel collapse of development control. This is the framework whereby in most continental countries planners insist that new building reflects local materials and style. In Britain it means gaudy mobile homes and container sheds spread across the landscape and coastline with no sense of place or context." He goes on to claim that the British have lost the art of building villages and towns. He diagnoses "estatitis" "similar to ribbon development of the 1920s. Spending power is sucked from towns and cities to highway superstores. Roads and utilities must be installed. Car use is encouraged".

OUR COMMENT: He could have included the proposed M11 corridor development "ordered" by John Prescott. This means 131,000 extra houses in Essex alone and the Regional Planning Panel is now struggling to include all the extra houses in the new draft Regional Plan (soon to be called a "Strategy"). There is no doubt in our own local experience that developers are now intent on including as many dwellings as possible in all local planning applications, with densities of over 70 per hectare in place of the 25 of previous years. Such densities can only be achieved if 3 storey blocks of apartments are included and Saffron Walden has had a number of such applications backed up by consultants urging that the government wants higher densities. Our local Council has tried to resist these arguments - such high density developments are not suitable in small market towns, though the first attempt to resist was lost at Appeal.

The enforcement of a Countryside Protection Zone round Stansted Airport shows that a determined Council can preserve the countryside. Now this is at risk from a government approved airport expansion. However, both BAA and the consultants Buchanan, who devised the plan for accommodating John Prescott's extra houses, reduced the number of airport related houses that would be required for an expanding airport. They decided that fewer extra employees would be needed. The bulk of the extra houses proposed in Great Dunmow, Stansted. Henham and Harlow (thereby joining London to Newport and Saffron Walden) were stated to be included in Buchanan's Plan to meet the M11 Plan, not the Airport's needs. This of course is being very economical with the truth. John Prescott is very keen on what he calls "sustainable development". No development can be sustainable unless there are jobs available. It is doubtful if the M11 plan would have been produced if Stansted had not been regarded as an airport to be expanded.

We have to object to both the numbers of extra houses as well as to the airport expansion, either or both could mean a massive urbanisation of Uttlesford countryside.

Pat Dale


18 May 2004

SAFETY WARNING AS EUROPE'S SKIES
COME CLOSE TO SATURATION POINT

Rise of budget flights means system will soon be unable to cope

Andrew Clark, Transport Correspondent - The Guardian - 17 May 2004

The swarms of brightly painted budget aircraft flying over Europe are busier, cheaper and more plentiful than ever. But they are creating a painful headache for air traffic controllers, who face a challenge in coping with skies packed with a record number of flights.

At the present rate of growth Europe's skies will become "full" in little more than a decade, with current procedures unable to cope, according to Europe's top air traffic controller. The warning is set to reopen fierce controversy over the safety of the continent's congested skies. It comes days ahead of the publication of an official report which is likely to blame failures in air traffic control for one of the most devastating air disasters in European history - a mid-air collision over Lake Constance two years ago which claimed 71 lives.

National control centres across the continent are coordinated by a network run by a Brussels-based agency, Eurocontrol, which matches take-off and landing slots in 33 countries stretching from Ireland to Ukraine. In a typical 24 hour period Eurocontrol looks after 29,000 flights. Despite a slowdown in air travel following the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001, it predicts that annual traffic across Europe will double to 16m aircraft by 2020.

Victor Aguado, director general of Eurocontrol, said last week: "in the middle of the next decade, we shall reach capacity using the present systems. Beyond that, we'll need something else, which today's technology can't provide."

To cope with booming numbers of flights, the minimum height separation between aircraft has already been cut from 2,000 ft to 1,000 ft. Safety experts are now working towards "self-separation" technology that will limit the role of controllers by improving electronic equipment allowing aircraft to set safe paths away from each other automatically.

At any daytime moment, there are 3,500 aircraft in the skies over Europe, carrying some 400,000 people. One in ten of them is operated by low cost airlines, which have come from nowhere to create a booming industry over the last decade.

To the consternation of experts, much of the growth is forecast to come from the east European states, where budget airlines are looking for new destinations. Safety chiefs have warned that the quality of air traffic control in Europe's new member states is variable.

Erik Merkx, Eurocontrol's head of safety enhancement, said: "If we don't get these new states up to speed, with the increasing traffic levels we're predicting, we will have a problem."

No-frills revolution

Ireland and Britain led the way in the no-frills revolution through Ryanair and EasyJet, which are well established as the top two low-cost carriers in Europe. Scores of also-rans have entered the market, including nine budget airlines based in Germany alone.

Next month a Hungarian carrier, Wizz, will enter the battle, offering flights from Luton airport to Budapest and Katowice in Poland.

While annual growth in traffic is set to be a modest 3% in Britain and 2.9% in France, a proliferation of services is forecast to increase flights over Ukraine by 7%, over Belarus by 5.5%, over Turkey by 5.9% and over Bulgaria by 5%.

Eurocontrol reckons six states have safety management below "acceptable" levels though it declines to name them. While Britain's air traffic control scores more than 95% for safety and maturity, three countries languish below 20%.

Unions warn that progress could be tough as free movement of labour within the enlarged European Union allows experienced controllers to move west in search of better paid vacancies. Shane Enright, aviation secretary of the International Transport Workers' Federation, said: "There's a Europe-wide shortage of controllers. There needs to be harmonisation of pay and conditions, otherwise these new member states are going to lose out."

Cost pressures are tight: no-frills carriers are reluctant to pay anything they can avoid for air traffic control. Ryanair's outspoken boss Michael O'Leary last year accused safety authorities of building "marble palaces" for their staff rather than providing the basic service needed.

Swiss air traffic control said last week that four near misses occurred in its airspace in April alone. A close shave between an Iberia passenger plane and a business jet over Zurich could have had "disastrous consequences", according to Switzerland's NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.

The Swiss, who handle a key corridor for aircraft passing over the heart of the continent, will come under further pressure on Wednesday. German investigators are due to publish the results of a two year examination of the Uberlingen disaster, in which a DHL freight aircraft crashed into a charter aircraft packed with Russian school children.

The accident is expected to be blamed on mistakes by Peter Nielson, a controller working the night shift in an inadequately staffed Swiss control centre. Mr Nielson was stabbed to death in February by a grieving Russian father who lost his wife and two children in the crash.

The Uberlingen crash was Europe's third fatal accident in three years caused by errors in air traffic control. It followed collisions on the ground at Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport in 2000 and Milans's Linate airport in 2001. The sequence ended a 16 year run without any deaths.

Eurocontrol admits it is concerned about the trend. Mr Aguado said: "It worries us a lot when we see two accidents on runways in successive years and a mid-air collision - which is something that Europe has not experience for many years."

It is working on a new system which will give controllers an 18 minute warning of any potential collision, rather than the present 2 or 3 minutes.

At present one in 10m flights ends in an accident caused by air traffic control. But in the constant congestion at 30,000 ft predicted by 2020, that rate could mean two disasters in Europe's skies a year.

OUR COMMENT: After that depressing picture we wonder again at the irresponsibility of any government not only allowing a big expansion in air traffic without full confirmation from air control authorities that such expansion is safe, but in also promoting a policy for a new runway at Stansted without any plans for flight routes, with the risk of possible congestion with Luton traffic and even Heathrow, and further congestion in holding areas, one of which is shared with Luton. We expect to learn about these plans when the expansion applications are finally published. It would be madness to consider any application without vital information on flight paths. On them depend not only safety but also noise and air pollution distribution on the ground.

Pat Dale


16 May 2004

BAA REMINDS US TO COMMENT ON THEIR
COMPENSATION SCHEME - Tell them what you think of it!

Scheme set for take-off

Herts & Essex Observer - 13 May 2004

A REMINDER to all your readers that the consultation process on BAA's Home Owner Support Scheme (HOSS) closes on Monday, May 31.

We would like to hear the views of as many local people as possible on the options we have put forward.

The scheme is a voluntary initiative launched by BAA to offer compensation to home owners who live outside the proposed expanded airport boundary, but whose property values might be significantly affected by the proposed new runway.

HOSS enables those who qualify to sell their homes without financial penalty and move, if they want or need to, before the new runway opens.

If readers would like to find out if they qualify for the scheme, or if anyone wishes to take part in the consultation, an explanatory booklet and map are available by calling 01279 663014, or email stansted.consultation@baa.com

TERRY MORGAN
Managing Director
BAA Stansted

OUR COMMENT: Comments are invited from all local people, not just those that BAA has written to. If you have not seen the leaflet, do telephone or email BAA as suggested above - you have 2 more weeks to answer.

If you want to see what SSE's views are you can read them here.

Remember that the White Paper made it clear that BAA would be expected to produce a scheme for those whose houses have been "blighted" by the runway plans and will continue to be blighted until the excessive government expansion policy is reversed or the application is turned down. It is not, therefore, a generous gesture from BAA.

Neither is it reasonable or fair. It applies only to the smaller number of those who will be affected within the average noise contour of 66 decibels. Bearing in mind the fact that the World Health Organisation (WHO) considers that to avoid annoyance you need to live outside the average 50 decibel contour, the offer is ridiculous.

It takes no note of air pollution (which should include the partly burned kerosine that falls from the sky) or of those residents who would be affected by the increased use of the original runway.

This scheme has nothing to do with the statutory compulsory purchase arrangements available to those whose house has to be knocked down if another runway is built. BAA have also introduced their version of this scheme. All affected residents are entitled to compensation irrespective of BAA's offers, though not unless and until a new runway is approved.

Pat Dale


16 May 2004

SOME MORE LOCAL LETTERS ABOUT STANSTED

The Local Press has had a good selection of letters this last week.
Here are a selection:

Who has BAA got on board for plan?

Saffron Walden Reporter - 13 May 2004

SO Mr Francis (Postbag, April 29 "Public transport exempt from VAT") would prefer any second runway at Stansted to be built to the north?

While many question the need for any new runway at all it is ironic to note that, if BAA gets its way, there may be a third or even fourth - perhaps to the north?

He mentions the absence of fuel tax levy enjoyed by the air industry and points out that other public services like trains and buses are also exempt.

Yet railways, like airlines, are very much privately-owned concerns, albeit "public companies" in some cases.

While some may be dismayed that despite grants our rail service could be improved, one may travel on a low-cost airline for 1p to Spain, apparently.

I only wish I only had that to pay when travelling from Audley End to Liverpool Street, but I doubt I ever will, just as millions of drivers will continue to pay VAT on petrol until Domesday.

Yet some car drivers may be operating for the public good - hauliers certainly are, but they have to pay tax on diesel. Some are forced out of business by these overheads.

Why are these airlines able to operate on a shoestring and charge such absurdly low fares?

Perhaps it is because Stansted is being cross-subsidised by BAA using Heathrow and Gatwick and, to its chagrin, British Airways et al, with the knowledge of the Government?

Mr Francis reminds us Stansted will have to finance any development itself.

As Jacqueline Cooper (Postbag, April 22 "Like smashing the Mona Lisa") pointed out, BAA makes £50million a year from "commercial aspects", which include lucrative car parking, warehousing etc.

It is its intention to obtain a vastly augmented "safeguarded" area, larger than Heathrow, and pad it out with more car parks, shopping malls, roads and the new terminal and satellites to facilitate the new runway.

Then come the houses on irreplaceable green belt land.

As for creating work, it's all relative. It is not so much a case of providing work for local people per se as the creation of whole new communities emerging to, in time, absorb the existing ones.

One wonders how many long-haul operators will be attracted to Stansted when cross-subsidies ends in 2008.

I also fail to see how Mr Francis can prove that "air transport produces fewer local emissions than either cars or diesel trains per passenger kilometre".

This in the face of growing worldwide debates linking flying and global warming/climate change as a contributory factor.

How is it that people in Molehill Green have to remove layers of kerosene from their water butts?

One daren't think what it might be doing to poor Hatfield Forest and its lovely old trees, or to asthma sufferers. To say nothing of the impending noise.

This is why Stop Stansted Expansion fights so well to get the message across and it is winning the argument, despite the nebulous Stansted support group.

Why should BAA need this if it's all done and dusted, as people fear?

It is a myth BAA is invincible and that this madness is either necessary or inevitable.

JONATHAN HOWARTH
Saffron Walden


Airport's flights of fancy

Saffron Walden Reporter - 13 May 2004

WELCOME to the Alice in Wonderland world of BAA

Your story last week "Bid to increase runway limits" contains a statement from the planning director of BAA Stansted that with its planned increase from the present throughput of 20 million passengers a year to 35 million per year (a 75 per cent increase), "there will be less noise" because there will be no heavy long-haul aircraft.

On this basis may we soon expect Gordon Brown to announce a rise in basic income tax rates from 22 per cent to 40 per cent but that "we will actually be paying less tax", because there isn't going to be a 50 per cent tax rate?

Or a promoter of an all-night heavy metal concert in Audley End Park claiming that "actually it will be quieter" because the original plan was to have a week-long festival?

Or Cambridge United claiming that 16th position in Division Three entitles them to promotion to Division Two because they won a few more games than they were expecting to?

Still, at least we now know what BAA stands for: Bleedin' Amazin' Arithmetic.

C S BENNETT
Hadstock


Seeing the big picture

Saffron Walden Reporter - 13 May 2004

WITH reference to Ms Daw's letter of May 6, she thinks Stop Stansted Expansion is adpting a NIMBY attitude.

If she took the time or trouble to become acquainted with what SSE is doing, that is far from the truth.

SSE has frequently said not in anyone's backyard and that is why it has received support from Heathrow and other anti-airport expansion groups.

I have frequently read comments like the anti-lobby hates change, think of the wider picture, think jobs, freedom to fly and the car pollutes more than the plane etc.

Others have said airport expansion has been on the cards for years and the "moaning minnies" have only got themselves to blame for moving to this area.

Perhaps us "anti's" were a little foolish but I think that not in our wildest dreams could we believe that a "responsible" Government could sanction a monster like this for greed.

Whether you are for or against depends on what sort of person you are and where your values lie.

I can quite understand if you are "for" airport expansion if you think retail therapy is your God, you still have urban routes, you are a plane spotter and you are more than happy to support the ever-growing rodent population which feast on left-overs outside fast food outlets.

If you, like me, appreciate the finer things in life like our heritage, country pursuits, 16th century pubs and clean air, the thought of expansion is quite abhorrent.

T DAVIS
Clavering

FOOTNOTE: The Dunmow Broadcaster reports that the low cost Canadian airline ZOOM is going to start a fortnightly flight from Stansted to Vancouver - apparently they already run a service from Glasgow and Gatwick and will now give Stansted a try. This will be the second long haul airline to use Stansted. The first had to give up after the 9/11 terrorist attack when passenger bookings to America fell dramatically.

Pat Dale


13 May 2004

THE LONDON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION'S REPORT - MORE COMMENTS

Study doubts runways plan

Ross Lydall - Evening Standard Local Government Correspondent - 7 May 2004

A new report casts serious doubt on controversial government plans to increase airport capacity in London and the South-East.

It finds that six of the top 10 destinations from the capital could be better served by new high-speed rail links, which would be far less damaging to the environment.

It rejects fears that Heathrow's status as an international hub would be damaged without a third runway and calculates that only a third of air passengers contribute to London's economy - because other flights involve transfers or leisure trips by people living outside the South-East.

And, in a finding sure to be seized upon by anti-expansion campaigners, the report concludes: "The case for expansion of airports in the South-East has not been made."

The report comes from the London Sustainable Development Commission, set up by Mayor Ken Livingstone to promote green policies.

It follows the announcement by Transport Secretary Alistair Darling last year that a new runway is to be built at Stansted by 2012, with a third runway at Heathrow between 2012 and 2020 if "stringent environmental limits" can be met.

Mr Darling said extra capacity was needed to cope with an expected increase in demand for air travel two-and a-half times current levels by 2030. But Mr Livingstone said he opposed a new runway at Heathrow, preferring to see Stansted and Gatwick expand first - if at all.

He said: "The document questions the whole need for any increase in runway capacity by focusing on the pretty massive subsidies to allow people to be able to travel by air without the same tax burdens if they travel by rail."

"If the business community can demonstrate that not to build another runway at Heathrow would lead to decline, most probably the majority of Londoners would say that is something we have got to do. But the business community hasn't made that case."

The commission's report calls on the Government to recast its projections for growth in air travel - noting that demand would fall if fares rose with the removal of subsidies. It says there is "not a level playing field" with other forms of transport - no tax on aviation fuel, no VAT on air tickets and no VAT on consumer goods purchased at British airports. The industry also benefits from duty-free sales.

According to the researchers, up to six of the top 10 destinations from London - Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Paris, Manchester and possibly Frankfurt - could be served by high-speed rail rather than air.

This would remove 16.9 million passengers a year - 14 per cent - from London airports. The report said: "Rail can achieve a very high market share if services of appropriate quality and speed are offered." It also calls for improvements in the two London-Scotland rail lines. It finds that low-cost flights accounted for 85 per cent of the growth of passengers at London airports in the last five years, and calls for business and inbound tourist flights to be prioritised.

It says: "Only a third of flights are highly valuable to London's economy. If the costs of flying reflected external environmental costs and subsidies were removed, the growth in demand would be reduced."

John Stewart, of anti-expansion group HACAN ClearSkies, said the aviation industry benefited from ££9 billion in subsidies a year. "If we put some of that into high-speed rail it could give passengers a real choice."


13 May 2004

WHY HIGH-FLYING PLANES MAKE US LESS COOL

by Jeffrey Kluger - TIME Magazine - 12 May 2004

Amid all the worries over global warming, there's one quick, though impractical, way to turn down the heat: ground all jets. That's one conclusion to be drawn from a new NASA study linking the world's rising temperatures to the proliferation of wispy cirrus clouds that can form as a result of trails of condensation left by airliners.

A team headed by Patrick Minnis, a senior scientist at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, analyzed 25 years of cirrus-cloud counts and 20 years of temperature records and found that cloud cover increased most where jet traffic was highest, including flight corridors over the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Clouds, which reflect sunlight, ought to cool the earth. But they can also hold in warmth. That second effect swamps the first. According to Minnis' calculations, increased cloud cover since the 1970s ought to have led to a warming of 0.2oC to 0.3oC per decade. The actual warming during this period falls within that range, at just under 0.28oC. That may not sound very much, but when only 5oC separate our current temperature from the last ice age, it's clear that a little warming makes a big difference. "This study," says Minnis, "demonstrates that contrails should be included in climate-change scenarios."

The only way to prove that point is to keep the jets on the tarmac and see what happens. That's exactly what occurred in 2001, from Sept. 11 to 14, when U.S. air travel was shut down following the terrorist attacks. During that period, the swing between daytime highs and nighttime lows sometimes measured more that twice as much as usual, perhaps owing to a reduction in cirrus clouds that allowed collected solar heat to radiate away.

New and larger passenger planes may exacerbate the problem, but it is the frequency of flights that matters most. One way to tackle warming would be to have planes fly roughly 25% lower - altitudes less conducive to cirrus-cloud formation. But there's a catch: fuel consumption would go up if planes were forced to plow through thicker air.

OUR COMMENT:  DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT - PLEASE TAKE NOTE

Pat Dale


12 May 2004

THE NEW AIRBUS

Comments on "green" claims

Jeff Gazzard of Airport Watch writes:

The claims from Airbus about the new "super-jumbo" aircraft include, as David Gow and John Vidal report in their article "Bigger, greener and with space for a sauna - the A380", The Guardian 8th May 2004, the rather stunning statement that fuel consumption will be "comparable with the best small, modern turbo-diesel cars".

When describing their new aircraft on the company's website, www.airbus.com, Airbus say that "Indeed, the A380 will be the first long-haul aircraft to consume less than three litres of fuel per passenger over 100 kilometres (95 miles per imperial gallon)". Now I simply cannot find a current production car that comes anywhere near this claim. The best is a small Citroen that reaches 68.9 mpg for the combined urban/extra urban cycle and a Vauxhall that reaches 80.7 for the extra urban cycle, sourced from the Vehicle Certification Agency database. It seems that Airbus have been, and this is being charitable, somewhat selective in their use of comparison cars and mileage figures - just what is this wonderful small modern turbo-diesel car that does more than 95 mpg in everyday use? I'm sure every Guardian reader will want one!

Airbus also claim that the A380 will fly "without negatively impacting the environment thanks to significantly reduced noise and emissions levels". Well, Airbus say that with the latest Roll Royce Trent 900 engines, when the A380 flies over densely populated West London heading to land at Heathrow at night, its official noise output will be around 101 Effective Perceived Noise decibels. This will be similar to having a motorbike, petrol lawn mower or refuse truck passing overhead at intervals throughout the night. Those intervals could well be fewer, as one of the major design goals for the A380 has been to get its noise performance within the Heathrow limits, guaranteeing more night flights for its airline customers - and less sleep for the airport's neighbours.

And unless this aircraft is totally exhaust-free, its contribution to both atmospheric climate change and around-airport local air quality impacts will increase and make matters worse as this monster takes to the skies. An environmentally benign 555-seat aircraft? Back to the drawing board, Airbus.


9 May 2004

SEATBELTS FASTENED FOR A BUMPY FLIGHT

More from the Financial Times on the financial future of Budget Airlines
Few of Europe's low-cost airlines will survive

Leader - Financial Times - 7 May 2004

EasyJet this week unsettled the stock market by warning of intense price pressure generated by more than 50 low-cost airlines operating in Europe. EasyJet's announcement followed similar gloom from Michael O'Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, who said that many of the recent start-ups would fail but that, in the meantime, next winter would be "awful" for the airlines because of Europe's fare wars.

What is awful for the airlines is not, of course, awful for their passengers, many of whom are finally benefiting from the lower fares promised by the deregulation of Europe's aviation market in 1997. But travellers should enjoy the cheap flights while they can. While fares are unlikely to return to their pre-deregulation levels, the eye-catchingly low special offers cannot stay that way forever.

The low-cost airline shake-out promised by Mr O'Leary will almost certainly happen. Europe is set to follow the pattern set by the US when its airline market was deregulated in 1978. Asia, just beginning its own aviation deregulation, should observe closely.

In the US, many low-fare airlines set up shop, but few have survived. The most successful of them all, Southwest Airlines, the model for no-frills carriers everywhere, has been joined by a handful of others. JetBlue and AirTran, which was known as Valujet until an air crash in the Florida Everglades in 1996 almost destroyed its business and forced it into a change of name. Europe's low-fares sector is less mature. Many would say the same of Mr O'Leary, who is much given to fruity language when talking about travel agents or customers who demand refunds. Nevertheless, Ryanair is expected by most analysts to be among the low-cost survivors, as is EasyJet. Most of the remaining 50 are expected to disappear. Duo, a UK based operator collapsed at the weekend.

Aviation is a difficult industry in which to survive. The low-cost airlines avoid many of the problems of the full-service carriers. They have less restrictive working practices and can demand greater productivity from their crews, with more flights each day and less time hanging around at airports. Fixed costs are high, margins are slim and price wars can easily force poorly capitalised airlines into bankruptcy. Nor, as Valujet showed, can airlines compromise on safety.

Not that life is much easier for the big carriers, as demonstrated by the Italian Government's unveiling yesterday of yet another plan to stop Alitalia from going under. The US airlines have yet to emerge from their worst period since commercial flight began.

Why do people start new airlines ? "Maybe its sex appeal, but there's something about an airplane that drives investors crazy", Alfred Kahn, architect of American airline deregulation, once observed. Warren Buffett jokes that there is a helpline he calls if he is ever tempted to buy airline shares. Potential investors should ask him for the number.

OUR COMMENT: Those thinking of investing in the expansion of the home airport of low-cost airlines, namely Stansted, should also consult this helpline!

Pat Dale


9 May 2004

BIGGER, GREENER AND WITH ROOM FOR A SAUNA - THE A380

Environmental claims for plane questioned by campaigners

David Gow and John Vidal - The Guardian - 8 May 2004

Amid razzmatazz and Europop, the world's largest aircraft was unveiled yesterday at Europe's biggest factory, a purpose built assembly line in Toulouse. The Airbus A380 will have 50% more floor space than arch rival Boeing's 747 Jumbo, with room for duty free shops, restaurants and even a sauna - it is forecast to revolutionise international air travel.

The company also claims it will cost 17% less per seat than the 747, burn considerably less fuel, alleviate congestion in the skies and at airports and meet stringent new controls on noise and other forms of environmental pollution - but green campaigners argue it will cause more noise and pollution.

Opening the assembly line in the Jean Luc Lagardere plant in front of 3000 guests, Jean Pierre Raffarin, the French Prime Minister, hailed the joint European venture aircraft a celebration of "our new Europe". He praised Airbus for "making an extraordinary step towards the challenge of the new epoch".

In a stunning coup de theatre, coloured veils fastened to the ceiling of the building parted to reveal hundreds of the tens of thousands of A380 workers and, then again, the show the nose and fuselage of the huge new plane.

The rows of clapping employees included staff from Broughton, north Wales, who make the giant wings, and Filton, Bristol, who make the landing gear. Airbus, in which Bae Systems holds a 20% stake, employs 12,000 in the UK.

Executives said the A380, which cost between £140m and £157m each compared with the £84 for Boeing's new Dreamliner jet, would create 26,000 jobs in Britain and sustain a further 100,000 among suppliers. It is being built at 16 Airbus factories in Germany, France and Spain as well as in the UK.

The report goes on to describe how the parts are brought to the huge factory by ship and boat up the Garonne river as far as possible. At the moment there are difficulties in bringing the wings from Wales down the river Dee as the Environment Agency do not want the river to be dredged as deeply as the company considers necessary. The wings are too large to travel by road.

The report continues: Activists in Britain warned of more noise and pollution from the superjumbo. "There's some truth in the Big is Beautiful argument. The plane will use less fuel per passenger and be cheaper, but this will only encourage more people to fly further" said Nic Ferriday a spokesman for Airport Watch. "The impacts could be felt by communities living near airports. Big planes inevitably cause more noise and pollution than small ones, but the superjumbo may also mean that airports have to expand to cope. They may need bigger terminals and satellites".

Airbus's US rival, Boeing, believes there will not be a great demand for huge aircraft over the next decade and has put its faith in a new much smaller 7E7 Dreamliner. But Airbus is pinning its hopes on the 'big is beautiful" theory, leading to a US-European battle for dominance of the skies.

The report finishes with the information that Airbus claims that it already has 129 firm orders for the plane and hopes to sell 750 in the next 20 years.

OUR COMMENT: Airbus claims that fuel burn will be about 13% less than its closest rival. It will generate half the noise produced by competitors at take-off. It will carry up to 800 passengers with a range of 9,300 miles.

These figures mean very little unless we know what the performance of "the competitor" is. Neither will we know the true position until the actual plane undergoes its tests when CO2, NO emissions and noise produced will be accurately measured. In addition, comparisons will then have to be made between the environmental effects of possibly 2 or 3 flights by a smaller plane v. one trip by this superjumbo. We have to remember that predictions on climate change suggest that CO2 engine emissions will need to be reduced by as much as 50% as well as NO2 for local air quality, not forgetting noise.

It is, however, an advance in design. In the original SERAS predictions it was assumed that long haul planes might appear at Stansted if it expanded but in the White Paper the decision was taken to include only the new Boeing 7E7 in the predicted fleet and no larger long haul aircraft. So, no account has been taken of the greener claims of this new giant as far as Stansted is concerned.

Pat Dale


8 May 2004

TARGETS FOR CUT IN CO2 EMISSIONS SCALED BACK

Vanessa Houlder - Financial Times - 7 May 2004

Industry targets for carbon dioxide emissions were lowered by the government yesterday in response to concerns from businesses.

The decision to relax the national allocation plan drew criticism from environmental groups which said it undermined the government's commitment to tackling climate change.

But some industrialists also complained, saying the government had not gone far enough to address their concerns about competitiveness.

The decision to make more generous allowances to industry in the first phase of the EU's emissions trading scheme puts the UK on course to cut CO2 emissions by 15.2% between 1990 and 2010. An earlier draft plan set the target at 16.3%.

The report follows on with quotes from both sides including pessimistic forecasts about an increase in electricity prices from the Energy Intensive Users Group and from Friends of the Earth who dismissed the original intention of the government to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020 as "a distant dream".

OUR COMMENT: We continue to ask why air travel remains the favoured beneficiary not only of financial subsidies but is also excused from making any contribution to preventing climate change? Surely industry as a whole is more important than catering for the presumed wish of would be tourists to have more than one foreign holiday a year? It could even be expressed as "pay more for your electricity but get it back on your air fare". This policy is not helpful either to preventing climate change or to the cost of living. Energy charges should be made, for the future benefit of all of us but it should be fairly spread across the whole community. The government should be pressing for aviation to be included in the EU emissions scheme and should consider a U Turn on airport expansion policies.

The latest move - the government is asking all airport operators to revise their airport plans (AMPs) this year and to take into account the plans in the White Paper. Regional planners are asked to take account of AMPs when they are revised. This makes nonsense of their claim that the White Paper is only an enabling Plan and it is up to the airport operators and local Planning Authorities to reach a decision locally. It is pre-empting the Planning system without any legislative backing. Regional Plans should not be required to include plans for the future that are as yet unformulated and unapproved. The government may have the ultimate say on any planning application but a lot of water has to pass under the Stansted planning bridge before anything is finalised.

Pat Dale


8 May 2004

THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW: WHO WILL YOU BLAME?

Greenpeace Press Release - London - 7 May 2004

CLIMATE MOVIE SPARKS SPOOF NET CAMPAIGN

Environmental campaigners have taken up a challenge from the producers of the upcoming blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow, by launching a new website.

www.thedayaftertomorrow.org is a spoof on the dot com website of the same name. The movie, to be launched on 28 May, recounts a fictional disaster in which climate change brings about a new ice age. The producers have stated that campaigners should take advantage of the film.

The parody website, launched today by Greenpeace, has the same look and feel as the official site for The Day after Tomorrow. It will roll out in at least six countries and four languages. But the Greenpeace site lays the blame for climate change squarely at the feet of the U.S. administration and oil company Esso by asking the question: "The Day After Tomorrow - Who will you blame"?

"Millions of people will see this film and want to do something about the growing menace of global warming. When they visit our site, they'll learn about the real life disaster of climate change - currently being directed by Esso and produced by George W Bush", said Rob Gueterbock of Greenpeace. "This movie may be fiction, but climate change is real and we know who the bad guys are".

Visitors to the site can see Greenpeace's own movie trailer, which features real impacts of climate change (special effects), a factual update on the science and a chance to re-write the ending by taking action.

Greenpeace is also launching a massive subvertising campaign. More than a million movie-style stickers are now in the hands of activists across the UK, ready to let the public know who's to blame for global warming. The environmentalists' campaign comes as the Bush administration attempts to stifle the film's message. The New York Times recently published an internal administration memo showing how NASA scientists were ordered not to comment on the film. NASA later rescinded the order, after scientists protested.

The U.S. refuses to sign up to the only international treaty on global warming, the Kyoto Protocol, with President Bush's policies largely focussing on research with no real cuts in C02. Most American scientists are clear that global warming is happening and is caused by humans. Esso, the world's richest company, also refuses to accept the scientific consensus. The company pays front groups to block action and invests nothing in clean, renewable energy.


7 May 2004

BAA REPORTS

The Cambridge Evening News - 30 April 2004

Stansted leads way with training ground

STANSTED Airport now boasts the country's most advanced airport training ground

Chief executive of BAA Mike Clasper yesterday unveiled the £4.6 million facility which took just over a year to build and houses a mass of high-tech computer and gas equipment underground.

The training ground enables firefighters to deal with a range of incidents from external fuel spillage to a blaze in a toilet, overhead cabin or baggage hold. Liquid petroleum gas is used instead of kerosene to make training more environmentally friendly.

Assistant divisional fire officer Tom Murney said "From a training point of view you cannot beat the real thing and this training ground enables us to replicate what could happen." Stansted airport fire station has eight appliances and 60 firefighters who will each use the training ground at least once a month.

OUR COMMENT: Congratulations to BAA!

Plans for Expansion

It was revealed on 5th May that Stansted Airport will submit a planning application within the next 12 months for permission to go from 25 to 35 million passengers a year.

It is just over a year since the airport was granted planning permission by Uttlesford District Council to increase from 15 to 25 million passengers.

Current trends, which have seen Stansted become a lead player in the low fares market, mean the airport is likely to reach 25 million during 2006 rather than the original predicted date of 2010.

Chris Butler, business development and planning director outlined the next steps at a meeting of Stansted Airport Consultative Committee. He said: "It is clear that we should move forward now and I want to confirm to you that it is our aim to submit a planning application within the next 12 months for permission to go beyond the current capacity limit of 25 million passengers per annum. Subject to the outcomes of the appropriate effect studies we will be seeking to increase capacity to around 35 million."

The company which designed the Eden Project in Cornwall has been named as architects for the new terminal and other buildings at Stansted Airport. Architect firm Grimshaw, which also designed the Euro star train terminal at Waterloo station in London, has been appointed by airport operator BAA to begin design work at Stansted.

OUR COMMENT: No congratulations for this news. Note: Architects have been engaged for the new terminal. Is this for the extra runway? We have been assured in a recent letter from BAA that the first application for an increase in passenger numbers to 35 mppa would not require any increase in terminal accommodation.

Pat Dale


7 May 2004

ARE THOSE CHEAP FARES SUSTAINABLE?

From the Financial Times - 6 May Leader - Kevin Dome, Aerospace Correspondent

EasyJet takes brunt of airline sector woes

European Airlines faced mounting turmoil yesterday as EasyJet shares fell by 25% in response to intensifying fare wars and mounting competition from a host of new low-cost carriers, and Alitalia shares were suspended in Italy.

Ray Webster, chief executive of EasyJet, one of the two leading European low-cost airlines, said: "We are seeing unprofitable and unrealistic pricing by airlines across all sectors of the European industry, seeking to grow or maintain their market share". He said growing competitive pressure could undermine the group's performance in the second half of the year, when it traditionally generates all its profits.

In Italy shares in Alitalia, the Italian majority state-owned flag carrier, were suspended before an expected board meeting today as the group held talks with the government and trade unions to avert bankruptcy and mounting losses.

Several small scheduled and charter airlines have collapsed in France, Germany and Belgium in recent months. Duo, launched last year at Birmingham and Edinburgh airports, became the latest casualty in the European aviation industry at the weekend when it collapsed, leaving more than 1000 passengers stranded with the immediate loss of 260 jobs.

Last week Michael O'Leary, Ryanair chief executive, said that the next winter season would be "awful" in the European airline sector amid continuing fare wars and a shake-out among the many recent start-up low-cost airlines.

The report goes on to describe how more new low-cost airlines are still being launched, notably in the countries who have just joined the EU, attracted by the profit margins achieved by the leaders Ryanair and EasyJet. It closes with further details about the position of EasyJet.

In further comments in the Financial Times, the "Observer" and in the Companies and Markets section, it is suggested that the stock market's reaction to EasyJet's news was an over-reaction, and that the financial situation would right itself later in the year. It is also suggested that seat prices would continue to fall!


CROWDED SKIES - EasyJet shares nosedive

Reports the Guardian - 6 May 2004 - Mark Milner

Low cost carrier EasyJet sent its share price into a tailspin yesterday after it warned it was suffering from the impact of fierce competition from full service airlines and budget start-ups. Its market value plummeted by a quarter after the company revised its full-year outlook from "cautiously optimistic" in February to "cautious".

Chief executive Ray Webster said: "We are seeing unprofitable and unrealistic pricing by airlines across all sectors, seeking to grow or maintain their market share."

The report goes on to record that passenger numbers were up by 14% to almost 1.95 million, but fares were down 5% - in part because of timing differences between Easter and May bank holidays.

Mr Webster's more optimistic forecasts are then detailed with predictions of further expansion and the company's ability to see off competition. There are now 50 low-cost carriers in Europe and there is no possibility of them being able to follow Ryanair and EasyJet's rapid expansion. Mr Webster considered that those past rates of growth are not possible now. He pointed out that "there are now 38m low-cost seats available in London, excluding Heathrow. London's a big city but that's mind boggling". He continued, saying that the Stansted market was particularly out of balance, but EasyJet had a wide-spread route network which gave it a "very distributive income stream".

OUR COMMENT: What are BAA's views? Is Stansted "out of balance"? Is BAA taking note of these dangers when it costs its plans for another runway? Are BAA's possible backers taking note?

No-one wishes to see a well run airline get into financial difficulties, especially when they provide a full report on the situation and a warning as to what damage overkill in the cheap fares market can do. It has surely been clear that there is a limit to the ability of any airline or any other form of transport to lower their fares and at the same time to provide fully maintained aircraft serviced by staff who are well qualified and have good standards of pay and working conditions. It is also important that the costs of environmental damage are reduced as much as possible and paid for.

Can ever cheaper air fares be compatible not only with air safety but also with the urgent need for airlines to invest in greener aircraft, which will probably cost more since they will involve new engine and frame designs.

The government needs to get its head out of the sand and not encourage this dangerous competition by helping to provide ever increasing airport space. It should drop the policy of expansion and introduce that environmental charge that was promised - if it were an emissions charge then the best airlines would benefit.

Pat Dale


7 May 2004

PASSENGER PROTECTION LEGISLATION CHALLENGED
BY BUDGET AIRLINES

Financial Times - 5 May 2004 - Kevin Done and Nikki Tait

Low-cost airlines, including Ryanair, yesterday launched a legal challenge to new European Union regulations that could force them to pay out hundreds of Euros in compensation if a passenger's flight is delayed for reasons beyond their control.

The report goes on to describe why the regulations were considered necessary, e.g. to include passengers "bumped" from flights because of overbooking, and to increase payments for flights that are seriously delayed or cancelled. The new regs are also opposed by IATA though they have slightly different concerns, such as, over a requirement that return passengers should be offered options that include a return flight to the original departure airport.

The budget airlines say that the costs could put their low-fares model at risk as there is no linkage between the fares paid and the compensation required.


4 May 2004

THE GOVERNMENT'S CHIEF SCIENTIFIC ADVISER
WARNS AGAIN ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Will the Government listen?

"Why Antarctica will soon be the only place to live - literally"

by Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor - The Independent on Sunday - 2 May 2004

Antarctica is likely to be the world's only habitable continent by the end of this century if global warming remains unchecked, the Government's chief scientist, Professor Sir David King, said last week.

He said the Earth was entering the "first hot period" for 60 million years, when there was no ice on the planet and "the rest of the globe could not sustain human life". The warning - one of the starkest delivered by a top scientist - comes as ministers decide next week whether to weaken measures to cut the pollution that causes climate change, even though Tony Blair last week described the situation as "very, very critical indeed".

The Prime Minister - who was launching a new alliance of governments, businesses and pressure groups to tackle global warming - added that he could not think of "any bigger long-term question facing the world community".

Yet the Government is considering relaxing limits on emissions by industry under an EU scheme on Tuesday. *

Sir David said that levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere - the main "greenhouse gas" causing climate change - were already 50 per cent higher than at any time in the past 420,000 years. The last time they were at this level - 379 parts per million - was 60 million years ago during a rapid period of global warming, he said. Levels soared to 1,000 parts per million, causing a massive reduction of life.

"No ice was left on Earth. Antarctica was the best place for mammals to live, and the rest of the world would not sustain human life," he said.

Sir David warned that if the world did not curb its burning of fossil fuels "we will reach that level by 2100".

* OUR COMMENT: The Government is also promoting a policy of a massive air traffic expansion. How often do we need to remind doubters that aircraft are the biggest transport polluters, and add significantly to the risks of climate change, not only from emissions of CO2, but also because of the effects of water vapour contrails and of emissions of nitrogen oxides in the upper atmosphere.

Pat Dale


1 May 2004

THE CASE FOR EXPANSION OF AIRPORTS
IN THE SOUTH-EAST HAS NOT BEEN MADE

The Greater London Authority has just published the
"Review of the Impact of Aviation within the Greater London Area"
by the London Sustainable Development Commission.
This is one of their conclusions.

The Review is published in full on the Authority's website at www.london.gov.uk/londonissues/sustainability.jsp

It examines the part that aviation plays in the economic life of Greater London, the use of the 5 London airports by Londoners, and the environmental consequences of these airports on London today. It considers the SERAS proposals (it was written before the Aviation White Paper) and comments on the likely effects of the suggested expansion. It also considers the effects of the various ways in which aviation could pay for the environmental damage caused and considers the economic effects if no further runways are provided. It is well worth while reading the full document, a summary is also available from the same website.

The Introduction to the Summary

Within a generation flying has become a common experience for Londoners and when we think of flying we often think pleasant thoughts of sunny holidays and exciting journeys. But there is also a downside to flying, most noticeably for those living near airports.

London's five main airports (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City) account for the majority of air passengers and freight in the UK, and have a key role to play in the development of the national economy, and tourism in particular.

The London Sustainable Development Commission asked consultants SKM to examine the economic, social and environmental impacts of air transport, focusing on London. Their research includes a detailed analysis of the Civil Aviation Authority's 2002 passenger survey and is available at www.london.gov.uk/mayor/sustainable-development/susdevcomm_reports.jsp

This report sets out some findings from the earlier research together with the Commission's conclusions.

The Government's White Paper The Future of Air Transport (December 2003) has set out a policy to expand considerably the capacity for air travel, particularly in the South East. We hope that this report will inform decision makers so that our transport systems are planned as sustainably as possible, reducing the negative impacts and providing benefits more widely.

The Impacts of Air Transport on London

Key Findings

* Aviation is important to economic activity in London, especially tourism, but only a third of passenger air traffic is important to economic activity.

* Heathrow can remain a major airport without an extra runway.

* Major London - Scotland rail links should be improved.

* Londoners tend to use an airport near to where they live.

* The wealthy fly much more than the poor and low-cost flights have not changed that.

* Ethnic minorities make different use of air travel and may not benefit as much as other groups from low-cost travel.

* There is not enough information about differential impacts of air travel on different groups.

* Aviation currently accounts for just over 3.5 per cent of total global carbon dioxide emissions, but by 2050 that could rise to 15 per cent.

* Environmental degradation is suffered by people different from those who enjoy the benefits of flying, and it is particularly concentrated on the areas around airports.

* The Government should increase taxes to ensure that air travellers pay for the full costs of their travel on others.

Conclusions

* The Government should recast their projections of the growth in air travel.

* For London's airports, flights for business and inbound tourism should be prioritised.

* The case for expansion of airports in the South East has not been made.

OUR COMMENT: There is much interesting information in the figures and views provided in the Review. For instance, rail and air travel times are compared with the use of each mode. Where high speed rail is available the majority go by rail (such as Paris and Brussels) - even though the rail fares are so much higher than the cheap airlines. The Review is very doubtful as to whether more runways will make much economic difference to Greater London. This suggests that the predictions of untold economic benefits to the Eastern Region arising from Stansted expansion ought to be very carefully examined.

Pat Dale


30 April 2004

TONY BLAIR MUST KEEP HIS PROMISES:
MORE COMMENTS ON HIS SPEECH AT THE LAUNCH
OF THE CLIMATE GROUP

Friends of the Earth Press Release - 27 April 2004

BLAIR MUST DO MORE TO TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE
Government must set tough pollution caps for industry

Tony Blair must do more to show he is serious about tackling climate change Friends of the Earth said today. He should start by ensuring that the Government stands firm on setting tough caps on industrial emissions of carbon dioxide. The call follows today's speech on climate change by the Prime Minister.

Despite Tony Blair's acceptance that "climate change is the most important environmental issue facing the world today", UK levels of carbon dioxide, the principle greenhouse gas, are only 0.2 per cent lower than when Labour came to power.

Next week a Government announcement is expected on the amount of industrial carbon dioxide pollution that will be allowed under the EU emissions trading scheme. Industry has been lobbying for the proposals to be watered down and the Government is expected to backtrack on the 'carbon caps' published in draft earlier this year.

In the draft plan the Government conceded that new policies would be needed to meet its 20 per cent carbon dioxide reduction target by 2010 (based on 1990 levels), predicting that only a 16.3 per cent reduction would be likely. It is widely feared that even this pessimistic forecast has been watered down after pressure from industry for more generous allowances.

Friends of the Earth's director Tony Juniper said: "The Prime Minister claims there should be no automatic trade off between the environment and the economy, however the message he receives everyday from the CBI and business groups is that action to fight threats like climate change is bad for the economy and bad for business."

"The response of Government is often to weaken environmental proposals. If Tony Blair really believes that climate change is the most important environmental issue facing the world today he must bring the DTI into line with his own views and announce a tough emissions trading scheme next week and stand up to the fossil fuel industry."

OUR COMMENT: DON'T FORGET THE AVIATION  CONTRIBUTION!

Pat Dale


28 April 2004

CLIMATE CHANGE WILL NOT GO AWAY

The problems have now stimulated business action

Vanessa Houlder - The Financial Times 27 April 2004

Swiss Re changes the climate

The Group has joined like-minded companies to campaign for immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

For a self-confessed optimist, John Coomber, head of Swiss Re, has a sober view of the future. Crops will fail, floods will intensify: life-threatening diseases will spread across the world. Already, says the insurance group, there has been a detectable increase in the frequency and severity of weather related events.

For more than a decade, Swiss Re has been telling other companies about the risks of climate change. "I don't feel any inclination to lecture or blame, but I'd like to encourage greater awareness of what is happening" says Mr Coomber.

Swiss Re is one of a small but influential group of companies that are convinced that practical action on tackling greenhouse gas emissions cannot wait for an international agreement. Twenty of these businesses - plus a number of governments, cities and US states- have decided to pool their expertise in a new public/private partnership, the Climate Group.

This initiative, a charity founded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, is being launched today in London by Tony Blair. Its goal is "to build a world-leading coalition of reducers - companies, agencies, cities, states, provinces and countries - whose mitigation efforts demonstrate clear progress in cutting emissions". In practice, it will try to turn the experience of its members in reducing emissions into knowledge and tools that can be more widely used.

Its business members, which include BP, Lafarge and DuPont, believe that climate change is a strategic issue. As climate change becomes more disruptive and constraints on carbon emissions tighten, companies will benefit from having planned ahead. Developing low-carbon technologies and products will give them a first-mover advantage; taking early action will improve their reputation, improving energy efficiency will reduce costs.

The Report goes on to describe some of the measures that Swiss Re has already taken which even includes asking those who wish to insure with them what their climate policies are. Yet while 4 in 5 companies believe that they will be affected by climate change only half have considered any plans to deal with it. The Report records that there is some pessimism as to the abilities of such a group to stimulate action, quoting the statement of the World Economic Forum that "current actions are inadequate to stem the tide".

However, Steve Howard, the executive director of the Climate Group is optimistic and is "adamant that the message is beginning to reach a wider audience". The report contains details of what is being done in other companies, such as BP and DuPont , who have found that the costs of action are not as great as was feared. It refers to the need for governments to take more stringent action and also to the beginning of the European Trading Scheme.

It finishes ""The Climate Group is convinced that the costs of action are greatly outweighed by the potential benefits. The proliferation of unilateral efforts to reduce emissions may "create an irresistible momentum for change", it says.

The stakes are high, says Mr Coomber: "Ten years into the future, we may look back on 2004 as either a period of transition or a missed opportunity. The more attention we can bring to the subject, the more likely it will move in the right direction."

WHAT ABOUT UK ACTION?

Tony Blair launched this important initiative. He has made public claims many times about the good UK emission reduction record and targets for the future. At the launch he said that Climate Change was "The single most important issue facing the world".

Can he at the same time claim that the UK is really seriously promoting a fall in greenhouse gases when he is also advocating a policy of a massive increase in air traffic? - and, see below:


The Financial Times - 27 April 2004
Jean Eaglesham & Clive Cookson

Ministers cut energy-saving forecasts

Carbon Emission Targets

Ministers have scaled back a projected improvement in households' energy efficiency but insist that the government is still "broadly on course" to meet ambitious carbon emission targets set only a year ago.

Margaret Beckett, the environment secretary, rejected claims by pressure groups and political opponents that government inertia had derailed last year's energy white paper, undermining its aim of tackling climate change.

The target for cutting domestic carbon emissions by 2010 was yesterday scaled back from the white paper's 5m tonnes to 4.2m tonnes. But the government claimed savings from industry and the public sector meant overall carbon reductions from energy efficiency would increase from 10m to 12m tonnes by 2010.

Critics expressed scepticism about whether the government was willing to implement the measures to meet these revised targets. They pointed to the spat between the DTI and DEFRA triggered by industry's lobbying against proposed cuts in emissions under a European trading scheme.

"The first year of implementation of the energy white paper has been marred by embarrassing results across virtually all sectors" said Friends of the Earth. "The government must massively increase its efforts to get back on track to achieving its 20% carbon reduction by 2010 target".

After reporting on the criticisms of the opposition and referring to the fact that emissions actually increased last year the report quotes the DTI: "Plainly our policies on energy efficiency, emissions trading, renewable sources, transport and others will need to deliver more in future."

OUR COMMENT: We can suggest one simple measure, make a U-turn on the air traffic expansion policy!


GEORGE MONBIOT BLAMES THE MEDIA

The Guardian - 27 April 2004

Beware the Fossil fools

George Monbiot, the well known environmentalist, himself a journalist, launches a blistering attack on some of his fellow journalists and on the media for their apparent refusal to take the issue of climate change seriously. He points out that programmes on this subject are regularly debated as though climate change is still a controversial issue.

He quotes all the many world authorities who agree on the inevitability of global warming with an increase in storms and flooding and many other climatic disasters that could arise from the melting of the polar ice caps. He complains that regularly doubters are brought into programmes to claim that such changes are not going to happen, or if they do this is a natural process that has happened over millions of years. It is not due to man made activities.

He considers that both the doubting journalists and the producers of programmes should accept that the conclusion that there is and will be serious climate changes from man's activities and that this conclusion is supported by the overwhelming majority of scientific opinion.

He believes that the media should be playing a better role in explaining the situation to the public.

WHAT ABOUT THE AVIATION INDUSTRY?

Part of the government's excuse for ignoring the effects of air traffic emissions and allowing aviation to expand is the assumption that within the next few years a "green" aircraft will be produced with greatly reduced emissions of both CO2 and nitrogen oxides, so that the effects on climate change and local air quality will not give cause for concern. Doubters, including members of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, do not believe that sufficient reductions can be made in time, and that it will probably be necessary to produce a radical new airframe before fuel use can be cut to an acceptable level.


BOEING'S 7E7 IS A FIRST STEP TOWARDS A "GREEN" PLANE

Kevin Done and Caroline Daniel - Financial Times - 27 April 2004

Boeing aims 7E7 at Airbus weak spot

This article is primarily about the intertwined commercial fortunes of Airbus and Boeing. Airbus is now commencing the assembling of the new A 380 superjumbo, the biggest commercial airliner ever built and has a good order list having outsold Boeing during the last year. Boeing has produced a very new greener plane, the 7E7 and plans to begin production in 2006 with possible availability for use in 2008. There are 3 versions meeting both short and long haul needs for between 200 and 300 passengers and, at last, Boeing has had an order from Nippon Airways for 50 planes.

The plane is said to have both a new design engine and a new composite material in place of aluminium in 50% of its air frame. It is claimed that fuel use and associated emissions will be reduced by 20%. Half of this improvement will come from the new engine.

OUR COMMENT: This development is to be welcomed, though it is nowhere near to satisfying the government's suggested expectations of a 50% reduction in CO2. This model is included in the predicted fleet mix for Stansted in 2010 and is partly responsible for the predicted fall in nitrogen oxides that the government maintains will avoid any breach of the local air quality regulations. If these predictions are to be realised then the Budget airlines had better put in their orders very quickly!

Pat Dale


26 April 2004

STOP STANSTED EXPANSION RECEIVES AWARD
FOR BEST COMMUNITY CAMPAIGN

Stop Stansted Expansion was today honoured by the All-Party Parliamentary Sustainable Aviation Group for the Best Community Campaign as part of its Awards to highlight real achievement in reducing the damaging environmental impacts of flying.

Campaign Chairman Norman Mead and Campaign Director Carol Barbone received the award from Lord Faulkner of Worcester. The presentation took place at the House of Lords.

The Awards are given for outstanding achievement in reducing and controlling the environmental impacts of air transport by the influential All-Party Parliamentary Sustainable Aviation Group, which comprises more than 30 MPs and Peers.

Congratulations to everyone!

See the Press Release from Stop Stansted Expansion
Pat Dale


26 April 2004

CALLS TO CONTROL LOW-COST FLIGHTS

By Daniel Mann - BBC News Online - 24 April 2004

Cheap flights on no frills airlines may not be a burden on our wallets but they will dearly cost the UK's environment, campaigners believe.

Scientists predict that if carbon dioxide emissions continue to increase, global warming will bring higher annual temperatures and heavier rainfall - with all the associated problems.

But with air passenger growth expected to rise at 3-5% a year, it is going to be mighty hard for Britain to meet its targets for reducing gas emissions.

Agencies such as the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) want our air tickets to reflect "the true cost of flying" to the environment.

To green groups, this involves the aviation industry having to pay tax on the fuel it puts in planes.

According to Friends of the Earth (FOE), the absence of fuel duty effectively gives the industry a £9bn annual subsidy. And it gets this "help", the FOE says, even though planes contribute 5% to the UK's carbon dioxide emissions, with the figure set to more than double by 2020.

"The vast majority of flights are discretionary, for leisure," says Richard Dyer, the FOE's aviation campaigner.

"These are not essential, unlike travelling by bus where you don't pay tax on a ticket."

"A starting figure would be the equivalent of tax that is charged per litre on car fuel. Passengers should pay for the environmental damage that they're doing to ensure a safer environment."

Global Market

Any policy on aviation fuel tax has to be agreed internationally, according to the SDC.

Unlike in the US where a large number of domestic flights emit carbon dioxide over one area, the SDC has said that 97% of UK air transport is non-domestic, with carbon dioxide emissions generated on flights between countries.

This situation makes it difficult to assess different countries' responsibilities.

The Kyoto Protocol and the UK government's energy White Paper targets do not currently cover emissions from international aviation, as there is no global agreement on the allocation of these emissions to countries.

But Bernard Bulkine, the chair on Energy and Transport with the SDC, says the issue will eventually have to be addressed.

"Air transport has increased twice as fast as road transport over the last 40 years. There are clearly environmental effects increasing as a result of air travel, while others are decreasing or staying constant."

"What we have to look at is how environmental costs are incorporated into ticket prices. That's the issue, not whether there should be an aviation fuel tax. Obviously this should be done."

To the airline industry, the fact that it has to operate in a global market place, with all the stresses and strains that comes with international competition, is a key issue.

And although the industry is not taxed on the fuel it uses, for the last 10 years passengers have had to pay a £5-10 charge on a ticket depending on the destination.

'Effective Tools'

The industry believes this Air Passenger Duty (APD), which raises £800m a year, can be regarded as a form of environmental compensation.

"The APD is an environmental tax," says Jan Skeels, secretary-general of the European Low Fares Airline Association.

"Imposing additional environmental costs will hit low-costs carriers much more than the major carriers. An aviation fuel tax would be just yet another tax."

The British Airport Authority (BAA) believes any aviation fuel tax will have to be an international one, otherwise UK airlines will have to compete against carriers who can offer lower fares not subject to the duty.

"It may not mean that the industry would be destroyed, but there are much more efficient and effective tools when it comes to dealing with emissions," says Caroline Corfield, from BAA.

"Since April this year, airlines that use Heathrow Airport have been charged for nitrogen oxide emissions and carriers emitting less receive a rebate. This will happen in Gatwick in a year or so."

One other possibility that has been put forward by the airline industry is emissions trading.

Under this scheme, to help with the environmental costs caused by civil aviation pollution, by 2008, the industry would pay for other industries, such as the nuclear fuels sector, to reduce their carbon emissions.

Bigger Problems

The proposal has been put forward to the European Commission, and includes an incentive for airlines to pay less into emissions trading if they use more environmentally friendly aircraft.

The FOE says emissions trading, and the proposal to differentiate landing charges at airports according to noise levels and air pollution, outlined in last year's aviation White Paper, has potential. But it accuses the government of abandoning its environmental responsibilities.

Mr Bulkine says the issue of an aviation fuel tax is not top of the international climate change agenda, because it will have to be confronted at a global level.

"There are a lot of domestic issues the government has to deal with, areas that damage the environment more than the 5% of carbon dioxide emissions caused by the airline industry," he says.

On this basis, the likelihood of low-cost air fares rising in the near future is an unlikely one.

OUR COMMENT:  Why no nitrogen oxides emissions charge at Stansted? Ask BAA Why Not?

Mr Bulkine appears, in the last para, not to be thinking ahead - the airline industry is only responsible for 5% of the carbon dioxide emissions NOW but, if expansion follows the government's plans for extra runways by 2050, the aviation industry could be the leading culprit. IN ADDITION, these figures do not take into account the effects of water vapour contrails, believed to multiply the effects of CO2 by as much as 2.5 times.

Mr Bulkine himself makes this point in the opening paras of the report. It looks as though the editing has misrepresented his views, which in turn makes the concluding editorial remark open to question.

We suggest: "On this basis, the likelihood of low-cost fares rising in future depends on the will of the government to take the necessary action to try and avoid future environmental dangers, dangers that will have serious consequences for the UK if nothing is done in the very near future."

Pat Dale


25 April 2004

MORE WARNINGS ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE

Global Warming floods threaten 4m in UK

The Guardian - Front Page Headline - 22 April 2004

Paul Brown reports:

Risks of flooding are growing to "unacceptable levels" because of climate change with up to 4 million Britons facing the prospect of their homes being inundated, according to a report to be published today by the government.

The report, by the Office of Science and Technology gives the most chilling picture yet of how global warming will affect the lives of millions of Britons over the next half century. Compiled by 60 experts under the leadership of the government's chief scientist, Sir David King, it shows that many towns in Britain are threatened by rising sea levels, river flooding and the over-whelming of Victorian drains by flash floods.

The report, "Future Flooding" looks forward to 2080 but says that the threat is already growing and most of the worst of its predictions will have happened by 2050. As a result it is vital to start planning new defences and making long-term decisions now to prevent future disasters. Sir David warned earlier this year that global warming was a greater threat than terrorism.

New "green corridors" need to be created in cities as safety valves into which flood water can be channelled, the report says. In some cases abandonment of parts of urban areas, with councils buying up properties to create new open areas to take flood water will be necessary.

"Some structures such as oil refineries could be relocated inland. However, other assets such as coastal towns will be difficult to relocate."

"In Wales and other parts of the UK erosion could threaten beaches and therefore tourism".

The report puts a question-mark over John Prescott's cherished plans to develop the Thames Gateway with 90,000 new homes, and the whole area east of London which is at or below sea level.

The report says that in all planning flooding risks must be taken into account. Space must always be left to allow for rivers and coastal floodwaters. In the Netherlands some developments are allowed if they are on stilts and have an escape boat.

The report is the most comprehensive undertaken into the risks of flooding in the UK, and probably the world, Sir David says, and shows that properties will become uninsurable and many can expect at least a one-in-10 chance of being flooded every year.

Towns on the east coast which suffered in the floods of 1953 are in the area of highest risk, but the danger of Britain's older cities with Victorian sewerage systems is a newer problem. Drains are in danger of being overwhelmed, spilling water and sewage into homes, as well as being knocked out for weeks at a time - as happened in recent floods in central Europe.

The government has prepared an extensive response to the report, pointing out that the Environment Agency is already looking at a replacement for the Thames Barrier, which is likely to be overwhelmed sometime after 2030. Higher sea walls along the embankment into London will also be needed. But the government will point out that there is no legal obligation to defend property or land at all. "The aim is to reduce the risk of flooding or coastal erosion where it is sustainable to do so and where the proposed defence is economically, technically, and environmentally sound".

OUR COMMENT: Weasel words! "Sustainable" but then qualified by economic considerations as well as the obvious technical ones. Sir David himself said on TV later the same day that damage to the climate pattern had already been done, and there would be some effects even if all governments took effective action to reduce greenhouse gases now. If no action was taken then the dangers were inevitable.

What is our government doing about preventing a disaster specifically in the UK? To date, very little except congratulating itself on keeping to the Kyoto target for CO2 reduction and claiming that the UK will improve on that target - 60% reduction by 2050, a reduction that really would achieve a positive result.

The reduction to date has largely been reached because of the change over from coal to gas, a change accelerated by prices, not by the government. For technical improvements in vehicle engines we can thank the EU and EU Directives enforcing targets, with still tougher targets to come. Saving home energy and changing to green electricity have both been very sluggish though the recent government energy paper shows that there are some good policies that could succeed. The European carbon emissions trading scheme has got off to a very sluggish start.

BUT, when we come to Aviation, what do we find? A policy that will not only neutralise all the possible gains and efforts in other sections of the economy - a plan for encouraging a massive expansion of air travel. Why is aviation so favoured? Why does the government not listen to the advice of it's own experts as well as the predictions of so many independent bodies.

Pat Dale


23 April 2004

PLANE TALK - this time the PLANE TRUTH

Brian Ross, of SSE's economic team, comments on cheap air fares
Aviation's External Environmental Costs must be met

Air travel is largely a tax free activity at present, the exception being airport passenger duty (APD). For flights from Stansted, APD is £5, payable for the outward leg only on flights to Europe and payable both ways for domestic flights. Air travel is otherwise tax-exempt, paying no VAT and benefiting from tax-free aviation fuel. This is all the more reason why aviation should at least be required to meet its external environmental costs, as other industries are now required to do, as part of the battle to combat global warming and generally to reduce local and global pollution.

The Government fully agrees with SSE on this issue but is moving more slowly towards implementation than we would wish. The amount is also still under discussion. The European Environment Agency estimates the external costs of UK air traffic at £6.0 billion a year and SSE's own estimate, which we have discussed with Treasury Ministers, is broadly in line with this. Incidentally, £6.0 billion is less than the value of the fuel duty exemption alone and almost precisely the same amount as would be required to increase the state retirement pension by £25 a week for a single person and £40 a week for a retired couple.


23 April 2004

CONCERN OVER REMOVAL OF LIMIT TO AIR FLIGHTS

Move to lead to Suffolk air traffic rise

Ipswitch Evening Star - 21 April 2004

A LIMIT on flights to and from Stansted Airport could be abolished - paving the way for an extra 56,000 take-offs and landings per year, it emerged today.

The move, if approved will mean a big increase in air traffic in the sky over Suffolk.

The current Parliament-approved limit for aeroplane movements stands at 185,000 per year, even though Uttlesford District Council has effectively granted planning permission for up to 241,000.

But if the Government abandons its legal requirement to "cap" the number of annual flights BAA will be able to expand its services accordingly, subject to the conditions of its planning consent.

Interested parties, including local councils, are now to be consulted about removing the Government limit.

Under plans outlined in the Government's aviation White Paper published in December 2003, a new runway is envisaged at Stansted by 2011.

Aviation minister Tony McNulty said yesterday: "The White Paper set out our reasons for proposing to remove the limit."

"Stansted is unique among UK airports in having a passenger aircraft transport movement limit imposed and regulated by Parliamentary approval."

"We believe that it is preferable for controls of this kind to be agreed locally and that there is no longer a good case for the use of the statutory limit in respect of Stansted."

A spokeswoman for the airport said that an increase in the number of flights was subject to a number of planning conditions already negotiated with the local council.

An increase in flights could put pressure on a new stack in Suffolk, which acts as an overflow site for the main holding point above the Sudbury area and is two miles east of Claydon.

The flightpath, which runs north of Ipswich, was drawn up after campaigners won their five-year battle to move it away from its route across the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Aviation experts predicted that the planes coming in from the North Sea would end up travelling over places such as Framlingham, Grundisburgh and Debenham as they headed for the stacks before going on to the airport.

Nick Irwin, county councillor for the Sudbury division said: "I think I would be very concerned about it but I haven't got the knowledge of what the risk assessment will be."

"Any increase in the traffic is going to be detrimental for to the quality of life of people in this area. There's a lot of people and it's far better to have that in an area of less people."

He said it would be preferable for the holding stack and flightpath to be situated over less populated areas as the effect of noise pollution and exhaust fumes would be decreased as well as the impact of parts or ice falling off planes or crashes.


21 April 2004

CONSULTATION ON THE NUMBER OF PASSENGER FLIGHTS
AT STANSTED

The DfT have just announced this consultation and views
are required by May 25th

Stansted PATM Limit: Explanatory Note

The official explanatory note is as follows:

* Stansted is unique amongst UK airports in having a PATM limit (a limit on the number of take-offs and landings by passenger aircraft per year) imposed and regulated by Parliamentary approval.

* The 1985 Airports Policy White Paper gave as the rationale for this "to provide a means of controlling the rate of expansion at Stansted in the light of developments in the London system as a whole and to assure local residents that an appropriate balance will be struck between aviation and local interests in the use of the airport."

*The power under which the Secretary of State set the PATM limit (Section 32(1) of the Airports Act 1986) can only be used when the existing runway capacity is not fully utilised for a substantial proportion of the time.

*The outline planning permission granted for Stansted in 1985 was to enable growth to cater for around 15 mppa. This was to be phased, with detailed permission only granted for development to 7-8 mppa. The 1987 PATM limit of 78,000 was intended to support that phasing. BAA sought an increase in the limit to 150,000 in 1995, which it argued would allow for growth to 15 mppa. After a public consultation exercise, the Government increased the limit in July 1996 to 120,000. A second revision of the limit was approved following a public consultation exercise in July 1999, which raised the limit to 185,000.

* Stansted Airport Ltd applied for planning permission to expand the airport beyond 15 mppa in August 2001. An increase in capacity to 25mppa was approved with conditions in May 2003. Uttlesford DC imposed as a condition of planning permission an annual ATM limit of 241,000. This ATM limit is wider than the Statutory limit in that it covers cargo as well as passenger movements.

* The Government agrees with BAA that, given the new condition imposed by the planning authority, a limit under S.32 of the Airports Act 1986 no longer serves any useful purpose and we should seek to have it removed. Any such decision would be subject to an affirmative resolution of both Houses of Parliament.

* The timing of this issue is quite pressing, since BAA have confirmed that Stansted is operating near to the limit of 185,000 (around 160,000 in 2003).

* The Parliamentary process involves the laying of a draft Statutory Instrument before Parliament, which will be debated in both Houses. 4-5 weeks is required for this process. The Instrument will revoke all three orders which have been issued for Stansted (1987, 1996 and 1999).

* If the revoking order is adopted, the limit set by Uttlesford D.C in 2003 of 241,000 ATMs per year will remain in force, and any amendments to this in time will be undertaken through the normal planning process, not through Parliamentary procedure. 3

OUR COMMENT: In the document you are asked to choose one of three options. The alleged benefits of each option are listed as follows. It is made clear in the supporting text that the Government wishes to remove any statutory limit on the number of flights.

Stansted PATM Limit Consultation

Options
A) 'Do nothing' - leave the statutory limit in place.
B) Raise the statutory limit so that it matches the ATM limit in the Uttlesford planning approval for 25 mppa.
C) Remove the statutory limit.

Benefits
* Option A
Potentially lower noise and environmental impacts than if the airport continued to grow.

* Option B
Growth in traffic will occur, which is in line with the conclusions of White Paper.
Growth in traffic will create job opportunities in many sectors, including the aviation sector and sectors dependent on air accessibility. Airport growth will have a positive economic impact on the region.

* Option C
Growth in traffic will occur, which is in line with the conclusions of White Paper.
Revocation of the Parliamentary limit would be a move towards local control of airport ATMs, bringing Stansted into line with other UK airports.
Growth in traffic will create job opportunities in many sectors, including the aviation sector and sectors dependent on air accessibility. Airport growth will have a positive economic impact on the region.

Costs
*Option A
Fiscal considerations - Constraining growth at the airport would have a negative economic impact on businesses reliant on it e.g. airlines and other airport businesses, sectors heavily dependent on air accessibility, and local businesses.
Cost of maintaining a central Government regulation.
Non-fiscal considerations - failure to deliver conclusions of Air Transport WP.

* Option B
Fiscal considerations - Cost of maintaining a central Government regulation rather than the being monitored by the local authority.
Non-fiscal considerations - Unnecessary duplication of regulation of the PATM limit;
Environmental and noise impacts of increased traffic at the airport. (However these have been addressed by Uttlesford and BAA through the planning process for 25 mppa at Stansted).

*Option C
Fiscal considerations - none.
Non-fiscal considerations - environmental and noise impacts of increased traffic at the airport.
(However these have been addressed by Uttlesford and BAA through the planning process for 25 mppa at Stansted).

OUR COMMENT: Many of these statements are very controversial! They need answering whichever option is considered to be best. There continues to be an assumption that more flights can only be good news for the region, that economic growth is directly related to airport growth and that environmental damage and urbanisation of the countryside is of no consequence.

Competition assessment
Removing the statutory limit means the new limit set by Uttlesford D.C comes in to force. This allows an increase in ATMs which means an increase in slots for aircraft, and will encourage competition between airlines to make effective use of the airport's capacity.

Monitoring and review
Uttlesford D.C will monitor and enforce the locally agreed limit.

Contact
Hannah John
National Delivery Team
Airports Policy Division
Zone 1/26 Great Minster House
76 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DR
Tel: 020 7944 4728
Fax: 020 7944 2191
Email: Hannah.john@dft.gsi.gov.uk
Document available at: www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft_aviation/documents/page/dft_aviation_028327.hcsp

OUR COMMENT: If aviation policies are based on such simplistic reasoning the future is bleak. We hope that people will respond to this consultation and will also complain about the inadequately thought out value judgements accompanying the options.

Pat Dale


20 April 2004

PLANE TALK - is it the PLANE TRUTH? Or just PLANE CRAZY?

BAA has at last published its new Newsletter "Plane Talk" and distributed
it to over 180,000 residents in the area. Have you had your copy?

See also the relevant SSE press release

BAA have finally responded to the many critics of a massive Stansted airport expansion by producing a leaflet delivered to our doors with the local free newspaper. Called "Plane Talk", we wonder whether it really contains the "Plane Truth" or is it just "Plane Crazy" - both leaflets produced just before the publication of the government's consultation on the future of aviation.

"Plane Crazy" was one of the first publications to raise serious concern about the adverse effects of the ever-increasing number of air flights. It was published by Friends of the Earth and Transport 2000 in 1999. It was followed by "The Plane Truth" by Professor Whitelegg of Liverpool John Moore's University, and Nick Williams, an environmental & housing consultant, both of whom presented the dangers, both environmental and economic, of allowing a massive expansion in air travel. Professor Whitelegg was at one time a consultant to BA, he understands the aviation industry, its benefits and the problems created by aircraft.

BAA's "Plane Talk" claims that it will "set the record straight" and it starts well, by recognising that airports do cause problems for people living in the area. However, BAA seem to believe that the proposed expansion to service 80 million passengers and over 500,000 flights per year can be carried out without invading the Essex countryside and without changing for the worse the lives of people who live round the airport, as well as those who live many miles away.

We have all appreciated the presence of a well designed and well contained airport, with a management who, to date, have co-operated with the local community and added many bonuses to community life. BUT, every airport has local and environmental limits of acceptability, and Stansted has reached those limits. In addition, additional air flights on the scale proposed will inevitably increase the danger of climate change. Planes are the most polluting form of travel.

We objectors are not a minority, we are a majority, and all the local groups who are concerned about our environment support Stop Stansted Expansion. Nationally our concerns are shared by many equally "vocal" organisations ranging from the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee. The scientific advisor to the government has personally described climate change as the weapon of mass destruction we should most fear.

The predicted increased demand for subsidised cheap air travel is both questionable and is not sustainable. It should not be promoted as necessary to help low earners afford a holiday. Cheap air fares are not the answer to low wages, and costs for a week's holiday living deter far more people than higher fares. The biggest benefits go to the middle classes, many of whom would pay higher fares for the right (environmental) reasons and might consider going by rail if the cost difference was not so great.

As for putting fuel tax onto air travel - any such a tax would have to be negotiated internationally. What has been suggested, also by the government, is a charge to cover the external environmental costs. Computer predictions suggest that a rise of even 10% might reduce demand sufficiently to avoid any extra runways.

Most of us want to retain an improved Stansted, an airport in the countryside serving the eastern region and hopefully providing some long haul flights as well as fairly priced short haul and at the same time trying harder to reduce both unpleasant emissions and noise. There is much that could be done. The long list of agreements signed with the Uttlesford Council when permission was given to expand to 25 mppa shows what is needed. Much of the action could have been implemented before.

SSE have responded in detail to BAA's allegations. No amount of protestations about responsible development can change the Plane Truth that a massively expanded Stansted cannot be developed without serious environmental damage to the district and to the way we live. Neither will any economic benefit compensate for the adverse effects on climate change from the government's overall expansion plans.

Pat Dale


18 April 2004

CITIZENS HAVE THE RIGHT TO BREATHE CLEAN AIR

Commission acts on fuel failures

Report from "Green Consumer" - 14 April 2004

The European Commission has begun legal proceedings against ten member states for failing to implement low emission vehicle fuel regulations. The law to reduce sulphur in fuels by 10mg/km had a deadline of June 2003, which has been comprehensively missed by the offending governments.

Sulphur is one of the key contributors to urban air pollution from vehicle emissions. The cited nations include Portugal, Germany and Sweden.

"Citizens have the right to breathe clean air," said Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom. "At EU level, one of the measures we have to fight air pollution from cars is to reduce the sulphur content in petrol and diesel. In this way, we can make the most of modern car technology to reduce the harmfulness of exhaust fumes. Now Member States must fully live up to their commitments."

OUR COMMENT: The European Commission has passed a number of Directives intended to reduce the amount of harmful emissions getting into the air we breath. The first European Market in carbon dioxide emissions has just been started, all major CO2 producers (EXCEPT AIRPORTS) are given a maximum target they must not exceed. They can purchase surplus equivalents from low producers in order to keep below their target.

It was reported on Recent News that the UK was the last to register and that the government has admitted that their much boasted ambitious targets (which were higher than their Kyoto allocation) will not be met at the present rate of progress. In addition the EU have air quality directives requiring a range of toxic emissions to be reduced below a level necessary for human health and vegetation by 2006 and 2010. Responsibility is put on Local Authorities to see that these levels are not exceeded though at the moment there is nothing they can do under UK law to enforce this on the larger local commercial undertakings, for which they are not responsible. However, the Environment Agency can take action in all cases EXCEPT AIRPORTS. For some strange reason airports are treated as privileged mini States that must not be restricted by the imposition of punishments if their activities break laws relating to clean air, and only to a very limited extent in relation to noise.

Further legal requirements are in the Directives requiring a reduction in the Sulphur content in vehicle fuels and targets for the reduction of emissions from all vehicles over the next 10 years, which reductions have stimulated improvements in both cars and lorries and led to a reduction in greenhouse gases as well as those damaging to human health.

BUT, THIS DOES NOT APPLY TO AIRCRAFT. Engine emission Standards are laid down by international agreement and as yet no country, not even the EU, has been brave enough to introduce higher standards unilaterally, for fear of losing out in the competition battle.

The main concerns with aircraft emissions are CO2 the greenhouse gas, and nitrogen oxides, also a greenhouse gas, but the latter's main risk is that it is an irritant to both animals and plants and safe levels have been laid down for both humans and vegetation. Benzene and other nasty volatile organic compounds are emitted by air craft as are small particles PM10, but the quantities are relatively much lower and measured levels (confirmed by the Council) round Stansted to date have been minimal. Improvements in engine emissions can be achieved but, it appears, not enough in the case of both CO2 and NO2 without a radical change in aircraft body design. It is unlikely that manufacturers will oblige until regulations demands such changes and airlines have to buy the new aircraft.

What is of immediate concern at Stansted is nitrogen dioxide. BAA have responded to criticism in the Herts and Essex Observer saying that they are carrying out air quality studies and that their consultants are independent and the studies have been agreed with the Uttlesford Council. They were, of course, required to carry out a monitoring programme as a condition when permission was granted to expand to 25 million passengers per year.

If this monitoring programme is now underway hopefully we shall have the results made public in the not too distant future, they will certainly be needed before the expansion applications can be considered.

BAA cannot expect members of the public not to be concerned. When the application was made for the last expansion predictions foretold that the emission that causes most concern, nitrogen dioxide, would reach levels at two points outside the airport which would be above the present legal limits regarded as necessary to protect both our health and that of the surrounding countryside, notably Hatfield Forest. In addition, the more recent predictions included in the Government's consultation document on further expansion gave similar results.

If these predictions are correct, then expansion plans, like those at Heathrow, would have to be put "on hold", as Ministers have accepted that these laws cannot be broken.

What has happened is that in both cases a battery of so-called "sensitivity tests" have been applied, in which yet more predictions are made about future very optimistic scenarios where it is assumed that every airport user and airline does the right thing at the right time and manufacturers produce the greenest plane possible in time to reduce emissions to legal levels.

BAA did carry out some immediate monitoring before the 25mppa application was granted which suggested that the original predictions were too pessimistic, but, these were only carried out for 3 months, a period considered too short (by government guidelines) for reliable results.

So, we await the results of what we need - a whole year's monitoring together with new, realistic but acceptable, neither unduly pessimisstic nor optimistic predictions before we make our judgement. BAA offer in their letter to agree to monitoring by consultants paid for by someone else! Any offers? If NO2 levels are shown to be too high outside the airport boundary after an extra runway is built, then it will be very difficult for expansion plans to continue.

Pat Dale


16 April 2004

IT'S TIME TO CALL TIME ON OUR CHEAP FLIGHT HYPOCRISY

The Environment will be seen as the great failure of this generation

by Jackie Ashley - The Guardian - 15 April 2004

A confession, I have discovered cheap flights. A few weeks ago I flew to Salzburg for £30 and enjoyed a weekend break. Now I'm just back from an Easter trip to Scotland, having paid just £70 for the return journey. Compared with the £200-0dd I had to spend on a train ticket to Manchester a few weeks ago, it's a bargain too good to pass up. Why does anyone travel any other way?

For my generation, the ability to jump on a plane and find oneself transported, in every sense, has become second nature. What was once a luxury limited to the rich, or once-a-lifetime holidaymakers has become a right for the masses. Tampering with our demand for easily accessible and affordable air travel has become as politically dangerous as watering the workers' beer.

Heathrow and Stansted are huge employers, with tens of thousands dependent on them, just as British Leyland and Swan Hunter once were; and they have similar lobbying clout. Every newspaper is crammed with overseas holiday and flight advertising. The middle classes have bought second homes on the assumption that cheap flights are here to stay, and the short break to Italy, North Africa or New York has become a mundane consolation, as common as chocolate.

Noting this, the government has avoided doing anything much to interfere. More runways, more terminals, more roads to connect them and the continuation of cheap aviation fuel.yes, there are ferocious local campaigns against individual airport expansions, but ministers have assumed that the country wants more air travel, not less. They predict this boom is only beginning. And they are no doubt right.

But as with the growth in car use, we know that what we want for ourselves is - when multiplied by 50 million - wrong for the country. So, when I read that the Commission on Sustainable Development believes the growth in air travel would wipe out improvements in greenhouse gas emissions, I winced. This is my hypocrisy - in all probability yours, too.

For we all know that climate change is real, and most of us assume that it is man-made and dangerous, and even that "something must be done". The same Scotland I was enjoying is losing its skiing industry to climate change. The Alpine glaciers are shrinking fast. There are reports of threatened fauna and landscapes, of melting icecaps and rising sea levels, of storms and droughts. We know something is wrong. But we shrug it off and live for the moment.

The government makes a big deal of the fact that Britain is on course to meet its Kyoto obligations and that, perhaps, helps salve our consciences. But as this commission points out, that is largely because of the one-off "dash for gas" and a decline in manufacturing - we have really swapped British Leyland for Heathrow. And, more important still, the Kyoto cut, ignored by the US, is nothing like enough. Ministers' own figures say that a further 60% cut is needed over the next 40 years to avert a "catastrophic" climate change. In the commission's bland understatement, "there is no pathway to that".

Generations to come will blame us for this. More than Iraq or terrorism, the deterioration of the environment under pressure from a fast-growing consumerist human population, will come to be seen as the great issue that the democracies of the early 2000s never faced up to.

For what has happened, at least in Britain, is that the argument has become so dangerously polarised that further progress is difficult. The minority who take environmental issues seriously often turn their backs on mainstream politics in disgust, while Labour in power has been able to relegate the environment to a few glib boats, while letting the great car and plane economies roar on unhindered. And they have done it because they understand their electorate.

In terms of practical politics, the first thing is to accept that unless there is an environmental catastrophe that has the same level of political impact that September 11 did, we will see no sudden lurch in policy. But the second thing is not to despair. For there is evidence that political leadership can mesh with our own wiser selves to produce more environmentally friendly policies.

It has been done before. When the environmental issues seem manageable and near-at-hand, the voters want progress, and politicians delivered it. Think back to the Clean Air Acts of the 1950s, or look at the (too modest) growth in recycling, or read the commission's own findings about beaches, river quality and reviving populations of birdlife. Or consider the congestion charge gamble in London, and the increase in cycleways, and the drive to build a higher proportion of new houses on brown sites. And remember the evidence that pro-environmental policies can produce real economic growth, as firms get into new technologies to deliver cleaner energy or more efficient housing.

The breakthrough would be to find some way to harness the high level of understanding about the environmental threats, to a coherent political programme. It would not, in theory, be difficult. It would mean giving honest warnings about the course we are set on today - banging on about how we are living our lives with just a little of the flaming rhetoric of good and evil reserved at the moment for impoverished Shias in Iraq. It would mean setting out a medium - term plan for investment in public transport and rail. It would mean more congestion charging and road pricing.

And yes, it would mean, as the commission suggests, charging the real environmental cost of cheap air travel, either levied on airports or aviation fuel, or both. We should recognise that this reduces human happiness for the millions who benefit from it. As with the congestion charge, we should accept that this would hit some poorer people's mobility, stealing a recent freedom away from them. But we should remember that the boom in air travel is mainly fuelled by middle-class people flying more frequently.

The point is that real political leadership is always about persuading people to forgo things for the general good, income tax limits individual freedom, so do speed limits, drug laws, police computer records and much of what governments do. The questions are whether global warming is such a threat that political leadership is needed; and whether there are practical things the government can do.

Now Labour keeps being attacked for lack of courage, for going with the flow, for not confronting the big issues. Perhaps the government is too old, too out of touch, to look at its own warnings about the planet and take them seriously. If not, then here is a great issue for the third term - the hole in the middle of the manifesto yet to be filled.


AND, IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES -
Cheap Holidays draw millions abroad but Britain
shows its class for the discerning

by Peter John - Financial Times - 14 April 2004

The middle class is increasingly seen as the mainstay of the tourism industry as provisional figures suggest bargain hunters are deserting the kiss-me-quick resorts in droves and flocking abroad.

Just fewer than 1m people were booked to leave the country over Easter from the seven airports operated by BAA. The Association of British Travel Agents said the total was likely to be more than 2m and at least 10% up on last year.

The government's latest travel statistics show that while overseas visits in Britain increased by 5% and spending by 2%, the value of UK spending abroad rose by more. The imbalance widened the national tourism deficit, which had already risen from £15bn to £17bn last year.

The article goes on to describe the tourist picture in the UK with what is described as a cultural split developing with demands from the better off for holidays in quiet and attractive places, staying in the more expensive hotels, especially those called "boutique hotels" who offer something special.

OUR COMMENT: Jackie Ashley (above) has said it all. Many others have made the same points as have such bodies as the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, the House of Commons Environmental Committee and the IPPC.

It has not, though, been the subject of a serious political debate or policy. As we have reported, the UK is failing to meet the government's own CO2 reduction target and their own transport policies are contributing to this failure.

The increasing air travel statistics show that not only is the environment suffering, but the exchequer as well. Perhaps the Government may be more convinced by an ever-increasing loss on tourism than by the prospect of more storms, droughts and floods.

As far as Stansted is concerned the prospect of more summer droughts could be the most serious objection to expansion. As the Environment Agency has said in a comment asking for a policy on water efficiency in Uttlesford's Draft Local Plan - "Due to Uttlesford's location within one of the most severely constrained areas for water resources in the country, with the risk of demand exceeding supply for much of Essex, every opportunity should be taken to build water efficiency into new developments, and innovative approaches should be encouraged."

What can BAA do to ensure adequate supplies for 60 million more passengers each year?


13 April 2004

MORE ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Government Advisor criticises Climate Change Policies
"Air and Road Transport are growing out of control"

Vanessa Holder - Financial Times - 13 April 2004

Britain is failing to deal with the threat from climate change, according to a report by a government adviser. The government also have an exaggerated view of its achievements in tackling social and environmental problems, said the Sustainable Development Commission.

It had failed to control consumption of environmental resources, the Commission said in a report published ahead of the government's launch of its consultation into its strategy this month.

But there had been significant progress in the past 5 years especially in the development of policies on agriculture, energy and some aspects of economic and fiscal policy. "In comparison to most governments..the UK is doing a lot", said Jonathon Porritt chairman, "But this is still not a brilliant picture".

The commission, which reports to Tony Blair, was particularly critical of policies on road transport, aviation and energy and fuel prices. "Air and road travel are growing out of control, effectively undoing the modest progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere" it said.

The government risked long term environmental damage by pursuing economic growth as an end in itself, it said, "Building economic growth on policies that involve substantial increases in greenhouse gases should be regarded as being as undesirable as building them on crime or pornography".

It urged the Treasury to do more to promote sustainable development in its policy making. Environmental taxation was lower than in several other European countries, it said, urging a general tax on carbon.

OUR COMMENT: The list of critics grows longer. Will the Government ever listen or are they not interested in the future of their grandchildren?


A Reminder From the Report of the Environmental Audit Committee

Pre-Budget 2003: Aviation follow-up
Airport expansion will make CO2 pledge meaningless

Graph"

The above graph demonstrates the huge forecast increase in aviation emissions which will result from the DfT's expansion plans. If international aviation emissions are included in national greenhouse gas inventories as part of an emissions trading system, there is no possibility that the UK can meet the 60% carbon reduction target which the Government set last year.  The most the UK could hope to achieve in terms of an overall reduction in carbon dioxide will be 35%. 

Pat Dale


13 April 2004

AFTER ALL THE THREATS OF LEGAL ACTION -

New Pact could save Ryanair's Charleroi Service

Both the Financial Times and the Guardian report that Ryanair has negotiated a deal with the Walloon Region that will safeguard the cheap landing fee deal that was ruled as illegal by the EU Commission.

Details have not been released, but it is believed that other airlines may be given similar concessions though it is difficult to see how offering State aid to all airlines could change the legality of the arrangement.

The new plan is to be put to the EU commission who will then give a ruling. Ryanair had announced that the Stansted Charleroi service would be suspended but presumably this would be reinstated if the new plan is approved. Unless, of course, Ryanair finds a cheaper airport in the UK.

This economic uncertainty is another of the prices paid for cheap air travel.

Pat Dale


11 April 2004

GOVERNMENT SET TO BREAK ELECTION PROMISE

Ministers to retreat on carbon reduction

Vanessa Holder - Financial Times - 10 April 2004

The Government is to retreat on its climate change policy by relaxing the carbon reduction targets that will be imposed on industry under the EU's emissions trading scheme.

DEFRA has insisted that the decision does not undermine the commitment to its overall climate change targets.

But the move is likely to be seen as a setback for a Government that has prided itself on tackling global warming.

The Government's decision to increase the amount of carbon dioxide that industry can emit between 2005 and 2007 has been prompted by the realisation that it had underestimated future emissions from sectors such as iron and steel and oil and gas.

It also follows criticism from business groups about the impact on competitiveness.

Bryony Worthington of Friends of the Earth, the environmental group, said the retreat would be "hugely damaging" to the European effort to address climate change.

It is unlikely that even a sharp reduction in the target for industry would jeopardise the UK's ability to meet its Kyoto Protocol target for cutting greenhouse gases. But it would make it much harder for the Government to meet its target of cutting overall carbon dioxide emissions by 20% between 1990 and 2010.

So far carbon dioxide emissions have fallen by just 7.5% since 1990; last year they rose by 1.5%. The emissions trading scheme is widely seen as one of the few tools available to the Government to get the emissions back on track.

OUR COMMENT: This is very bad news. Once again it seems the prediction sums, this time for CO2, were wrong. We can suggest a way of reducing CO2 emissions without pain. DO NOT PLAN FOR AIR TRAFFIC EXPANSION. Kyoto targets may not include aviation emissions but overall Government targets do.

Are extra air travel holiday trips to Europe more important than avoiding climate change? Is the Government really sure that thousands of people are likely to want those extra holidays (assuming they can afford the full costs and time of more holidays, apart from the air fare)? Perhaps, as many have suggested, these forecasts are as flawed as those produced for industry's CO2 emissions?

Pat Dale


11 April 2004

SKY FIGHTERS

Heat rises in Boeing v Airbus battle

David Gow - Guardian - 10 April 2004

The bitter dogfight between Airbus and Boeing for Air supremacy intensified this week in Seattle with executives of the American Planemaker accusing their European rivals of "betting the farm" on the A380 superjumbo.

Boeing, in turn, is trying to put behind it the pounding it took late last year over its ethical standards and the loss of two of its most senior executives, to stake its future on the world's first "green" airliner, the 7E7 Dreamliner, which will carry between 217 and 290 passengers (there will be three versions).

At the heart of the row is a fundamental dispute over the future of aviation - how the agreed (our italics) 5% annual growth in passenger traffic over the next 20 years will be shared out among almost 40,000 new planes.

The Report goes on to explain that Airbus believes that the huge 550 seat jumbo will ease increasing congestion by carrying ever more passengers between the largest airports ( the only ones capable of accommodating the width of the wings). Boeing sees the future differently - they claim that passengers want to avoid big airports and fly more frequently between smaller airports and they are identifying suitable paired airports all over the world.

Boeing claims that with the 7E7 fuel costs will be reduced by 10% using the new engines, with a further 10% from changes in the fuselage and wings, and the use of electrical power for air conditioning.

OUR COMMENT: This, presumably is the basis of their claim that the plane is "Green". It is clearly an advance and as such to be welcomed, though it will not achieve the target set by the aviation industry body, ACARE, of a 50% reduction in CO2 by 2020. New Planes not yet ready for sale will be flying for long after 2020.

No such claims were made by Airbus though it has been stated that CO2 production, and so fuel costs, would be reduced, and that noise levels would conform to the QC/2 levels. No claims have been made as to NO2 emissions or calculations as to the environmental effects of twice as many flights of 7E7 compared with one flight of the A380. As far as Stansted is concerned, the predictions for the use of an extra runway include a significant number of 7E7s and no A380s - they are "directed" to Heathrow.

Pat Dale


8 April 2004

GLOBAL WARMING MAY MELT GREENLAND'S ICE

An article by Tim Radford in The Guardian, April 8th reports that European Scientists, including Jonathon Gregory of the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction at Reading University, are forecasting serious changes in the Greenland ice cap, if global warming continues at its present rate.

The entire ice cap could melt in the next thousand years, when the sea levels would rise by about 7 metres, drowning much of the world's low level land, including parts of the UK, especially in East Anglia.

This Report has appeared in the Journal Nature . Calculations have been made as to the annual temperature rises that would be needed to melt the whole ice cap. If the average rise is over 2.7°C then the rate of melting would outpace the annual snowfall Sea rises of over 2.5mm every year would follow.

At the moment researchers have reported that the ice sheet is thinning by about a metre a year. The polar world is becoming increasingly milder. Alaskan glaciers are retreating, the Arctic Ocean ice pack has thinned by more than 30% in the past 30 years and has been shrinking in size at the same time.

Calculations based on present trends predict that the critical average annual rise in temperature of 2.7°C could be reached if carbon dioxide levels continue to rise.

OUR COMMENT: We have to remember that Global warming in the UK may not mean long hot summers. It is possible that it would bring short cold summers and very cold winters, more storms and more flooding. If the Atlantic Ocean is cooled by the melting ice then the Gulf Stream that keeps us warmer than we should be, will emigrate or disappear.

We continue to burn fossil fuels as though there was no tomorrow. The Government continues the mistaken policy of encouraging more air travel while the rail system frequently fails to provide an adequate alternative at a reasonable price.

Pat Dale


8 April 2004

TRAIN TIMES ON TRACK TO BEAT PLANES

Here is more encouraging news - there can be better ways to travel

TRAVELLING by train between the Edinburgh and London is more reliable than by plane, a rail company claimed today. (6th April)

GNER, which runs high-speed services on the east coast main line, said 78 per cent of its journeys between the two cities were on time last year compared to 72 per cent of flights.

The data from the Civil Aviation Authority and the Strategic Rail Authority compared GNER punctuality to domestic air travel between London and Leeds, London and Newcastle and London and Edinburgh every month throughout last year.

Christopher Garnett, chief executive of GNER, said: "These independently compiled figures show that the perception that trains are less reliable than planes is incorrect."

"When you take into account the journey time between airports and city centres, it shows that GNER competes very strongly with domestic airlines."

He added: "GNER now operates the most reliable long-distance train fleet in Britain. However, we recognise that, despite being more punctual than the planes, GNER and Network Rail need to do more to make our passengers overall journey more reliable."


8 April 2004

STANSTED RUNWAY PLANS 'BLIGHT PROPERTIES'

by Roddy Ashworth - East Anglian Times - 7 April 2004

CAMPAIGNERS against the expansion of Stansted Airport claimed last night £500million had been wiped off property values since the Government announced plans for a second runway.

But yesterday the British Aviation Authority (BAA) criticised the calculation, describing it as both "misleading" and "grossly overstated".

The property value claims came as part of a report* published by pressure group Stop Stansted Expansion.

The organisation said its calculations were derived from official house price statistics - maintained by the Land Registry Office - after investigating detailed records for postcode areas.

The group said that although house prices in Uttlesford had increased since the airport plans were published, they had done so at less than half the rate in Essex as a whole, where they have risen 25%.

The shortfall, campaigners said, represented the equivalent of almost £28,000 for the average home.

And they criticised the BAA, accusing it of attempting to limit compensation to just 500 homes in the immediate vicinity of the proposed second runway.

The group instead claimed that at least 12,000 properties had been adversely affected and that the number could be as high as 19,000, including some in East Hertfordshire.

Norman Mead, chairman of Stop Stansted Expansion, said: "Whether or not the airport expansion plans ever materialise, the impact on local property prices is a present day reality simply because of the threat of massive airport expansion."

"It's bad enough that BAA threatens to destroy so much of our local heritage and environment - local people should not also be expected to suffer financial loss on the value of their homes."

"People who need to move home or want to move home should not be penalised through no fault of their own."

However, a BAA spokesman dismissed the organisation's claims.

"It is misleading of SSE to attribute the slower rise in house prices to the whole of Uttlesford as closer study of the figures will reveal that any impact is very localised - hence the talk of 'an average reduction in value' of £28,000 per property is grossly overstated," he said.

"The number of properties sold per quarter can easily distort the statistics."

"During a three month period some postcode areas have as few as 26 property sales."

"Uttlesford house price rises in the period June 2002 to December 2003 are broadly consistent with those experienced in the previous 12 months."

"While house prices in Uttlesford haven't risen as fast as the whole of Essex, Uttlesford properties are valued significantly higher than those in the rest of the county."

* Press Release issued by Stop Stansted Expansion on 5th April

OUR COMMENT: It appears that BAA have not read the Report carefully enough. It quite clearly distinguishes prices in the northern part of Uttlesford from the rest of the District, values being grouped according to the post code. The average rise since the White Paper was published is half that experienced during the previous year, 12½% instead of 25%. An average includes all the figures, some will be more and some less, as the Report states quite clearly. Since the White Paper was not published until December 2003, it is not surprising that values did not fall in the period September to December!

Pat Dale


8 April 2004

COULD THERE BE ONE, TWO OR THREE MORE RUNWAYS?

More Expansion Fears

by David Jackman - Epping Forest Guardian - 31 March 2004

THE proposed site of the second Stansted runway will leave the door open for even more expansion in the future, it is feared.

Ongar county councillor Gerard McEwen said the Government proposals would make Stansted the world's largest airport.

"What is even worse for Essex is that they've chosen a site some two miles from the existing runway, so that there will be the opportunity at some time in the future to expand further with still more runways between them."

"This is what campaigners have regarded as the worst option possible but there's still some way to go before the nightmare can actually proceed. It's not the solution which the industry would have preferred but it's the easy way out for the Government."

"The cost of developing the site is only part of the story. We also have to remember the impact on the transport network. County council officers have calculated that something like £13.5 billion will be needed to provide adequate access by road and rail links. This means a massive road-building programme across many more miles of Essex countryside."

"They also make the point that it's likely that some form of congestion charging or toll roads will be needed to keep the motorways free for the 80 million passengers travelling to and from the airport annually. Many drivers seeking to avoid the charges will divert on to our secondary roads with another serious impact affected residents."

Mr McEwen a long-time opponent of Stansted expansion and a supporter of an off-shore airport said Heathrow's growth had proved disastrous for its community with the Government "heading down that same path again on a different site".

"They've chosen Stansted because they say environmental pollution will affect too many households around Heathrow. This is the same Government department which even now is demanding we must build many thousands more houses in the M11-Stansted corridors! All of those people will be under the flight paths with aircraft taking off at a rate of one every minute.

"Gradually the true costs, both financial and environmental, are becoming apparent, demonstrating that the choice of Stansted cannot possibly be defended as good planning."

"Our task is to continue challenging this decision until we convince them that a completely new approach is essential, ideally with take-offs and landings over the sea and with scope for growth which will not harm whole communities."

He said BAA's offer to pay home owners whose properties stand in the way of the new runway the June 2002 market price plus an inflation percentage up to the time of sale "only adds insult to injury".

"How can this possibly compensate someone who has lost their family home where in many cases they've spent their whole lives amongst friends and family? I would have thought even double the current market value would be inadequate to compensate for such a loss."


5 April 2004

IT'S ALL THE FAULT OF THE COUNCIL

BAA says they need all that land for the extra runway because
they are not allowed to build "up" - it would be too "visually intrusive"

Business Weekly - 2 April 2004

BAA Stansted pushes ahead with design for new runway

Plans for a new runway and upgraded terminal at Stansted Airport are gathering pace. A detailed application will go to Uttlesford District Council in 2005.

Alastair McDermid, director of the Stansted Generation 2 project, said the aim was to complete the planning process by 2008, allowing the runway to open in 2012.

McDermid said: "We have appointed the internal Stansted Generation 2 team and are now preparing to select a number of external consultants, including architects and designers."

"The principle of the Stansted development will be to design a terminal configured for quick turnarounds, which achieves the best balance between functionality and cost, therefore leading to best value for money for the airport's users."

"We will also safeguard facilities for the possible emergence of low-cost long-haul services such as those which may be feasible using the Boeing 7E7, which we believe to be a significant future development opportunity."

Stansted management has pledged to minimise the land take needed for the large-scale development of the airport under the Government's 30-year aviation overhaul strategy.

A statement issued by the airport said: "Local authorities have been keen to keep Stansted as visually unobtrusive as possible, so buildings have to be kept low."

"Therefore, if we can't build them up, we have to build them out instead. Local authorities require all airport-related development to be kept inside the airport boundary. Heathrow has lots of airport-related buildings outside the boundary, so Stansted's boundary has to be bigger in order to contain all the necessary buildings and infrastructure."

"The area in between the current runway and the new runway will be taken up by a new terminal, taxiways, stands and apron areas and other supporting infrastructure."

"Critics keep making parallels with Manchester. But Manchester, with its close parallel runway, does not have the capacity that will be required by a two-runway Stansted to meet the predicted demand in air travel within the south east in the next 30 years."

OUR COMMENT: It is not going to be possible to build another terminal and all that goes with a second runway without intruding into the Essex countryside and being visually very obvious, quite apart from the massive increase in the surrounding infrastructure that will be required - roads and rail, houses, businesses outside the airport, schools and health clinics and hospitals. Do BAA seriously expect people to believe that they can add on another 55 million passengers and more than double the number of flights and still have a "visually unobtrusive" airport surrounded by countryside, as it is now? Councillors will be surprised to learn that they are responsible for the big land take.

Pat Dale


5 April 2004

THE UK IS LAST - AFTER ALL THOSE PROMISES

Emission trading deadline finds states napping

Environment Daily - 2 April 2004

Ten out of 15 existing EU member states missed Wednesday's legal deadline for sending the European Commission a detailed plan of how they will allocate emission allowances for the first phase of the bloc's industrial greenhouse gas emission trading scheme, 2005-7.

By Friday evening still, only five plans were listed as submitted by the Commission. The EU executive was able to provide links to drafts of only another four plans, and one of these was from Latvia, which is due to join the EU on 1 May and whose deadline for submission is the end of this month.

The biggest surprise in the group meeting the deadline is probably GERMANY, since the country's red-green coalition government only resolved heated arguments over the plan late on Monday evening (ED 30/03/04 http://www.environmentdaily.com/articles/index.cfm?action=article&ref=16391).

Like Germany, AUSTRIA finalised its plan only just before the legal deadline after a row between the environment and economics ministries similar to that in Berlin. The eventual allocation for the first trading period is 99m tonnes, which is 9% higher than the period 1998-2001.

Ireland also met the deadline, based on a draft released in February (ED 06/02/04 http://www.environmentdaily.com/articles/index.cfm?action=article&ref=16041). So did FINLAND (ED 03/03/04 http://www.environmentdaily.com/articles/index.cfm?action=article&ref=16201) and DENMARK. The latter is proposing to allocate 100.5m tonnes of allowances in 2005-7, which is in line with current levels but is only 85% of business-as-usual expectations for the first trading period.

Probably the most surprising absence from the list of submitted plans is that of the early race-leader, the UK. A public consultation had highlighted "a considerable number of issues" relating to the accuracy of energy projections and methologies for attributing allowances to sectors and installations, the environment ministry said on Friday. The UK plan would be handed over "a few weeks" late.

The only other plans available in draft and listed by the Commission as of Friday were those of PORTUGAL, the NETHERLANDS and LATVIA. Some other governments are reported to be close to finalising their plans, for example SWEDEN. However, others are very behind, especially ITALY and SPAIN.

Inadequate efforts by Spain's former centre-right government to prepare for the deadline before it was ousted in mid-March elections hit the headlines this week when incoming environment minister Cristina Narbona attacked its record.

Ms Narbona promised to change "the negative perception" in Spain that emissions reduction will hit competitiveness and to provide a framework of incentives to help companies reduce emissions and minimise the need to buy emissions permits. Spanish industry is split over the new government's more positive approach to Kyoto compliance.


3 April 2004

THE HIDDEN COSTS OF AN EXTRA RUNWAY AT STANSTED

Experts calculate that new road & rail links will cost £13bn

by Kathleen Corby - Essex Chronicle - 1 April 2004

It will cost £13 billion just to provide the road and rail links necessary if plans for a second runway at Stansted Airport go ahead, Geoff Gardner, Essex County Council's head of planning, told councillors on Thursday.

Mr Gardiner was repeating to the county's planning and enterprise policy development group details he had given the previous day to a conference of senior representatives of the aviation industry and environmentalists.

"That £13bn is just for transportation and does not include the costs of the extra schools, hospitals, social services, and infrastructure which would be a consequence of people moving into the area," he added.

"That is a figure the Government needs to keep in mind."

Tory councillor, Gerard McEwen commented: "A figure like that must not fall on the taxpayer. It must be borne by the developer."

Mr Gardner went on to say that among those present at the London conference were airline executives, and delegates from the Civil Aviation Authority.

"Almost without exception they were saying that Heathrow is the commercial case for a big hub airport in the UK."

"Stansted, they felt, was a useful local airport. They were rather dismissive of the proposals for Stansted."

Labour councillor Bill Archibald asked: "Has any work been done on the possible benefits from the expansion of the airport to the county as a whole? Essex is a composite county."

Mr Gardner said that many jobs would be created, not only in the immediate area but also in the rest of Essex.

"Additional jobs clearly bring in additional people and they have spending powers which benefits the economy generally," he said.

OUR COMMENT: We hope that Geof Gardiner then reminded Councillors that the additional people would need more houses or they would have to travel in to work adding to the traffic congestion. As Chief Planning Officer he knows that Essex County Councillors have already strongly objected to John Prescott's plans for 131,000 extra houses in Essex. He also knows that the Buchanan Plan proposed thousands of new houses in a new look expanded Great Dunmow, Stansted, Elsenham as well as a large expansion of Harlow and more houses in Braintree and Bishop's Stortford. Does this so called benefit to the economy really benefit those who live in Essex? Would they really be better off if all the area round Stansted were turned into yet another edge of London urban sprawl?

Pat Dale


31 March 2004

AIR TRAVEL IS 'OF ENORMOUS CONCERN'
FOR GLOBAL WARMING

The Government's Chief Scientific Adviser tells
the Environmental Audit Committee

by Amanda Brown - Environment Correspondent - PA News - 30 March 2004

The growth of air travel and its impact on global warming is "an issue of enormous concern", the Government's chief scientific adviser warned today.

Sir David King, who earlier this year sparked controversy when he said climate change was a more serious threat to the planet than terrorism, told an all-party committee of MPs: "It is not perhaps unusual that the (aviation) industry would like to continue in a relatively unregulated fashion."

He added that he believed this was "an issue of enormous concern in terms of climate change".

Sir David also highlighted difficulties with aviation tax.

Aircraft fumes containing carbon dioxide are a major contributor to atmospheric pollution and a worsening of the greenhouse effect with extreme weather conditions such as storms, drought and flooding.

Sir David said mankind has the power to tackle the problem, but politics is a problem as far as air travel is concerned. He told the Commons Environmental Audit Committee: "The issue of aviation is very important."

"Of course it is complicated but I don't think because an issue is complicated, we should avoid the consequences."

"Aviation around the world is a continually growing industry and it depends critically on fossil fuel burning."

"So without going into the details, we can see that there is a net negative effect in terms of global warming."

"There are complex factors arising from water vapour production at different levels. But if we just look at carbon dioxide emissions, that in itself is a major contributory factor to our net emissions problem."

"No single country can resolve this problem. If aviation fuel tax were introduced in one country, planes would simply fly off to another to fill up."

"So it is another complex international issue and I'm afraid that as soon as I see a complex international issue, we are up against buffers and longer timescales."

Sir David said climate change was already "irreversible", but the Antarctic ice sheet could take about 1,000 years to melt.

He added that while the Greenland ice sheet could melt in between 50 and 200 years, sea levels could rise by six or seven metres, causing flooding over London.

"It is all happening now and it is a process that has already begun. The best way to deal with it is not to test it out. Don't go there, keep CO2 levels down," added Sir David.

He said that Europe is "absolutely on target" with its carbon dioxide reductions and should hold on to it without any "weakening of the knees".

But simply "preaching" to the developing world about the need to cut back on emissions "won't work," he said.


29 March 2004

SOYA-POWERED PLANES PROMISE GREENER AIR TRAVEL

Anil Ananthaswamy - New Scientist - 26 March 2004

Soya oil is just the thing to give aviation fuel a greener future, believe a group of US biochemists.

They say that an aircraft fuel based on soya oil and traditional jet fuel will slash consumption of fossil fuel, and help slow the rise in greenhouse gas levels by using carbon from renewable sources. They will tell a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, California, next week how it can be done.

Commercial jets run on a petroleum fuel called Jet A. Like all fossil fuels, it releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when burnt. Biofuels like soya oil, on the other hand, are "carbon neutral" because the carbon they release came from the atmosphere only recently.

Meanwhile air traffic is a growing contributor to global warming. In 2002 the UK's Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution predicted that air travel could account for nearly 75 per cent of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

"If further research fails to dispel current concerns, then, at some stage, commercial aviation is going to need a completely different fuel," says David Wardle, a fuels expert at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. And, he says, biofuel blends could be one answer.

Stumbling block

So far, attempts to create a suitable fuel from blends of jet fuel and vegetable oils have been unsuccessful. One stumbling block is the requirement that aviation fuel stays liquid down to -40 degrees Celsius. Vegetable oils generally freeze at around zero degrees Celsius.

But now biochemist Bernard Tao of Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana, and his graduate student Shailendra Bist have developed a blend that freezes at -40 degrees Celsius. They convert fatty acids within the oil into volatile, combustible esters, some of which freeze at higher temperatures and some at lower temperatures. "Remove the components that freeze at higher temperatures, and you will be left with something that will freeze at low temperatures," says Bist. It is here that they have made the breakthrough.

Crystallised solids

The standard method of removing unwanted esters involves chilling the biofuel and removing any crystallised solids. Repeat this at ever lower temperatures and you create a fuel with a very low freezing point. But the process can take days, and is wasteful because desirable esters "co-crystallise" out with the unwanted ones. Yields can be as low as 25 per cent.

Tao's team has developed a similar fractionation technology that takes less than an hour and has yields as high as 80 per cent. They are unwilling to discuss details pending a patent filing, but say they can now make a 40 per cent blend of biofuel and 60 per cent Jet A with the right freezing properties.

It is the highest percentage ever reported, says Wardle. The fuel is now being tested on a turbo-prop engine to assess its emissions.


DON'T GET TOO EXCITED!
There could be a catch!
Chris Bennett has worked it out

Don't get too excited. Here are some calculations from a website discussing alternative fuels (corn oil in this case):

"US uses 320million gallons of Gasoline per day.

1 bushel of Corn can produce 2.5 gallons of Ethanol. 1 gallon of Ethanol provides the energy of 0.6 gallon of gasoline.

US produces 9000million bushels of corn per year.

If all of it was used to produce Ethanol you would get 9000 * 2.5 = 22,500million gallons of Ethanol.

This is same as 0.6 * 22,500million = 13,500million gallons of Gasoline.

13,500 / 320 = 42 days supply.

That's before you use corn for food and before you subtract off the extra energy required to turn corn into ethanol."

The last line is the killer. For many bio fuel oil production processes it currently requires about three quarters of a gallon of oil input to provide the energy to produce one gallon's output.

OUR COMMENT: It would be fine if it worked, BUT, as Chris points out, how much energy from burning fossil fuels has to be used to manufacture the ethanol? If the energy used was derived from renewable sources then the equation makes sense. BUT very little research has been done on emissions from biomass and biofuels. We need to know this answer and the Government has indicated that they will promote such research since an oncreasingly popular source of renewable energy is the burning of biomass and biofuels.

Pat Dale


28 March 2004

MORE ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Blair's drive to cut global warming hit as CO2 emissions rise

By Marie Woolf - Chief Political Correspondent - The Independent - 25 March 2004

The Prime Minister's desire to put Britain at the forefront of the battle to cut global warming is expected to receive a dramatic setback today when figures will show that CO2 emissions in the UK rose last year.

Official figures to be released today are expected to show there was an increase of between 1 and 2 per cent in carbon dioxide emissions, despite a pledge to meet targets to reduce them significantly.

The figures come after Tony Blair has pledged to take fresh strides to put global warming back at the top of the international agenda. Mr Blair plans to make reducing global warming a main plank of the UK's presidency of the G8 group of leading industrialised countries next year. He is also expected to apply fresh pressure on the American President George Bush to sign up to the Kyoto protocol to tackle CO2 emissions, the principal gas causing global warming.

The elevation of the issue up the political agenda follows a warning from Britain's chief scientist about the threat to the environment from greenhouse gas emissions.

The UK has pledged to cut CO2 emissions by 2010 - an even more ambitious target than the Kyoto agreement, which commits the UK to a 12.5 per cent reduction.

Norman Baker MP, the Liberal Democrat environment spokesman, said the rise in emissions was extremely embarrassing for ministers and showed the Government was "failing catastrophically on climate change". He said the switch from coal-fired power stations to gas-fired power stations, which has helped reduce CO2 emissions, shielded a lack of overall commitment by ministers to try to tackle the issue.

"They have to address the transport sector where carbon emissions are going out of control. Gordon Brown did nothing in the Budget to help because he failed to increase fuel duty. It's time the Prime Minister started listening to his chief scientist and stopped listening to President Bush."

In 1990, the UK produced about 605 million tons of carbon and emissions. The figure fell after coal-fired power stations went out of service but, since 2000, it has crept up and is now about 8 per cent lower than 1990 levels. In 1997, when the Government came to power, there were 152.9 million tons of carbon emitted. The figures for 2003, to be released by environment and trade and industry ministers today, are expected to show a marginal increase from the 150.4 million tons of carbon emitted in 2002.

Government sources say the figures are "going in the wrong direction" and admit that it will be a struggle to meet the ambitious targets which they have set themselves.

Last night, green groups attacked ministers for failing to adhere to their own policy. Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth, said: "The insane growth forecasts for aviation that are backed by the Government will utterly wipe out any progress made in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The Government is falling behind its own targets and must pull its finger out."


26 March 2004

CLIMATE CHANGE - BAD NEWS

Greenhouse gas level hits record high

Shaoni Bhattacharya - New Scientist - 22 March 2004

The level of the major greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, in the Earth's atmosphere has hit a record high, US government scientists have reported.

The new data from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also suggest that the rate of increase of the gas may have accelerated in the last two years. Carbon dioxide emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, are thought to be a principle cause of global warming.

Recordings from a volcano-top observatory, NOAA's Mauna Loa Observatory on Hawaii, showed carbon dioxide levels had risen to an average of about 376 parts per million (ppm) for 2003.

This is 2.5 ppm up from the average for 2002. It is not the highest leap in year-on-year atmospheric carbon dioxide levels recorded by NOAA. But it is the first to be sustained, with 2002 levels up 2.5 ppm from 2001.

This year-on-year hike is considerably larger than the average annual increase of about 1.5 ppm seen over the last few decades says Pieter Tans, chief scientist at NOAA's climate monitoring and diagnostic lab in Boulder, Colorado, US. Other NOAA scientists suggest that economic development in China and India, which leads to increased fuel use, could be a key factor.

Year on year "We have been increasing our emissions of greenhouse gases since 1990 and this acceleration is something that we have been aware of and expected," says David Viner, a climate change expert at the University of East Anglia, UK. The report goes on to discuss conflicting views as to the probability of this rise continuing. Some believe it is a "one-off" rise - others, a continuation of the steady rise since record taking began.

The article continues - When the US team started recording atmospheric carbon dioxide in the late 1950s, levels were around 315 ppm and have risen ever since.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects that, if unchecked, carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere will have risen to between 650 and 970 ppm by 2100. As a result, global temperatures would warm by nearly 6oC compared with 1990 levels, the IPCC predicts.

However, moves to implement the Kyoto Protocol aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions have stalled as the US has refused to ratify it, and Russia has not yet made a decision.

"This [record level] really shows the importance of the international community tackling climate change," says Viner. "Climate change has stuck its head above the parapet - it's not an issue politicians can hide from much longer."

OUR COMMENT: In the UK global warming would probably lead to a much colder climate. Melting ice from the North Pole could divert the Gulf Stream, the warmer current in the Atlantic Ocean that is responsible for our warmer (yes, warmer!) climate compared to other countries at the same latitude. Rising sea levels would also affect the Eastern Region and could flood many coastal areas.

Pat Dale


26 March 2004

MIXED NEWS FROM THE UK

UK GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS RISE IN 2003
"Expected blip" does not alter downward trend, says Government
EU Commission lauds UK emission permit plan

Environment Daily 1636 - 25 March 2004

The UK's national allocation plan for implementing the EU emission trading directive has set the standard for other member states to follow, according to the European Commission. Less than a week before the deadline for submission, the British blueprint is the only one to have been finalised.

"The UK's plan is good, rigorous, stringent and tough on its industry," Rolf Annerberg, chief advisor to environment commissioner Margot Wallström said on Wednesday. The official was speaking at a seminar on the Kyoto linking directive organised by rapporteur MEP Alexander de Roo.

Many member states have tabled draft plans but several look sure to miss the 31 March deadline. The Commission is known to have misgivings over some plans, but remains reluctant to single out those it feels are over-generous with emission allowances.

Campaigner Rob Bradley of Climate action network was less shy. Draft plans by Austria and the Netherlands were "simply farcical", he said. Portugal's plan was "far from the worst" drafted so far but would still not require its industry to reduce emissions in the early stages of the scheme, he claimed.

This apparent divergence among member states is already causing industrial unrest. In a statement on Thursday, UK chemical trade lobby CIA said it was "extremely concerned" about the British plan's effect on UK competitiveness. "The UK chemical industry will suffer if the UK government pursues a unilateral approach," it said.

Also speaking at the seminar, Frank Brannvoll of pulp and paper giant Stora Enso reiterated energy-intensive firms' concern that current electricity pricing mechanisms could artificially inflate the cost of meeting emission caps (ED 08/03/04 http://www.environmentdaily.com/articles/index.cfm?action=article&ref=16232). "We need to make sure this doesn't cast such a shadow that people start to look at emissions trading in a less favourable way," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr de Roo and Irish presidency officials are in the thick of negotiations to wrap up a first-reading agreement on the linking directive, which will give firms access to the Kyoto protocol's flexible mechanisms. Talks were triggered last week by the environment committee's vote on the draft law (ED 16/03/04 http://www.environmentdaily.com/articles/index.cfm?action=article&ref=16292).

Mr de Roo told Environment Daily there had been little progress at a meeting with presidency officials on Thursday morning. A further date between the council and a wider group of MEPs next Tuesday should tackle more of the substance, he said.

Five issues separate the institutions from a deal: whether and how to cap the number of credits that firms can buy abroad; whether firms should get credits for funding emission-cutting projects in non-trading sectors at home; whether regional trading schemes in the US and Australia should be allowed to buy EU credits; and how to treat credits generated by projects involving sinks and dams.

The seminar was organised with think-tank the Centre for European Policy Studies to launch an industry-backed report on the linking directive. Many of its suggestions are already supported by both sides. Co-author Christian Egenhofer told the gathering that the trading scheme would "become a platform to shape the global carbon market".


BAD NEWS - SAYS THE ENVIRONMENTAL AUDIT COMMITTEE
Treasury likened to 'arthritic sloth' on environmental taxes
No account taken of the effects of increased air travel

The Treasury has come under fire for dilatoriness on environmental taxation during an inquiry by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee. Energy efficiency interests have accused it of offering "warm words" but little else, and it has also struggled to defend the climate change impacts of the planned expansion of aviation.

The Committee is holding an inquiry into the pre-Budget report, which offered little new on green taxation (ENDS Report 347, pp 26-28).

Committee chairman Peter Ainsworth set the tone with his opening remarks to Economic Secretary John Healey on 21 January. The Committee wanted to help the Government meet its own targets, he said, but there was now "quite a large number of areas, including aviation, energy efficiency and overall tax strategy, where we fear at the moment that the Government is not meeting its targets or not trying very hard to."

Others were less restrained. One MP said that the Treasury was moving with the speed of an "arthritic sloth" on environmental taxation.

Energy efficiency interests are generally unhappy with the level of commitment displayed by the Treasury. A consultation on economic instruments to promote household energy efficiency was held in mid-2002, and a second followed last year. But the pre-Budget report brought no decisions, and the Treasury is now promising an announcement "around the time of the Budget" - ominously suggesting further delay.

Measures particularly being looked at are a domestic business tax allowance to stimulate energy efficiency investments in the private rented sector, capital allowances and, where allowed under EU rules, cutting VAT on energy-saving products to align it with the 5% rate on energy consumption.

The argument about how far this playing-field can be levelled without falling foul of EU rules has been a lengthy saga. After years of intransigence, the Treasury has cut VAT on some energy-saving investments which are grant-aided or installed by contractors. The Energy Saving Trust told the inquiry that it had been "very disappointed" by the pre-Budget report - especially over the Treasury's reaction to its proposal for an "inefficiency charge" on household appliances.

Kitchen appliances are now comparable in retail price across all seven classes of energy efficiency, and the EST had proposed a 10% product charge on those in the bottom four classes. It was confident that this would rapidly transform the market, saving on energy bills for the poor and cutting carbon dioxide emissions. It also proposed a 50p charge on the least efficient light bulbs.

Chief executive Philip Sellwood told MPs that he had been "baffled" by the Treasury's response that "they did not see that [product charges] would represent a significant price signal to the market. Our view was contrary to that."

The Treasury was also given a hard time over aviation. The Economic Secretary was asked to square the expansion of airport capacity announced in the aviation White Paper with the warning by chief scientist Sir David King that climate change was a more serious problem than terrorism, with aviation being the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases.

Mr Healey argued that the White Paper had "an environmental balance contained within it....Despite huge economic benefits and huge demand for extra runways, this was a White Paper that did not commit to three extra runways."

Mr Ainsworth countered that the growth sanctioned by the White Paper was "irresponsible". When the direct warming effects of CO2 were added to the "radiative forcing" generated by other emissions, he said, the sector's emissions would rise to at least 170 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2030 - 75% of the official target for the entire UK economy in 2050.

The inquiry focused on how this growth should be tackled. Jeff Gazzard of the Aviation Environment Federation argued that demand management using the price mechanism was essential, since air traffic was growing twice as fast as technological improvements to aircraft emissions.

Andrew Sentance, head of environmental affairs at British Airways, dismissed demand management as "old fashioned". BA is hoping that participation in the EU emissions trading scheme (EUETS) will get the sector out of the woods.

However, Dr Sentance was adamant that only CO2 should come within the scheme for now. Although this causes only a small fraction of aviation's total warming effect, there was too much scientific uncertainty about the size of the impact of the sector's other emissions to include them as well, he argued.

The Government's objective is to get aviation into phase two of the EU scheme, which starts in 2008. Jeff Gazzard was sceptical about the idea, arguing that including mobile sources in a scheme designed for stationary sources would be difficult, while nobody had explained which sectors would cut their emissions enough to make room for aviation's projected growth.

Besides, said Mr Gazzard, he had been told by the European Commission that work has yet to begin on including aviation in the EUETS. "It is an aspiration in a line in the White Paper."

Mr Healey, in contrast, was anxious to give a picture of energetic activity. The Government wants agreement on the inclusion of aviation in the EUETS during the UK presidency in the second half of 2005. Discussions on this have begun with the Commission, he said. Discussions will also begin shortly with the industry and other interests, and the Government "will be starting discussions in particular with the Dutch", who hold the EU presidency before the UK.

Note: It is also reported that overall annual levels of nitrogen dioxide were also above the target set. This gas is also produced in significant quantities by aircraft, is a known greenhouse gas and a lung irritant and is controlled by both the EU Directive on Air Quality (which sets maximum levels in air) and a Directive that requires total annual emissions to be reduced by 2010. It is responsible for much of the air pollution around airports and would be a major potential hazard from an expanded Stansted.

Pat Dale


25 March 2004

HOME OWNER COMPENSATION IS A SUCCESS, SAYS BAA

Report from last week's Bishop's Stortford Citizen

STANSTED Airport operator BAA has claimed success with its Home Value Guarantee Scheme its compensation scheme to home owners affected by the Government's proposals for a second runway which was offered in January to homes which would need to be demolished to make way for the expansion.

The death knell was initially sounded for 74 properties, but BAA extended the number to 107 households because it said it made more sense to destroy whole villages, rather than leave partial communities.

BAA Stansted managing director Terry Morgan said about ten houses had accepted the offer.

He added: "In the small amount of time we've been running the scheme, we have had a surprisingly good response to it."

But the Stop Stansted Expansion group has denounced BAA's optimism, stating the vast majority of people did not want to go.

Chairman Norman Mead said: "There are people who have genuinely wanted to go and we would expect them to go. But there are a lot of people who saying 'we're not going to go and we're going to stand our ground'."

He added: "We've chosen to live here and we will not go easily."

OUR COMMENT: How thoughtful of BAA to offer radical surgery and destroy whole villages rather than leave some lonely homesteads right up against the airport fence! We have to remember that proper compensation for compulsory purchase is a legal right and not an act of generosity by BAA. The extra bribe offered by BAA is an extra bonus if the house owner signs up for sale before the application for another runway has even been made, let alone approved. It appears that the bonus is not paid until approval is given. That may never happen, it may be years away. We can be sure that the offer will be around for a very long time to come - its all part of the battle for hearts and minds.

Pat Dale


25 March 2004

STANSTED SHOOTS AT EURO GOAL

Business Weekly - 22 March 2004

Stansted Airport has kicked off a bid to persuade England's soccer team to use the Essex hub for the Euro 2004 Championships in Portugal this summer.

Europe's fastest-growing airport is setting up talks with the FA after hearing chief executive Mark Palios tell Business Weekly's recent East of England Business Awards dinner that the rules of Association Football were drawn up in the region.

Stansted finance director Andy Mears said: "It would be fitting for England to come home, as winners of Euro 2004, to the region where the roots of Association Football were first put down.

"It would also be handy for Becks to get home to 'Beckingham Palace,' which is just around the corner from the airport."

Mears said many teams, including Arsenal, Spurs, Newcastle, West Ham, Ipswich and the Dutch national squad, already flew from Stansted.

OUR COMMENT: Will it be a Home Goal? Can Stansted offer an English airline that would provide all the relaxed comfort that the team need before a big match?

Pat Dale


23 March 2004

INTERNATIONAL TASKFORCE LAUNCHED
TO TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE

James Drewer reports:

An international initiative to address the threat of global climate change was launched last week by three of the world's leading think-tanks - the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) in London, the Center for American Progress (CAP) in Washington DC and the Australia Institute in Canberra.

The initiative brings together leaders from politics, business, science and civil society from around the world to create an International Taskforce on Climate Change. In a unique international cross-party collaboration, the taskforce will be co-chaired by Labour MP Stephen Byers and US Republican Senator Olympia Snowe.

Announcing the taskforce, Rt. Hon. Stephen Byers MP, said:

"We have a responsibility to future generations to hand to them a planet that is habitable and rich in life. Climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions from human activities threatens that objective. It is clear that tackling this problem is the overriding environmental challenge of our age."

"The Kyoto Protocol was a milestone for the international community in taking the first step to address the danger which climate change poses. The taskforce will help safeguard and build on Kyoto by identifying new ways to secure international co-operation and support. For the future we need to find the means by which we can involve those countries that have not ratified or are not bound by Kyoto, so that climate change can be dealt with effectively over the long term."

"This will be a major challenge but it is one that the taskforce is confident it can meet."

The Taskforce's recommendations will be delivered early in 2005 and will be aimed at all major governments in the international negotiations, with special emphasis on the United Kingdom (UK), which will hold the Presidencies of the G8 and the European Union in 2005. Over recent years Prime Minister Tony Blair has identified climate change as a priority and the UK will be uniquely positioned to lever support for multilateral action on climate change as the next stage of negotiations begin.

The members of the taskforce include former CBI director general Adair Turner, leading environmentalist Jonathon Porritt, Premier of New South Wales Bob Carr and chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Dr. Rajendra Pachauri.

The geographic representation of the taskforce reflects the need for full engagement and support from major European and developing countries and the desire to bring the two countries that have rejected the Kyoto Protocol, the US and Australia, back into the multilateral process.

The Taskforce will hold its first meeting on 22nd March 2004 in Windsor, near London. It will oversee a programme of research by the three think tanks, before a second face-to-face meeting in mid-November 2004 in Washington DC or Sydney, Australia. At this final meeting, the Taskforce is expected to reach a consensus on a set of proposals. These will be set forth in a report, to be published in early 2005, which will be presented to Prime Minister Tony Blair and representatives of other governments worldwide.

For more see www.ippr.org/press


22 March 2004

SUPPORT FOR STOP STANSTED EXPANSION CONTINUES

Over 900 leaflets advertising last week's SSE meeting were handed out in
Saffron Walden Market Place during the previous Saturday

Very few people expressed support for an extra runway and many who came from areas some way away offered support for Stop Stansted Expansion. About 150 people attended the meeting; it was chaired by Sir Alan Haselhurst and addressed by both Alan Dean, the Leader of the Council and by Mike Hibbs, the Council Chairman, as well as Norman Mead.

Much emphasis was placed on the large land take considered necessary for one extra runway, an area bigger than Heathrow today. The maximum capacity of both runways would be 82 mppa and over 500,000 flights a year, again greater than Heathrow. A strong suspicion remains that the reason for this is to leave the way open for further runways in the future.

BAA is expected to put in an application for 35 mppa using the existing runway in the not too distant future, though to date there is no information about the boundaries of the land claimed or when the necessary environmental and health impact assessments will be carried out. As the Uttlesford Council is the Planning Authority, Mike Hibbs could not make any comment on any such application except to say that it would be considered in the usual way.

The Council is proceeding with the other four local Councils to ask for a judicial review of the White Paper itself. This application is quite separate from that being made by SSE together with the other groups objecting to the development of Luton and Heathrow.

Norman Mead also showed an official map of the flight paths of planes arriving from the North East - a forest of red lines curved over Saffron Walden, recorded when the passenger numbers were only 16 mppa. The tracks showed quite clearly that Saffron Walden would soon be beset by a noise problem as will the surrounding villages, many of whom already experience noise annoyance.

It was also emphasised that objections to the extra runway are supported by all three political parties. As well as the local Councillors all the local MPs, Sir Alan, Mark Prisk, Oliver Hill (Conservative) and Alan Hurst (Labour) have worked hard to defeat this expansion. The shadow Environment Minister has visited the area this year and now we have the blessing of Charles Kennedy the Lib Dem Leader.

Kennedy Joins the Fight over Stansted Expansion

It was reported in the Brentwood Gazette 2 weeks ago that when Charles Kennedy visited Brentwood to address a Lib Dem meeting he urged Councillors and Stop Stansted Expansion campaigners to keep fighting.

He said "I don't think it is a foregone conclusion myself, not least because we have a rather incoherent transport policy in this country - the word integrated is the least appropriate word to attach to UK transport policy. This kind of issue, the Stansted issue, is a classic example."

"What we are seeing at the moment, where this Government is concerned, are quite a lot of very important issues of policy being subjected to a degree of influence by public opinion, which perhaps wouldn't have been the case 5 years ago."

"The Government is feeling much more vulnerable, therefore, if you are campaigning for the cause you should continue that because there is more of an opportunity now to actually influence the thinking of the Government than has ever been the case before, and that is true on a whole range of issues."

OUR COMMENT: Let's hope he is right! It is expected of democratic Governments that they do listen to public opinion, in this case local public opinion, but...?

Pat Dale


22 March 2004

UK'S AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL CHIEF SACKED

Andrew Clark reports in the Guardian - 18 March 2004

The Chief Executive of Britain's air traffic network has been sacked following discontent among shareholders about the pace of "culture change" at the part-privatised business.

NATs announced yesterday that Richard Everitt's contract had been terminated. He will be replaced in June by Paul Barron, the UK president of building firm Alstom.

NATs said it needed somebody new to take charge of its "next phase of development" as it implements a £1bn investment programme.

The report goes on to tell us that the union representing air traffic controllers has expressed regret over the sacking and praised Mr Everitt for the work he has done. Investors expressed disappointment with the business's performance.

The service is preparing for integration with the other EU members under the "single European sky" agreement. There were 2m flights over the UK last year and delays have fallen from an average of 2.58 minutes per flight to 0.74 minutes.

OUR COMMENT: Mr Barron is going to have to work out how to fit in at least another million flights very soon with all the expansion plans suggested in the White Paper. This is particularly necessary at Stansted. No one has yet produced any plans for accommodating the extra 300,000 flights or suggested how the new flight paths can avoid clashing with more flights from Luton, also expected to enlarge the existing runway.

The prediction modelling for noise and air quality in 2015 uses the existing flight paths from one runway and the same arrival patterns in spite of the fact that the extra runway is sited some distance away from the present one and one of the holding stacks is already shared with Luton. Charles Kennedy has commented on the lack of an integrated transport policy on the ground - it looks as though we may be getting the same problem in the skies - perhaps Ken Livingstone could advise?

Pat Dale


18 March 2004

COUNCILS LAUNCH LEGAL BID OVER AIRPORT EXPANSION

by Peter Woodman - Air Correspondent - PA News

Five local authorities have mounted a legal challenge to Government plans to expand a major UK airport, it was announced today.

Last December's aviation White Paper supported a new runway at Stansted Airport in Essex by 2011. Five councils in the area, alarmed at what they see as a quadrupling of capacity at Stansted, have lodged leave to seek a judicial review of the plans.

The case is being brought by the county councils of Essex and Hertfordshire, and the district councils of Uttlesford, North Hertfordshire and East Hertfordshire.

The councils are particularly concerned that the plans put forward by airport operator BAA represent a "land grab" that will leave the company with the ability to expand the airport up to 120 million passengers per annum.

Lord Hanningfield, leader of Essex Council, said: "Airports in the UK have a history of creeping expansion. We are being asked to accept a four-fold increase in the capacity of Stansted."

"This is not acceptable and it stretches credulity that we be expected to accept a location of a second runway that would give the airport the footprint and hence the potential capacity to be the world's largest airport."

Robert Ellis, leader of Hertfordshire Council, added: "We believe the White Paper is fundamentally flawed. There is still no robust case for new runways in the south east. The environmental implications of airport development have consistently been underestimated, yet the Government is rushing into decisions which will irrevocably change the face of this part of England."

"The White Paper's support for the new runway pre-empts the established planning process which would deal intelligently with expansion proposals through a fully accountable process. At Luton airport, the extension of the runway has not been consulted on at all."

"Our legal challenge will explore just how much local accountability remains in the UK planning system."

It was Essex County Council * that successfully mounted a legal challenge last year over the exclusion of Gatwick airport in West Sussex from earlier deliberations on airport expansion. The Government was then forced to include Gatwick in its consultation and this delayed the publication of the aviation White Paper.

* OUR COMMENT: Note omission - the legal challenge in November 2002 was mounted with Stop Stansted Expansion

Pat Dale


16 March 2004

AVIATION GROWTH TO HIT GREEN TARGETS

Financial Times - 16 March 2004 - John Mason reports

The rapid expansion of civil aviation will lead to the Government failing to reach its targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, a committee of MPs has warned.

Including aircraft emissions in greenhouse gas inventories as part of an emissions trading scheme would cut CO2 by only 35% rather than the 60% agreed by Ministers last year as a target, the Environmental Audit Committee said. Figures from the DfT showed the expected rise in aircraft emissions would overwhelm the trading system the government is introducing to comply with the Kyoto protocol to combat global warming.

"It is inconceivable that any emissions trading scheme could generate sufficient credit to allow aviation to expand as forecast, while at the same time delivering carbon reductions of the order needed," the committee said.

"If aviation emissions increase on the scale predicted by the DfT, the UK's 60% carbon emission reduction target, which the Government set last year, will become meaningless and unachievable".

John Mason's report goes on to say that the Department for the Environment insisted that the Government recognised the problem and denied Ministers were complacent. "The UK's climate change programme will undergo a thorough review later this year. If we find further measures are needed to keep us on track with targets for cutting emissions we will act to do so."

Our Comment: The Government published, as one of the technical documents accompanying the White Paper, a report on "Aviation and Global Warming". Two of the other documents were on Air Quality and Noise , all reconsidering the environmental effects of increasing aviation growth.

These documents consider the effects of all the possible improvements that could occur in the environmental performance of aircraft and their operational management. A scenario of near perfection is developed which assumes that all participants in the industry (including the pilots) are prepared to follow the environmentally correct policies and operational methods as well as producing new designs for aircraft, some of which are barely on the drawing board.

All this may be possible but not probable unless, through Government action, such improvements are required by legislation and most important, government subsidies available for research.

The conclusions on fuel use are that with all these improvements in place, only 15.7 Mt of Carbon would be produced in 2050, the target year, instead of 29.1 Mt as forecast. No account is taken of the effects of Radiative Forcing (normally calculated as increasing the climate change effects by a factor of 2 - 4 times).

It is clear that the review referred to by Government spokesman has already taken place as far as aviation is concerned. In the three major fields of environmental impact - air quality, climate change and noise - the exercise has demonstrated, so far to the Government's satisfaction, that the environmental effects of increased aviation are not so bad as they first thought. Even then we find that carbon emissions would rise from 8.8 Mt in 2000 to 15.7 in 2050, hardly a reduction as demanded by Kyoto! Which parts of the UK's economy are to be asked for further action to balance even this smaller increase?

Such convenient results are always suspect. They are not based on the familiar catchword "sound science", but on all possible improvements that might be hoped for if everyone did the right thing at the right time, including the production of as yet untried aircraft models.

It is fortunate that there are MPs who are prepared to challenge these assumptions.

Pat Dale


16 March 2004

MPS ATTACK GOVERNMENT AVIATION PLANS

Increase in APD needed - not hot air, says Friends of the Earth Press Release - 15 March 2004

Plans to allow a massive expansion in air travel will make it impossible for the Government to meet its climate change targets, a committee of MPs warned today.

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee's aviation report concluded that: "If aviation emissions increase on the scale predicted by the DfT, the UK's 60% carbon emission reduction target which the Government set last year will become meaningless and unachievable. The most we could hope to attain would be about 35%."

The EAC also accused the Government of "actively promoting growth on the scale envisaged, and indeed the urgency with which it is requiring airport operators to implement expansion plans bears this out."

The report echoes Friends of the Earth's own research which showed that if aviation grew as predicted, climate change targets would be dealt a "hammer blow".

Last month Tony Blair told MPs that he thought climate change was the biggest long term threat the planet faces: "Looking very long term... I think it is the key issue that faces us."

Friends of the Earth is calling on Gordon Brown to start to tackle the impacts caused by the aviation industry in Wednesday's Budget. The environmental campaign group is calling on the Chancellor to increase Air Passenger Duty (APD) by £5 on all air tickets.

Friends of the Earth's Aviation Campaigner, Richard Dyer, said:

"This damming report clearly highlights the catastrophic implications of the Government's "predict and provide" aviation policy. Allowing aviation to grow on the scale proposed will make it impossible for the Government to meet its promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Tony Blair says that climate change is the key long term issue that faces us. But, unless the Government uses this week's Budget to start to tackle the problem by increasing Air Passenger Duty, these concerns will be little more than hot air."


16 March 2004

ENVIRONMENTAL AUDIT COMMITTEE REPEATS
THEIR WARNING TO THE GOVERNMENT

Airport expansion will make CO2 pledge meaningless

Press Release - House of Commons - 15 March 2004
Report publication - Pre-Budget 2003: Aviation follow-up

If international aviation emissions are included in national greenhouse gas inventories as part of an emissions trading system, there is no possibility that the UK can meet the 60% carbon reduction target which the Government set last year. The most the UK could hope to achieve in terms of an overall reduction in carbon dioxide will be 35%. This is one of the key findings of the report published today by the Environmental Audit Committee.

The accompanying graph demonstrates the huge forecast increase in aviation emissions which the DfT is predicting, compared to the decrease in UK domestic emissions required to meet the target.

Graph"

It is based on DfT's own data and takes into account the extra impact aviation emissions have on global warming (the 'radiative forcing' effect).

The report examines the implications of the Aviation White Paper and the policy the Government is adopting to deal with the global environmental impacts of aviation. It also takes account of the Government response to the Committee's previous report on this subject. Some of the key conclusions of the report are printed overleaf.

The Committee has also taken evidence on other aspects relating to the Treasury's environmental tax and spending strategy and will give further consideration to these issues following the 2004 Budget.

Key conclusions and recommendations from the Committee's report:

*  We agree with the Chief Scientist that climate change is a profoundly serious threat to mankind. The Government has in principle accepted our recommendation that specific consideration must be given in policy appraisals to the impact on carbon targets. It must ensure that this priority is in future fully reflected in appraisals conducted by all Government departments.

*  The DfT has forecast future demand and then provided the framework to meet practically all of it. It is actively promoting growth on the scale envisaged, and indeed the urgency with which it is requiring airport operators to implement expansion plans bears this out.

*  On the key issue of the impact of aviation on global warming, the White Paper contains no specific proposals apart from the commitment to work towards the inclusion of aviation in the second phase of the European Emissions Trading Scheme from 2008.

*  We are astonished at the lack of essential research to underpin the incorporation of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). In view of the timescales involved in developing and ratifying EU directives, we suspect it may soon be too late to achieve the Government's professed intention of incorporating aviation in the second phase of the EU ETS from 2008.

*  It is inconceivable that any emissions trading system could generate sufficient credits to allow aviation to expand as forecast, while at the same time delivering carbon reductions of the order needed.

*  If aviation emissions increase on the scale predicted by the DfT, the UK's 60% carbon emission reduction target which the Government set last year will become meaningless and unachievable. The most we could hope to attain would be about 35%.


14 March 2004

QUESTIONS LEFT UNANSWERED

Two of the contributions to the recent European Transport Conference were directly relevant to the question of building a second runway at Stansted. Both Sir Roy McNulty, chairman of the CAA, and Mike Clasper, Chief Executive of BAA, referred to the vexed question of the financing of this proposed runway. Their speeches have already been reported on Recent News.

Brian Ross comments:

Sir Roy McNulty re-stated the CAA's opposition to cross-subsidy and said that any development at Stansted would need to be commercially viable in its own right and could not be subsidised by Heathrow and Gatwick.

Mike Clasper obviously didn't like this very much. (BAA's previously stated position is that cross-subsidy would be necessary otherwise a second Stansted runway would not be commercially viable.) *

In following Sir Roy onto the platform, Mike Clasper made the following jibe at Sir Roy: "And, as Roy has acknowledged, the CAA's 2003 price settlement stated that BAA has the right to contest the standalone approach if "compelling reasons" arise. It is far too early to say whether such compelling reasons exist or are likely to exist. We will not know the answer to that for some years. If we think the reasons are compelling, it will be BAA's duty to argue the case."

Mike Clasper also said that BAA would not invest shareholders money in a second Stansted runway unless they could produce a viable business case. Was he suggesting that BAA would trim the construction and development costs to the bone in an attempt to do this?

* Stansted airport development has been subsidised by profits from Heathrow and Gatwick, where charges are much higher. It is very doubtful whether some of the airlines at present using Stansted would have been attracted to Stansted if charges had not been low. It is even more doubtful that they would be prepared to pay more. They would certainly consider moving to another airport with more competitive rates.


11 March 2004

MORE FROM THE EUROPEAN TRANSPORT CONFERENCE

The Chair of CAA Reaffirms Approach To Economic Regulation
of BAA's London Airports

10th March 2004 - The European Transport Conference - James Drewer reports

Speaking today at the European Transport Conference 2004, Sir Roy McNulty, Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), identified the market factors influencing airport development in the UK:

"The continuing build-up of demand foreseen by the White Paper, supported on the supply side by the development of new business models and increased efficiency, provides a favourable commercial backcloth for new airport development. Ensuring that this leads to viable airport projects requires airport developers everywhere to adopt approaches that match what is developed with users' needs. That is the essence of a sound investment programme."

Sir Roy went on to explain the CAA's approach to regulating BAA on an individual - or "stand-alone" basis:

"The central rationale for this stand-alone policy is that it helps to encourage efficient future investment. It is a policy designed to provide BAA with a strong incentive to match the development at Stansted closely to what both current and future users of Stansted want and will be prepared to pay for. In practice, this approach to regulation represents no more (or less) stringent a test than that which would apply in any other normal commercial situation. The key principle is that investments - particularly large investments - have to pay for themselves."

"It is possible that this policy will have to be re-examined by the CAA, and the Competition Commission, at the next five yearly airports review. But this is not automatic. It may, or may not, happen. If it does, the CAA will be legally bound to consider the arguments, and the evidence, available to it at that time."

"But any such review would need to take into account the fact that the policy is designed to improve the efficiency of investment and therefore to that extent was intended to apply long term."

"Against this background, it seems entirely reasonable that the working assumption should be that the CAA will continue to regulate BAA's designated airports on an individual - or stand-alone - basis both up to 2008, and beyond. Equally, it would be reasonable for BAA and users to work on the basis that in setting the maximum prices that BAA might charge at Stansted, the CAA will take account of its duty to encourage investment, just as we have done in the past."

"But we should not overlook the fact that, on past experience, it is not the regulatory cap on Stansted prices that will make or break this investment; that will depend on identifying a project that users are willing to pay for."

"In practical terms, the key challenge for BAA will be to develop plans for expansion that meet both their customers' and their shareholders' needs. BAA's Stansted customers will only use the airport if it matches what they want and are prepared to pay for. Shareholders, on the other hand, will only want to proceed with the investment if there is evidence that there is a good business case. Both sides, in our view, should be interested in exploring all of the possible alternative developments to determine which options are best."

"This means it is in BAA's interest to conduct an effective consultation with its users in order to find out what sort of development they would like. For their part, users should have a genuine interest in discussing options with BAA to ensure that all potentially beneficial options are fully and properly explored."

"Consultation works only if both sides engage fully and constructively. And therefore, as well as having implications for BAA, the combination of Government and regulatory policy also requires airlines to play their part. I accept that this is not a requirement on airlines, and airlines cannot be forced to engage in the process, but it would be odd, and apparently contrary to their interests, if airlines failed to engage with BAA in discussing the merits of alternative development options."

"So we would expect to see active engagement of airlines with BAA. This would provide airlines with an opportunity to express their preferences over the scale, specification and timing of the development. However, in setting out their preferences, the airlines will need to recognise the context, and constraints, within which BAA has to operate, including those such as environmental and surface transport concerns, which are driven by public policy."

"In addition to influencing the nature and phasing of development, airline engagement will also provide an important check on BAA's costs, which will be key to viability. But getting costs right is only one side of a viable investment. Prices also need to be right. And this may entail some unwinding of discounts offered to carriers at Stansted in circumstances very different from those prevailing today. BAA's ability to demonstrate and sustain appropriate pricing will be one key part of developing a viable investment proposition at Stansted."

"The foreseen growth in demand provides the opportunity to do a much better job at Stansted this time round. I believe the regulatory approach the CAA has adopted provides the right framework to do so. And I believe that the best outcome for BAA, airlines and consumers can be realised only if all concerned work closely together in the planning and implementation of the Stansted project."

Sir Roy McNulty's full speech is available on www.caa.co.uk/caanews

Our Brief Comment: What about the RESIDENTS? Don't they have a say? They would be paying for a large part of the necessary infratructure, either in money or in congestion and shortages of essential services.

WILL THE STANSTED AIRLINES CONTRIBUTE TO THE DEBATE? WE SHOULD LIKE TO HEAR THEIR VIEWS - AND PUBLISH THEM ON THIS WEBSITE

Pat Dale


11 March 2004

MIKE CLASPER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, BAA PLC GIVES HIS VIEWS

Merrill Lynch European Transport Conference - 10 March 2004

Good Morning,

It's a pleasure to join you at this important and timely gathering. It's nearly a year since I took over from Mike Hodgkinson as Chief Executive. A lot has happened and it's a good moment to take stock.

But I'm going to avoid the temptation to cover the whole BAA waterfront this morning. I would chiefly like to talk about the White Paper agenda and to pick up some of the points raised by Roy in his remarks.

Let me first just take a minute to set out the overall framework within which we're working at BAA.

Some of you will have heard me say before, that a great airports company does three things. This is the Holy Trinity. You need:

„  To be a brilliant, day-to-day operator, 24/7

„  To select the right capital projects and manage them superbly

„  And to work constantly at refreshing the licence to grow

The company I inherited from Mike was well set up to achieve this focus. Mike dumped the things we should never have got into and recognised that we're an airports company.

Very largely, we're a UK airports company, though over time, where we can find opportunities overseas in airport operation and airport retail, and where we can earn good returns from our expertise, without making significant capital commitments, we'll play. We'll grow international, but it will remain very modest in scale against the rest of the group.

In the last year, I've been hard at work in the three core zones. I'm not going to say any more now about day to day operations, but we have an agenda for change across retail, security, maintenance and customer service which will, over time, manage our cost base more tightly and, through innovation, grow our revenues.

On existing capital projects, we've been vigorous managers of the programme. Terminal 5 is on budget and nicely ahead of schedule. And we've agreed with BA the accelerated, one-stage occupation of the terminal in 2008.

At the same time, we've also developed a more effective plan to refresh and re-organise the Central Terminal Area at Heathrow.

Taken together, these initiatives promise real benefits for BAA, in terms of greater operational efficiency, accelerated passenger growth and diminished congestion, which is good for net retail income per passenger.

The hallmark of our approach is to combine innovation with discipline and drive. This is how we'll approach the capital programme which arises out of December's White Paper.

Before I talk about the development programmes for Stansted and Heathrow in more detail, let me just say, since this is the first speech I've given since the publication of the White Paper, that I believe the Government did a very good job.

Alistair Darling has given us a balanced policy framework, which takes a realistic view of the next two to three decades and gives the UK aviation industry an opportunity to build on its strengths.

But it's wrong to say, as some have, that this White Paper simply gave in to industry demands and ignored environmental and social imperatives.

The policy sets unyielding standards on air quality, which at Heathrow present a major challenge. But that's as it should be. No-one in our industry should accept that our future depends upon having people breathe air which is not safe to breathe.

Equally, in specifying emissions trading as the route through which aviation can pay for its contribution to climate change, the Government has chosen the right path.

But following it will take real determination and imagination, by airlines, airport operators and governments all over the world, including the United States.

It's only in this context that we will be allowed to plan and deliver additional airport infrastructure in South East England. We have to keep public and parliamentary opinion on our side.

Our intention, on the basis of the White Paper, is to get on and build a second runway at Stansted, with the aim of meeting the Government's target to complete the first phase of the project inside a decade.

At the same time, we're at work with the Government, airlines and others on addressing the air quality issues at Heathrow. I expect this work to lead, in due course, to the construction of a third runway at Heathrow.

But first Stansted. We have called this project Stansted Generation 2 because we think that it will take what is already Europe's fastest growing major airport into a quite different league.

Our starting point is that we will abide by the underlying principles set out by the Government, after extensive consultation, in the White Paper. Our reading of the White Paper suggests the following key principles:

„  The first new runway in the South East will be at Stansted.

„  It will be delivered as soon as possible, against a very challenging target set by the Government.

„  The runway will be wide-spaced, as set out in the White Paper. Page 117 to be precise.

„  The enlarged airport will be designed for point-to-point operation, not as a hub.

„  We will, as the White Paper demands, work to safeguard the character of the area around the airport to the maximum extent possible. This is consistent with our vision of a sustainable UK aviation industry.

„  We will make a proportionate and fair contribution to surface access schemes which support the airport's expansion and which themselves represent good value for money.

In getting from these underlying principles set out by the Government to a detailed plan, BAA will talk in detail to the many stakeholders involved, including the Stansted airlines, most of which are low-cost carriers. In the light of conversations which have already taken place, with airlines and other stakeholders, I would expect the following principles to be reflected in our planning brief:

„  The new terminal will be designed to achieve the best balance between functionality and cost, therefore leading to best value for money for the airport's users.

„  It will be designed in modules, to allow phased construction and so enabling capacity to match demand as closely as possible.

„  It will be configured to allow quick turnarounds. This means keeping coaching to a minimum, but may, as a result, involve significant walking distances.

„  The layout of the new facilities will offer quick access between runways and stands.

„  We will design the lay-out on scenarios which reflect Stansted's position as a base primarily for low-cost carriers. But we will also need to cater for likely future traffic mix. For example, we will wish to safeguard for the possible emergence of low-cost long-haul services, such as those which may be feasible using the Boeing 7E7 or the new generation Airbus, the A330.

„  There will be minimal back office accommodation and privileged access lounges.

„  Retail will be provided at a level to support the financial case for airport development, but not to add net cost to aeronautical charges.

These are principles, not statements of hard detail. Our dialogue with the Stansted airlines will intensify as the planning process unfolds. These airlines are not known to be shy about telling us what they think. I sometimes think I can hear Michael (O'Leary) when he's in Dublin, I'm in London and neither of us is on the phone.

The business case for Stansted Generation 2 rests upon three assumptions:

„  That traffic at the airport will continue to grow, broadly as envisaged in the Government's own projections.

„  That, as a result, Stansted will be able to raise its charges to the level permitted by the regulatory ceiling set for the present five-year period, 2003-2008. Existing discounts are being unwound and this process will be complete by March 2007.

„  And that, in the next five-year settlement, 2008-2013, the CAA and the Competition Commission will agree to remunerate satisfactorily the first phase of the Stansted G2 project, which could just be operational at the back end of that period.

I am personally confident that these assumptions are well-based and that the first phase of the runway project will proceed broadly on the time-scale the Government envisages. That is why we are pushing on vigorously with the Stansted project today.

However, if circumstances turn out very differently, we will have to adjust our plans. BAA will not ask its shareholders and lenders to support any project for which there is no sound business case.

Just after the White Paper, there was much comment in the press and elsewhere about whether the Stansted runway project would require "system pricing" or "cross subsidy" by users of other BAA airports in the South East.

The CAA's policy, as you've heard from Roy, is that our South East airports should be run and regulated on a stand-alone basis. I accept that we must work within the CAA's policy framework, as we must also operate within the broader policy framework of the more recent Air Transport White Paper.

And, as Roy has acknowledged, the CAA's 2003 price settlement stated that BAA has the right to contest the the standalone approach if "compelling reasons" arise.

It is far too early to say whether such compelling reasons exist or are likely to exist. We will not know the answer to that for some years.

If we think the reasons are compelling, it will be BAA's duty to argue the case. For the present, there really isn't anything to add.

At Stansted, we've made a good start to a demanding work programme. We hope to appoint architects and other consultants within the next couple of months. We have already set out for the local community our approach to dealing with blight.

At Heathrow, we are busy with a number of tasks. The Government is leading a work programme on air quality, in which we will play a central role. I believe that with the right level of co-operation across Government, the aviation industry and the motor industry, we have a good chance of solving the air quality issue at Heathrow.

The White Paper also gave us the opportunity to explore the potential for greater use of our two existing runways at Heathrow: for example, by introducing mixed mode operation.

This will require close dialogue with airlines, NATS and local stakeholders to understand the benefits and impacts involved, both within the existing air traffic movement limit and beyond it.

If the case is made for an increase in the air traffic movement limit, it would require planning approval, not to mention compliance with air quality thresholds.

In these circumstances, it is too early to start thinking about detailed design work for a third runway at Heathrow.

But we will, in the context of drawing up master plans for all our airports (as required by the White Paper) be moving in the course of the next year to define in outline the land-take of a third runway and associated facilities. Again, we're doing all this on the basis of close consultation with airlines and with our local stakeholders.

There are many other challenges: not least ensuring that we get the right rate of progress on surface access issues.

The White Paper represents a large work programme for BAA, but one which by extending our licence to grow underpins the future growth and success of the company.

Are we biting off more than we can chew? I don't think so. The Government has given those of us who hold leadership positions in the aviation industry the chance to deliver what we've spent so many years saying we must have.

And as I said at the beginning, BAA today is a well focused organisation, fully capable of delivering what is needed.

This is a historic opportunity and we intend to take it.

Our Comment: Just a reminder. There has to be both an environmental and a Health Impact Assessment before any expansion can go ahead at either airport. BAA has to make the case that EU law will not be breached. As for the costs of the enterprise... Watch this space.

Pat Dale


7 March 2004

AVIATION NEXT FOR CLIMATE EMISSIONS TRADING?

Environment Daily 1622 - 05/03/04

The EU could well launch as early as next year a substantive debate about extending climate emissions trading to aviation, it has emerged. Signs of interest have been multiplying, with even long-running talks in the International civil aviation authority (ICAO) making progress.

Speaking to journalists on Thursday, senior European Commission official Jos Delbeke said the EU executive would kick-start a debate on transport and climate change from 1 January, once Europe's industrial carbon dioxide (CO2) emission trading scheme has been launched. Aviation emissions would be a priority, he said.

Emissions trading is highly likely to figure in this debate for several reasons, the first being that EU environment commission Margot Wallstrom backed the idea in principle last autumn (ED 14/10/03 http://www.environmentdaily.com/articles/index.cfm?action=article&ref=15303). More concretely, the UK has indicated that it will push for inclusion of aviation in the EU trading scheme from 2008 during its six month presidency of the council of ministers next year.

Providing a following wind, Europe's aviation industry is actively seeking to discuss emissions trading with the EU. Ms Wallstrom herself was responding to a proposal by Britain's main airports operator to integrate aviation into the EU's trading after 2008. The Association of European airlines (AEA) is almost pleading with the Commission to launch talks.

"We say [the Commission should] make an assessment even if it decides that action should be limited to the intra-community level", AEA official Le Thi Mai told Environment Daily. She likened the Commission's engagement with the issue so far to a desert.

"We are prepared to make our own contribution to Kyoto - it couldn't be a more positive message", Le Thi Mai continued. Trading at either EU or global level are conceivable outcomes, subject to the detailed discussions that now need to start, she said.

Fully fledged international emissions trading for aviation still looks a distant prospect, but even here progress is being made. In February, ICAO's environment committee discussed interim findings in an options report from consultants ICF.

It rejected the idea of ICAO developing its own emission trading instrument, but supported further work on approaches integrated into other regional or international trading systems, and on voluntary trading systems.

In an attempt to spur debate, German officials distributed their own consultancy report recommending an ambitious aviation emissions trading system to curb the sector's global warming impacts. The study has just been made publicly available by the consultancy.

It backs an open system, integrated with other trading sectors, rather than one limited to aviation alone, a position also supported by ICAO and AEA. More controversially it recommends that trading should take into account all climate impacts, not just CO2 emissions, which it says could account for as little as 21% of aviation's overall global warming contribution.

Any system should be designed on a cap-and-trade model rather than the alternative baseline and credit approach, it says, enabling an absolute cap on emission rights to be established and aviation's contribution to be clearly defined.

Airlines should be the obligated parties and allowances assigned on the basis of flight departure and destination, not country of domicile, it says. Where flights are between states participating in the Kyoto protocol, each should be assigned half the emissions. Where only one is "at least 50%" of emissions should be assigned to the participating state.

Follow-up: European Commission http://europa.eu.int/comm/index_en.htm; ICAO http://www.icao.org; Environment Committee Session Press Release http://www.icao.org/icao/en/nr/2004/pio200402_e.pdf#02; European Association of Airlines http://www.aea.be


7 March 2004

FURTHER OFFERS FROM BAA

BUT, consider these offers very carefully

BAA, after making offers to the owners of houses destined for destruction if the second runway goes ahead, is now embarking on a consultation with those who will be within the really noisy area under the flight paths to and from the new runway. No one has yet produced any firm statements on exactly where those flight paths will go, though it is reasonable to assume they might initially follow the pattern of the existing runway. However, anyone who looks at today's criss-cross of routes to and from Stansted, Luton, Heathrow and even straight across the UK, may well wonder how all the extra flights are going to be fitted in.

The Government's prediction teams have made their own assumptions and produced their contour maps, both of noise and NO2 emissions. They have continued to use the out of date 57 decibel level to delineate the annoyance area within which the Government accepts that noise levels will interfere with the quality of life.

It is important to remember that within the areas of each of the contours the degree of noisiness represents only an average level during the 24 hours. An average level can include many periods of much louder noise than 57 decibels, as much as 90 under a flight path. It is generally agreed that a noise of 70 decibels interferes with talking and those living well outside the "official" 57 decibel level will experience this level if they live under a flight path. It can of course also include some periods of quiet, depending on the number of flights .

What is BAA offering?

They accept that noise will lower the value of the sufferer's house and it might be difficult to sell. Neither is it sufficient compensation to simply insulate the house, when life becomes unpleasant in the summer with windows shut and gardens subjected to recurrent noise. So, it appears that they are likely to be willing to undertake to buy either right away (as a buyer of "last resort", - they don't wish to be landlords either), or, if and when permission is granted to build the new runway. BAA will need to be convinced that the house value really has fallen.

Now we come to the catch. The noise map reproduced in the local paper The Reporter "BAA reveals new Runway Footprint" shows only the area within the 66 decibel footprint, not that within the 57 decibel. An area with an average of 66 decibels is a very unpleasant area indeed. Ask those who live near the existing runway.

If BAA is only offering compensation to those in this very noisy area then they should also be explaining to those within the 63 and 57 decibel levels what they are proposing for them, not to forget those outside the 57 decibel area who live under a flight path, and those who live within the 54 decibel area which is regarded by the World Health Organisation as an area where noise is still a problem, but this is not yet accepted by the UK Government. And - what about those living round the present runway, many of them were living in the area long before Stansted became an international airport. Is there any scheme for them?

Pat Dale


4 March 2004

LIB DEMS PROPOSE A POLICY FOR SUSTAINABLE AVIATION

The Guardian - 1 March 2004 - Nicholas Watt reports

Airport Departure Taxes should be scrapped and replaced by a duty on every plane leaving Britain - both passenger and freight - to make the polluter pay, Charles Kennedy will declare today.

In a major speech on the environment, the Liberal Democrat leader will say that an intelligent targeting of "green taxes" would change behaviour and encourage good environmental practice.

With his eye on hundreds of thousands of airline passengers on no frills airlines, whose fares are often cheaper than the departure taxes, Mr Kennedy will say it is wrong to expect individual passengers to pay.

He will say "Freight planes pay no dues but pollute as much. A full passenger aircraft causes virtually no more pollution than an empty one, but the present duty gives no incentive to operators to fill up their flights. A much fairer system would be for airlines to pay duty on every plane taking off from a British airport, both passenger and freight. Our proposal, taxing the aeroplane not the passenger, is the principle of the polluter pays in action."

Mr Kennedy's eye-catching pledge may not lead to large savings for passengers because airlines would probably add the costs of his new tax to fares. While levying a tax on freight planes would reduce cost, the decision of Ryanair to pass on the costs o/f providing wheel chairs for passengers shows they pay in the end. He is also expected to castigate Tony Blair for not injecting some urgency into dealing with the problem of climate change.

Our Comment: It is a pity that Charles Kennedy did not follow his own initial advice, that the proper targeting of green taxes will encourage environmentally responsible behaviour. He has not faced up to the question of ridiculously cheap fares for air travel. What is the justification for favouring the air traveller at the expense of the bus , train and car traveller? - especially when air travel is the most polluting.

Pat Dale


1 March 2004

BAA IS GOOD FOR US - SAYS BAA

The latest Forum leaflet tells us all the "good" things
that BAA have done for us in recent months

Top of the list is "Doing the Right Thing" - the Home Value Guarantee Scheme announced before Xmas to "offer reassurance" to those who might be worried about the impact of a second runway on their home - the 107 home owners whose homes "might have to be taken to make way for an expanded airport". These are weasle words trying to conceal the tragedy of losing a family home for no good reason. BAA has campaigned very forcibly for this runway and, after all, it is in the airport business.

BAA could, however, instead of expansion, devote its energy into making the 25 mppa Stansted into a more pleasant airport, relaxing to travel through and offering passengers a better quality of service - instead of deteriorating into the crowded nightmare that so many airports become once they have passed a certain size.

The fact is that the compulsory purchase scheme itself offers a fair market price for the unfortunate householder. BAA is trying to sugar the pill by offering a 10% bonus "after planning permission is given". So, they are also saying - don't oppose the application when it is made public!

It is understandable that many feel tempted by this offer but BAA are a long way from achieving their object - and you can be sure that the 10% will remain on offer right up to the time that the second runway planning application is actually made, which is some time off.

The second offer, to establish a scheme to relieve blight on houses in the immediate surroundings, is yet to be devised. With regard to noise, nothing can insulate the garden, and the prospect of living in a permanently sealed house is not a pleasant one. Visit a friend near Heathrow and find out! As for Air Quality, if their future plans predict poor air quality outside the airport then, like Heathrow, the runway cannot be built as the law will be breached. At the moment, further computer exercises have satisfied Ministers that Stansted air quality will remain within legal limits. However, a lot of people have to change their habits and a lot of aircraft have to be redesigned before that wish can be guaranteed. BAA will have to prove that case beyond reasonable doubt.

Meantime, we are told to expect the application to expand to 35 mppa with the one runway. This has to be made first - and approved. It was threatened before, if Uttlesford Council did not grant the permission to expand to 25 mppa. Now permission has been granted but expansion goes on.

In the rest of the list of BAA's good works are improvements and donations that were imposed as a condition of this permission. We ask, if BAA is so mindful of their community responsibilities, why did they not carry out these measures before?

BAA tells us that they have this money to pay for these improvements because Uttlesford Council's sensible decision to grant permission for 25 mppa saved them a lot of money would have had to be spent on a Public Inquiry!

Pat Dale


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