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 - August to October 2004

26 October 2004

DIRE WARNINGS FROM GLOBAL WARMING REPORT

Financial and Environmental Impact of Rising UK Emissions Projected

Owen Bowcott - The Guardian - 25 October 2004

Daffodils, cod, Christmas trees and the Highlands ski resorts could have become victims of global warming by 2050 according to an energy efficiency report today. Warmer weather will, instead, introduce vineyards to Scotland, stingrays and more types of sharks in our coastal waters as well as termites, scorpions and mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus and Dengue fever, the study - Forecasting the Future - says.

Published by the Energy Saving Trust, the body established by the government in 1992 after the Rio Earth Summit, the document details the likely effects of climate change on Britain if nothing is done to cut emissions of greenhouse gases or reduce energy use.

As much as £200bn-worth of property and infrastructure including 2m homes could be at risk from flooding and coastal erosion by the middle of the century, the projection suggests. The cost of buildings subsidence, exacerbated by weather extremes, could top £600m a year and storm damage could add another £800m to annual insurance claims.

"Flooding is a potential problem as winter rains grow heavier and sea levels rise" says the report, produced in conjunction with the UK Climate Impact Programme. "Investment will be needed to protect London and other key places from flooding as well as vulnerable installations such as nuclear power stations. Within 50 years parts of East Anglia will have to be heavily defended against rising seas. Some land could be returned to the sea in more managed retreats." One such controlled breach of flood defences was carried out on Humberside last year.

Average temperatures are expected to be between 1C and 4.5C higher by the end of the century, when golf courses will become increasingly expensive to maintain due to long hot summers.

The report is being released as part of Energy Efficiency Week and comes amid a flurry of climate change predictions and warnings that not enough is being done to save energy or provide alternative sources from fossil fuel. Under the Kyoto protocol and other EU agreements the UK must, by 2010, reduce its emissions of the six major greenhouse gases by 12.5 % compared with levels in 1990. The government has promised to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20% by the end of this decade and by 60% by 2050.

The Trust's projections are based on the presumption that such demanding targets cannot be met. Little can be done to halt global warming over the next 30-40 years because of the vast amount of such gases already released by burning fossil fuels, the Trust believes. But there is a chance to mitigate the worst impact of global warming beyond that date.

Last week the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) criticised the government for underestimating by 30% the true level of carbon dioxide emissions for which Britain is responsible. "The Prime Minister's strong words on climate change are still being undermined by failure to control CO2 emissions" said the organisation's director of campaigns, Andrew Lee. "Emissions at home are rising under Labour. In addition the economy is driving up emissions around the world." Food, manufactured goods and raw materials imported from abroad generate large CO2 emissions abroad, the WWF says, for which the UK consumers are responsible.

This week Barbara Young, chief executive of the Environment Agency, will reinforce the message that individual consumers must make important choices. Consumption and energy use are rocketing, she will tell a conference in Birmingham. The number of electrical devices used by households in England and Wales is, for example due to double this decade. The agency's estimate of the damage likely to be caused by flooding in 2080, if no action is taken to control global warming, is £26bn a year. Emissions of greenhouse gases will need to be cut by 75% in 2050 to prevent such dangers, she suggests. More than a quarter of all carbon emissions come from cars and 28% from homes, according to the Energy Saving Trust. "It is imperative that we become more aware of the energy we use in our homes and reduce our CO2 emissions" warns Philip Sellwood, the Trust's chief executive. "Every time a light is switched on or a video is left on standby, CO2 is emitted from a power station, causing damage to the environment."

The worst scenario for 2050 in the Trust's report are based on studies of the likely impact on the UK's environment. Lack of snow could render Scotland's ski resorts redundant in 20 years. Daffodils, bluebells and crocuses might disappear because of warmer winters, as would spruce trees. Cod would fail to flourish in warmer seas and could be replaced by tuna. Termites are already spreading north on the continent and are in France. Mosquitoes carrying fatal diseases could become a regular feature of the countryside. West Nile fever has already become endemic in the US due to rising temperatures. Poisonous spiders could also flourish without winter frosts.

OUR COMMENT: Of course individuals could do more, but only governments can initiate and enforce big changes, such as supporting renewable energy, promoting biofuels and low carbon technology, requiring developers to build energy efficient houses, AND not persist in encouraging the biggest potential polluter -aviation - to expand.

Pat Dale


26 October 2004

MORE GLOOM ABOUT HOUSE PRICE BLIGHT

Villages like this are afraid. Very afraid.

The Daily Telegraph - 20 October 2004

Some of eastern England's prettiest areas are being forced to accept their share of nearly 500,000 new homes. Caroline McGhie reports on the plight of homeowners living in a 'petrified market'.

Gillian Coleby tends the pretty garden around her ancient, cream, lath-and-plaster thatched house at Pledgdon Green in Essex, and has done so for 40 years. "It is such a lovely garden and the countryside is beautiful," she says, "but I would much rather not be here." She has wanted to sell her five-bedroom house on the village green for more than two years. Pledgdon Green was once an untouched pocket of rural England, but Gillian has watched the roads around it clog with cars and the airspace fill with jets.

She now divides her time between the garden and hospital visits to her 72-year-old husband Roger, who in the past two years has had heart surgery and a stroke. "We desperately need to move into a smaller house near a shop," she says. "We were naive: we thought we would sell the house instantly."

It went on the market at £575,000 in April 2002. In May it was reduced to £525,000, in June to £495,000, and in December they took it off the market. Their home is in the most sensitive area of England: within the great swathe of new housing that John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, plans for the East, funnelling up the M11 corridor to Cambridge and onto Peterborough. A second runway for Stansted airport is proposed, as well as a link road from the A120 to the M11, and thousands of homes are likely to be built on the back of the new job opportunities and accessibility.

"We can't get on with our lives," says Gillian. Land Registry figures show that house prices in the area are in the doldrums. Values have dropped by an average of £34,000 per home across the Uttlesford district, affecting about 12,000 houses; while prices across Essex have increased by 31 per cent in the past two years, according to the Stop Stansted Expansion Campaign (SSEC).

Most homeowners prefer to keep silent about it, but the blight caused by the threat of expansion has prompted chartered surveyor Michael Snow, of Snow Walker Associates, to admit: "We're looking at a petrified housing market." According to Peter Sanders, the SSEC chairman: "We are concerned about the enormous urbanisation that comes with an airport because Uttlesford is the most rural district in Essex. The huge numbers of new people coming to the area will change the nature of towns and villages. If it goes ahead, 81 million passenger movements will make it busier than any other airport in the world."

This delicate band of countryside, forming an outer ring around the M25, runs from Luton, in the west, through Stevenage and Bishop's Stortford, and eastwards towards Southend. Last Friday, the planning panel for the East of England Regional Assembly met in Cambridge to finalise a plan for incorporating the 478,000 new houses that the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister wants built by 2021. The panel had already drawn up a plan, but Lord Rooker, the Regeneration and Regional Development Minister, asked for another 18,000 to be added. New housing will help cure the affordability crisis and end the boom-bust cycle, says the Government. But who should take the extra homes?

No one, it seems. On Friday night, the assembly said no to more homes. After hundreds of studies and consultations, the number earmarked for Bedfordshire and Luton is 54,500 houses; Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, 89,300; Essex, Southend and Thurrock, 131,000; Hertfordshire, 72,000; Norfolk, 72,600 and Suffolk, 58,600.

Behind the scenes, parts of Essex and Hertfordshire have been fighting to defend their territory. Cambridgeshire has been gung-ho about growth, but it too is rejecting the extra homes.

"We are not prepared to accept another 18,000 houses. We do not believe there is a case for it," says John Reynolds, the chairman of the planning panel. "It will be difficult to deliver what has already been agreed and we want to monitor jobs growth. If it doesn't happen, then we should not be building the houses.

"On current growth levels alone, we need £1.6 billion to cover infrastructure and affordable homes needed. The Government has got to put its hand in its pocket. If it doesn't, it can't expect local communities to do so."

The areas most likely to be affected include Basildon, Bedford, Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Colchester, Great Yarmouth, Harlow, Hemel Hempstead, Ipswich, King's Lynn, Lowestoft, Luton-Dunstable, Norwich, Peterborough, Southend-on-Sea, Stansted, Stevenage, Thurrock and the M11 corridor (specifically Broxbourne, Braintree, Bishop's Stortford and Great Dunmow). Not all are beauty spots, but the development will come close to some of the prettiest parts of Essex and Hertfordshire.

Henry Oliver, the head of planning and local government at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, is seriously concerned. "This area looks as if it will get it in the neck because it is not an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty or Green Belt, but that doesn't mean it isn't old, interesting and full of character," he says.

There is growing conflict between local authorities and the Government. At a conference on the Eastern Vision, organised by FPDSavills last week, Andrew Wells, the director of sustainable communities for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, disappointed his audience by announcing at the start that he could not speak about the eastern corridor because it was "too controversial".

But there is no doubt that the Government is determined. It is leaning on local authorities to deliver - asking them to allocate more sites than they need; setting up elite teams called "delivery vehicles" to put together large developments; using regional planning for arm-wrestling between "optimist" and "pessimist" local authorities. There is a government blacklist of 45 authorities, identified as not delivering their targets. A housing supply steering group, headed by Lord Rooker, is also being set up to investigate non-delivery. "We need to have a change in attitudes," he says. He is particularly pleased that Milton Keynes has agreed to take 44,000 extra homes above its allocation.

Meanwhile, homeowners are stuck, unable to trade up and release housing at the much-needed lower end of the market. A couple of miles from Great Dunmow, in the village of Great Easton, Anita Armitage and her husband David tried to sell their three-bedroom terrace cottage from October 2003 to May 2004. In spite of 62 viewings, it didn't sell. "It should have been worth £225,000, but we put it on at £185,000. All the talk of a new Stansted airport runway put buyers off," she says, even though they lie outside the compensation zone. She has a 20-month-old daughter, Isabella, and another baby on the way. "We may be stuck here for 12 to 15 years and there isn't one room big enough for our children to play in."

In Cambridge, housebuilding will grow by 40 per cent to about 2,800 per year. Cambridge airport will be moved and 14,000 homes built in its place.

A new town of 10,000 houses is to be built at North Stowe, to the north west. The new town of Cambourne, half built, may rise from 3,500 to 5,000 homes. South of the city, near Great and Little Shelford, another 2,500 houses are planned. Saffron Walden is blight-free but close to Cambridge and the M11. The influx of people could change the town centre. "The narrowness of the lanes and the lack of public transport means that they can't build any more round here," says Tony Mullucks, of Mullucks Wells estate agents.

Bishop's Stortford is already a busy commuter haven and losing its market-town image. Stansted airport sits on its shoulder. "Once there are flights to America, it will bring in a whole new range of buyers. Think of Slough and Windsor where prices are big," says Jeremy Smallman, of Strutt & Parker. Homeowners fear Great Dunmow nearby will expand like Crawley did in the shadow of Gatwick.

In Stevenage, as with other areas in the region, low unemployment of about two per cent makes it difficult for businesses to expand. It needs top-of-the-market housing to attract the right people. The town plans 6,500 houses by 2021 and a new Stevenage extension of 5,000 to 8,000 houses. In north Hertfordshire, another 17,000 homes are to be shoe-horned in by 2021. North Herts District Council believes that plans to expand Luton airport will make it the size of Gatwick, with a five-fold increase in passengers. Together with other local authorities, it is seeking a judicial review of government policy in early December.

OUR COMMENT: Will all these new houses be energy efficient? Would they all be needed if the government decided that airport expansion was a non starter in view of the serious risk of accelerating climate change? Read "Going for Growth", the recent report from the IPPR described in Recent News. It asks the question - is all this growth really sustainable?

Pat Dale


24 October 2004

THE FUTURE PLANS OF BAA

Mike Clasper gives his views

Mike Clasper, BAA's Chief Executive, was addressing the President's Forum
of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce - 12 October 2004

Here follows the main body of his speech - some of his views are relevant to Stansted.

He admits that it may be necessary to make a case to the CAA for the cross subsidising of Stansted but rather surprisingly seems to believe that such a decision can be left for several years!

He started by asking - What is BAA?

* BAA is widely regarded as the world's most successful airport company. We are totally private sector funded and our investments, nearly £1 million a week in Scotland, cost the taxpayer nothing.

* We are an international business operating in a truly global industry. However, we are obviously a business which is bound into communities and neighbourhoods across the United Kingdom and throughout the countries in which we have interests. Additionally, we have a duty to the wider public. This extends from providing clean, working and friendly airports for the travelling public and our airline customers to leading pioneering work to make airports across the world safe and more secure at a time when they are without doubt in the line of fire.

* In fact, BAA is a prime example of what a local MP, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has referred to in the past as a "public interest company". We operate at the boundary between private sector obligations to our shareholders and customers and public sector responsibilities to provide quality public infrastructure for the country.

* We also drive national efforts, particularly here in Scotland, to attract and sustain new air routes.

* By our nature, it is very often our airports which link the UK, and Scotland, with many points across the world and I am proud of the way in which we are developing a strong and sustainable route network for Scotland. This good work will continue, as will our financial incentives for carriers.

* On an international level, this is undoubtedly a time of considerable uncertainty.

* The constant threat of terrorism and all its implications for airport security, coupled with rising oil prices and the well-documented financial challenges faced by some international airlines, especially the American carriers, means that we, BAA, have to be more focused on the future, and our efficiency, than ever before.

* Let me dwell on the issue of airport security for a moment. Safety and security are the foundations on which the aviation business is built. If you allow these foundations to be undermined, then public confidence, and the business, will fall down. It's as simple as that.

* That is why BAA is spending around £40 million a year on safety and security.

* In addition to the constant pressures faced by a business operating in the sights of global terrorism, there is an ever-present context of change.

* There is unprecedented consolidation taking place within the world airline industry - it is no secret that low-cost airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair are competing hard with the more traditional carriers, like BA and BMI. They are driving costs down across the board in their relentless pursuit of passengers. The impacts of this strategy are felt by the whole industry on a daily basis.

* A new generation of airports, for example Stansted and the secondary, out-of-town airports favoured by the likes of Ryanair, are vying for market share with existing European hubs such as Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Schipol.

* BAA must react cleverly, and continuously, to that change. To do this, we have spent the last two years focusing more than ever on cost, efficiency and providing better customer service, alongside that important and consistent investment in safety and security.

* Our ability to get this right has been brought into sharp focus by the Government's 2003 White Paper.

* For example, there has been considerable comment and speculation around whether the new runway at Stansted will require what is known as "system pricing" or "cross subsidy" by users of other airports in the South East.

* The CAA's policy states that our South East Airports must be run and regulated on a stand-alone basis, however we will reserve the right to make the case for cross-subsidy if there are compelling reasons for doing so.

* Today, it is far too early to say whether such compelling reasons exist or are likely to exist. We will not know for some years. However, if we think the reasons are compelling, it will be our duty to argue the case and we will do so.

* Looking broadly at the future, it is my view that BAA's continued success or otherwise rests around three important criteria.

1. The first revolves around the "on the day" airport experience. Our ability to provide clean, working and friendly airports is an important basis on which we will be judged by airline customers, travellers and our broad range of stakeholders in politics, the media and beyond. That again includes safety and security.

2. To maintain and increase the confidence of our investors, we must spend capital wisely. I will talk later about our extensive capital investment programme for Scotland but rest assured - particularly if you are a shareholder - we have vigorous processes to ensure that capital expenditure is directed only to where it is required and decisions are carefully scrutinised.

3. To grow our airports, we must consistently earn the valuable support of our stakeholders, from our neighbours in the community to our national and local political leaders. Effectively, we can't simply decide to grow - we need permission to do so -and we are constantly alive to that fact.

* Perhaps another important element of how we are judged is one which is occupying minds in Scotland at the moment. It is a question around the ability of private sector companies to deliver important public services.

* There is no doubt that our facilities must be of a standard and quality which meets the needs and demands of our airlines as well as the travelling public. That can often present a challenge in itself - on one hand I have airlines lobbying me for lower airport charges (and in Scotland that is what they are getting).

* But on the other hand, the UK, and Scotland, rightly expects world-class, high-quality airport facilities which can comfortably handle the millions of passengers a year who use them and adequately serve future generations.

* I know that the Scottish Executive has asked Eric Milligan to visit six of our seven airports in the UK to judge what the first impressions of international visitors might be. So the quality of our facilities, and the welcome we offer, is clearly viewed as an important element of our collective ability to develop tourism in support of regional and national economies.

* That brings me neatly to the politics of aviation. BAA operates in a political environment - that is never in question. There are many areas of our industry - from the development of long-term strategic policy such as last year's White Paper to our role in promoting national security and striking the right balance between the promotion of social and economic growth and reducing environmental impacts, all of which can only be addressed by Government.

* Only ministers can effectively and credibly balance the long-term economic needs of the UK and its regions with local communities, which not surprisingly expect the impacts of aviation to be managed to their ultimate satisfaction. We have long maintained that it would not be right to allow a private company to make decisions, the impact of which is felt well beyond the airport fence.

* The environment is critical to me, as it is to BAA. That is why we are at the forefront of the debate on how the impacts of our industry - climate change, noise, air quality etc - are managed in the best interests of the environment and of the economy.

* Despite the fact that BAA does not fly the planes which cause aviation's biggest impact on climate change, we acknowledge that, without innovative solutions to environmental impacts, the ability to grow our airports will be constrained.

* During 2003, we led a vocal lobby which seeks to bring aviation into the forthcoming EU Emissions Trading scheme. We continue to advocate this proposition in our regular discussions with Government and EU officials.

* In short, emissions trading is where industries which cannot reduce their own emissions buy permits from those industries which can, within a stringent cap.

* This has been identified as the most effective mechanism for industry to meet its emissions targets quickly and at low cost.

* In principle, it should not matter who generates the emissions, as long as the total volume generated does not breach the cap.

* That is one area in which BAA is leading a constructive debate on international policy, which we hope will lead to a long-term solution which promotes the competitiveness of UK aviation and removes the need for blunt instruments such as Air Passenger Duty, which puts British aviation at a distinct competitive disadvantage.

Mike Clasper went on to describe BAA's plans to expand in Scotland, notably in Edinburgh.

OUR COMMENT: In spite of all this optimism there are many difficulties to overcome (other than SSE!) before BAA can build another runway for Stansted.

Pat Dale


24 October 2004

STANSTED: RUNWAY REJECTION DISMISSED BY BAA

Essex News - 19 October 2004

BAA has dismissed the rejection of a second runway at Stansted by regional planners.

The airport's operator said it would continue preparing a planning application despite the East of England's Regional Assembly (EERA) slamming the proposals on economic and environmental grounds recently.

At a meeting of EERA recently the assembly said the association of regional prosperity with massive airport growth was not certain.

And at the planning panel of EERA on Friday, the committee considered the controversial regional spatial strategy for the East of England up to 2021, which saw plans for nearly 500,000 homes in the region given the thumbs up.

But the panel said the regional strategy 'should not support development of a second runway at Stansted, principally on the grounds of its environmental impact'.

But a BAA spokesman said the rejection was only EERA's opinion and would not affect its work on preparing a planning application for the second runway.


24 October 2004

AIRLINES DON'T ALWAYS AGREE ON MITIGATION MEASURES

Belgian night flight curbs spark DHL pull-out

Environment Daily 1752 - 21 October 2004

A long-running tussle over night flights and noise pollution at Brussels Zaventem airport has ended with courier firm DHL announcing that it will site its main European hub elsewhere.

The firm said on Thursday that a letter sent by the Belgian authorities earlier this week insisting that it use quieter aircraft demonstrated that there was "no political support" for its project.

As a result, the firm said it would no longer create 1,400 jobs in Brussels, and from 2008 could reduce jobs there by up to 1,700.

OUR COMMENT: This situation could arise with most low cost airlines. Mitigation measures cost money. Raised airport charges will not be welcome either. Ryanair has already said it will not pay for a "gold plated runway".

Pat Dale


24 October 2004

NEW REPORT ON THE EXTERNAL COSTS OF TRANSPORT

This is an update to a previous study carried out by INFRAS in Zurich in 2000. The external costs of all forms of transport have been calculated for the EU member states plus Switzerland and Norway. They are given in total costs and in average costs per 1000 passenger Km or per 1000 tonnes Km of freight The costs are allocated into categories: accidents, noise, air pollution, climate change risks, nature and landscapes, extra urban effects and congestion.

For all transport climate change costs are the highest at 30% of the total, with air pollution and accidents following at 27% and 24%. Total costs for all categories (which includes accidents) and for all countries in 2000 is estimated as 650 billion Euro. Road transport is the biggest offender, with 83.7% of the costs, air transport is second at 14%. Rail is only 1.7% and water 0.4%.

When the separate categories are averaged passenger aviation is responsible for 3 times as much climate change costs as cars and 8 times as much as rail. Aviation Freight costs are 14 times as much as lorries and vans, and 72 times that of rail.

Not surprisingly the Report recommends that external costs must be internalised and suggests a road pricing scheme for cars, a tax on lorries, and a realistic fuel tax to include aviation.

Pat Dale


24 October 2004

PROGRESS ON THE CARBON TRADING SCHEME

European CO2 emission trading moves closer

Environment Daily 1751 - 20 October 2004

The European Commission has approved eight more national allocation plans (Naps) for the EU carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions trading scheme. The development means industry in 16 countries is now cleared to start trading from the scheme's scheduled launch just 73 days from now. It is uncertain how many of the remaining nine will be ready in time.

On Wednesday the Commission approved plans from Belgium, Estonia, Latvia, Luxembourg, Portugal and Slovakia. Each government had agreed to make cuts in the number of emission allowances to be allocated to participating companies in the scheme's 2005-7 phase, it added.

France and Finland's plans were also approved, but with conditions. In particular, the Commission believes the French government's proposal is based on exaggerated emissions growth forecasts and wants it to cut allocations by a further 4.5m tonnes.

The French government has already agreed to a second demand by bringing 750 more installations in to the scheme. The Commission's quibble with Finland is more minor. It wants Helsinki to extend the scheme to four plants on the I?and islands in the Baltic Sea.

Wednesday's announcement marks a second wave of approvals for national plans. A first series were cleared in July (ED 07/07/04 www.environmentdaily.com/articles/index.cfm?action=article&ref=17021). Since then, however, the German government has challenged one of the conditions imposed on its plan at the European court of justice (ED 21/09/04 www.environmentdaily.com/articles/index.cfm?action=article&ref=17305

Berlin is defending its right to make "ex post" adjustments to the number of allowances in circulation once the scheme has started. Several other member states had intended to use a similar mechanism. All have now dropped their plans under pressure from the Commission.

Added to the fact that draft plans from Italy, Spain and Poland are incomplete or have yet to be assessed, the German and French problems leave question marks hanging over trading in five of the EU's six largest countries.

According to the Commission, plans approved so far - with or without conditions - cover 7,200 of the 12,000 plants due to have emissions caps. The allowances sanctioned amount to 3.8bn tonnes of CO2. Of the nine EU states whose plans have not yet been approved, only Greece has yet to submit even a draft.

The Commission says it has forced cuts of 48m tonnes of allowances from the 16 approved plans - or just over 1% of the total amount proposed. The biggest cuts - up to 20% - were in plans from the new eastern states, where Kyoto targets will be easily met. Some governments there had mistakenly believed they could allocate many more allowances than firms needed, allowing them to make big profits on the surplus.

It remains to be seen whether the Commission's efforts will placate critics of the Naps. The UK has complained of potential distortions of competition.

OUR COMMENT: When is the UK going to propose the inclusion of aviation? BAA supports it!

Pat Dale


21 October 2004

JOHN PRESCOTT'S HOUSING PLANS

'Go south' strategy attacked:
Labour-leaning thinktank has questioned the region's ability
to handle further expansion

Peter Hetherington, Regional Affairs Editor - The Guardian - 18 October 2004

Government strategies forcing higher growth and hundreds of thousands of new houses on an already prosperous south-east of England are challenged today by a thinktank which is close to Tony Blair.

Questioning the region's ability to handle further expansion, it warns that the south should instead concentrate on coping with current pressures, including congestion, pollution, disparities within the region and the lack of affordable housing.

In a report certain to raise more doubts about John Prescott's plan for four big growth areas in the south and east of England, the Institute for Public Policy Research bluntly says that the case for ever-faster economic expansion is wrong.

It seeks to demolish the argument of government agencies pushing for further growth to match continental counterparts, using figures showing that the south already compares well with mainland Europe's most prosperous regions.

The region is already on a par with all the "well-known centres of commerce outside London and Paris": Milan, Turin, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Munich, and Stuttgart, for instance.

The report labels two other arguments as myths: that the south has an overheating labour market, characterised by skills shortages, and that its future lies in the "knowledge economy".

It argues that problems caused by skills shortages and gaps do not appear to be a bigger problem in the south than elsewhere, while the region's ability to draw graduates from the rest of the UK and overseas might give it an advantage.

Pushing for a "knowledge economy" is labelled an ill-defined concept and a throwback to an industrial policy of "picking winners" which had little success in the second half of the 20th century.

Research commissioned by public agencies in the south defines such an economy to include only a "handful of high-technology manufacturing and service activities". That definition excludes business and financial services - "the obvious area of comparative advantage for the greater south-east".

Prepared for an IPPR-led commission on sustainable development in the south-east, whose membership includes some of the major players in the region, the report will be seized on by critics of the expansion plans.

Those opponents range from amenity groups such as the Campaign to Protect Rural England to northern MPs and some councils in the south fearful of the impact growth will have on the countryside.

In one critical section, the report notes: "Further increasing the rate of economic growth in the south-east does not seem a high priority relative to dealing with disparities in prosperity within the region and coping with the problems that current levels of relative economic success pose - particularly in terms of traffic congestion, the lack of affordable housing, the use of natural resources and the quality of the environment."

But it cautions that such a critique should not be confused with arguing for no growth, or lower growth. It says it is merely suggesting that the current rate of growth is acceptable as an economic objective, although it "will pose challenges for achieving environmental objectives in the region".

The report comes amid signs of a policy re-appraisal by Gordon Brown and Mr Prescott, who are charged with pushing through the southern growth areas, principally the 40-mile Thames Gateway corridor running from east London to Essex and Kent.

In a speech in Newcastle upon Tyne last week the chancellor, accompanied by the deputy prime minister, said that a key theme in Labour's next manifesto would be how to make all regions more productive, prosperous and wealthy.

But he warned that balanced economic growth becomes impossible "if we have unemployment and emigration and the under-use of resources in one part of the country, and congestion and overcrowding and huge inflationary pressures in the other".

Jobless rates in the north-east, where unemployment is rising, contrary to the national trend, were twice those of the south-east, he noted, while business start-ups were only half the national average.

Both Mr Brown and Mr Prescott are pushing a new initiative, known as the Northern Way, which is based on improving the economies of big cities such as Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield as well as surrounding growth areas to challenge the south.

But the Brown-Prescott initiative sits uneasily alongside a public service agreement (PSA) between the government and its nine regional development agencies, updated this year. It is aimed at making improvements in the economic performance of all regions while reducing the prosperity gap between the strongest and the weakest - which is currently widening, according to the IPPR.

The full Report "Going for Growth" is available on www.ippr.org

OUR COMMENT: With nearly 500,000 extra houses pushed into the Eastern Region, mainly in the Peterborough/Cambridge/Stansted/London corridor, these comments are very relevant to Uttlesford and the areas round Stansted - where the recent consultant's report has identified Harlow, Bishop's Stortford, Great Dunmow and Braintree as areas able to absorb extra housing, though they have made it clear that there will be environmental losses and traffic problems, and that all developments should be employment led. Should the draft Regional Plan be accepting these extra houses?

Pat Dale


21 October 2004

THE BUSBY REPORT - UK SURVIVAL IN THE 21st CENTURY

This is a very interesting report published on John Busby's website
at www.after-oil.co.uk   It covers all fossil fuel supplies -
here is the section relating to aviation.

Oil Reserves and UK Airport Capacity by John Busby

Diminishing oil reserves will curtail air traffic in a decade or so, and the suggested expansion of airports and associated runways is likely to lead to a surplus of capacity. It is not just a question of price or affordability. An exponentially increasing annual amount of jet fuel when extracted from a declining quantity of crude oil at lower yields will accelerate the emptying of the reserves.

When in 2002, the UK Department of Transport announced a consultation on airport runway capacity, it was assumed that the usage of air transport will double by 2015 and triple by 2030. This is achieved by an exponential annual growth in air traffic of 5.5% until 2015 or 4% over the entire period to 2030.

Airbus, the European aircraft manufacturer, predicts an annual global growth rate in passenger traffic of 4.5% beginning in 2000 at 3.2 x 1012 passenger-km/annum (or 2 x 1012 air-miles/annum). If sustained, this would rise to 12 x 1012 passenger-km/annum (or 7.4 x 1012 air-miles/annum) in 2030. The cumulative passenger-km over the thirty years totals 204 x 1012 passenger-km (or 127 x 1012 air-miles).

With the introduction of super-jetliners, Airbus expects to reduce the jet fuel requirement by 2% per annum, so that a 4.5% increase per annum in passenger traffic would result in a 2.5% increase in jet fuel consumption per annum. This equates with a consumption in the thirteen years up to 2015 of 2900 million tonnes of jet fuel and in the twenty-eight years up to 2030 of 8200 million tonnes of jet fuel.

(160 million t/annum in 2000, 272 million mt/a in 2015, 423 mt/a in 2030)

The reduction in the yield of jet fuel as the production of North Sea crude (25% yield) declines means more Middle East crude (8-10% yield) has to be used. The other refinery products will have to be produced in a greater proportion to jet fuel than currently is the case. For jet fuel production to expand by 2.5% per annum oil reserves would have to be depleted at a greater rate unless adjustments to refineries are made.

Although a refinery product profile can be modified by installing additional equipment, more fuel is consumed internally, reducing the overall output while increasing the yield of jet fuel. An exponential growth rate in air traffic of 4.5% over twenty-eight years would require an amount of jet fuel impossible to procure.

Total oil production is expected to rise from 27 Gb in 2002 to a peak of 31 Gb in 2010. It falls to 29 Gb in 2015 when the oil requirement for jet fuel manufacture will be 2.2 Gb (or 8% of oil production), but by 2030 oil production may well have fallen further to 19 Gb, while the oil requirement for jet fuel manufacture would have risen to 3.4 Gb (or 18% of oil production). In 2000 jet fuel comprised 4.5% of total oil products. With falling jet fuel yield, demand for other oil products will make the attainment of 8%, let alone 18% of oil products as jet fuel impossible.

In the period to 2030 total oil production rises then falls, but the move to Middle East crude means that throughout the period the yield of jet fuel derived from oil falls. So an exponentially-rising demand for jet fuel intrinsic in the forecasts for air traffic growth cannot be supplied from oil. Putting this another way, the amount of jet fuel that can be obtained from 4.5% of the proven reserves of 1048 Gb is 6400 million tonnes of jet fuel equivalent to only 145 x 1012 passenger-km (or 93 x 1012 passenger-miles). Hypothetically, it has been shown above that if global air traffic were to grow exponentially at 4.5%/annum as predicted, 204 x 1012 passenger-km (or 127 x 1012 passenger-miles) would be accumulated by 2030. The industry would have used up its air-miles in 2026, well before then!

The growth in air traffic envisaged will not be attained as the oil producers will restrict production to conserve their inventory throughout the time span envisaged. Although the synthesis of jet fuel from natural gas or coal is possible, there is no potential substitute for oil-based jet fuel capable of supporting the prospective size of the industry.

In recognition of this fuel problem, Airbus is developing a modification strategy, whereby liquid hydrogen produced by electrolysis and cryogenic liquefaction is substituted for jet fuel. This requires a hydrogen infrastructure based on the availability of enormous amounts of electrical power. It also means that aircraft have to be specially adapted to run on liquid hydrogen fuel.

Only flights between airports with supplies of liquid hydrogen would be possible and flights diverted to airports without such a facility would be stranded. In turn supplies of liquid hydrogen depend on an availability of local hydro or geothermal power as might be sufficient in New Zealand or Iceland respectively.

He goes on to analyse the possible sources of hydrogen and the energy that would be required to produce it. He concludes that with all the difficulties lying ahead in supplying enough electrical power the growth in air traffic contemplated in the UK would be impossible to fuel by liquid hydrogen.


ANOTHER VIEW

Hydrogen economy doubters criticised

Environment Daily 1747 - 14 October 2004

A European environmental expert has criticised as "simplistic and inaccurate" a recent calculation by two UK specialists implying that the EU's goal of becoming a "hydrogen society" by 2050 is unrealistic.

The calculation drew significant media coverage, including in international scientific journal Nature, when it was published (ED 08/10/04 www.environmentdaily.com/articles/index.cfm?action=article&ref=17434).

Jason Anderson of the Institute for European environmental policy (IEEP) hit back. The research simply repeats the truism that getting to a renewables-based hydrogen economy will be a challenge, he told Environment Daily, but makes no useful contribution to the debate.

Andrew and Jim Oswald's calculations assume that road vehicles will require as much energy from hydrogen in 50 years time as they do now from oil. Yet "no one in their right mind would suggest employing vehicles as woefully inefficient as ours now in a hydrogen economy". Instead, efficiency improvements of up to a factor of five are on the drawing table.

Future offshore wind turbines could be much larger than the benchmark 3MW capacity figure assumed by the Oswalds, Mr Anderson said. And wind energy could be supplemented by biofuels, which, according to an IEEP study focusing on the UK, could in future fuel road transport entirely, potentially via hydrogen.


21 October 2004

MORE PRESSURE TO ACT ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Churches launch climate campaign

BBC News Online - 9 October 2004

Cardinal Murphy O'Connor and Archbishop Hope lead the campaign

A coalition of churches has begun a campaign to curb climate change, by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.

"Operation Noah" aims to highlight warnings that atmospheric warming from burning carbon fuels is altering climate patterns and raising sea levels.

The campaign is being organised on behalf of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.

Lead figures include the Archbishop of York, David Hope, and the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor.

They are urging people to change their lifestyles to burn less fossil fuel.

Delegates attending a conference in Coventry on Saturday to launch the campaign were asked to sign a covenant promising to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

They were also encouraged to put pressure on the UK government and world leaders to do the same.

The conference was followed by a parade through Coventry and a speech by Dr David Hallman, co-ordinator of the World Council of Churches' climate change programme, at the city's cathedral.

Jonathon Porritt, chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission and director of Forum for the Future, said he was delighted churches were taking up the issue of climate change.

Fragile environment

He said: "We could easily sleepwalk into an ever more dangerous future.

"Operation Noah is a wake-up call, not only to people of faith but to the whole of society.

"It makes us stop and think what we are doing to the earth and dares us to live by a new set of values."

BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott said the campaign was "the boldest co-ordinated step yet by senior church leaders to intervene in the political debate over climate change".

Archbishop Hope and Cardinal Murphy O'Connor said human development was standing at a crossroads on the brink of ruining a fragile environment.

Other church leaders backing the campaign include the Archbishop of Glasgow Mario Conti, David Kerr, Methodist Superintendent of the Belfast Central Mission, and Sister Eluned Williams, former President of Methodism in Wales.

In July, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, said excessive use of fuel threatened the viability of humans as a species and threatened them with vicious conflict.

He called for a tax on greenhouse gas emissions.


19 October 2004

THE REPORT OF THE WEEK

The proposed revised Regional Strategy does not include provisions for a second runway at Stansted. If approved by the Regional Assembly then future plans can be properly debated on their merits (and demerits !) without being constricted by a predetermined planning framework. This decision has been taken in spite of pressure from the Government to include the second runway in the strategy.


SECOND RUNWAY: REJECTED BY REGIONAL PLANNERS

Uttlesford District Council - Press Release - 15 October 2004

A second runway at Stansted was rejected today by the planning panel of the East of England Regional Assembly.

The regional planning panel was considering the controversial regional spatial strategy for the East of England up to 2021.

The panel agreed the regional strategy "should not support development of a second runway at Stansted, principally on the grounds of its environmental impact".

Uttlesford District Council's leader, Cllr Alan Dean, who attended the meeting, said: "this democratic decision by the whole of the east of England shows that opposition to another runway is not just a local campaign. This sends a strong message to the Government that their aviation policy on Stansted is unacceptable".


19 October 2004

GO AHEAD FOR 500,000 NEW HOMES

Essex News - 15 October 2004

Government plans to build nearly 500,000 new homes in the eastern counties have been approved by members of the region's assembly.

The planning panel of the East of England Regional Assembly gave the go-ahead to proposals for 478,000 new homes in a corridor between Stansted, Essex and Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, over the next 17 years.

But John Reynolds, chairman of the assembly's planning panel, said any fears that the region might be swamped were unjustified.

He said the aim of the regional assembly and the Government was to "make life better" and cater for the expected economic growth in the eastern region.

The planning panel's recommendations are expected to be ratified by the full East of England Regional Assembly next month.

The proposals will then be subjected to lengthy public consultation and the assembly's final recommendations are expected to land on the desk of deputy prime minister John Prescott, who has overall governmental responsibility for planning, in 2006.

The panel objected to Government proposals for an additional 18,000 homes - on top of the proposed 478,000.

Members, who met in Cambridge, also opposed the building of a second runway at Stansted airport.

The East of England Regional Assembly is made up of councillors from local authorities across the eastern region and is operating as a steering group at the centre of the debate about the proposed development.

The Government says the eastern region needs new homes to cater for the anticipated growth in high-tech industries over the next two decades. Ministers also want to provide affordable housing for key workers such as teachers, police officers and firefighters within reach of London.


REGIONAL PANEL BACKS HOUSING PLAN

BBC News - 15 October 2004

Planned new homes could put pressure on infrastructure

A controversial plan to build 478,000 homes across east England has been given initial backing. An East of England Regional Assembly panel has backed the plans, which cover an area stretching from Norfolk to Buckinghamshire. Critics say the new housing would cause significant environmental damage and water shortages.

The panel rejected proposals for a further 18,000 homes between Stansted and Cambridge.

"The case has not yet been adequately made for those additional houses," a panel statement said.

Funding plea

It also warned against unsustainable development and called for the government to fund essential infrastructure improvement.

John Reynolds, chairman of the planning panel and a Conservative councillor in Cambridgeshire, said £1.6 billion would need to be spent on infrastructure to make the development sustainable.

"This is a wake-up call to government," he said.

"If the government wants houses, if the government wants development and prosperity for the east of England, it has got to make sure it provides the resources."

But he rejected claims the development would mean the region would be swamped.

"We want to ensure there are homes for people moving to the area and homes for people who are homeless at the moment in the area," he said.

Urban sprawl totally changes the character of a community

"The aim isn't to swamp small rural communities but hopefully make those communities more sustainable."

The panel decided to hold a review of housing numbers in around three years.

The proposals will still need to be ratified by the full assembly in a meeting on 5 November before going to public consultation.

A spokesman for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister said it would not be appropriate to comment on the panel's decision until after the full assembly meeting.

The housing is scheduled to be built by 2021, mainly along the M1 and M11 motorways.

Areas expected to take the brunt of it include a 'growth corridor' from Peterborough through Cambridge, Stevenage and Harlow as well as Milton Keynes and the Thames Gateway Development.

The government's plans aim to provide key workers such as nurses, teachers and police officers with affordable housing that is within range of London.

Water fears

The plans have sparked opposition from environmentalists.

They say such a large development could trigger severe water problems - both with the supply of water and an increased risk of flooding where tarmac is laid on existing fields.

They also say wildlife habitats will be damaged and the historic character of many of the region's ancient towns and villages could be altered.

BBC Radio 4 rural affairs correspondent Tom Heap said the feeling of "broad unease" had not grown into angry opposition among residents.

That is because they cannot as yet say "This is going to happen in a field near me," he stressed.

But North Hertfordshire Conservative councillor Richard Thake, who also sits on the panel, said: "People are very frightened indeed about what might come out of all this."

'1% development'

The plans were defended by the minister for regeneration, Jeff Rooker. He said that even if all the government's housing plans for the next 20 years went ahead, "it would only take 1% more of green field land" for urban use.

However, shadow housing minister John Hayes called that an "extraordinary" calculation that included Britain's national parks and most remote areas.

Ministers are not expected to receive the authority's final recommendations until 2006.


19 October 2004

MORE ARGUMENTS AGAINST STANSTED EXPANSION

CAN THE UK AFFORD TO SUBSIDISE LOW COST TOURISM TO EUROPE?
(by air!)
UK deficit worsens to £11.2bn

Malcolm Moore - Daily Telegraph - 12 October 2004

Britain's trade deficit widened to a record £11.2 billion in the three months to August, from £9.1 billion in the previous three months, the latest figures show.

The Office for National Statistics has also had to revise the country's trade in services downwards by almost £1.4 billion since the start of the year, leaving Britain's trade balance in a markedly worse condition.

The ONS said the revisions were because Britain's exports of financial services and earnings from tourism had been lower than previously thought.

Michael Saunders, an economist at Citigroup, said that while the £4 billion trade deficit for August was lower than January's record £4.3 billion, it "keeps the deficit on a worsening trend". He said that trade had "cut about 0.2pc off gross domestic product growth" in the third quarter.

Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at Gerrard, said that the deficit stood at 5.2pc of gross domestic product - "a little below the peaks seen in the late 1980s" when it reached 5.9pc.


AND MORE:

Airport pay-off zone runs through middle of homes

Catriona Davies - Daily Telegraph - 12 October 2004

The owners of one of a pair of semi-detached homes will be eligible for support if Stansted airport is expanded, while the owners of the other will not. A boundary for determining which homeowners will be included in a scheme to prop up the housing market close to the airport cuts through the village of Takeley in Essex, dividing a street and even a house.

BAA, which owns Stansted airport, has offered a guarantee to homeowners that they will not lose money if they sell their homes and will receive the full market price - deemed to be the 2002 price plus an increase in line with the general Essex property market.

The boundary to decide who will be eligible for this scheme is based on a "noise contour", of predicted noise levels from the expanded airport.

Trevor Allen, the chairman of the local parish council, said: "We have been put in an impossible position - one half of a pair of semi-detached houses is included in the compensation zone and the other half not. This map has been drawn up using noise levels and does not take into account that we are a community not just a thin line on a chart. The BAA does not seem to realise it is talking about real lives and real property. People here are extremely angry and upset - we could be talking many thousands of pounds difference in identical adjoining houses. There are around 390 properties in the heart of Takeley who will get compensation and around the same number that won't."

Keith Bonnage, a retired estate surveyor who lives in one of the boundary properties with his wife Patricia, said: "The map we were sent was to such a small scale that it was impossible to see who was in and who wasn't. I called BAA and they told me that I was. This is bound to cause a lot of confusion." His next-door neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: "I seem to be just outside the boundary. It is causing quite a stir that some people are in the boundary and some are outside. We have lived here for 17 years and now our lives are upside down. We have worked hard and paid off our mortgage, but we are losing money."

Mark Davison, a spokesman for Stansted Airport, said: "Wherever you put a boundary, there's going to be someone who's just outside it. It was based on a recognised noise contour scheme." He said that the idea of the scheme was to underpin the local property market, allowing people to buy and sell in the knowledge that its full market value is protected. The Government has indicated that Stansted is its preferred airport to have a second runway by 2012. However, its owner, BAA, still needs to apply for planning permission and a public inquiry is expected before the expansion is confirmed.


19 October 2004

WINGED CRUSADER?

The Guardian - 12 October 2004

Luton has had a tough gig in recent years. The Bedfordshire town has been battered by the decline of the motor industry, it is lambasted for its poor architecture and was recently voted the crappiest place in Britain. But never fear, Ryanair is here.

The Irish airline is launching nine routes linking Luton airport to destinations such as Dinard, Esbjerg, Reus and Bergamo - in France, Denmark, Spain and Italy to non-geographers. According to deputy chief executive Michael Cawley, this will involve $240m (£130m) of investment and will create 1,000 new jobs. Who needs a Vauxhall car factory?

But before Cawley is awarded the freedom of the borough, these splendid assertions warrant a closer examination.

Ryanair's $240m is the catalogue price of buying the four Boeing 737-800s which Ryanair intends to base at Luton. Leaving aside the fact that the money is being invested in Seattle, rather than Bedfordshire, Ryanair admits that as Boeing's second biggest customer it is not paying anything close to the catalogue price. So the figure is, to put it mildly, figurative.

On the employment front, Ryanair will only recruit 120 people. The rest of the new jobs, the airline claims, will be generated by an extra million foreign visitors annually.

But four of the new routes are existing services which are being shifted from Stansted - so half of the jobs are merely migrating from Essex.

Nobody would deny that Ryanair's expansion is welcome news for the local economy. But why the need for such hyperbole?

You can fool some of the people some of the time - but you can't make a monkey out of the people of Luton.

OUR COMMENT: Or the people who work at Stansted.

Pat Dale


19 October 2004

THE NEED FOR FUEL TAXES - MORE SUPPORT BUT MORE DELAYS

EU tax on jet fuel put back three years

Kevin Done, Aerospace Correspondent - Financial Times - 10 October 2004

The imposition of a tax on jet fuel by the European Union has been delayed for at least three years following tough behind-the-scenes negotiations between EU member states and the US at the assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, which ended at the weekend in Montreal.

Any move to introduce a kerosene tax will face tough opposition from European airlines, which are already struggling to cope with the surge in oil prices.

Several carriers including Lufthansa, Air France and British Airways were forced last week to make big increases in their fuel surcharges on passenger fares.

Under the terms of a compromise resolution passed by the assembly of ICAO, a UN agency with 188 contracting states, it was agreed that no taxes or charges related to climate change could come into effect until after the organisation's next assembly in 2007.

The UK government, which is leading efforts in Europe to have aviation included in a second stage of the EU emissions trading scheme, said there had been "a very difficult situation" at ICAO.

The US had sought to block any global move to introduce a kerosene tax, while EU member states wanted to keep "all possible solutions" open, including the imposition of taxes and charges, in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Environmental campaigners have accused the US of "once again trying to scupper international efforts to combat climate change".

The UK transport department (DfT) said that European states had accepted that, while preparatory work could be done, no climate change related charges could come into effect until after the next ICAO assembly in 2007.

The DfT said this was acceptable as it represented "a realistic timescale" for putting any market-based measures in place.

The UK has made the inclusion of aviation in EU emissions trading from 2008 one of the priorities for its presidency of the EU in the second half of next year. It had been concerned that US-led action at ICAO could have restricted its freedom of action.

Jacques Barrot, the incoming EU transport commissioner, said at his recent confirmation hearing that he wanted to evaluate the prospects for imposing a kerosene tax on intra-European Community flights, which were not up against international competition.

Under the terms of the 1944 Chicago Convention, which set the rules governing international aviation, countries have agreed globally not to impose taxes on aviation fuel used in international flights, and this exemption is written into hundreds of bilateral air services treaties.

Mr Barrot said the absence of excise duties on kerosene was a problem given the environmental impact of aviation.

Alistair Darling, UK transport secretary, said at the weekend, that the hostility of many countries to the European position on aviation's greenhouse gas emissions was "puzzling. We must recognise the problem we face and take urgent action to tackle these emissions."

The ICAO resolution urged countries not to implement greenhouse gas emissions charges unilterally prior to the issue being considered again by the next ICAO assembly.

It recognised for the first time, however, that imposing such charges on local airlines was "not precluded" in a region, where the action was mutually agreed by member states.

OUR COMMENT: It is surprising that it does not occur to Alistair Darling that other countries may be somewhat mystified by the somewhat schizoid attitude of the UK government who put the need to reduce greenhouse gases at the top of their international agenda yet still persist in endeavouring to encourage a huge air traffic expansion on the questionable grounds that it is necessary for the UK economy and essential that UK citizens should be able to afford cheap airborne holidays. The government should "do as it wishes to be done by" - taking the advice given by the late Earl of Chesterfield to his son in 1747, described as the "surest method of pleasing".

Pat Dale


A DIFFERENT VIEW OF THE ICAO MEETING

Europe's environmental NGO and citizen groups working together
to control & reduce the negative impacts of air transport

Europe wins battle of the skies at UN ICAO

GreenSkiesAlliance - Press Release - 11 October 2004

The 35th triennial UN ICAO Assembly in Montreal ended Friday 8th October 2004 by agreeing a complex resolution that allows Europe a mandate to impose a tough, comprehensive environmental protection regime for air transport that could include taxing aviation fuel, en-route emissions charges and a mandatory emissions trading scheme throughout its member states. These fiscal measures would be aimed at controlling and reducing the growing climate change impacts of aircraft exhaust emissions by internalising the external costs of climate change, effectively adding a climate change levy in one form or another to airline ticket prices.

The at times tense and heated negotiations continued throughout the week's work programme, often in closed sessions of the UN body's Executive Committee.

Finally the ICAO President Dr Assad Kotaite instituted an infrequently-used mechanism, a special "Friends of the President" meeting Thursday October 7th at which the essentials of a deal were hammered out. There was then apparently much to-ing and fro-ing on the text to reflect this package which included a late addition from the US and its supporters to conduct "further studies".

The agreed Resolution says, as is often the case in the bewilderingly arcane language used by these bodies, that there will be more studies on greenhouse gas charges, that the existing 1996 Resolution on what are termed market-based options continues meantime and any action should be consistent with it and that there should be no unilateral implementation '....prior to the next Assembly at which this will again be considered and discussed'.

European Government sources have confirmed that this resolution does not constrain or commit the 25 EU members states to do nothing and that they will start to implement a policy development programme from a menu of taxes, charges and emissions trading schemes to be applied to all intra-EU flights probably starting 2008. Such a programme may also extend to the 41 ECAC member states across the wider European continent.

Brussels-based sources have also confirmed that any EU emissions trading scheme for air transport would include the 2.7 multiplier for C02 tonnage which reflects the other major atmospheric climate change impacts of air transport, namely NO2 exhaust pollution and condensation trail-induced cirrus cloud formations.

Jeff Gazzard, GreenSkiesAlliance co-ordinator said:

"We'd like to say a big thank you to all the European Government delegations who have seen off this US-inspired challenge to the right of individual countries to set their own environmental protection and taxation policies. The US move was a shameful anti-climate change action, an essentially anti-Kyoto Treaty piece of shadowy backroom shenanigans that we are delighted has failed."

Tim Johnson, Director of the London-based Aviation Environment Federation, who represented environmental NGO's at the ICAO Assembly last week, leading the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation, said: "This was a very serious issue of both sovereignty and the application of the 'polluter pays' principle and has important ramifications for the Kyoto Treaty and all future attempts to reduce and control air transport's greenhouse gas emissions."

In the UK, Prime Minister Tony Blair pointed out in a highly important speech recently, devoted solely to the threat of climate change, that air transport emissions will reach 25% of the UK total by 2030. They will rise to 33% of the total by 2050. These same emissions are around 11% right now, the raw numbers showing an increase from 22 million tonnes of carbon to 43.5 emitted by UK domestic and international air transport activity during the first half of this century, based on UK air passengers rising from 180 million passengers today to 476 million by 2030.

Climate change emissions from aircraft are out of control and urgent action that makes economic and environmental sense is needed right now to limit and reduce this threat .

Chief UK Transport Minister, Alistair Darling, had this to say about the ICAO General Assembly outcome on Sunday 10th October in a statement that was strongly critical of the US stance:

"This was a very successful result in the face of a very difficult situation. The whole world has accepted that it is essential to address climate change impacts. Our core principles have been confirmed. Attempts to restrict freedom of action on emissions trading have been averted. The incorporation of aviation into the EU emissions trading scheme remains our priority which we will pursue urgently during our Presidency next year. The hostile position of many countries to the European position on aviation's greenhouse gases is puzzling. We must recognise the problem we face and take urgent action to tackle these emissions. We shall continue to make our case at every opportunity."

Jeff Gazzard, GreenSkiesAlliance co-ordinator commented:

"We now look forward to short term stabilisation targets and longer term reduction strategies that diminish the climate change impacts of air transport and an appropriate range of fiscal measures to achieve them. There is sadly still an obvious contradiction between what Alistair Darling says he wants to do to control the climate change impacts of flying and his own plans for unrestrained UK aviation related CO2 growth as the massive planned expansion of UK airports is rubber-stamped by his own Department! We will only support air transport's inclusion in the European Emissions Trading Scheme if it results in something substantially more than a cheap 'get out of jail' card, and isn't just a cynical manipulation to allow airlines to continue merrily polluting away. Whilst we are grateful for the tough position the UK took at ICAO, we fear that the UK is developing a contrived entry for airlines into the European ETS that will turn out to be disguised 'business as usual'. This will be totally unacceptable and is the next major skirmish in the battle to apply the 'polluter pays' principle to air transport, the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases!"


13 October 2004

MORE STANSTED EXPANSION FUNDING QUESTIONS

Charter airlines give Stansted runway a bumpy ride

Alistair Osborne, Associate City Editor - Daily Telegraph - 12 October 2004

A row broke out yesterday between Britain's charter airlines and BAA over how the airports operator plans to fund a £4 billion runway project at Stansted.  

The UK's Charter Airline Group wrote to BAA chief executive Mike Clasper and the company's Stansted project manager Tim Hawkins declining to participate in its preparatory work for the runway. The group, which includes Britannia Airways, First Choice Airways, Monarch, MyTravel and Thomas Cook, said it would only respond when it "receives a detailed explanation of how a new runway will be funded".  

The letter, signed by Kevin Hatton, Britannia's managing director, refers to a request from Mr Hawkins for comments on BAA's "expenditure forecasts" associated with the runway. These show BAA plans to spend £105m over the next four years preparing the runway, including £61m of professional fees and £33m of "blight costs".  

Mr Hatton wrote: "Charter Airline Group members will not be in a position to meaningfully respond until we receive a detailed breakdown of both the projected source of funding for the Stansted expansion and your assumptions as to levels of Stansted airport charges for each year in the period 2005-16."  

The group said the runway should only go ahead if BAA can show Stansted's users are willing to pay for it and there will be no need "to resort to cross-subsidy from other airports". The charter airlines fear that, on a standalone basis, the costs "could only be met through massive charge increases".  

The charter airlines are the latest to challenge BAA on cross-subsidies. Big carriers at Heathrow, such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, have already said they would fight price rises at Britain's premier hub to fund a runway for competitors at Stansted.  

Meanwhile, Ryanair, which accounts for more than 60pc of Stansted's traffic, has said it would not pay higher charges for a "gold-plated" runway.  

The Civil Aviation Authority, the industry regulator, has said it expects BAA airport projects to be funded on a standalone basis unless it can provide "compelling reasons" why not. Mr Clasper said in March that if such reasons arose "it will be BAA's duty to argue the case".  

Few industry observers believe BAA can fund the Stansted runway without cross-subsidies. Last night a BAA spokesman said the company would seek planning permission for the runway in 2006. After this, "we will put the case to the regulator and the regulator will decide how Stansted should be funded".  

He pointed out that phase one of the project, lifting capacity to 50m passengers, would only cost £1.75 billion. A second phase, raising capacity to 80m passengers, would increase the costs to £4 billion.


8 October 2004

SOME FACTS ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE

Kyoto won't stop climate change

With Russia's backing, the Kyoto protocol might finally come into force.
But it's what comes next that counts. Author: Fred Pearce
New Scientist - 6 October 2004

IT HAS been a long wait since the Kyoto protocol was signed in the early hours of 11 December 1997. Next year, if Russia sticks to the commitment it made last week, the treaty will at last come into force. And that will allow the world to get on with what really matters: drawing up the successor to Kyoto. For if ardent greens and out-and-out sceptics can agree on anything, it is that Kyoto will not even come close to solving the problem of climate change.

It is, as the UN Environment Programme director Klaus Toepfer said in a statement last week, "only the first step in a long journey". The clock is ticking. Every year we are releasing almost 7 billion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere - carbon that had lain buried since the days of the dinosaurs.

It will remain in the atmosphere for around a century, raising the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and trapping more of the sun's heat. Before the industrial age, the CO2 level was steady at around 280 parts per million. When the Kyoto protocol was drawn up in 1997, the CO2 level had reached at 368 ppm. This year, it hit 379 ppm. Most predictions of soaring temperatures, floods, droughts, storms and rising sea levels are based on a concentration of 550 ppm. On current trends, this figure, is likely to be reached in the second half of this century. Even if levels rose no higher, this would just be the start.

Time lags in natural systems such as ice caps and ocean circulation mean that changes will continue for millennia after the CO2 level stabilises The bottom line is that only drastic cuts in global emissions of CO2, of two-thirds or more, can stop the concentration of the gas rising ever higher and stave off ever more severe climate change. The more quickly the world can make such cuts, the lower the level at which concentrations will eventually stabilise.

The Kyoto protocol, however, involves only very modest reductions of less than 5 per cent. The US does not support it, developing nations do not have to make any cuts and it expires in 2012. Perhaps most crucially, it does not provide a blueprint for where we want to end up and how we intend to get there.

But activation of the Kyoto protocol would still be highly significant, as it would free negotiators to begin to discuss what to do next. That process is set to begin formally next year, but is also likely to be the main talking point before then, at the next meeting of the protocol's signatories in Buenos Aires in December. Activation of the protocol would also increase pressure on the US to rejoin the process.

Climate scientists say politicians must move on from Kyoto-style piecemeal negotiations on individual national targets to a global plan to cap concentrations of critical greenhouse gases, especially CO2. Most would like to see CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere kept below 450 ppm, but many accept that 550 ppm is more realistic.

"I don't feel that we should be anywhere higher than 550 parts per million of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere," David King, chief scientific adviser to the UK government, said in a speech earlier this year. This would still lead to substantial climate change, with the temperature rising by 2 to 5oC and the sea level rising by 0.3 to 0.8 metres by 2100, and by 7 to 13 metres over the next millennium.

But a 550 ppm ceiling would stave off even more severe changes. It would also address the international commitment made at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 to prevent "dangerous" climate change.

The Bush administration says it stands by that agreement, even though it disowns the Kyoto protocol. The UK could help set the agenda. The prime minister, Tony Blair, has promised to make tackling climate change the centrepiece of his presidency of the G8 group of rich industrial nations in 2005. Though he is far from finalising his contribution, one option being discussed is to propose a ceiling on atmospheric CO2 that would set a firm and scientifically coherent benchmark to measure the success of future negotiations.

Agreeing on a CO2 ceiling would be the easy part. Any ceiling effectively puts an absolute limit on global emissions over the coming century, and the tricky part will be deciding who is entitled to make those emissions.

The article finishes by discussing how countries would react to emission ceilings and lists out all the measures necessary to keep down CO2 emissions to a level that would not lead to serious climate change by 2050.

OUR COMMENT: Tony Blair, please note, all sources of CO2 will have to be reduced.


ENVIRONMENT AGENCY PUBLISHES NEW FLOOD-RISK MAPS

7 October 2004

Increasing numbers of homes may be at risk of flooding as a result of global climate change, Friends of the Earth said today. The warning comes as the Environment Agency publishes a comprehensive map of properties at risk from flooding showing that hundreds of thousands of homes in England and were under threat. [1]

In September the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said that "the 1.7m homes believed to be at risk from river or coastal flooding in England could see their market value drop by as much as 40". [2]

Friends of the Earth's climate campaigner Catherine Pearce said "Hundreds of thousands of homes in England and Wales are already at risk from flooding, and many more are under threat as a result of global warming. Urgent action is needed to radically reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases. If we fail to act millions of people in the UK and across the world may end up paying the price with their homes, lives and livelihoods".

[1] The EA says that 1.8million properties fall within the area with a one in a hundred chance each year of flooding from rivers, or one in two hundred chance of flooding from the sea.

[2] http://www.rics.org/Property/Residentialproperty/Residentialpropertymarket/precautions+against+flooding.htm


5 October 2004

AN AVIATION FUEL TAX?

New EU transport chief suggests kerosene levy

Environment Daily 1739 - 4 October 2004

EU transport-commissioner designate Jacques Barrot has suggested that the bloc introduce a tax on aircraft fuel for internal flights. The Frenchman's remarks at a hearing before MEPs last week have put back on the EU agenda an idea rejected by the current European Commission five years ago.

"Would it not be possible to introduce a low rate of tax on intra-community flights which are not exposed to international competition?" Mr Barrot said. However, the tax could only be introduced "when fuel prices have settled down" and would have to take account of both competitive and environmental effects, he added.

Mr Barrot's comments revive the kerosene tax debate as governments meet in Montreal, Canada, to discuss international guidelines on using economic instruments to combat aviation's environmental effects. The EU is fighting US proposals to outlaw all instruments except emission trading.

Kerosene taxes were ruled out as a policy option by the Prodi commission in 1999. In a policy document it said different permutations of the tax would either hit domestic airlines' profits too hard or produce negligible environmental benefits.

"What [Mr Barrot is] saying is very encouraging," Jos Dings of campaign group Transport & Environment told Environment Daily on Monday. "It's finally a recognition of the arguments that many people wanting an economically and environmentally sound transport policy have been favouring."

Airline association AEA was also "encouraged" by Mr Barrot's hearing, but hedged on the kerosene tax. "The environmental objectives should be clearly set out and the possible economic impact identified," secretary-general Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus said.

Turning to other issues Mr Barrot said stricter measures were needed on ship source pollution, currently exempt from the EU's environmental liability directive: "The borderlines of civil and criminal responsibility are not that clear... we have to sort out the ethos of responsibility," he said.

Meanwhile energy commissioner-designate Lászlo Kóvacs put in a lacklustre first performance before MEPs on Thursday, several times admitting that he did not know enough about his portfolio. The Greens called his hearing "an offence to the parliament".

The Hungarian candidate commissioner expressed interest in a European green certificate trading scheme for companies investing in renewable energy. But he said it was not for the Commission to impose legally binding targets for renewable energy on member states. He made several comments supportive of nuclear power, drawing a welcome from European atomic industry association Foratom.


THE AIRLINES DISAGREE

Airlines alarmed by fuel tax idea

Kevin Done, Aerospace Correspondent - Financial Times - 4 October 2004

Signs of growing support in the European Commission for the introduction of a tax on jet fuel have alarmed the airline industry and could undermine efforts to bring aviation into the European Union's emissions trading scheme.

European carriers are concerned that a kerosene tax, suggested last week by Jacques Barrot, the incoming transport commissioner, would distort competition among international airlines and increase the industry's cost burden when it is already struggling to cope with the surge in oil prices.

Any move by Mr Barrot to seek to impose a jet fuel tax could threaten the UK-led initiative to use emissions trading rather than taxation to address the impact of aviation on climate change.

The US government is seeking at the meeting of International Civil Aviation Organisation in Montreal to block any global move to introduce a kerosene tax.

Tony Blair, the prime minister, said last month that bringing aviation into the next phase of the EU emissions trading scheme from 2008 would be "a big step in the right direction" and that the UK would "argue strongly for this" during its EU presidency next year.

Under the EU emissions trading scheme, due to start in January, power stations and large factories will have to match their carbon dioxide emissions with government-issued permits. Any companies exceeding these allowances will need to buy spare ones from companies that have cut emissions.

Andrew Sentance, British Airways chief economist, said Mr Barrot's move to raise the prospect of a kerosene tax was "a backward step. The most effective and efficient way to address the climate change impact of aviation is likely to be emissions trading".

Mr Barrot said last week that the absence of excise duties on kerosene was a problem given the environmental impact of aviation. Environmental groups claim the lack of a tax amounts to an effective subsidising of the airline industry.


IS EMISSIONS TRADING ENOUGH TO CONTAIN CLIMATE CHANGE?

Emission trading "no good without targets"

Environment Daily 1739 - 4 October 2004

The EU's industrial emission trading scheme will not help the bloc reduce greenhouse gases unless governments agree to emission reduction targets extending at least 15 years into the future, according to a consultancy report.

UK firm Enviros says that the generosity of national allocation plans (Naps) drafted by EU member states for the period 2005-7 means that the early market price of carbon in the trading scheme will peak at €5 per tonne.

This is unlikely to drive industry investment to drive down greenhouse gases. The consultancy forecasts that carbon dioxide emissions from participating industries could rise by 5-11% above 2000 levels by the end of the first trading period, ending 2007.

Enviros expects the number of allowances to be restricted in the second trading period, and carbon prices to rise as high as €50 per tonne. However, it doubts that "even this will provide the stimulus necessary" for firms to make the required investments.

What would make a difference, it concludes, is "clear and unchanging" longer-term emission targets. This would allow a stable forward market to exist, against which investments in low carbon technologies could be financed.


2 October 2004

GOOD NEWS FROM EUROPE

Transport Chief calls for jet fuel tax on flights within Union

Raphael Minder - Financial Times - 30 September 2004

The European Union's next transport commissioner yesterday suggested imposing a jet fuel tax for flights within the EU, while the airline industry is already reeling from surging oil prices. Jacques Barrot, during his confirmation hearing before members of the European Parliament, said the tax exemption on jet fuel for intra-European flights distorted competition with other forms of transport that did not benefit similarly.

"When fuel prices have settled down, we will be able to look at the question of the tax exemption for aviation fuel", Mr Barrot said.

His comments echoed those of Stavros Bimas, who is set to handle environmental legislation when the new European Commission takes office in November.

The Greek commissioner told a separate parliamentary hearing earlier in the day that pushing through a jet fuel tax was a tall order, as it required convincing all members. But he said "governments are starting to go that way". He added "I hope we will be able to impose a tax because we have to internalise this external cost to the environment". The tax cannot be applied to international flights because such trips are exempt from fuel duty under international treaties.

Airlines claim that using taxation to curb aviation's environmental impact is a blunt instrument and are lobbying for the industry to be included in planned emissions trading schemes. Mr Barrot, who will be France's loan representative in the next commission, said his priority was to ensure that governments fell into line with existing EU transport rules, notably state aid legislation that permits only one government funded rescue. He said "I am not a commissioner who is going to vastly increase the amount of regulation and red tape. I am in favour of enforcement".


2 October 2004

INTERNATIONAL ACTION?

Row over pollution controls

The Walden Local - 29 September 2004

Tension is growing this week between Europe and the United States over how to control and reduce the impact of air transport pollution.

The row is set to escalate at the UN International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) general assembly in Montreal, with 188 member states considering its future policy proposal to allow countries to use a range of options to reduce the damaging effects of aircraft emissions. Fiscal measures including fuel taxes, a distance related emissions charge, emissions trading or a combination of all three are the ideas put forward.

But the US has organised 21 other countries to propose in a protest letter not to introduce distance related emissions charges at all and insisting that ACAO alone should set out the legal framework for any emissions trading scheme.

Jeff Gazzard, co-ordinator of GreenSkies Alliance, said: "The US clearly wants to browbeat ICAO member states into accepting a contrived low-ticket piece "get out of jail" card in the form of a flawed emissions trading scheme where participation is voluntary, permits to pollute cost a few cents and business carries on as usual". European states, led by the UK and Holland, were organising a tough response, he added.

OUR COMMENT: Let us hope that the UK is supporting and will support all these moves. No signs of this in reports from the Labour Party Conference!

Pat Dale


2 October 2004

TRANSPORT SECRETARY JOINS DEFRA SECRETARY
AT GREEN VEHICLE SHOWCASE EVENT

From the Labour Party Conference - 27 September 2004

Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State, DEFRA and Alistair Darling, Secretary of State, DfT, today attended the Energy Saving Trust's and Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership's "Transport of the Future Green Vehicle Expo" at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton.

Margaret Beckett said, "We cannot underestimate the importance of the transport sector in the fight against climate change and in the battle for cleaner air. Road transport contributes around a quarter of the UK's total carbon emissions as well as 50% of the smog-forming pollutants linked to lung cancer and asthma and implicated in the premature deaths of up to 24,000 people a year in the UK.

"The Energy Saving Trust is delivering government-funded programmes that are directly stimulating the production - and encouraging the take-up - of the new, greener vehicles and fuels that are generating real carbon and pollution reductions."

OUR COMMENT: What about the Greener aircraft?

Pat Dale


2 October 2004

WORRIES ABOUT OIL INCREASE

Crude oil breaches $50 a barrel

BBC News - 28 September 2004

Political unrest in Nigeria is worrying oil traders

World oil prices have continued to rise sharply, with US light crude breaking through the $50 a barrel mark.

US oil leapt to $50.35 a barrel in Asian trade, its highest level since the early 1980s, as concern grew about disruption to world supplies. Traders said fears about political unrest in Nigeria's oil producing region were putting pressure on prices. Other factors included the slow return of US output after Hurricane Ivan, low US stocks and fears about Iraqi supply.

'Major problem'

The cost of London-traded UK Brent crude was $45.93 at 0837 GMT, while the cost of US light, sweet crude fell back slightly to $50.23 as trading opened in Europe.

What the $50 barrel could mean to you
Petrol prices set to rise as oil companies' costs rise
Airfares rise as airlines feel the pinch
Lower profitability eats into company profits
Lower company profits could lead to restructuring and job losses
Higher oil prices boosts consumer goods prices, so you have less money in your pocket
Lower consumer spending can hit economic growth
Persistently high oil prices could lead to recession

Rising fuel costs could produce losses totalling as much as $4bn (£2.2bn) for airlines this year, the International Air Transport Association has warned.

It calculated that extra cost of jet fuel could add as much as $10bn to the global airline industry's bills and wipe out any gains from improving passenger numbers.

The airline industry has remained fragile since 11 September 2001, with several major US and European carriers - such as US Airways and Alitalia - struggling financially.

On stock markets, shares in airlines, car makers and shipping firms suffered, though shares in oil firms rose.

The report continues with an analysis of the situation in Nigeria, the limitations on the world's oil suppliers to increase their oil production and prophesies that prices are likely to remain high for the forseeable future.

OUR COMMENT: The list of disastrous economic consequences is very questionable. Is it such a gloomy future? If raised oil prices means that the industrialised world has to agree to conserve oil supplies, to burn less fossil fuels, and to substitute other non-polluting energy sources the serious (and expensive) dangers of climate change will recede. Recession is not inevitable. Jobs can be created in the renewables industries. Gas guzzling cars can be replaced by greener models - and the predicted (though possibly unrealistic) massive increase in air travel could be avoided.

Pat Dale


1 October 2004

THE TIMES JOINS IN THE BAA HOME OWNERS'
SUPPORT SCHEME DEBATE

Airport expansion payouts denied for 12,000 homeowners

by Ben Webster, Transport Correspondent - The Times - 30 September 2004

THOUSANDS of families are trapped in blighted homes after being excluded from a compensation scheme for a major new runway.

Stansted airport in Essex, which a decade ago was handling only a few flights a day, is due to grow to the same size as Heathrow by 2030.

More than 12,000 homes in the surrounding countryside have lost an average of £100,000 in value since the Government earmarked Stansted for the first full-length new runway in the South East for half a century.

BAA, the airport's owner, has published a compensation scheme for homeowners, but has drawn the boundary so tightly that only 500 properties qualify.

The boundary cuts villages such as Takeley and Sibleys Green in half, with people living on one side of the road able to recover the full loss in the value of their homes, while those on the other get nothing. The boundary surrounds the area within which residents would experience at least 66 decibels from up to 700 aircraft landing or taking off each day from the new runway.

The World Health Organisation estimates that communities begin to suffer significant annoyance when aircraft noise levels reach 51 decibels. But BAA refuses to consider assisting residents outside the boundary, even though they can prove from Land Registry figures that their homes have lost a third or more of their value.

In May last year, BAA estimated that it would pay up to £250 million to compensate those affected by the expansion of Stansted. Since then, the company has cut the costs of the project and now says it will pay only "tens of millions".

Many families have been unable to sell their homes despite knocking tens of thousands off the asking price. More than 60 people have viewed David and Anita Armitage's terraced cottage in Great Easton, just 200 yards from the boundary, since they put it up for sale a year ago. Not one offer has been made, despite the couple dropping the price by £40,000 to £185,000.

Mrs Armitage, 33, a teacher, has given up hope of ever being to sell. "The cottage was an ideal size when there was just two of us, but now we feel trapped. We need a family home and if we sell at too low a price we will never be able to afford one."

Roger and Gillian Coleby have lived in their five-bedroom home at Pledgdon Green for 40 years. Their four children have all left home and the couple, aged 72 and 68, are anxious to move somewhere more manageable.

They tried to sell their home in 2002 for £575,000, but potential buyers were put off by the speculation surrounding Stansted's development. They dropped the price to £495,000, but still received no offers.

Now they believe that they would struggle to sell for more than £400,000, despite seeing houses in nearby parts of Essex rise by a third in value since 2002.

Clare and David Vaux, from Church End, are desperate to move because they believe that their two-year-old son's autism will be worsened by pollution from the airport. Their home sits under the flight path of the existing runway and alongside the proposed new runway. They have received one offer for £100,000 less than the unblighted valuation of £550,000. Mrs Vaux said: "We can't afford to take such a loss because we need to pay for Samuel's speech therapy. I explained this to BAA, but they told me it was my tough luck."

Stop Stansted Expansion, the campaign group opposing the runway, claims that BAA is failing to comply with the requirement in last December's aviation White Paper to "address the problem of generalised blight resulting from the runway proposal".

The dispute boils down to the definition of "generalised blight". BAA argues that it has simply copied previous schemes, including the one for homeowners near the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

Terry Morgan, Stansted's managing director, said: "I am deeply sympathetic to these people and we know there are going to be anomalies, but the advice we have been given is that when you have set a boundary, you stick to it."

People living outside the boundary may be able to recover some of their losses under the Land Compensation Act, but they will not be able to apply until the new runway opens in 2012.

Peter Sanders, SSE's chairman, said: "The BAA scheme is a kick in the teeth for thousands of local families."

YOU CAN JOIN THE DEBATE
Should the BAA compensate all the homeowners affected by Stansted's expansion?
Send your emails to debate@thetimes.co.uk


1 October 2004

GOOD NEWS FROM RUSSIA

Russian decision on ratification - "a major step towards
entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol"

Press release from the United Nations Climate Change Convention - Bonn - 30 September 2004

The decision of the Russian cabinet to forward the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate change to the Russian Parliament (or Duma) for ratification will if the Duma moves to adopt "re-energize international cooperation on cutting greenhouse gas emissions", the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Climate Change Convention said here today.

President Putins leadership in asking the Duma to support the Protocol sends an inspiring signal to the international community, said Executive Secretary Ms. Joke Waller-Hunter.

Russian ratification would ensure that the Protocol enters into force and launch an exciting new phase in the global campaign to reduce the risks of climate change. After a short celebration, we must all get down to the serious business of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, she said.

By giving industry, local authorities and consumers incentives to take action on climate change, Russia and the 29 other industrialized countries that have joined the Protocol will set themselves on a path to greater economic efficiency. Accelerating the development of the clean technologies that will dominate the global economy of the 21st century will earn them a competitive edge in global markets, she added.

The Protocol contains legally binding emissions targets for 36 industrialized countries. These countries are to reduce their collective emissions of six key greenhouse gases by at least 5% by 2008-2012, compared to 1990 levels. This first five-year target period is only a first step.

While developing countries do not now have specific emissions targets, they too are committed under the 1992 Climate Change Convention to taking measures to limit emissions; the Protocol will open up new avenues for assisting them to do so.

In addition to inspiring national action to cut emissions, the Protocols entry into force will strengthen international cooperation through the early start-up of:

* An international "emissions trading" regime enabling industrialized countries to buy and sell emissions credits amongst themselves; this market-based approach will improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of emissions cuts.

* The "clean development mechanism" (CDM), through which industrialized countries can promote sustainable development by financing emissions-reduction projects in developing countries in return for credit against their Kyoto targets.

* Cooperative projects under the system for joint implementation, whereby one developed country can finance emission reductions in another developed country.

* The Kyoto Protocol Adaptation Fund, established in 2001, which will assist developing countries in anticipating and protecting themselves against the negative effects of climate change.

To enter into force, the Protocol must be ratified by 55 Parties to the Convention, including developed countries whose combined 1990 emissions of carbon dioxide exceed 55% of that groups total. With the US (36%) not intending to ratify, the 55% threshold can only be met with the participation of Russia (17%). The Protocol will enter into force 90 days after Russia's instrument of ratification is received by the United Nations in New York.

In addition to setting targets, the Protocol encourages governments to cooperate with one another, improve energy efficiency, reform the energy and transportation sectors, promote renewable forms of energy, phase out inappropriate fiscal measures and market imperfections, limit methane emissions from waste management and energy systems, and manage carbon sinks such as forest, croplands and grazing lands.

The individual Protocol targets are 8% for Switzerland, most Central and East European states, and the European Union; 6% by Canada, Hungary, Japan, and Poland. Russia, New Zealand, and Ukraine are to stabilize their emissions, while Norway may increase emissions by up to 1% and Iceland by up to 10%. The US and Australia, which initially received targets of a 7% cut and a 10% increase respectively, have both stated that they do not intend to ratify the Protocol.

Governments will discuss their efforts to achieve their Kyoto targets and other actions to address climate change at the next major conference in Buenos Aires from 6 - 17 December (the 10th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention, or COP 10). Talks on commitments for the post-2012 period are to start in 2005.

OUR COMMENT: Now the government can start pushing for aviation emissions to be included.

Pat Dale


30 September 2004

MORE COMMENTS ON HOSS

Uttlesford to examine BAA's housing scheme

The Walden Local - 29 September 2004

Uttlesford District Council will undertake a thorough analysis of BAA's housing blight compensation scheme published last week.

Alan Dean, Leader of the Council has pledged that Uttlesford will stand up for the interests of residents by pressing for fair and equitable compensation.

Overall he is sceptical about the Home Owner Support Scheme. "The Council must demand fairness for residents against the blight caused by BAA because HOSS seems designed to protect more shareholders' pockets than residents' livelihoods. It looks like a mean deal based on a narrowly drawn line on a map which is based on a hypothetical noise contour on the dubious assumption that house price blight is purely a function of aircraft noise."

"I fear BAA is on track towards dividing the community between people who will get cash compensation and those who will be marooned in homes they can't sell or that won't fund equivalent new homes further from the airport."

The Council is planning to publish its critique of the HOSS in mid-October and will make representations to BAA and government ministers afterwards.


AND MORE ARGUMENTS:

New Claim by BAA

It is reported that BAA are now claiming that a survey of house agents in Essex has shown that the majority have not experienced any drop in value of the houses that are up for sale. Apparently they are also said to be expecting a two runway Stansted will create an expanded local economy which will attract more people in to the area all looking for houses.

No details of the survey have been provided other than percentages of agents responding though the actual questions asked are not detailed. It is therefore impossible to judge the validity of the claims. It is unlikely that house agents are going to present a dismal future for house sales as this would not attract customers. They are, of course, aware that an extra runway will bring more people into the area to work at the airport and since there is very low unemployment locally employees will either have to travel in or find somewhere to live. Traffic congestion and urbanisation are then inevitable. Living in the area will cease to be attractive. Future house prices are again likely to fall.

OUR COMMENT: Official figures are available which do show a fall in prices. If BAA wish to challenge them they must produce reliable statistics from a published investigation.


SSE REPEAT THE FACTS:

Letter from the Chairman to the local press

The Managing Director of Stansted Airport needs to check his facts if he thinks that blight from BAA's airport expansion proposals has not already affected local house prices (Airport to consult on noise compensation, EADT 22 September). Land Registry figures demonstrate conclusively that over the last two years generalised blight has already had a severe impact on some 12,000 homes around the airport simply because of the threat of expansion - and that's before any planning application for expansion has even been submitted.

Nor is it solely the issue of noise which contributes to the problem as he seems to claim, conveniently ignoring the fact that property blight is far more complex than that.

It is clear that BAA is shirking its duty to the community at large as well as failing to respond properly to the obligation placed on the company in the Government's White Paper to bring forward a scheme to address the problem of generalised blight. Stop Stansted Expansion will now be seeking an urgent meeting with the Department for Transport to discuss the inadequacy of BAA's proposals and will continue to press for a full and proper scheme to be introduced to tackle the very real problem which local people are suffering because of BAA.

Peter Sanders, Chairman, Stop Stansted Expansion


OTHERS IN EUROPE ARE HAVING THE SAME NOISE PROBLEMS!
THE SAME ARGUMENTS TOO

Belgian night flights row takes off again

Environment Daily 1735 - 28 September 2004

Noise pollution at Belgium's main airport has returned to the news, with courier firm DHL threatening to shift its headquarters from Brussels unless it is allowed to increase night flights. Federal and regional government bodies are at loggerheads over the issue.

The current ceiling on night flights at Zaventem airport is 25,000, of which DHL uses more than half. Last week, Belgium's federal government proposed to accede to the firm's demand for an increase in the ceiling to 28,000 flights. But the Brussels regional government refused to accept the change.

Residents and environmentalists have been enraged by the plan. A coalition of Belgian environmental NGOs is claiming that the proposed flights increase would breach the EU's noise directive, as well as national law.

DHL says the extension would mean 2,000 new jobs. And with Brussels university ULB estimating that at least 13,000 jobs would go if DHL left, airport workers are threatening strike action unless the flight cap is lifted.

DHL also threatened to pull out of Zaventem four years ago when Belgium's then transport minister proposed drastically cutting night flights, before being overruled by the prime minister .


ECONOMIC BENEFITS?

Rail and air sink ferries as 1,200 jobs are cut

Terry MacAlistair - The Guardian - 29 September 2004

The popularity of cut-price airlines and the Eurostar rail service to the continent is threatening to sink the ferry industry where 1,200 job losses were announced yesterday. P&O Ferries, the tiny rump of what was once a mighty ship-owning group, is to cut nearly 20% of its workforce, sell one third of its vessels and reduce its ferry services from 11 to 7. The report goes on to quote from the chairman of the company Lord Sterling and to report that the company has been hammered by competition from no-frills air services to Paris, Brussels and other continental destinations but also from the rail link under the channel.

OUR COMMENT: What is aviation's gain is sea transport's loss. No gain to the overall economy as is so frequently claimed, in fact an overall loss. We must remember that aviation benefits from cheap fuel and environmental costs as yet unpaid for. It should be obvious that a policy of expansion will continue the trend. Is this in the interests of a balanced economy, or sustainable transport choices?


25 September 2004

BAA's "HOME OWNER SUPPORT SCHEME"

BAA have recently published the general results and conclusions of their consultation exercise on an interim voluntary householders' compensation scheme for the financial blight affecting houses in the region of Stansted since the announcements in the Aviation White Paper. Details of the final scheme "HOSS" are provided and an application form for those who wish to apply.

You have probably already read SSE's critical comments on the scheme - if not, you will find them on this website. A better name for the scheme might be "HORS" - the "Home Owner Restricted Scheme".

In spite of the fact that the majority of those who responded did not consider that the basic qualification criteria should be the ownership of a house within the 66dBALeq contour, BAA have decided that this restriction will be the key to the scheme, plus a valuation that has fallen more than 15% since before the White Paper was published. The only concession is that there will be an assisted relocation scheme not only for those who have to move before any runway application is made but also for those who might wish to move.

No account has been taken of the evidence provided by SSE that house prices had fallen over a much wider area. BAA also regard noise exposure to over 66dBALeq as only "medium to high" annoyance. Does anyone working at BAA live within this area? Suggestions are made that there will be "further mitigation" such as sound proofing windows. These are weasel words - reliable noise predictions should assume that good operational practices are in place. Who wants to live indoors in the countryside with permanently closed windows? It must be remembered that the law requires adequate compensation though it cannot be claimed until after the event. This scheme is a holding exercise requested by the government, though it is essential for those already affected by the blight.


WHAT DID BAA SAY ABOUT THE SSE PRESS NOTICE?

BAA Stansted responds to SSE claims
BAA Press Release - 21 September 2004

SSE has published a hurried and reactionary press release, a number of comments in which prompt a response:

* BAA Stansted has been consistent in saying that we believe that there could be medium to long term blight in the local area closest to the proposed new runway. That is why we have launched the Home Owner Support Scheme today. The Government has confirmed that HOSS is consistent with its policy on voluntary blight schemes. We have met our obligations under the terms of the White Paper - the Government has said so.

SSE's claim that over 12,000 homes have been blighted by plans for the new runway is alarmist. SSE's campaign has contributed to blight by talking down the local property market and thereby damaging the prospects of home-owners.

SSE now realises that it has misunderstood the nature of the scheme - it was only ever designed to help a specific group of people who are in the area closest to the site of the proposed new runway. And it does. SSE has raised expectations about the outcome of the consultation among local people across a wide area, and now seek to pass the blame for that back to BAA. We have never represented the scheme to be more than it actually is - SSE has, and it is they who will have to explain themselves.

* Local residents have not been left out in the cold as SSE claim. We make clear our intention to discuss a whole range of further issues and initiatives such as how we might reduce noise associated with the new runway, and mitigate the impact of it.

SSE is wrong to assume that property price movements in the area are entirely due to the airport. We all know that a number of factors affect each area, and nationally the market has been hit by higher interest rates. We remain confident about a buoyant local property market in the longer term, with the airport continuing to contribute significantly to the local and regional economy.

The 66 Leq boundary is attacked, but most of those who responded to our consultation wanted a clear boundary to the scheme in order to provide clarity and certainty. We have done what people asked us to do, and have based the boundary on those used for major projects at Central Railways and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

SSE says property blight is a complex issue but managed to define it very simply in its original submission to the consultation - in line with what this scheme has addressed. We have published the Government's comments on the scheme - twice (pages 2 and 9 of the booklet).

* We will not be publishing the results of any surveys we commissioned. We regularly ask the opinions of local people on a whole range of issues and feel under no obligation to fall into the trap SSE normally try to set, which is to distract the debate, accuse BAA of 'spin' and let the facts take a poor third place.

OUR COMMENT: It is quite extraordinary that BAA is now trying to blame SSE for the blight. BAA lobby the Government for years and finally get an opening to put forward a massive expansion plan for Stansted which will have a profound effect upon our area. The Land Registry statistics clearly show that local house prices have either (a) been reduced; (b) remained static or (c) at best increased at only about half the rate as for the rest of Essex.* BAA then offer compensation to less than 5% of the householders affected; SSE points this out; and BAA then blame SSE for the blight!

Under BAA's disgraceful proposed compensation scheme, even those few households who are eligible are destined to lose their eligibility if someone offers within 15% of the valuation. BAA will not make up this 15% shortfall. In addition, people are forced to "actively market" their house for a minimum of six consecutive months - increasing to 12 consecutive months for more expensive properties! And these are the "lucky" 5%! God knows what happens if someone needs to relocate quickly or if a sale falls through.

It's a disgraceful abrogation of the responsibility placed upon BAA by the Government in the Air Transport White Paper to bring forward a scheme to address the issue of generalised blight. But more than that; putting profit before standards of decency and fairness is not becoming of a major UK plc.

SSE has called upon BAA to publish the results of its MORI poll of local homeowners and also to publish the 'endorsement' which it claims to have for its scheme from the Department for Transport. Why does BAA refuse to publish these documents and even criticise SSE for making this request? What is BAA trying to hide?

SSE believes that publication of the MORI poll would show that BAA has not listened to the views expressed by local people and also believes that the BAA has seriously overstated the nature of the Department for Transport endorsement that it claims to have.

If BAA is confident of its position, why not publish? Why miss a unique opportunity to prove SSE wrong? This issue still has some way to run.

Brian Ross
SSE Executive Committee

* The Land Registry house price statistics, published quarterly, can be subdivided by Region (South East), County (Essex), District (Uttlesford) and by Postcode. They can also be examined for different types of houses, i.e. detached, semi-detached, terraced and flat/maisonette. Whether comparisons are made over a three-month, six-month, 12-month or two-year period, the evidence is conclusive that some 12,000 homes across the southern part of Uttlesford District, as well as some homes in the eastern part of East Herts District, have been blighted by BAA's proposals. The Land Registry data can be checked on www.landreg.gov.uk"


WHAT DOES OUR MP SAY ABOUT THE SCHEME?

MP slams BAA over homes compensation
The Walden Local - 22 September 2004

Saffron Walden MP, Sir Alan Haselhurst, expressed extreme disappointment and anger about the conclusions reached by Stansted Airport owners BAA when he saw the response to their consultation on the Home Owner Support Scheme.

"It is not what is in the scheme, but what is not" said Haselhurst. "I am pleased for the property owners who will be helped. I am concerned for those who are excluded. BAA has decided to stick with the 66 Leq noise contour. This leaves many people in the lurch - people who know their property has lost value. BAA has washed their hands of them. This is the company which boasts of its concerns for the community. This is the company that is prepared to donate money to schemes here and there. But when it comes to giving fair compensation to local people who are losing thousands on their blighted properties, we suddenly see the corporate smile turn into a snarl."

Local residents who own property in the area close to the site of the proposed second runway at Stansted airport, are to have the value of their homes and commercial property guaranteed for up to 15 years. The announcement of the scheme follows an extensive public consultation. BAA is promising to buy property at a market value index-linked from June 2002, which is the time before extra runway capacity was considered, to prevailing levels at the time of sale. The scheme will affect home owners within a defined boundary which represents a medium to high noise annoyance determined by the government as the extent of potential blight that might occur due to the operation of the new runway in 2030.

Sir Alan is not satisfied with BAA's agreement. "I have told the affected constituents that, if BAA did not offer a more generous scheme, I would take their case to the Secretary of State. And this I will do. BAA's Home Owner Support Scheme is based on one thing, and one thing alone: how to minimise the company's expenditure and ignore local protests. Well, local protests will continue, and I will be leading them."

BAA Stansted managing director, Terry Morgan, said: "The government asked us to address the question of generalised blight, and that is exactly what the Home Owner Suppot Scheme is all about. It is designed to target help at a specific group of people who own property in the area closest to the site of the proposed runway, and whose properties are likely to be worst affected by it. As the planning process for the new runway moves forward, we will be discussing with the local community a whole range of further issues, such as how we might reduce noise associated with the new runway."

OUR COMMENT: Terry Morgan, like the government, should be more honest about the situation. Aircraft engines are noisy, and produce nasty emissions. There is only so much that any airline or airport operator can do to reduce either form of pollution and most of what is possible locally could be done (and much is being done) today. Promises about improved technology in the future leading to a reduction in noise are not a solution when the improved technology is not yet available or likely to be for many years. Are the budget airlines going to purchase the new "dreamliners"? Even if they did, noise would still increase - if the number of flights increase.

Pat Dale


25 September 2004

YET ANOTHER CONSULTATION...

BAA Launches Noise Insulation Consultation

Herts & Essex Observer - 23 September 2004

On Tuesday. BAA launched a consultation exercise on proposed voluntary compensation and mitigation packages for aircraft noise. Entirely separate from the Home Owners' Support Scheme, which was also announced the same day, this initiative concerns noise associated with the operation of the existing runway.

The airport operator's consultation covers Stansted, Heathrow, Gatwick and Edinburgh and it said it was seeking to develop, for each, a voluntary scheme to provide noise insulation for sensitive buildings such as schools and hospitals, within a noise contour of 63dBALeq. Around Stansted that would take in Church End and Broxted to the south of Great Hallingbury.

A second scheme proposes to offer a financial package for relocation assistance, capped at £10,000, for residents in the noisiest area who want to move. BAA will pay 1.5% of the completion sale price of the affected property, plus a lump sum of £2,500, subject to the maximum. To be eligible, property owners must live within a 69dBALeq noise contour. For Stansted that includes places such as Bedlars Green to Brick End, near Molehill Green.

The consultations, which were prompted by the government's White Paper on Aviation published in December are open until December 21st and final details will be launched early in 2005 for implementation as soon as practicable.

OUR COMMENT: We must all read this and comment even though experience tells us that very little notice will be taken of our views. It looks as though BAA are intent on categorising areas of significant noise annoyance as only applying to those within the 63 dBALeq contour, and even higher for actual compensation, which is a nonsense. The government has accepted the World Health Organisation's guidance levels as ultimate targets and these much lower limits should be the aim of all schemes that are offering compensation and/or mitigation.

It also must be remembered that "to mitigate" means to "make milder or less intense". Apart from applying operational rules (which can be and is being done today) the only way that this can be effective round airports is:

* To have a reduction in the number of flights
* The airlines to buy quieter aircraft (more expensive and as yet still too noisy)
* Seal up all buildings with noise insulation (and lose the freedom to open the windows or relax out of doors)

Pat Dale


25 September 2004

WHAT ABOUT AIR POLLUTION?

Air Quality deterioration as a result of a second runway is not considered as a blight, either by BAA or by the government. It is, though, still a major concern of the MPs in the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee. Their concern is mainly about the effects of a major increase in the number of flights on climate change. They have just published the government's answers to the questions put in their last critical report.

Environmental Audit Committee - House of Commons
Press Release - 23 September 2004

The Environment Audit Committee is today publishing Aviation: Sustainability and the Government's second response. This constitutes the fourth in a series of reports specifically on aviation which the Committee has published in the last 14 months. It includes the Government's response to the Committee's June 2004 report - in which it criticised the quality and coverage of the Government's previous response, restated the key criticisms it had raised, and demanded that the Government should provide a further response.

The Committee does not consider that any more can be achieved by requesting yet another Government response at this stage. The report makes it clear that there remain fundamental and apparently irreconcilable differences between its views and those of the Department.

Commenting on the planned growth in aviation and the associated massive increase in carbon emissions, the Chairman of the EAC, Peter Ainsworth MP, said:

"We have made available the latest Government response and we are - at least for the moment - drawing a line under this series of exchanges. However, only last week the Prime Minister emphasised again that climate change was the biggest challenge we face, and he has made this a key priority for the UK presidency of the G8 and EU next year."

"There is clearly a glaring inconsistency in the DfT promoting so large a growth in carbon emissions from aviation at a time when we need to make huge cuts to minimise the worst impacts of global warming."

"We need a much more informed public debate about the issues involved in addressing climate change at an international level through, for example, international emissions trading systems, and we will be looking at the UK role in developing such schemes in the new inquiry we announced earlier this week."

Details of all the Committee's press releases and inquiries, together with its Reports, oral evidence and other publications, are available on the Committee's Internet home page, which can be found at: www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/environmental_audit_committee.cfm


25 September 2004

MORE COMMENTS ON AVIATION & CLIMATE CHANGE

Curbs on aircraft gases fail to take off

by Vanessa Houlder - The Financial Times - 23 September 2004

Pressure is growing on the aviation industry to curb its fast-growing Greenhouse gas emissions. But attempts to impose emission charges or curbs on the industry are fraught with political and technical difficulties.

The severity of the problem was underlined last week by Tony Blair, the British prime minister, who said aviation was likely to make up a quarter of the UK's contribution to global warming by 2030.

On the face of it, this tripling of aviation's impact can be reconciled with his government's aspirations for deep, long-term emission cuts only if there are significant emission cuts in other parts of the economy.

Environmental campaigners are intensely concerned about the airline business's growth projections of about 3-4 per cent a year, which, they say, reflects the global industry's exemption from fuel taxes. "It is tax concessions which are stimulating the soaring demand in leisure travel," says Airport Watch, a British pressure group.

But there is widespread acknowledgement of the difficulty of unilateral action against emissions from an industry which is subject to intense international competition and myriad international tax agreements and is excluded from the Kyoto climate treaty.

The difficulties were underlined last week when the European parliament voted to resist a resolution blocking the unilateral imposition of emission-related levies by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

The resolution, which will be discussed at next month's ICAO assembly in Montreal, cites concerns about the cost-effectiveness of charges and potential impact on other countries.

Some European politicians are convinced that imposing a tax on the distance an aircraft travels and its engine performance would be the simplest method of tackling soaring emissions.

But the idea is strongly opposed by most European airlines, which argue that "emissions trading" would be far more cost-effective. Companies that achieved deeper emission cuts than expected would be able to sell surplus permits to companies that exceeded their allocated emissions. "One of the benefits of an emissions trading scheme is that it should incentivise companies to improve," says EasyJet, a low-cost airline.

The idea has won the support of the UK government, which will promote it during its presidency of the European Union next year. Aviation's incorporation within the EU emissions trading scheme would be "a big step in the right direction", Mr Blair said last week.

Some aviation experts are sceptical. Grafting aviation on to the trading scheme will be complicated by arguments about how to allocate emissions. Moreover, the emissions trading scheme would control only carbon dioxide, allowing increases in other aircraft emissions that could have a greater impact on the climate.

There are also doubts about the scheme's effectiveness. "The industry believes it is a cheap 'get-out-of-jail-free card' to carry on business as usual," says Jeff Gazzard of the Aviation Environment Federation.

He estimates it would, in the short term, add just a few euros to the price of a ticket for a return trip in Europe, which would not be enough to influence demand or stimulate improvements in efficiency.

But in the longer term, there are serious doubts about the availability of cheap carbon emission credits from other sectors, which would be needed by an expanding aviation industry.

"The price of carbon could, in such circumstances, go through the roof," according to a recent report by a cross-party group of British parliamentarians, which warned about serious knock-on effects on other sectors of the economy.

The report doubted whether there was time or political will to resolve the "contentious issues" involved in extending the EU's emissions trading scheme to aviation by 2008.

The European Commission has yet to reach a decision on the issue, but an official said: "Aviation sector emissions have grown by 40 per cent since 1990. I think everyone accepts that it is a sector that something needs to be done about."


A LETTER IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES - VERY MUCH TO THE POINT!

Challenge on tackling aviation emissions
Financial Times - 21 September 2004

From Mr Jos Dings

Sir, Now that the UK prime minister has recognised the growing impact of aviation on climate change ("Blair urges world to act over global warming", September 15), we would like to offer him an opportunity to prove he will match words with deeds.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation will meet for its triennial conference in Montreal starting on September 28. On the table is a proposed resolution, led by the US, that will have the effect of blocking member states from implementing their own policies in this area. If the resolution is adopted in its current form, Tony Blair's stated aim, to incorporate aviation emissions into the proposed European Union emissions trading system, will be severely hampered.

As you reported, Mr Blair looks forward to efforts in the area of climate change that are "more ambitious than Kyoto" and he is absolutely right to do so. The Kyoto agreement recommends that environmental concerns for aviation are addressed through ICAO - which has so far shown it will block rather than promote solutions.

Although an ICAO resolution is not legally binding, it would take a bold member state to make a reservation against it - if acting alone. Now is the time for Mr Blair to show leadership by building a coalition of the willing to reject the move. Only then will European governments, and indeed other members of ICAO that take climate policy seriously, be able to choose the most appropriate response to the climate threat posed by the rapidly growing aviation industry.

Mr Blair also doubts that opinion in the US Senate has shifted radically since it rejected the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 - so now is not the time for the US to be, once again, dictating climate policy to countries that have already woken up to the danger.

Jos Dings, Director, European Federation for Transport and Environment, 1000 Brussels, Belgium


25 September 2004

FROM THE LIB DEMS' CONFERENCE

Green tax would see an end to '£15 flights to Faro'

by David Charter, Chief Political Correspondent - Times Online - 22 September 2004

THE era of ultra-cheap air travel would come to an end under a new Lib Dem tax regime designed to cut harmful emissions, the party's environment spokesman said yesterday.

Norman Baker said that it was "not practicable or sustainable" to fly to Faro for £15 and admitted that green taxes on aviation would be passed on to passengers through ticket costs.

Mr Baker, who pledged that future Lib Dem conferences would be "carbon Neutral" in use of materials, said that "environment" would be written through party policies like a stick of rock.

In a split over party direction on green issues, however, another member of Charles Kennedy's team has attacked moves to price people away from their foreign holidays. David Laws, the Treasury spokesman behind a controversial book of alternative Lib Dem ideas, believes that taxes that curb the opportunity to travel deny people freedom.

Delegates agreed a range of green measures including tax breaks for households producing less non-recyclable waste. Councils would be able to introduce variable charging so that refunds could be given to those who reduce household waste. Polluting cars would face higher tax rates while air passenger duty would be scrapped and replaced with an aircraft departure tax.

Mr Baker said that the Lib Dems wanted to change the way the taxation system worked. There would not be more duty overall but different types of tax, he said, adding: "We want to tax planes to give the airlines an incentive to fill the planes rather than taxing the passengers through the stealth tax of passenger duty that the Chancellor brought in."

He said he did not necessarily want to cut the number of people flying, but would like to see a new tax on airfreight. "We want to make sure the airlines think about filling every seat on the plane," he said. "A lot of these changes can be absorbed through efficiencies. But ultimately it is not practical or sustainable to get people to fly to Faro and back for 15 quid."

Steve Hardwick, an airline industry spokesman, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that 3 per cent of global warming was caused by aviation. He added: "The industry should deal with its greenhouse gas emissions, but it should do so in a way which does not stifle competitiveness and does not stop people from flying by loading on taxation . . . I would hate to see a situation where people are priced out of flying."

In The Orange Book of policy ideas, Mr Laws wrote: "Instead of concentrating on developing cleaner forms of transport and on containing pollution costs, Liberal Democrats have at times appeared merely to be in favour of trying to tax people out of their cars and away from their foreign holidays. To the extent that this can work at all, and the experience to date has surely not been very inspiring, it must work by pricing off the roads and out of the skies some of our poorest fellow citizens. Curbing opportunities for those on low incomes, while the affluent minority travel on regardless, does not seem a particularly good way to extend personal freedoms to the widest possible group of people."

Mr Baker said that the Lib Dems would ensure that 60 per cent of energy came from renewable sources in 40 years.

The conference published a Consultative Paper on Aviation on Sunday 19th September 2004. It is 171Kb in .pdf format at www.libdems.org.uk/documents/policies/consultation_papers/74Aviation.pdf

OUR COMMENT: The Lib Dems must get their policy together! The same old arguments - everything must be priced at the lowest possible level so that everyone can afford it. The fact that the product is cheap because it is allowed to damage health and/or the environment is forgotten. Yet everyone will suffer from increasing climate change and increasing pollution, especially the poorest members of society. The relief of poverty has to be achieved through better education and better jobs. There also seems to be the mistaken view that opponents of excessive aviation expansion want to stop all air travel, which is far from the case.


25 September 2004

MORE ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Air travellers asked to pay CO2 levy

by Owen Bowcott - The Guardian - 24 September 2004

Airline passengers should be encouraged to make voluntary payments to offset the damage caused by carbon dioxide emissions from their flights, the government suggested yesterday.

The proposal emerged in published exchanges between the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Commons environmental audit committee, over the growing impact of aviation on climate change.

There are already schemes in this country, such as Future Forests, which allow travellers to calculate the CO2 produced by planes they have flown in and donate money, or buy products, which support tree-planting to soak up the resulting emissions.

In its submission, the government backed the idea of voluntary payments. "Such a scheme has been endorsed by the German government recently and the concept may merit further investigations in the UK," the department said.

Friends of the Earth yesterday welcomed the proposal but warned that more urgent action was needed.

"Air passenger tax, which has been falling in real terms, should be increased," said Richard Dyer, FoE aviation campaigner.

Earlier this year the DfT revealed that air traffic projections show that by the year 2050 a third of all gases produced in the UK affecting world climate will be those released by the aviation industry.

MPs on the committee have become increasingly exasperated by the position taken by the department and what they see as its failure to curb carbon emissions at a time when more and more people are flying around the globe.

"Only last week the prime minister emphasised again that climate change was the biggest challenge we face," said Peter Ainsworth, the chairman of the MPs' committee, "and he has made this a key priority for the UK presidency of the G8 and EU next year."

He added: "There is clearly a glaring inconsistency in the DfT promoting so large a growth in carbon emissions from aviation at a time when we need to make huge cuts to minimise the worst impacts of global warming. We need a much more informed public debate."

Much of the report was taken up with disputes over passenger forecasts.

"One-fifth of all international air passengers in the world are on flights to or from a UK airport," the transport department told the committee. "Drastic measures to bring down the UK figure would cause significant damage to the UK's position in the global economy."

OUR COMMENT: A voluntary tax? What a crazy idea! Would they set up a Climate Change charity to collect the money? Only a government can take effective action and it is the government's responsibility to take effective action on climate change, to set targets and to ensure that everyone participates.


25 September 2004

THE PROBLEMS THAT HAVE TO BE SOLVED

No frills passenger numbers set to increase by 70%

by Kevin Done, Aerospace Correspondent - Financial Times - 20 September 2004

Low cost airlines are expected to carry around 80m passengers in Europe in 2004, up from 47m last year, Wolfgang Kurth, president of the European Low Fares Airlines Association, said on Monday.

The no frills operators were forecast to capture around 18 per cent of the market on intra-European routes this year, as they both opened new routes and took market share from the traditional network airlines.

Mr Kurth, chief executive of Hapag Lloyd-Express (HLX) the German low cost carrier and a subsidiary of Tui, Europe's largest tour operator, said that the recent growth rate of around 40 per cent a year in passenger volumes was expected to continue for at least another couple of years.

He played down recent warnings from Ryanair and EasyJet, the leading European low cost airlines, of a looming "bloodbath" in the sector in the face of a fierce price war and serious overcapacity.

There were currently as many as 67 low cost carriers operating in Europe, said Mr Kurth, and while a process of consolidation was eventually inevitable, for the moment new carriers were still entering the market to replace those that collapsed.

In Germany alone the number of routes operated by low cost carriers had grown from four in 2002 to 300 today, while the number of no frills airlines had jumped from two to 15.

Mr Kurth said that the number of seats offered by the low cost carrier sector had jumped from 700,000 in a sample week in July 2000 to 7.5m in the same week this year. HLX was planning to raise its own capacity by 35 per cent by next summer with its fleet growing from 11 to 15 aircraft.

Mr Kurth said that average fares were expected to fall further in coming years, which would lead to additional cost-cutting measures by the no frills operators.

Pressure would be increased on both the aircraft makers and the airports to cut charges. Mr Kurth said that the automatic inflation-linked price escalation clauses inserted in aircraft purchase contracts by both Boeing and Airbus were unacceptable.

At the same time airports would need to provide more basic facilities designed for the low cost airlines leading to differential charges between the no frills carriers and the network airlines, which demanded a higher level of services. Some airports were considering re-opening former cargo hangars as terminals for the low cost carriers, but only two airports, Geneva and Marseilles, were already pressing ahead with separate low cost terminal projects.

OUR COMMENT: This emphasises the financial difficulties of airports like Stansted. If they cannot raise airport charges how will they finance expansion?


25 September 2004

EU ENERGY CHIEF CASTS DOUBT ON TRADE IN EMISSIONS

by Raphael Minder in Brussels - Financial Times - 21 September 2004

Political divisions within the European Union over a planned emissions trading scheme were highlighted on Tuesday when the EU's energy chief suggested the launch of the scheme should be dependent on whether Russia signed the Kyoto protocol on climate change.

Loyola de Palacio, the energy commissioner, told members of the European parliament that the EU should reconsider the launch of its scheme if Russia did not participate in Kyoto. If Russia did not ratify the protocol by December, "then Europe should think whether its emissions trading system is the most appropriate one." She added: "I'm afraid that Kyoto will not come into force."

Ms de Palacio has voiced doubts about the scheme in the past and is stepping down as commissioner next month. But her comments just months before the planned launch in January of the emissions trading scheme are likely to raise political tensions surrounding the project. On Tuesday a spokeswoman for Margot Wallström, the environment commissioner and the scheme's main promoter, dismissed the idea of any delay, as well as the suggestion that Russia would pull out of the Kyoto discussions altogether. She said that President Vladimir Putin "has promised to ratify the treaty. So for us the question is when, not if."

The trading scheme is designed to force companies that exceed their national allocations to buy extra allowances from more efficient companies, or face heavy fines. Environmentalists see it as a test of the EU's commitment to the Kyoto protocol, but industrial and political opponents say the scheme has practical flaws and would put the EU's industry at a disadvantage against leading trading partners, in particular those like Russia that have so far refused to endorse the protocol.

Ms Wallström's team has been studying plans submitted by national governments for the scheme, but the process has been marred by foot-dragging by some governments and the fact that some plans have already been judged insufficient by Brussels.

Separately, Ms de Palacio said on Tuesday she would withdraw a proposal to create an EU oil reserve, along the lines of the US model, in the face of strong opposition from some member states about the idea of ceding control to Brussels over such an important resource.


19 September 2004

CLIMATE CHANGE JOINS THE POLITICAL BATTLE

BOTH THE PRIME MINISTER AND THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION, MICHAEL HOWARD, HAVE CHOSEN TO MAKE A MAJOR POLICY SPEECH ON CLIMATE CHANGE

They are both to be congratulated, BUT there must be more deeds, not just more words, and both have failed to propose new policies relating to pollution from transport, notably aviation, the pollution risk of the future, if large scale airport expansion takes place. Tony Blair has promised to press for the inclusion of aviation emissions in the new European carbon emissions trading scheme. Such an inclusion would soon expose the emission consequences of such an expansion but this recognition would be too late. A rethink of the strategy is needed now, not in 5 years time.

The speeches have been reported and commented on in all the major papers. Here follows an example that actually refers to aviation as part of the problem.

Climate Change
Blair's global warning
The Leader - The Guardian - 15 September 2004

No one reading or hearing the prime minister's impassioned speech last night could doubt his sincerity in this vital area. Speaking at a dinner hosted by the Prince of Wales business and the environment programme. He called it the world's greatest environmental challenge, which was causing global warming at a rate "that began as significant, has become alarming and is simply unsustainable in the long-term". He added that the long-term did not mean centuries but within his children's lifetime - and possibly his own as well.

Environmentalists will inevitably be disappointed at the lack of bold new measures. One of the few new items was a pledge to argue strongly for aviation to be brought within the EU's emissions trading scheme when Britain assumes the presidency of the EU next year. This is a thoroughly creditable aim, but is somewhat tarnished by the government's decision earlier this year to endorse a huge expansion of airports, despite advice from a royal commission that no more runways should be built because of the effects on climate change.

To be fair, the government has a relatively good record on climate change, both compared with its own targets in other policy areas and set against what other countries are doing. Even its critics admit that the government is on course to meet its Kyoto target of 12.5% decline in greenhouse gas emissions during the 20 years to 2010 - even though much of the progress is due to the decline of coal, which was engineered by the previous conservative administration.

During the course of a thoughtful speech on the environment this week Michael Howard, the Tory leader, was right to point out that under Tony Blair's watch CO2 emissions have actually risen, He was also right to call Labour's policy on transport a "jumble of contradictions". Good green rhetoric by Labour has been undermined by a failure to solve the growing problems of road transport (not least by abandoning the Conservative's fuel duty escalator) and by endorsing airport expansion. Yesterday, Mr Blair said that the minimum standard for the energy performance of new houses was being raised by 25% a year. That is fine - but he did not say whether the benefits would be negated by the huge number of new homes to be built as part of the government's plans to solve the housing crisis.

Individual countries can make big contributions on their own. The scope for Britain to exploit wind, solar and wave power - and to build an international business in the process - is enormous. The government has already made substantial progress with wind power and its intention to stimulate the harnessing of energy from wave power makes its aspirations to have 20% of Britain's energy requirements met from renewable sources a credible aim. Mr Blair was careful yesterday, however, not to rule out more nuclear plants.

Yet in the end this is a global problem. It therefore needs a global solution. Next year, Britain intends to use its presidency of the European Union and, more important, the G8 group of leading industrialised countries, to negotiate a blueprint for survival. Mr Blair's most urgent priority to help stem global warming is to use whatever influence he will have on the Bush administration (if it wins the November election) to persuade the US to accept the Kyoto targets. America has under 5% of the world's population but is responsible for almost 25% of CO2 emissions. This task will not be easy because, as Mr Blair reminded us yesterday, the US voted 95-0 to refuse ratification. But bringing the US back on board is the single most important thing that needs to be done to conquer climate change. The world - and Mr Blair - have a lot to gain from that.

WHAT DID TONY BLAIR SAY?

It was a speech that covered all aspects of the subject, starting with a description of the growing awareness of the effects of man's activities producing ever increasing amounts of greenhouse gases leading to fundamental changes in climate patterns.

Statistics quoted were:

  • The 10 warmest years on record have all been since 1990.
  • Average Temperatures have risen by 0.6 degrees Celsius during the last 100 years.
  • Extreme events are more frequent. Glaciers, snow and ice cover are melting.
  • Sea levels are rising; the forecast is another 88cm by 2100 threatening 100m people's homes.
  • The number of people worldwide affected by floods has risen from 7m in the 1960s to 150m today.
  • In Europe the floods in 2002 had an estimated cost of $16b.
  • The economic costs of global warming could double to $150b each year in the next 10 years, with $30-$40b in insurance claims.
  • Last year's heat wave in Europe resulted in 26,000 deaths and cost $13.5b. Such a heat wave has been a one in about 800-year event. Predictions suggest that by 2040 one year in two could be even hotter.

UK Action

He said: "I said earlier it needed global leadership to tackle the issue. But we cannot aspire to such leadership unless we are seen to be following our own advice".

He went on to claim that the UK was on track to meet the Kyoto target with a 14% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. He admitted that the government target was 20% by 2010 and that it had been accepted that a 60% reduction was needed by 2050.

His programme for the required "massive changes in energy use" included:

  • Using the presidency of the G8 process to promote the development and uptake of cleaner energy technologies, notably new low carbon technologies including Photovoltaics, fuel cells, carbon sequestration, low carbon fuels, combined heat and power generators, and wave power.
  • Suppliers and retailers will work with the government to reduce the environmental impact of goods and services. The Carbon Trust is helping business to address energy use and encourage low-carbon innovation. This could lead to a saving of 10% of emissions by 2010.
  • Promoting the achievement of the Renewables obligation, now at 15.4% of energy supply by 2015, and 20% by 2020. Wind energy, especially offshore is expected to be the primary source.
  • The development of these new technologies by British business could lead the world and provide significant export opportunities.
  • The government itself can give a lead in its own procurement policy.
  • New school buildings should all be a model for sustainable development that can be seen and experienced by the students themselves. Guidance is being prepared on a specific method of environmental assessment that will apply to all new school buildings.
  • The minimum standard for the energy performance of new building is to rise by a further 25%. The new developments proposed in the south east should be examples of sustainable development with better waste management, transport, local parks and amenities.
  • The re-invigoration of Local Agenda 21 by encouraging community action.
  • Action in the EU. The government believes that trading is the most effective way to reduce emissions. Cleaner and more efficient cars and aircraft must be developed. By 2030 aviation could represent 25% of the UK's contribution to global warming. The government will "argue strongly" for aviation to be brought into the EU emissions trading scheme.

Global action

  • There must be global negotiation, agreement and action, such as was achieved by the Montreal Protocol on the avoidance of the destruction of the ozone layer in the atmosphere. It is understood that there will be difficulties in convincing the US but there are signs that the facts themselves are being accepted and now is the time to press for further international action, beyond Kyoto.
  • Prior to the G8 meeting there will be an international scientific meeting at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Exeter in February. This conference will ask:
    1. What level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is self evidently too much?
    2. What options do we have to avoid such levels?

The Conclusions (in full)

  1. "If what the science tells us about climate change is correct, then unabated it will result in catastrophic consequences for our world.
  2. The science, almost certainly, is correct.
  3. Recent experiences teach us that it is possible to combine reducing emissions with economic growth.
  4. Further investment in science and technology and in businesses associated with it has the potential to transform the possibilities of such a healthy combination of sustainability and development.
  5. To acquire global leadership, on this issue Britain must demonstrate it first at home.
  6. The G8 next year, and the EU Presidency provide a great opportunity to push this debate to a new and better level that after the discord over Kyoto, offers the prospect of agreement and action.

None of this is easy to do. But its logic is hard to fault. Even if there are those who still doubt the science in its entirety, surely the balance of risk for action or inaction has changed. If there were even a 50% chance that the scientific evidence I receive is right, the bias in favour of action would be clear. But of course it is far more than 50%.

In this case science is backed up by intuition. It is not axiomatic that pollution causes damage. But it is likely. I am a strong supporter of proceeding through scientific analysis in such issues. But I also, as I think most people do, have a healthy instinct that if we upset the balance of nature, we are in all probability going to suffer a reaction. With world growth, and population as it is, this reaction must increase.

We have been warned. On most issues we ask children to listen to their parents. On climate change, it is parents who should listen to their children.

Now is the time to start".

OUR COMMENT: Lets hope that Tony Blair's apparent conversion to the Precautionary Principle extends now into other fields besides climate change. Let us also hope that it extends into transport policy and that the recognised essential for any would ­ be leader in convincing the world of the need to take action must be, in his own words: "We cannot aspire to such leadership unless we are seen to be following our own advice."

WHAT DID MICHAEL HOWARD SAY?

Achieving a more sustainable way of life

This Speech was made at an environment forum hosted by Green Alliance and Environmental Resources Management, on Sept. 13th.

"I am here to make the case for new leadership in the way we manage our environment. Success is central to our pursuit of a better quality of life.

The challenge has become more pressing as the evidence grows - both of the risks we are taking and our failure to respond effectively.

I make the case today as leader of a party which has consistently placed concern for the environment at the heart of its philosophy. Whether the words were those of Edmund Burke or Margaret Thatcher, the sentiment has been the same for 200 years. Burke saw the living as "the temporary possessors and life renters of this world. The living must think about the future, lest they", as he put it, "leave to those who come after them a ruin instead of a habitation".

Over the years that rhetoric has been backed up by a long track record of action. It was Conservatives who led the way in public health and clean water back in the nineteenth century.

The Clean Air Acts were Conservative achievements.

Conservative governments introduced the modern framework for countryside and wildlife protection; the ban on CFCs; tax incentives for unleaded petrol; the great clean-up of our rivers and lakes; the landfill tax; and the Home Energy and Conservation Act.

It was Edward Heath who established the Department of the Environment.

Margaret Thatcher was one of the first major world leaders to alert the international community to the threat of global warming. Chris Patten produced the first white paper on the environment. John Major set up the Environment Agency.

It was a great privilege for me to serve as Environment Secretary. I signed the agreement to end CFCs. And one of the most extraordinary and rewarding

days of my entire time in government was when I was Environment Secretary. Just after the 1992 election, I spent a day in Washington and succeeded in persuading the United States Government, under George Bush senior, to sign the Climate Change Convention, the forerunner of the Kyoto Agreement.

My successor, John Gummer, continues to be recognised as a leading international authority on the environment. This is a proud tradition, which I am determined to build on as leader of the Conservative Party.

Looking to the Future

Today we are still doing our bit. In local government, where we are the largest party, eight out of the ten best councils for recycling are Conservative. Despite the hot air generated by politicians, I am proud to say that we are taking the necessary steps to make our new headquarters in Victoria Street carbon neutral!

The environment needs a government that is prepared to set a regulatory framework that is fair, sensitive and effective, that is prepared to lead by example, and that is prepared to stand up and be counted in the international community.

Today is a unique opportunity for me to set out the Conservative stall in front of a distinguished and informed audience. Many of you here today have done so much to persuade British governments to do the right thing as far as the environment is concerned.

There are many issues that I could touch on. The environment encompasses almost everything we do. But I want to focus on the single most important environmental issue of all - climate change.

Climate change is one of mankind's greatest challenges. In the last thirty years, world temperature has increased by almost half a degree centigrade. We cannot predict with certainty what will happen now. But the risk of abrupt climate change certainly exists.

A recent report for the Pentagon states that "with over 400 million people living in drier, subtropical, often over populated and economically poor regions today, climate change and its follow on effects pose a severe risk to political, economic and social stability". Climate change has happened in the past through a variety of natural causes. But I am persuaded that human activity is a major factor in the changes we see today.

As Margaret Thatcher put it in her speech to the United Nations in 1989, "it is mankind and his activities which are changing the environment of our planet in damaging and dangerous ways". Never one for fads or scare stories, she was the original sceptical environmentalist. And she was convinced.

The call to action is even stronger today than it was then. Britain and the global community are still moving too slowly. The international effort on climate change desperately needs renewed leadership.

Labour's Failure on Climate Change

Britain is in a position to provide that leadership. We have done so in the past. We are one of the few countries likely to meet our Kyoto obligations, largely it should be said because of the Conservative led "dash for gas" in the 1990s.

We have a privileged relationship with the USA, which leaves us best placed to persuade them into the international fold. We assume the Presidency of the G8 and the EU next year.

My concern is that we are squandering this opportunity. Because of our failure to follow up bold rhetoric with action that inspires trust.

The instinct of our Prime Minister is to lecture other people. But on his watch CO2 emissions have actually risen. He has set ambitious long term targets for CO2 emission reductions but few people outside government believe that there is a coherent plan for achieving them.

Labour's policy on sustainable transport is now a jumble of contradictions.

Their renewable energy strategy begins and ends with onshore wind farms, despite the opposition from local communities.

Their support for new technology is well behind that of other leading economies, despite the fact that they could transform the debate and create great opportunities for British companies.

Their incompetence in managing European legislation has been unbelievable. Take fridges for example. When the new rules for disposing of fridges came into effect in January 2002, the UK had only two sites available for recycling and disposal. DEFRA incompetence led to enormous expense, the infamous 'fridge mountains ' and the transportation of redundant fridges to Europe where the appropriate machinery was available.

How can we expect to make progress if even the most basic environmental legislation cannot be properly implemented?

Above all, Labour have failed to engage the British people, whose decisions as consumers, taxpayers and parents are of crucial importance in shifting Britain towards being a low carbon economy. In fact, over issues like fridge mountains, they have alienated them.

Because of Labour's high-handedness, consumers, communities and small firms now more often than not see environmental regulation as a burden and a hindrance, rather than what it should be, as a step towards a sustainable future.

This is not the ideal background against which to assume the Presidency of the G8 and the EU next year.

The Conservative Approach to Climate Change

So what would a Conservative government actually do? There are four key areas for action:

  • Re-asserting our international leadership in this area;
  • Creating a global market to encourage a reduction in emissions;
  • Renewing the drive for a diverse renewable energy sector;
  • And re-focusing on increased energy efficiency.

Our pursuit of energy efficiency must include the transport sector where it is clear that we must do better."

He continues with a description of how these aims would be achieved and is very critical of the Labour government for not following up opportunities many of which were created by the previous Conservative governments. Basically the aims are the same as Tony Blair's though he goes into somewhat more practical detail as to what is immediately possible.

He then refers to Transport.

"Transport contributes around a quarter of our emissions and that proportion is expected to grow, not least as aviation emissions are expected to double by 2020.

Over many decades, the car industry has made huge strides in making cars more fuel efficient through a combination of stick and carrot. The future looks even more promising. A new generation of cars, using LPG and hybrid technology, are on the market, offering up to 50 per cent savings in emissions. But they represent less than 0.5 per cent of the total UK vehicle fleet.

Biofuels can cut emissions by 50 per cent compared with fossil fuels. But they represent less than 0.2 per cent of the UK market. Hydrogen is coming. Ford and General Motors have promised production model hydrogen cars by the end of the decade.

These are exciting prospects for a government and society that has the vision and will to help the great polluter of the twentieth century become the most environmentally-friendly form of motorised transport in the twenty first century.

A Conservative Government will work harder to bring the future forward. Through the tax system we have opportunities to send clearer long-term signals and incentives to both motorists and suppliers. Through action at the European level, we have the opportunity to set higher standards for monitoring and improving fuel efficiency and emissions. The carrot for the industry is the guarantee of a real market in the future for fuel efficient vehicles. But the stick to ensure action will be more effective and ambitious Europe-wide energy standards.

Government can provide leadership here not just through regulation, but by example. Between them, the Inland Revenue, Customs and Excise and the Home Office have 5,836 vehicles. Just 183 of them use alternative power. A miserable three per cent.

The next Conservative Government will make it a point of principle for every car purchased by a government department to be the most fuel efficient or best alternative fuel car available.

Nor will we duck, as this Government has done, the challenge of getting under control the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases - aviation.

Britain cannot solve the problem of aviation pollution on its own. But we should do more to inform consumers of the environmental impact of their choices. We should work to reach faster conclusions on the feasibility of including aviation in an EU, and eventually global, emissions trading scheme.

We should be more insistent in pursuing the principle of the polluter pays. And more imaginative in giving industry the incentives to pursue greater efficiency and less noise pollution. Promoting greener behaviour need not hold back economic growth or restrict choice. But the longer we delay action, the harder it will be to achieve that outcome.

Today I am giving you a sense of direction in relation to promoting greener transport. Over the next few weeks and months we will be announcing more specific ideas. We hope they will generate an honest debate, one which will engage the British people with the key challenge of adapting to achieve a more sustainable way of life.

If you asked anyone in the street whether they are concerned about the environment, they would say, 'yes, of course we are '. It is one of those issues that we are all signed up to. It is motherhood and apple pie.

In a sense, that puts the environment at a huge disadvantage. We talk about the need for a debate on the environment but in fact that there is almost no meaningful debate. It means that politicians like me can trot up to the odd conference, and make a fine and concerned speech, and go away again, perhaps coming back in 12 months to chuck around a few statistics to show what progress has or has not - been made.

The urgency of global warming means that fine words are no longer enough. We need action.

I am the first party leader who has served as Environment Secretary. It's an issue I care passionately about. I want the Conservatives to carry on leading this debate. And we will".

OUR COMMENT: Lets hope the "new ideas" for greener transport are a little more realistic on aviation emissions. No mention of his views on the present policy to encourage a massive increase in such emissions.

Pat Dale


Footnote - Some Action at last?

Labour calls for emission trading to curb airlines

Jonathon Leake and Dominic O'Connell - News Environment - 12 September 2004

TONY BLAIR will this week call for curbs on airline growth through the imposition of an emissions trading system on the aviation industry. The scheme may, according to some estimates, add two pounds or more to the cost of an average one-way trip in Europe.

Blair will make his call in a keynote speech to Prince Charles¹s Business and the Environment charity on Tuesday. He will say that aviation is growing so quickly it will soon become a major emitter of greenhouse gases. Such rapid growth, he will add, cannot be allowed to go unchecked.

He will push for airlines to join a European Union-wide carbon emissions trading scheme that is being introduced for manufacturing and other heavy industries from January. Aviation is currently exempt.

The European Commission is already making preparations for airlines to join. It is currently recruiting a consultancy firm to prepare a feasibility study with a view to adopting new rules late next year, when Britain will hold the Commission presidency. Industry sources say the airlines are unlikely to become part of the scheme before 2008.

Although details of the scheme will be worked out by the consultants, European airlines will probably be given a baseline level of permitted emissions, and forced to buy more carbon credits from other airlines or industries if they want to increase their activities.

It would at first apply only to flights in Europe, but could be extended if other countries set up emissions trading schemes.

Blair's call is the first serious challenge to the rapid growth of low-cost airlines, who could be adversely affected as a new charge would represent a greater proportion of their average fares.

Ryanair has in the past condemned the proposed introduction of emissions trading, but EasyJet, its rival, has come out in favour.

British Airways (BA) said it strongly supported the introduction of emissions trading.

"We take the view that the issue of climate change needs to be addressed, and emissions trading is by far the best method of doing that," said Andrew Sentance, BA's chief economist.

BA already participates in a UK emissions trading scheme that applies only to its domestic flights.


MPs TO LOSE FREE AIRPORT PARKING

by Alistair Osborne, Associate City Editor - Daily Telegraph - 14 September 2004

The airports operator BAA has been forced by its major shareholders to end the practice of giving free car parking passes to MPs and peers.

The company, which runs seven airports, including Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, has written to the leaders of the Commons and the Lords, explaining it intends to phase out the perk.

It said: "Until the last three years it was not an issue of shareholder or public concern but we cannot ignore the present reality that it has become an issue."

MPs will be allowed to keep the passes until they expire, which is no later than 2006.

At present, BAA provides free car parking passes to 475 MPs, 78 MEPs and 284 peers. The four-year passes for MPs are worth £5,245, while an MEP's three-year pass would cost £3,934 to buy. BAA has long defended the practice, begun before the company's privatisation in 1987. Last year Margaret Ewing, the finance director, said: "The passes are provided exclusively for parliamentary business."

However, Brian Ross, a private shareholder, began a campaign against the issue, arguing that the passes were "tantamount to a bribe".

He forced a vote at BAA's annual meeting in July, on the grounds that the passes constituted a £1.25 million political donation, which exposed considerable investor opposition to the scheme.

Mr Ross, a leading figure in the Stop Stansted Expansion campaign, argued that BAA required MPs' support to build more runways and preserve its "monopoly position" in the South-east.


10 September 2004

EASYJET IN NETWORK SHAKE-UP

Airline to review routes to cut costs - Zurich service axed due to high charges -
Eastern Europe leads growth in new markets.

Financial Times - Kevin Done - 6 September 2004

EasyJet has started to rationalise its European network ahead of finalising a detailed review of its plans for capacity growth and the deployment of its growing fleet.

It is cutting several routes to some of its most expensive airports ñ including Zurich, Amsterdam and Copenhagen ñ while expanding into new markets with lower airport charges, in particular in Eastern Europe.

Like rival 'no frills' airlines, EasyJet has been forced to step up its cost-cutting efforts in the facer of a continueing decline in average fares.

The airline is expected to announce an overall slowing of capacity groweth in the European short-haul market when it presents the review later this month, ahead of the end of its financial year on September 30th.

It has decided to stop flying to Zurich, the most expensive airport in its network. Two routes from Amsterdam to Barcelona and Nice are to be cut, as are two routes to Copenhagen from Bristol and Newcastle.

EasyJet has also been forced to drop its route from London's Stansted airport to Milan Linate because of a lack of suitable landing slots at Milan.

The carrier's expansion so far this year has been dominated by aggressive moves into Germany, with the opening of two new bases at Berlin-Schonefeld and Dortmund. However, recent additions to its network have been more focused on eastern Europe and Spain.

The Report goes on to say that the reason for leaving Zurich and transferring to Basle is that passenger fees have increased by 132% and 'onerous operating restrictions' have been imposed.

Ray Webster, EasyJet chief executive said that airports "need to live in the real world and provide the right infrastructure at the right price. As Zurich airport has now realised, if there is no realistic prospect of progress, we will take our business and passengers elsewhere".

In addition EasyJet is reported as intending to dispose of some of its older Boeing 737-300s and take delivery of 32 Airbus 319s.

OUR COMMENT: So much for the 'no-frills' revolution, welcomed by various government spokesmen. Airports must watch their costs, no frills for those who live around the airport or who work there. No contributions to environmental costs. Low cost fares mean low cost ground facilities and more environmental damage. And - where is the expected profit to finance Stansted's so-called 'sustainable' expansion?

Pat Dale


European Deaths from Air Pollution Set to Rise

News Environment - 7 September 2004

Deaths from air pollution are likely to rise in European cities, due to the combined effects of climate change and the failure to reduce the emission levels of major pollutants, warns a UK expert.

Two reports recently published by the UK's Air Quality Expert Group, show that the UK will not meet key air quality standards set by the European Commission for 2010. Michael Pilling at Leeds University, director of the group, believes Europeís cities and heavily polluted areas like roadsides will also fail to meet these standards.

"We clearly have to look at improvements in technology," says Pilling, who presented the reports' findings at the British Association for the Advancement of Science Festival in Exeter, UK on Tuesday. "But itís not going to take us all the way. We have to look at other factors, in particular our use of cars."

Soots and Metals

Over the past 50 years, air quality in industrialised countries has generally improved due to technologies such as catalytic converters. But levels of air pollutants are not improving fast enough to allay health fears.

High levels of nitrogen dioxide gas can cause severe respiratory problems and contribute to global warming. And particulate matter (PM) - tiny particles of dust, soot and metals - has been linked to heart disease, respiratory failure, and cancer. At ten microns in diameter, so-called PM10 particles can penetrate the lungs and enter the blood stream.

By 2010, under European Union standards for air safety, levels of nitrogen dioxide gas should not exceed a yearly average of 40 micrograms per cubic metre. Pilling's report, however, showed that most cities and roadsides in the UK exceed those values and are not expected to improve by the target date.

Levels of PM10 currently average 30 micrograms per cubic metre in cities and next to major roads - 50% higher than the target of 20 micrograms per cubic metre by 2010. These levels show no signs of coming down, says Pilling.

Most cities in Europe have similarly bleak prospects for successfully bringing down air pollution levels, he warns.

The major source of all these pollutants is exhaust and emissions from combustion engines, including cars, trucks and trains, and heavy industry.

Global warming, says Pilling, is making the situation even more drastic. High temperatures increase the concentrations of pollutants such ground level ozone - which in turn generates more nitrogen dioxide through chemical reactions.

Thousands of people died in Europe during the August 2003 heat wave. Between 25% and 40% of the deaths are thought to be directly attributable to the effects of air pollution, due to respiratory problems for example. Current models predict that by the year 2070, the frequency of heat waves, along with other drastic weather events, will increase tenfold.

In order to protect human health and the environment, Pilling says that air quality must be treated as a general problem, not a series of separate ones. For example, some particulate traps fitted on diesel trucks may reduce emission of PM, but lead to increases in nitrogen dioxide.

"We must understand how pollutants interact with each other and how our strategies interact with each other. We can only use the holistic approach if we develop a fundamental understanding of the atmosphere, which is extraordinarily complex," he says.

OUR COMMENT: Pollution from aircraft and traffic round airports is not mentioned specifically in this report. However such pollution is an ever growing problem round airports as airports expand. The government has already conceded that Heathrow cannot be allowed to expand unless the problem of nitrogen oxides pollution has been dealt with. An expanded Stansted does not worry them, in spite of predictions that the European Air Quality Directive is likely to be breached. "No problem" is the official view, - operating methods will improve and airlines will be buying better, cleaner aircraft.

So far, no signs that any of the low-cost airlines are interested in investing in a future fleet of "dreamliners", and even this new Boeing only claims a 20% reduction in fuel use.

Professor Banatvala's comments on the adverse effects of airport pollution on the health of those who live in the area, recently published in the Lancet, (and on this website as well as in the local press) are very much to the point. All airport expansion propsals should be accompenied by a full Health Impact Assessment.

Pat Dale


05 September 2004

TROUBLE AHEAD?

Last week BA was wrestlng with problems of staff shortages and strike threats with cancelled flights and fed-up passengers at Heathrow.

This week problems of staffing are reported from low-cost air lines.

UNIONS ACCUSE RYANAIR OF STAFF INTIMIDATION

The Guardian - Andrew Clark - 31 August 2004

A Europe-wide coalition of trade unions will today begin a campaign against alleged abusive tactics at Ryanair, which has come under fire for practices such as its refusal to pay trainee staff.

The Irish low-cost airline has attracted criticism for making employees pay for uniforms, withdrawing free crew refreshments and actively discouraging union membership.

The International Transport Workers' Federation, which includes Britain's T & G, says staff feel intimidated into silence at the airline. ITWF general secretary David Cockcroft said: "We've been told people are afraid to speak in some Ryanair workplaces. As far as we're concerned, that stops now".

A website, ryan-be-fair.org will go live today, providing staff with a forum to discuss work. Unions intend to give out leaflets and cards to staff at airports and to raise awareness among passengers in some countries.

A spokesperson for Ryanair said its staff were better paid than ITWF members at many other airlines.

Ryanair last year faced a legal challenge from unions over the dismissal of several employees at Belgiumís Charleroi airport. The airline said it was acting under Irelandís liberal labour laws, but unions said these did not apply in Belgium.

The airline has made no secret of its disdain for unions. The British Airlines Pilotsí Association, which hopes to hold a recognition ballot later in the year, has been dubbed the 'British Airways Low Pay Association' by Ryanair's chief executive, Michael O'Leary. Mr O'Leary maintains that Ryanair pays more than the going rate. He says that cabin crew typically receive £25,000 and pilots can earn more than £100,000.

A Ryanair manager at Stansted, Warwick Brady, raised eyebrows last month by sending a memo to staff advising them they were better off spending their union subscriptions on "fast women, slow horses or even greyhound racing', on the grounds that this would at least provide 'a few minutes of fun".

Ryanair recently threatened a pilots' website with legal action to force the removal of a thread called 'Ryanair, a call to action'.

The T & G's Brendan Gold said: "This will be a good gauge of what people in Ryanair are thinking. Once weíve got that, weíll see where we go from there".


JOHN PRESCOTT'S HOUSES

(Back to "Predict and Provide")

We have known for some time that our Deputy Prime Minister had decided that the East of England needed far more houses to accommodate those who he believed would wish to move into the area from London and from further away, some attracted by the job opportunities and others by the prospect of more space in more rural surroundings. This policy has had many critics and has led to much local anxiety about the inevitable urbanisation of many of our remaining country areas and green belt. It was welcomed by the Eastern Regionís Development Agency who saw an opportunity for the Region to climb up the European economic league. It is inevitably associated with the possibility of a major expansion at Stansted airport, which some regard as an economic driver for further job opportunities in addition to those jobs that would be required to operate a two runway airport. As far as Stansted is concerned any expansion of passenger numbers requires more employees and therefore either more houses or more cars / trains / buses bringing in the commuters.

The East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) had, at the beginning of the year, produced the new draft Regional Plan RPG 14 (now to be called a Strategy, - RSS), the first for the New Look Eastern Region of six counties.

What has been decided?

This draft accepted that the extra houses demanded by the government had to be included in the Plan. There had been a number of studies on the Cambridge Stansted London M11 corridor, and on other areas such as the Cambridge sub region, the M25 and also on corridors to Ipswich and the development of the container ports on the east coast. It appears that most of the development proposed would be within and around the original larger settlements, in our area mainly round Harlow, with Bishop's Stortford and Braintree taking some extra, though smaller settlements would have to take their share. However, the plan was clear that all new housing developments of any size must be employment led and must also be accompanied by adequate infrastructure improvements.

This would ensure that out-commuting, especially to London, would not be increased and that dormitory areas would not be created.

It is accepted in the draft that Stansted airport will expand to the maximum capacity of one runway, i.e. 40 mppa but the effects of an extra runway were not included, in spite of the government's wishes. It was considered sufficient to carry out a review in due course if it was necessary.

However, the government was not satisfied. EERA has published on its website www.eera.gov.uk an exchange of letters in which Lord Rooker asks for another 18,000 houses to be added on in the Peterborough/Cambridge/Stansted/London corridor. The result has been that there has been yet a further study of the corridor to see if and how this second tranche of extra houses could be accommodated. In the correspondence it has been made clear that EERA regard any further development as dependent on the region receiving adequate money to build up the infrastructure. Readers of the letters will also note that there is a reference by Lord Rooker to the proposals in the White Paper "for an early start on a second runway at Stansted". This was though, written in January, a lot has happened since!

Now the latest study of "The relationship between transport and development in the London, Stansted, Cambridge, Peterborough growth area" has been published and is available on www.odpm.gov.uk. This analyses the effects of an additional 18,000 houses and suggests where they could be accommodated. The conclusions make it clear that any such further developments must also be employment led and that transport improvements, notably in public transport would be essential.

Estimates are made that the existing supply of housing land will be sufficient for 75% of the housing requirements in the draft RPG (this includes the original houses ordered by John Prescott). If 18,000 extra are added then the figure falls to 67%. Additional housing sites will therefore need to be identified.

Uttlesford readers will be surprised to see that there were suggestions that a new settlement of over 20,000 houses was considered. The two suggested sites were between Cambridge and Baldock, or Audley End and Duxford. From whom did this latter suggestion come? Fortunately the conclusions of the study were that far more work needed to be done before the establishment of any large settlement could be seriously contemplated and that the effects on the whole region would need to be considered.

It is also interesting that the comment is made that there is no information as to the effectiveness of Stansted airport growth as an economic driver . To quote: (para 11.2.5) "The influence of Stansted has still to be understood. It is government policy to expand Stansted beyond its current limits through the provision of a second runway. The economic impact of this expansion is very much open to debate. The legal processes to obtain the necessary consents for expansion still have to be initiated. How and when Stansted develops have still to be determined. This will be critical in determining the nature and extent of direct, indirect and catalytic employment that might be generated. The implications for the growth strategy are that it must embody a degree of flexibility to adapt to future outcomes."

Here, briefly, are the conclusions on Strategy. (Para 11.8).

  • Constraint in Cambridge and Environs beyond RPG levels (as in the draft)
  • Constraint in Peterborough at or just above RPG levels unless accompanied by a special means of delivery and approved roads.
  • Constraint in the Hertford and Upper Lee Valley and London Fringe areas for both environment and transport reasons.
  • Possible additional expansion at Stevenage,
  • Possible additional expansion at Harlow, exploiting the required transport investment, but with environmental implications and possibly requiring intervention.
  • Growth beyond the capacity of settlements would have to be catered for in corridors through expansion of existing smaller settlements rather than by the development of a major new settlement. (In the study the A120 corridor is considered with an additional expansion of Great Dunmow)

It goes on to say that it seems premature to consider any new major new settlement, there has been no major feasibility studies, and the locations suggested would have very high transport costs as well as have an influence well beyond the M11 study area.

The letters visualise a final draft of the RPG will be formalised and sent to John Prescott in October and it will then proceed to public consultation

Pat Dale.


28 August 2004

MP DEMANDS AIR POLICY RETHINK

James Tout - The Herts & Essex Observer - 26 August 2004

Bishop's Stortford's MP has renewed his attack on Stansted expansion in the wake of further criticism of the Government's policies by the Environmental Audit Committee.

Mark Prisk, MP for Hertford and Stortford, said the committee's findings should act as a wake-up call to those pushing for an extra runway at Stansted Airport.

The committee's latest report, published on August 11th, was particularly critical of the Treasury, saying that levels of environmental taxes on petrol were at their lowest for more than a decade. This, it argued, was inconsistent with government targets for cutting CO2 emissions by 60% by 2050.

Mr Prisk said this applied to airline fuel as well and said that so-called low cost airlines such as Ryanair were deluding passengers about the environmental consequences of cheap flights. "I have always felt that airlines need to pay the full cost of the pollution that they cause, but how do you do that? You can either do it through existing charges, by additional charges, or you can look at the way the infrastructure is set up," he said.

"Inevitably, this needs to be done internationally, because a large number of airlines that operate in this country are not based here. There are two groups the government has got to listen to: Parliament, which they seem to regard as an occasional nuisance, and their international colleagues in government."

He added that he thought the government needed to start matching words with actions: "There seems to be a breakdown between their environmental aims and what they are able to achieve. They set themselves targets above Kyoto and now we are going to miss them by far. There needs to be a better balance."

But a BAA spokesman said that the company took its environmental obligations seriously and provided a public service for which passengers already paid millions. "Air travel is the only form of public transport which is unsubsidised and pays for all its infrastructure. Air passengers also pay £900m a year in passenger duty, as aviation fuel tax is prohibited by international agreement."

OUR COMMENT: The Report of the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee was reported in Recent News at the time. It can be viewed in full at www.parliament.uk/committees
BAA have not done their sums correctly - for instance, how much have they paid towards the airport related infrastructure outside the airport boundary? What is the absence of a fuel tax if it is not a subsidy?

Pat Dale


28 August 2004

BUSH U-TURN ON CLIMATE CHANGE WINS FEW FRIENDS

Gary Younge - The Guardian - 27 August 2004

In a dramatic reversal of its previous position, the White House this week conceded that emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases were the only explanation for global warming.

Citing the "best possible scientific information," an administration official, James Mahoney, delivered a report to Congress that essentially reversed the previous White House position set out by George Bush, who had refused to link carbon dioxide emissions to climate change.

Two years ago, when his administration last published a document claiming that global warming over the last few decades had been prompted by human behaviour, Mr Bush dismissed it as something "put out by the bureaucracy".

One of Mr Bush's first acts on the international scene as president was to refuse to ratify the Kyoto treaty, which aimed to cut emissions by 5.2% from 1990 levels by 2012 - prompting outrage throughout the world.

"We must argue with the Americans and get them to agree we have to have a global solution, and America is a very important part of that solution," the deputy prime minister John Prescott said at the time.

The report goes on to tell us that at the time Mr Bush overrode the recommendations of the head of the Environmental Protection Agency and cast doubts on the science and said that the Treaty was unfair to the United States. It is suggested that it will be difficult for him not to accept this latest report as it is signed by both the secretaries of energy and commerce.

It has already been criticised by his former allies in the energy industry and it is suggested that it may just be an attempt to present the administration in a better light at the forthcoming Republican Convention.

OUR COMMENT: The Guardian's heading is perhaps somewhat misleading as Mr Bush would win many supporters, if not friends, for any policy that recognised the reality of climate change. If he does accept it, then, hopefully actions will follow, more effective than those of the present government, who still seem to be blinded by science in believing that technical fixes will remedy the ever-increasing volumes of CO2 likely to be produced by our transport system, notably air transport.

FOOTNOTE: It is reported that Singapore Airlines has just ordered 31 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft which will be delivered after 2006. This airline will be providing a regular service to the UK but this, of course, will only be a very small part of its flying hours. However, this order for the future, for planes with more traditional engines, does suggest that the newest Airbus and the Boeing 7E7 "dreamliner", both of which claim significant reductions in emissions, are not going to appear in our skies during the foreseeable future. A significant part of the Government's excuse for encouraging air transport expansion has been that new engine technology will avoid increasing emissions both of CO2 and of nitrogen oxides - important also because of their effects on Air Quality at ground level. In the White Paper future fleet mixes were predicted by 2015 that included significant numbers of these "dreamliners". These predictions need to be reviewed, and should not be used by the government as justifying risk-taking with the dangers of climate change.

Pat Dale


24 August 2004

PRESS NOTICE FROM DEFRA AND FROM NO.10

World Must Act Now On Climate Change

23 August 2004

Britain will use its influence as head of two major international bodies to boost efforts to combat climate change and pollution, Environment Minister Lord Whitty said today.

Lord Whitty said the UK would use its position as chair of the G8 group of nations next year and its forthcoming EU Presidency to push the climate change agenda at the highest level "in every way we can".

Speaking at the World Clean Air and Environmental Protection Congress in London, Lord Whitty said:

"Internationally our first priority is climate change, in the long term probably the most important issue we face as a global community."

"It is important that we present a clear case for concerted action on climate change to the G8 next year, and the same will apply to our presidency of the EU. It's important that the case is made and action taken."

"Climate change is already happening due to the release of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide. The UK is one of the strongest supporters of the Kyoto Protocol to cut emissions worldwide. Enormous challenges remain, however."

"We are thinking long-term. The government's Energy White Paper sets a goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by around 60 per cent by 2050. Other developed countries must follow suit. We need a global shift in the way we produce energy. We need a low-carbon economy."

Britain is showing what can be done to meet Kyoto targets. Latest estimates suggest that UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2003 were about 14 per cent below 1990 levels, with carbon dioxide emissions for 2003 estimated about 7 per cent lower than in 1990.

Lord Whitty added:

"London was choked by smog 50 years ago, and in one week at least 4,000 Londoners died because of that smog. Levels of pollution are now much lower. We can be proud of our achievements but major challenges remain which will need a combination of local, national and international responses."

"All of us - industry, the public sector and individuals as well as government - here in the UK and elsewhere need to do more if we are to achieve our future goals for even cleaner air."

Air quality generally in the UK has improved steadily in recent years. Latest figures show that the average number of days of poor urban air quality in 2003 was about 18 per cent lower than in 1993; urban pollution from fine particles fell from 43 days in 1993 to 17 in 2003; sulphur dioxide pollution dropped from an average 20 days in 1993 to less than a day in 2003.

OUR COMMENT: This conference has been organised for the International Union of Air Pollution Prevention and Environmental Protection Associations by the National Association for Clean Air and Environmental Protection (UK) and the Isreal Society for Ecology and Environmental Quality Sciences. It is taking place in London this week and clearly has been chosen as an occasion to make a formal statement about the government's position on climate change. As would be expected the government's record to date is somewhat overstated, perhaps not in relation to public pronouncements but certainly as regards action. The policies in the Energy White Paper, welcome though they are, are not going to succeed in reducing CO2 emissions by 60% by 2050. Much more action is needed.

The Guardian report on the speech (24th August by Michael White): "UK to take tough line against US over Kyoto" reported that "in answer to questions about aircraft pollution he (Lord Whitty) admitted that he personally favours a pan-European, preferably global tax to tackle a fast-growing problem. Aviation fuel is untaxed."

The report finishes by observing that "Ministers know they are failing to meet Labour's 1997 target to cut by 20% CO2 emissions by 2010, well ahead of the Kyoto target of 12½% for all greenhouse gases. The target has been scaled down to a "goal" which may be missed by 5% or more. Ministers have also been slower than most EU members to embrace renewable energy sources - notably wind power - in line with well-aired hostility within the Bush administration. A 10% UK reliance on renewables by 2010 is another target the government will miss. Mr Blair wants climate change and Africa to be the main themes of his international roles in the G8 and EU next year".

If Mr Blair wants to lead the world on climate change action then he had better begin at home. He needs to take action on transport emissions and in particular he needs to abandon any policy of encouraging airport expansion.

Pat Dale


20 August 2004

MORE GLOOM AND DOOM -
MORE ACTION NEEDED ON CLIMATE CHANGE

The Long-Range Weather Forecast: More Flash Floods for Britain

John Vidal - The Guardian - 19 August 2004

Britain should expect more dangerous flash floods, catastrophic rain and hail storms, droughts and heatwaves from the rapid changes in rainfall patterns brought by global warming, the European Environment Agency (EEA) said yesterday as clean-up operations continued in flooded Boscastle.

The Prince of Wales interrupted a Scottish holiday to fly to the Cornish village to offer financial help and praise the emergency services.

Fifty-seven people, many thought to be elderly, were airlifted to safety in central Scotland last night after becoming trapped in their vehicles by landslides after torrential rainstorms. Three rescue helicopters were scrambled after about 20 vehicles were stranded between two landslips in the Lochearnhead area, north of Stirling. No-one was believed to be in immediate danger.

The average number of European climate-related disasters has doubled in 10 years and two out of three of the "catastrophic" events since 1980 are now directly attributed to floods, storms, droughts or heatwaves, the EEA said.

David Viner of the University of East Anglia's climatic research unit, one of the report's authors, said: "Heavy rainfall patterns are changing. We are moving towards more intense rainfall. Drier summers are being punctuated by particularly intense incidents such as we have just seen in Cornwall".

The agency says Europe is warming faster than the global average. The temperature has risen by an average of 0.95C in the past 100 years and is projected to climb by a further 2.0 - 6.3C this century as the emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise. The concentration of CO2, the main greenhouse gas, is at its highest for at least 420,000 years - possibly even 20 million years - and stands 34% above its level before the industrial revolution, the report says.

The agency singles out summer floods in Europe two years ago and last year's summer heatwave in western and southern Europe as examples of how destructive climate change can be. More then 20,000 deaths were recorded during the heatwave and the flooding affected more than 600,000 people and caused economic losses of at least 15bn Euro (£10bn). It says that wetter conditions in northern Europe and drier weather in the south could threaten agriculture and completely melt three quarters of the glaciers in the Swiss Alps by 2050.

Cold winters could disappear almost entirely and hot summers, droughts and incidents of heavy rain or hail could become much more frequent, it adds. But it says that the annual growing season for plants lengthened by an average of 10 days between 1975 and 1995, and is projected to continue getting longer.

"The consequences of climate change are a very real and dangerous threat, yet international leaders seem to pay little heed to the warning bells" Mike Childs, of Friends of the Earth, said: "We need decisive action to cut greenhouse gas emissions".

Jacqueline McGlade, director of the agency, said: "Climate change is already happening and having widespread impacts, many of them with substantial economic costs, on people and ecosystems across Europe. This is a phenomenon that will considerably affect our societies and environments for decades and centuries to come."

OUR COMMENT: Arguments continue about the workings of the new European emissions trading scheme - there does not appear to be any move to include aviation in the scheme - Ministers continue to protest that "Britain leads the action on climate change". What action? So far both road journeys and air flights continue to rise, gas guzzling cars become the fashion for those who can afford them (but who don't need them) and the government persists in promoting the unnecessary and dangerous policy of encouraging more airport expansion. In the case of Stansted our objections are accused as being NIMBY ones, but we can clearly claim that our back yard extends across Europe, and even further.

Pat Dale


20 August 2004

THE DISADVANTAGES OF FLYING

Travel by air may be essential for many long-haul journeys,
but is it really best for holidays in Europe?

Surge in complaints hits low-cost airlines

Andrew Clark - The Guardian - 19 August 2004

Warning from Watchdog but Ryanair bucks the trend

Britain's air transport consumer's watchdog will raise the alarm today about unrealistic timetables operated by low-cost airlines, which it blames for a surge in complaints from disgruntled passengers about cancellations.

A report from the Air Transport Users' Council will reveal that the number of gripes about cancelled flights soared by 32% to 740 in the year to March. The bulk of the additional complaints were directed at EasyJet, FlyBe and BmiBaby, following the rapid growth in their fleets and schedules. The council said the inconvenience and financial cost of cancellations appeared to be "the flip side of their lower fares".

But Europe's biggest low-cost airline, Ryanair, won praise for bucking the trend. Complaints about the Irish carrier dropped by a fifth to 160 after it reformed its customers services operation to treat unhappy passengers more seriously.

James Fremantle, the AUC's industry affairs adviser said: "The no-frills airlines do appear to be cancelling more flights. EasyJet, in particular, has struggled to keep enough aircraft available for all its routes. Our feeling is that when complaints arise, the no-frills airlines are not dealing with them as well as they might".

The AUC deals with passengers who have failed to make headway in complaints to individual airlines. The total number handled by the Council rose from 1,675 to 1,750. Lost baggage remained the most common cause of complaint, although its share dropped from 23% of the total to just 16%. The proportion about delays remained unchanged at 13% but that for cancellations jumped from 10% to 13%.

The article gives a table of offenders headed by BA, who of course carries the greater number of passengers and which has slightly improved figures from 257 to 252. EasyJet is second with 173 (106 last year) and Ryanair third with 160 after its improvement from 201 last year. Both EayJet and BmiBaby protested at the comments in the Report and Ryanair's spokesman attributed their improvement to action "behind the scenes" to deal with passengers. Michael O'Leary himself has made it quite clear that he is not sympathetic to complaining passengers when they have benefited from a very cheap seat!

OUR COMMENT: Better cancelled flights than unsafe ones, or over-tired crews.

Pat Dale


17 August 2004

MORE VIOLENT STORMS - MORE TO COME?

Scientists have warned for several years that global warming
could bring more extreme weather events

Tim Radford - The Guardian - 16 August 2004

DESTRUCTIVE POWER OF 100,000 A-BOMBS

Hurricane Charlie may not be the most terrible storm to have hit the US coastline, but it could be a warning of worse to come.

In the course of its brief life, a typical Caribbean hurricane releases the destructive power of 100,000 Hiroshima bombs. Most of this is spent over water. When hurricanes hit land, their energy dissipates very swiftly, but any settlements on the coast are at risk.

Experts rate Charley as a category 4 event (the worst is category 5), with winds strong enough to sweep away mobile homes, dismantle roofs and snap mature trees.

Climate scientists, relief agencies such as the Red Cross and insurance chiefs have been warning for years that climate-related disasters are on the increase, at least partly because of global warming.

In 2003, a total of about 700 natural catastrophes killed more then 50,000 people worldwide and caused economic losses estimated at $60bn (£32bn), according to the insurance giant Munich Re.

Windstorms made up only about a third of the disasters, but accounted for three-quarters of all the insurance losses. Tornadoes and hailstorms in April and May 2003 cost the US cities and towns of the US cities and towns of the midwest insured losses of $5bn.

In September 2003, Hurricane Isabel swept the US east coast and devastated 360,000 homes, with estimated economic losses of another $5bn. Hurricane Andrew in 1992 cost the US around $30bn, however, and may still be the most costly disaster ever to hit the US.

Climate scientists began warning 20 years ago that global warming would bring a greater frequency of "extreme" weather events. Hurricanes follow a 10 year cycle of relative calm and increasing violence.

"Our forecasts warned that this was going to be one of the most active hurricane seasons since 1950" said Bill McGuire, who heads the Benfield hazards research unit at University College, London. "We forecast a couple of hurricanes on the US coast. This is one of them and it is likely we will be waiting for another one in November."

More than half the world's population lives in coastal areas, with the most vulnerable concentrations in the tropics. In 1970 a catastrophic storm claimed 300,000 lives in Bangladesh. In 1991 a cyclone in similar conditions swept away 139,000 people from the same region. In 1998 Hurricane Mitch tore through Central America and claimed more than 9000 lives. More than 1.4 million people had to leave their homes.

Warning systems, even in the most poorest and most vulnerable regions, have improved since then, but economic losses after storms have multiplied through the decades. This is partly because population growth means there are another 70 million potential victims each year.

OUR COMMENT: Yesterday came the catastrophic flash floods in Boscastle and Camelford from torrential rains. For the first time ever as many as 7 of the navy and coastguard rescue helicopters were needed to rescue people trapped by the floods. The costs of damage to houses and property will be enormous.

How many areas in the UK have had severe rainstorms and floods during the last 2 years? They certainly appear to be getting fiercer and more frequent. More people are suffering the distress of losing all or most of their homes and businesses. There is likely to be a rise in insurance premiums since the economic costs to the insurance industry are severe and can be assessed. There are though many more long term financial and social costs that do not get included in these calculations.

There is general agreement that this is part of climate change due to global warming but effective action is still too bogged down in words, intentions rather than actions, and failure to even attempt to curb the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases - aviation.

Pat Dale


12 August 2004

MORE ON COSTS: BAA'S

We have already reported on BAA's Annual meeting and the subject of airport charges including cross subsidies from Heathrow to Stansted. To refresh memories, here is an article that summarises BAA's problems, problems that are very relevant when trying to finance a major airport expansion at Stansted.

Michael Harrison's Outlook - The Independent - 24 July 2004

BAA's monopoly

It is not generally a great idea to pick a fight with one of your biggest customers. The airports group BAA has managed to do just that with not one, but two, of them. The headlines this week have been all about its battle with Ryanair at Stansted over landing charges and fuel duties. After simmering since April, the dispute has now gone to court and, needless to say, Michael O'Leary's earthy turn of phrase has ensured maximum coverage. But another and potentially more serious row has been brewing for even longer with the Star Alliance over landing charges at Heathrow, the real cash cow of the BAA business.

Mr O'Leary does not see why he should have to pay increased landing fees at Stansted when the "rapists" (his word) of BAA are overcharging him for refuelling his aircraft. Likewise at Heathrow, the Star Alliance, and in particular its British partner bmi, do not see why they should have to bear a 40 per cent increase in landing charges just to pay for Terminal 5, which will be used exclusively by British Airways and its oneworld alliance partner Qantas. An incandescent Sir Michael Bishop of bmi is now threatening to reach for his lawyers in the same way that Mr O'Leary has.

Lying at the heart of both tussles is frustration and anger at BAA's alleged use of its south-east airports monopoly to disadvantage its customers. So far BAA has been able to fend off demands for the break-up of its monopoly on the grounds that its airline customers are broadly happy with the arrangement and the supposed network benefits that are gained by having Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted under one roof.

But BAA is starting to skate on thin ice. Sir Michael has not yet gone as far as to call for the abolition of the monopoly, but he does believe that if a third runway and sixth terminal are built at Heathrow they should be run by someone other than BAA. For his part, Mr O'Leary has no hesitation in demanding the break-up of BAA.

The current skirmishes with Ryanair and Star are, of course, but an appetiser. The real fight will come when charges across the three airports are reviewed again in 2008. Indeed, Mr O'Leary, with characteristic understatement, has promised BAA the "mother and father of all battles".

Ryanair's discounts will, largely, have come to an end by then and, instead, it will be looking at a whopping increase in charges to pay for a second runway and associated facilities. Mr O'Leary has already told BAA that if it thinks it can get away with building a Taj Mahal at the airlines' expense, then it can think again. BAA has offered to halve the cost of the new runway to £2bn but Ryanair still thinks that is ten times more than it needs to spend.

BAA has hinted that it could fund a second Stansted runway by making airlines at Heathrow and Gatwick pay part of the cost on the grounds that more capacity at one airport will mean less congestion at the other two. The Civil Aviation Authority, which regulates airport charges, does not like that idea. But if BAA does attempt such a ploy, then it is not only bmi that will go ballistic all over again. BA and Virgin Atlantic will go to war with BAA as well. Ultimately, it would play into the hands of those who would like to see the monopoly abolished once and for all.

BAA suspects Mr O'Leary's real worry about a second runway at Stansted is the increased competition it would mean for Ryanair, the airport's biggest operator by some distance accounting for 63 per cent of all traffic.

Realistically, however, Stansted's single runway already has enough capacity to support plenty of new entrants. The airport presently handles 20 million passengers a year - it could double that before needing another runway.

There is a school of thought which says that a second Stansted runway will probably not be built because of lack of demand at the airport and will certainly never see the light of day if BAA were to be broken up. That would mean the Government reverting to BAA's preferred choice of a third runway at Heathrow, once the problem of air pollution around the airport had been addressed.

BAA says it will be broken up over its dead body. But if it meant sacrificing Stansted and hanging on to a three-runway airport at Heathrow, would it think again? Quite possibly.


12 August 2004

MPS SEE RED OVER NO 10'S GREEN STRATEGY

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee
reports on the need for action

Press Association - 11 August 2004

The government's climate change strategy is seriously off course and current policies have yet to make a significant impact on UK carbon emissions, an all-party committee of MPs warned today.

The environmental audit committee calls for a more imaginative and radical strategy, particularly for transport and domestic energy efficiency. It also warns that the Treasury cannot expect industry to provide investment in alternative fuels unless it has a long-term strategy itself.

Politicians are accused of failing to make the case for the environmental benefits of taxing fuel. Despite recent oil price rises, petrol is still at least 10% cheaper in real terms than four years ago.

The MPs said in a report that the government should consider recycling the proceeds of future fuel tax increases to subsidise public transport spending and alternatives to conventional fuel.

The committee chairman, Peter Ainsworth MP, said: "It is increasingly obvious that we are going to fall far short of the UK carbon reduction target, and a key problem area is transport."

"If the government's commitment to sustainable development is to be taken seriously, it must take more radical action."

"It is also disappointing that the Treasury has done so little to promote domestic energy efficiency despite two consultations ... in the last two years."

"There is an urgent need to look afresh at the scale of the challenges we face and develop an adequate response."

The MPs say that as a percentage of total tax, the revenues from environmental taxes have recently been at their lowest level since 1993.

But the continued growth of carbon emissions from transport remains one of the most serious problems and the government's commitment to sustainable development will be called into question unless it takes steps to confront the issue.

The report adds: "We urge the government to implement the planned rise in fuel duty at the earliest opportunity."

"We are disappointed that the Future of Transport White Paper had nothing new to say on the practical steps the Department for Transport would take to tackle carbon emissions from transport and to promote a shift to a low carbon economy."

"It will take 10 to 15 years to introduce road charging on a national basis and such a regime would be far more of a blunt instrument than the present system, where larger differentials in rates of fuel duties and VED can potentially be used to promote a shift to low carbon vehicles."

The MPs said it was "unfortunate that the Energy Efficiency Action Plan has had to be produced before a number of key evaluations on which it should have been based, including Spending Review 2004, the revised DTI Energy Projections and the review of the Climate Change Programme."

"As a result it is impossible to assess to what extent the measures it contains are sufficient to deliver the absolute emission levels required, or even unclear whether the various components of the plan will indeed deliver their forecast benefits."

OUR COMMENT: The full report is available on the Parliamentary website. Although no mention is made in the summary of the need to reduce emissions from aviation, the committee has previously reported on the need for the government to introduce charges for the environmental costs of aviation and expressed concern about the effects on climate change. (Reported in Recent News)

Pat Dale


11 August 2004

OIL

The high prices of fossil fuels and the instability of the oil market has been headline news for some months. There seems to be a resigned acceptance of the possibility that prices will never come down. Last week the Financial Times, in the Lex column, 4th August, made some comments on the situation that are of interest to aviation watchers.

Airlines

Airline executives are obsessive oil price watchers. This is hardly surprising; the oil price could make or break this year's industry profitability. The International Air Transport Association expects $3bn of industry profits this year based on an average oil price of $30 a barrel. An average of $33 would allow airlines to break even; $36 would translate into losses of $3bn.

Uncomfortable as the big picture is, some airlines are so far not stressed. Ryanair, for example, remains almost fully hedged against the oil price rises, but only until the end of September. Michael O'Leary, chief executive, believes prices will fall over the next 6 to 12 months. His fuel bill could rise by Euros 25m, but Ryanair plans to compensate with cost cuts.

Many European airlines are in a similar position, with hedges in place for the next 3 to 6 months. The perilous state of US airline finances made hedging tricky, as a reasonable credit standing is needed to enter into derivative transactions. They are already feeling the oil price bite.

Mr O'Leary's oil price assumptions reflect the wider view on oil. But it is not crazy to imagine that the oil price could stick above $40. Supply is tight, and the security picture remains risky. A demand shock is not yet on the cards.

Airlines have underperformed the rest of the stock market due to oil cost worries and, if oil shows no signs of slipping in the next quarter, they may yet be in for a hairy ride.


BA warns of £1.1bn fuel bill

Operating profits jump to £150 - European market ferociously competitive - Virgin Atlantic follows suit with surcharge increase

Kevin Done, Tony Barber and Tobias Buck - Financial Times - 10 August 2004

British Airways yesterday reported a near-quadrupling of operating profits for its first quarter, but warned that its fuel bill could jump by £225m to more than £1.1bn this year as a result of the surging oil price.

It confirmed that it would more than double its fuel surcharge on fares for long-haul flights from £2.50 to £6 per flight leg with effect from tomorrow to pass on some of the extra fuel costs to passengers.

BA's move yesterday as the first European airline to trigger higher fuel charges was followed by rival UK long-haul carrier Virgin Atlantic which announced an identical increase.

BA was forced to leave the fuel surcharge on its short-haul services unchanged, however, in the face of what Rod Eddington, BA chief executive, described as the "ferociously competitive" market in Europe.

Ryanair and EasyJet, the leading European low-cost carriers, ruled out the imposition of surcharges. Both have warned they expect fare levels to fall further in the coming months as a result of the price war in the European market.

Mr Eddington said he expected BA to remain loss-making on its short-haul operations this year.

The airline disclosed that it had greatly increased the hedging of its fuel requirements, reflecting the belief that the oil price would remain high for some time.

The article goes on to give details about BA's profits and hedging activities and also the recent dispute with the Italian government over lower cost fares offered by BA and other carriers to passengers purchasing long-haul tickets when travelling via an intermediate stop, in the case of BA - Heathrow. These fares undercut those for direct flights offered by Alitalia the Italian national airline, that has already been bailed out of financial difficulties by the Italian government and wants more help.

The Italian government has threatened legal action if foreign airlines continue to undercut Alitalia fares. BA has complained to the EU Commission who have now declared the Italian action as "against the spirit of the internal market".

OUR COMMENT: BA's problems have no immediate relevance to the Stansted situation, though it is very doubtful whether another runway at Stansted can ever be either a financial or an economic success if no long-haul flights are attracted to the airport as regular users. However, the issue of rising oil prices and the effects on fares raises the question of the so far elusive environmental charges which have been officially examined and found to be justified, but remain unformulated except for the promise to try and promote, some time in the future, the inclusion of aviation in the EU carbon emissions trading market.

Today the rise in the cost of oil is being transferred onto the passenger fare by the long-haul lines. So far, Ryanair has restricted surcharges to wheel chair users, but the principle is the same. The passenger is required to pay the extra costs actually incurred by the airlines. Yet the suggestion that environmental costs borne by the local residents and the general public are paid by the airline or the air passenger meets immediate opposition from airlines and government! What is the difference? No prizes for the answer!

Pat Dale


8 August 2004

MORE FROM LAST WEEK'S PRESS: GETTING WARMER

Climate Change

The Guardian - Leader - 6 August 2004

The monsoon flood which hit London and parts of southern England on Tuesday, causing sewers to overflow and thousands of dead fish to float down the Thames, was a salutory reminder of the effects of world-wide climate change in years to come. Nor was it the best time to learn that the government is scrapping a £2bn scheme to save the Thames from returning to the Great Stink of the Victorian age.

The water companies, complaining yesterday that the Offwat regulator has only allowed average price increases of 13% over the next 5 years (half of what they asked for) will need to be watched carefully to ensure that they invest enough in flood prevention and the renovation of obsolete sewage networks. We as citizens have an equally important role in promoting more economical water use and curbing pollution.

Most of us accept in theory, according to a recent ICM poll for the BBC, that human activity is responsible for changing the world's climate. Yet although nearly everyone (85%) professes willingness to make changes to help the environment, far fewer (54%) believe it will make any difference. With such scepticism, it is open to doubt just how many of those who say they will "use the car less" or "take fewer flights" will do so. Commenting on the poll Friends of the Earth warns "we are sleep walking to disaster".

The problem is that real disasters, from floods in South Asia to melting glaciers in the Andes, are happening a long way off and usually only get modest coverage. The latest toll for the recent Bangladesh floods is 10 million homeless, 660 people dead, and more then $6bn losses to the country's agriculture, industry and infrastructure. The shrinkage of glaciers reported this week from Peru, although it only affects a handful of people - mostly climbers and tourists - should be just as alarming. According to Peru's national environment council, the country has lost 20% of its glaciers in the last 30 years. Similar reports are coming in from Alaska, where NASA says glaciers are melting at a speed which increases the chance of future earthquakes.

The government's chief scientist, Sir David King, has warned that London will be one of "the first cities to go" if the planet's ice continues to melt, and in April Tony Blair himself described the threat of climate change as the world's biggest problem. Yet public scepticism will only be dissolved by a real shift in priorities. As Sir David has also said, global warming is a greater challenge than global terrorism; until that message gets taken in, environmental anguish will be reserved for rainy days.

OUR COMMENT: It is a little unfair to put the onus on the general public to do the right thing by cutting down on car use, and taking fewer flights. Government policies must be the basis for action. The recent White Paper on Transport is full of statements about the need to avoid damage to the environment (of which the most important is the need to curb pollution from fossil fuels) but proposes very little action, even on road traffic, when all that is suggested is road pricing. With aviation, as we all know, the situation is even worse - there is a policy of actually increasing the number of flights by providing new runway capacity all over the UK. Stansted is presented with the biggest expansion but there are many other runway extensions proposed that will allow overall passenger numbers to rise nearly to the full level (500 mppa) predicted by the government's consultants if left to the market. This figure may be controversial but the government have accepted it and seem determined to encourage and allow it.

This massive expansion is actually justified in the Transport White Paper as being a "balanced approach". Environmental effects are only to be "minimised" and external costs must be paid. The latter seems to be restricted to trying to get aviation included in the recent European Emissions Trading Scheme. Yet any environmental assessment of the effects will show that a "minimal" effect is just not possible with the present state of aviation technology, and is not likely to be possible within the next 20 years. If this expansion goes ahead the government is following a policy that risks people's lives and prejudices our future quality of life, and in global terms, setting a very bad example to others while claiming to be leading world opinion. Kyoto represents an enormous advance, an international agreement promoted by present and previous governments, and now in danger of stalling, not only because of the obstinacy of the USA but also because the present government is not taking effective action to honour its commitments.

Pat Dale


5 August 2004

RYANAIR ANNOUNCES Q1 PROFIT INCREASE OF 21% -
NET MARGIN OF 18%, AS TRAFFIC GROWS 28%

A (qualified) upturn for Ryanair after last quarter's gloom

More O'Leary comments on BAA!

Ryanair, Europe's No.1 low fares airline, today (3 August 2004) announced record profits for Q1 ended 30 June 2004 of €53.1m. Passenger volumes grew by a record 28% to 6.6m passengers whilst yields declined by 6% during the quarter and, as a result, total revenues rose by 23% to €302.8m. Unit costs fell by 4% and in turn the net margin after tax remains stable at an industry leading 18%.

Summary Table of Results (Irish GAAP) - in Euro

Year Ended:30 June 200330 June 2004% Increase
Passengers5.1m6.6m28%
Revenue€245.2m€302.8m23%
Profit after tax
(Note 1)
€43.8m€53.1m21%
Basic EPS (Euro
Cents) (Note 1)
5.87.021%

Note 1: Adjusted profit after tax and EPS excludes the non-recurring costs of the re-organisation of "Buzz" in April 2003 of €2.7m (net of tax) and goodwill charges arising of €0.6m in both the quarters ended 30 June 2003 and 2004.

Announcing these results, Ryanair's Chief Executive, Michael O'Leary said:

"These record quarterly results reflect the continued disciplined roll out of Ryanair's low fares model. Passenger volumes grew by 28% to 6.6m in the quarter and we carried more passengers in 3 months than the total traffic carried by Aer Lingus in a full year. Our two new bases at Rome Ciampino and Barcelona Girona have performed particularly well. Ryanair's strong performance is also reflected in the recent increases in monthly traffic and load factors.

Yields were 6% lower than last year, a decline that was towards the lower end of our -5% to -10% guidance. Our forward yield guidance remains unchanged. In Quarter 2 we anticipate a yield decline of between -5% to -10%. Next winter, we expect the yield decline to be in the -10% to -20% range as chronically loss making competitors will continue to dump prices, resulting in even more airline casualties this winter.

The higher oil prices have continued through the summer and unlike many high fare flag competitors, we have not imposed fuel surcharges. We remain almost fully hedged until the end of Quarter 2 but largely unhedged thereafter. We believe that over the medium term prices will fall and therefore it would be unwise to lock-in at the current high rates. We anticipate that we will be able to largely offset these higher oil prices in this fiscal year by making cost savings in other areas.

We have announced a major expansion of our London Luton base from 1 to 4 aircraft. In addition to our successful Dublin and Milan routes, we will now fly from Luton to Barcelona Girona, Barcelona Reus, and Murcia in Spain, Dinard and Nimes in France, Esjberg in Denmark, Rome Ciampino and Venice in Italy, and Stockholm in Sweden.

We have also announced two new routes from London Stansted to Santander and Zaragossa in Spain and continue to grow our base at Rome Ciampino launching new routes to Santander in Spain, Paris-Beauvais and Eindhoven in Holland. We also have launched our expansion into the new EU member countries and will start 3 routes from Riga - the capital city of Latvia - to London, Tampere and Frankfurt on 30 October next. Many more airports continue to encourage Ryanair to launch new routes and as usual we have far more offers than we can presently handle and this will drive down airport costs.

Unit costs fell by 4% during the quarter (excluding fuel and route charges unit costs fell by 5.4%). We continue to benefit from the ongoing introduction of the larger 737-800's as they replace the remaining thirteen 737-200's. The remaining 737-200's will be retired by December 2005. We continue to focus on lowering our cost base and pass on these lower costs in the form of even lower fares to our passengers.

The legislation recently introduced by the Irish government to break up Aer Rianta will enable (for the first time ever) all of the government owned Irish airports to compete on a level playing field. We welcome this much delayed legislation and encourage the Minister to quickly introduce competition at Dublin airport by directing the construction of a second and third competing terminals. This initiative will finally introduce competition, will result in lower prices, deliver better facilities, and bring millions more visitors to Ireland.

We have recently filed proceedings in the High Court in London for the recovery of overcharging on fuel levies by BAA plc, the monopoly operator of London's three major airports. The BAA has been charging a fuel levy since 1991, which was agreed at the time to recover the £12.5m cost of the fuel hydrant system.

Since that date, thanks to Ryanair's enormous growth, BAA has recovered over £39m in fuel levies or more than three times the original cost and yet this extortionate levy remains unchanged. BAA have also issued Court proceedings arising out of the fuel levy dispute and we look forward to the Court's ruling on the BAA overcharging.

Ryanair continues to oppose anti-consumer charges at these monopoly airports. It is untenable for the BAA airport monopoly to impose fuel levies in excess of 300% of cost on its low fare consumers, whilst at the same time providing free of charge car parking to politicians. This anti-consumer rip-off must end.

We continue to be cautious in our outlook for the remainder of the year. We expect to achieve passenger volume growth this fiscal year in the order of 20% and deliver increased load factors. We believe that yield attrition this winter will be within our forecast range of -10% to -20%. The reality is that the high cost, high fare airlines, and those so called low fare loss makers are unable to compete with Ryanair's low fares, low cost base and industry leading customer service. As Southwest has repeatedly demonstrated in the US for many years, the lowest cost carrier always wins."


AND, WHAT ABOUT BAA?

Magnificent seven in firing line

Questor Column - Daily Telegraph - 3 August 2004

For a monopolist, BAA is something of a sheep in wolf's clothing. No way would any Government privatising Britain's airports today hand Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, not to mention Scotland's big three and Southampton, to a single company. Yet not only did BAA get this magnificent seven, it got a benign regulator to boot.

You would think the shareholders would be coining it from such a combination, given the relentless growth of air travel, even allowing for events like 9/11.

Well, they're not. Over five years, the shares have hardly gone anywhere, yo-yoing around yesterday's price of 556p, down 3.5p. In 1999, they were at 650p.

It's not that BAA is doing a bad job, even if a visit to Heathrow resembles a training course for the 15km walk at the Olympics. But, if BAA was forced to compete, it would have to improve returns.

Yesterday, one of the few comments chief executive Mike Clasper made about the first-quarter results was to trumpet the "increased reliability of escalators, travellators and other facilities". Hardly an achievement.

The figures were bang in line. Passenger volumes rose 9.7pc to 35.9m and operating profits jumped 18pc to £175m, thanks partly to the regulator forcing up charges at Heathrow.

The airlines are revolting over this and not just Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary, who fondly calls BAA "a bunch of overcharging rapists".

There's a battle looming over how BAA finances a second runway at Stansted, while the Star Alliance at Heathrow does not see why it should have to pay more to fund Terminal 5 for the exclusive use of rival British Airways.

All the cross-subsidisation from Heathrow highlights the case for breaking up BAA, though Mr Clasper refuses to see it.

On forecasts of £600m profits this year, the multiple is 16 times and yield 3.5pc. High enough for now.


Who is going to pay for that extra runway?
More questions than answers!

AIRLINES ANGERED BY SOARING BAA PROFITS
Carriers hit by fuel price react against leap in landing charges

Andrew Clark - The Guardian - 3 August 2004

BAA, Britain's main airport operator , provoked fury among airlines yesterday by revealing that its profits had soared by 25% since it forced through a controversial jump in landing charges at Heathrow. The company announced that it had made pre-tax profits of £159m in the 3 months to June.

Its booming returns were in stark contrast to the austere conditions faced by its airline customers, who have struggled all year to cope with the rising price of fuel.

Customers have become increasingly frustrated, with Ryanair recently describing BAA as "overcharging rapists", while holiday charter airlines have written to the transport secretary Alistair Darling, in protest at the level of fees.

BAA said yesterday the rise in profits was partly due to a 10% increase in passengers at its seven airports, which include Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Edinburgh.

However, it admitted that they were also a result of a 9% rise in prices at Heathrow to more than £7 per passenger, which was agreed by the Civil Aviation Authority despite vitriolic opposition from carriers.

"This income is to pay for investment at airports" said a BAA spokesman. "We're due to invest £1.6bn in our airports this year. Without these prices, we wouldn't be able to build new facilities".

BAA is spending £4.2bn on construction of a fifth terminal at Heathrow which will be the fourth biggest airport in Europe in its own right when it opens in 2008. Following Government approval last year, the company is also working on plans for a new runway at Stansted, which is estimated to cost a further £4bn.

BAA maintains that unless it makes a steady level of profit it cannot command a credit rating sufficient to borrow money at reasonable rates to fund the investment.

But airlines at Heathrow have objected to contributing towards facilities which they say will not benefit them directly. A BMI British Midland spokesman said BAA's price rises had been "totally disproportionate" and pointed out that terminal five would be reserved for BA and its partners.

"We are in the bizarre situation of actually paying in advance for something we're not going to be allowed to use" he said, "It will be used by a rival carrier while we'll get an inferior product".

The Charter Airlines Group, which represents such carriers as Monarch, Britannia and Thomas Cook Airlines, last week wrote to the government to express concern at the price of expansion at Stansted. Its members say they barely use Stansted and should not have to contribute through fees at Heathrow and Gatwick.

Geirge Blundell-Pound, a Thomas Cook spokesman, said that BAA's profits were "a spectacular amount of money". He said: "BAA has a vision of Stansted having full-length superjumbo-style runways and terminal buildings to match. If its expansion is to be built off the backs of low-cost airlines, it ought to be done on a no-frills basis".

OUR COMMENT: The figure of £4bn for a second runway at Stansted is still being quoted, forgetting that BAA will still have to pay a lot more for all the extra infrastructure. It is time that this is recognised by all, especially BAA. This is not a bill that will be met by the tax payer - the government has recognised this though there are still grey areas over the additional health and educational services that will be needed.

Pat Dale


4 August 2004

ANOTHER WARNING ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Ministers urged to take tougher action over pollution

Andrew Taylor - Financial Times - 2 August 2004

Climate change targets will be missed "by a large margin" unless the government does more to cut carbon dioxide pollution by households, airlines and motorists, an independent report warns today.

The report by Cambridge Econometrics expects Britain to have cut emissions by 12¼ per cent between 1990 and 2010 in line with its Kyoto requirements. Ministers, however, have set a more ambitious target of 20 per cent over the period.

A failure to check increases in emissions by homes, aircraft and road vehicles means the government would be likely to miss this requirement. Even achieving a 12¼ per cent cut would require a big reduction in emissions from coal-fired plant, mostly power stations, under the EU carbon emissions trading scheme due to be introduced next year.

Carbon dioxide pollution was estimated to have risen by about 1½ per cent last year and by ¼ per cent a year between 2000-05. Emissions were forecast to decline annually by about 1½ per cent between 2005-10 but this would still not be enough to meet government targets, said the report.

Industry was expected to cut its emissions by about 2-3 per cent a year over the next five years and power stations by about 5½ per cent.

However, this would be offset by increases "from all other major users led by air and road transport and households".

Critics of the government's climate change policies say they include ambitious assumptions of lower energy use by households and motorists but do not identify sufficient mechanisms to achieve improved energy efficiency without raising market prices.

The report's co-editor, Professor Paul Ekins of the Policy Studies Institute, said that warning lights were "flashing amber".

The government must take action on domestic and transport emissions when it reviews its Climate Change Programme later this year, he said. "The forecasts show that, if the government is as serious about climate change as it says, it will have to do more about tackling carbon emissions in the transport and household sectors, which account for around 40 per cent of the UK's emissions and which are expected to grow," said Prof Ekins.

Emissions from road transport were expected to be 14 per cent higher in 2010 than in 1990, with household emissions up by as much as 21 per cent.

Coal consumption rose 6 per cent last year boosted by an 11½ per cent increase in demand from coal-fired power stations, according to the Department of Industry.

Higher wholesale gas prices, however, led to an 11½ per cent fall in gas sales to electricity generators.


3 August 2004

NEW REGULATIONS - A STRATEGIC ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT WILL NOW BE REQUIRED FOR MAJOR NEW DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS

We now know that the Judicial Review on controversial parts of the Aviation White Paper will be held on the 13th December. One of the questions raised will be the effect of EU legislation that requires an initial Strategic Environmental Assessment of such proposals as a major airport expansion. Now, at long last, the UK government has produced regulations incorporating this into UK law.

The Guardian - 21 July 2004

Today marks the climax of a campaign started by environmentalists more than a decade ago. New European Union legislation comes into force that requires town halls, regional bodies, government departments and their various agencies to consider the environmental consequences of their plans before adopting them.

It should make real Labour's bold manifesto pledge in 1997 that said: "We will put concern for the environment at the heart of policy making, so that it is not an add-on extra but informs the whole of government." While there has been definite progress since then, for instance in river quality, the need to integrate the environment into other parts of government policy remains unrealised.

The UK was initially against the directive's plans for strategic environmental assessments (SEAs) but belatedly came round to the idea. In 2001 an agreement was finally reached.

As with implementing most EU legislation, the government has been slow to react. New regulations bringing SEAs into law were published on Monday, but were so vague even experts were not sure what they meant. The key guidance about how they are to be applied is expected today from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. But under the directive, public bodies must consider the possible impact of any proposals on, for example, landscape, wildlife or climate change, investigate alternative approaches and set out how environmental damage can be avoided.

A central part of this process is ensuring that the public has an early say on any plans affecting their quality of life. So people will be able to read and comment on an SEA report after it is produced. There is an important role too for government statutory bodies such as the Environment Agency and Countryside Agency in commenting on draft plans. All this must be considered before key decisions are made on whether any proposal can go ahead. Indeed, an SEA must reveal how the decision was reached.

The directive is in direct response to those who have argued that the current process of environmental impact assessment (EIA) for developments comes too late in the day. If faced with an application for a new quarry, for example, an EIA can help assess the implications for the local area and should look at alternatives, but the real strategic decisions - about the overall amount of material that may be quarried in a region - will already have been made, perhaps many years ago. Often it can be hard to know where or when these big decisions are made. An SEA helps plug the gap by making sure that the new regional strategy will set out the overall approach to managing the effects on the environment, and that the public have had an opportunity to comment on it.

At this earlier, more strategic level the range of alternative options that can be looked at are greater. Are there ways of meeting society's needs that do not require huge amounts of minerals and more quarries? Have all the opportunities to recycle minerals been promoted? Answers to these sorts of questions mean real environmental benefits can be gained, rather than seeking to reduce environmental damage on the basis of location. It means that instead of mitigating the worst effects of new development, for example by tree planting or compensating residents with double glazing, the damage is avoided in the first place.

The main bone of contention that took place in Brussels prior to agreement of the directive, concerned which plans and programmes would be covered. Policy areas including transport, energy, industry, agriculture, forestry, waste and water management, telecommunications, tourism, land use and plans that include European Union wildlife sites will now need to undertake an SEA. Sadly, plans proposed in the budget, the spending review and most of those of the Ministry of Defence are excluded.

But this list means, for example, that if the government were to reignite the nuclear debate by recommending a programme of constructing new nuclear plants, it would first need to implement an SEA. Regional development agencies, promoting sustainable development, will also be covered. A host of other plans produced at local level will also be covered. There are potential pitfalls. In England, ministers have been keen to turn the directive into a sustainability appraisal that examines economic, social and environmental considerations together. The language of politicians is of "balance" between these priorities, which traditionally has meant that the environment almost always loses out. Witness the balancing act that allegedly preceded the publication of the air transport white paper last December.

The white paper, with its proposals to cater for massive forecast growth in air traffic, is now regarded by many as a major threat to the environment - but at the time the environment lost out in favour of unrestrained growth. Under the new directive, before a decision was taken for massive airport expansion, a properly undertaken SEA would have considered whether high speed rail links to short haul destinations in the UK and mainland Europe might be environmentally more sustainable and more economic, say, than building another runway at Stansted. Indeed, such a study might have rendered it unnecessary.

Of course, ministers reverted to the outdated environment versus economy debate in which the environment came second. It is surprising and disappointing, then, to see this "balance" issue being raised again.

There are other alarming signs. The Department of Transport and the Highways Agency could collectively seek to exempt the government's roads' programme from the SEA directive - each arguing that the other organisation is responsible for the inclusion of an SEA, or in fact does not require one at all.

Meanwhile, the Communities Plan, with its proposals for around a million new homes in four "growth areas" of the south-east, has not been able to benefit from an SEA.

Despite these doubts, today marks an important milestone in the government embracing a more green approach at national, regional and local level. The campaign, however, is only just beginning. It is essential that it is used to help people to have a stronger voice, challenge bodies to consider greener courses of action, and ultimately make a difference to the decisions made daily that affect our lives and those of our children.


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