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 - November to December 2004

22 December 2004

NOT MUCH PROGRESS ON AGREEMENT
ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE AT THE UN

World climate talks end in Buenos Aires

Environment Daily 1793 - 20 December 2004

The tenth meeting of parties to the UN climate change convention (COP-10) finally ground to a halt on Saturday morning after two weeks of talks. The meeting underlined deep divisions over how to take forward the Kyoto protocol after its main provisions expire in 2012.

The EU went to Buenos Aires with an aim of launching discussions immediately on greenhouse gas reductions after 2012. Italian environment minister Altero Matteoli embarrassed his EU partners during the conference by reportedly suggesting that post-2012 greenhouse gas targets would have to be voluntary to bring the USA and major developing countries into the agreement.

Even without this show of disunity, formidable forces opposed the European line. The USA, which is not a Kyoto protocol party, insisted that starting talks even during 2005 would be premature. Leading developing countries sought assurances that a post-2012 regime would not require them to cut emissions.

In a painfully struck compromise, participants agreed to a UN seminar next May at which government experts will hold "informal" exchange of information on existing and future policies. At the insistence of America a proviso adds that the seminar "does not open any negotiations leading to new commitments".

Reflecting the general European belief that greenhouse gas limitations must be both broader and deeper post-2012, German environment minister Jόrgen Trittin told the conference that global emissions should be cut by half by 2020. Germany would slash its own emissions by 40% by 2020 if the EU accepted to cut by 30%, he said.

For all the political energy surrounding post-2012 emissions, much of the conference was taken up with other issues, leading to adoption of a series of decisions.

These include a work programme on measures to adapt to climate change and guidance for the development of the Kyoto protocol's clean development mechanism (CDM), including implementation of forestry projects. Others deal with technology transfer to developing countries, and with developing emissions registry systems to support emission trading.


BETTER NEWS FROM EUROPE

Ministers talk tough on climate challenge

Environment Daily 1794 - 21 December 2004

EU environment ministers reaffirmed their commitment to substantial future cuts in greenhouse gas emissions at their council meeting on Monday, brushing aside deep international divisions on the issue during UN climate talks last week. New projections issued on Tuesday helpfully confirmed that the EU-15 can meet its Kyoto protocol 2008-12 emission targets.

Clearly undaunted by last week's convoluted agreement to hold an expert seminar in May without prejudice to future negotiations, EU ministers welcomed what they called "the important decision to start a dialogue" on "future actions" - code for emission cuts.

They also talked in tougher terms than before about the likely scale of these cuts. It is long-established EU policy that global atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations should be kept below 550 parts per million (CO2-equivalent). Recent research suggests that concentrations will have to be stabilised "well below" this threshold if dangerous climate change is to be avoided, they said.

Meeting this goal will require global greenhouse gas emissions to peak within two decades, the ministers' conclusions go on, followed by cuts "of at least 15% and perhaps by as much as 50% by 2050, compared with 1990 levels". Achieving such a target would require much deeper cuts still by EU and other industrialised countries.

The ministers' guidance will feed into European Commission proposals on future EU climate policies due in February for consideration by heads of government at their spring summit. The Commission launched a public consultation on the issue in September (ED 14/09/04 http://www.environmentdaily.com/articles/index.cfm?action=article&ref=17253) followed by a stakeholder conference in November (ED 23/11/04 http://www.environmentdaily.com/articles/index.cfm?action=article&ref=17741).

Meanwhile, the European environment agency on Tuesday confirmed that the EU-15 can meet its collective commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 8% from 1990 levels by 2008-12 as long as countries continue to introduce planned policies.

Taking into account both existing and planned policies and measures, the agency projects EU-15 emissions 7.7% below 1990 by 2010, the mid-point of the commitment period. Adding in planned use of the Kyoto protocol's flexible mechanisms (JI and CDM), it projects minus 8.8%.

Moreover the projections do not take account of potential emission cuts delivered by the EU's industrial carbon dioxide emission trading scheme or of possible sequestration of carbon by forestry or agriculture.

The estimates are of the same order as ones issued two years ago, though slightly more pessimistic. The agency now believes existing measures alone will only produce a 1% emissions cut, compared with its expectation in December 2002 of 4.7%. Then it also calculated that counting in planned additional measures the reduction would rise to 12.4% (ED 06/12/02


BEST OF ALL FROM THE UK

Our comment based on a report in Environment Daily - 21 December 2004

At their final meeting in 2004 Council members received a document from the UK concerning the inclusion of aviation in the EU emissions trading scheme. If this is a serious effort on the part of the UK government to get aviation emissions subject to the same rules as other sections of industry, then progress is being made. It is very unlikely that any effective participation could co-exist with an aviation expansion of the size predicted by the government.

With that hopeful news - best wishes to all for Xmas, and a better, more sustainable 2005.

Pat Dale


17 December 2004

THE JUDICIAL REVIEW OF THE WHITE PAPER

The first day of the hearing was widely reported in all the media with many pictures of SSE members outside the High Court last Monday. Perhaps the best was in the Guardian, which positioned the latest report from the Hadley Centre on climate change - "Uncertainty, Risk and Dangerous Climate Change" on the same page.

Airports challenge lands in court
Protest coalition fights Darling's plan to cope with cheap flights

Andrew Clark, Transport Correspondent - The Guardian - 14 December 2004

Coachloads of airport protestors went to the High Court yesterday to challenge new runways at Stansted and Heathrow crucial to the government's 30 year strategy for coping with the appetite for cheap flights.

Local Authorities, residents and housebuilders have formed a coalition to fight the expansion plans in a White Paper published by the transport secretary, Alistair Darling, a year ago. Dozens waved placards outside the Royal Courts of Justice to show their opposition to the policy.

Mr Justice Sullivan, presiding, was told that the plans were the result of a "manifestly inadequate and hence unlawful" public consultation.

A defeat would badly damage Mr Darling, who has already lost one court battle over airport expansion. The High Court ordered him to restart his consultation two years ago after deciding that he had unfairly ignored Gatwick.

The protestor's QC, Tom Hill, told the judge that there had been no adequate economic appraisal of the impact of a second runway at Stansted, which would involve an "unprecedented and grotesque destruction of countryside".

The proposal to increase Heathrow's capacity in the short-term by ending the alternation in the use of its runways had been introduced at the last moment, without proper discussion. At present, the two runways are alternated between take-offs and landings each day, giving residents a degree of relief from noise.

Mr Hill accused the government of ignoring proposals by Luton airport to extend its runway to cope with extra traffic and claimed that the transport department had suppressed developers proposals for alternative sites on the Isle of Sheppey and at Thames Reach in north Kent.

"The nature and gravity of what is at stake in this case warrants the intervention of the court" he said.

The White Paper tries to respond to the unprecedented growth in air travel encouraged by low cost airlines such as EasyJet, FlyBe and Ryanair. In 12998 Britain's airports handled 160m passengers. The number is forecast to rise to 229m next year, 276m by 2010, and 401m by 2020.

To cope with demand Mr Darling wants BAA to build a second runway at Stansted by 2012. If pollution problems in west London can be overcome, this could be followed by another at Heathrow by 2015.

Further runways are expected at Edinburgh and Birmingham by 2020 and Mr Darling has approved smaller developments at 16, other places. Environmentalists argue that the increase in flying will contribute to global warming. Local protestors say expansion will ruin their quality of life.

Alison Yapp, a retired lecturer from Ealing, told the court yesterday: "You can't go anywhere in my area without hearing an incredible amount of noise. They can go on all day, every 90 seconds. By lunchtime one could kill somebody one is so distraught about it."

If the protestors succeed, it will bring the first judicial review of a government white paper.

The action is supported by Hillingdon and Wandsworth London Boroughs, five local authorities in Essex and Hertfordshire, and two housebuilding firms who say the proposal to set aside land for airport development around Gatwick has damaged their business.

Peter Sanders, chairman of Stop Stansted Expansion, said the aim was to force a wholesale rethink of airport policy. He accused the government of "bungling and bulldozing its way through the white paper, ignoring proper processes in its own ground rules, and chopping and changing the issues under consideration without consulting or even informing the public of the changes".

The hearing is due to last 6 days. A related case will be heard next month and a ruling is not expected before February. Today the London boroughs of Wandsworth and Richmond challenge Mr Darlong's consultation on extra night flights at Heathrow.

A Department of Transport spokesman said: "We stand by our white paper and we will answer all the challenges made in these cases."


12 December 2004

JOHN PRESCOTT'S HOUSES

THE DRAFT EAST OF ENGLAND PLAN WAS LAUNCHED ON 8 DECEMBER.
It was approved by the Regional Assembly and included a sizeable proportion of the extra new houses that John Prescott wanted built in this region. However, the Plan rejected a second runway at Stansted and also made it clear that new housing developments should be jobs led, and that money would be required from the government for the infrastructure needed to support such developments. By 11 December it became clear that such money was not being provided in the next allocation. The Assembly reviewed their position.

Homes plan loses backing over poor transport links

Cambridge On-Line News - 11 December 2004

GOVERNMENT plans for almost half a million new homes in the east of England have lost the backing of the region's assembly - until ministers stump up the money for new roads and railways.

Members of the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) - made up of councillors from Cambridgeshire and neighbouring counties - voted yesterday to suspend their support for the region's growth plan until the transport infrastructure to go with it has been improved.

A motion to suspend support was put forward by Cambridgeshire County Council leader Keith Walters and narrowly passed.

The Government wants 478,000 new homes to be built across the region by 2021 and in the past the EERA has backed the plan, provided new roads and railways to cope with the increase in population are put in place first.

Councillor Walters said the Government had agreed the infrastructure needed to be provided - but had not put up the money needed to pay for it.

He said: "We were asked to take 478,000 extra houses. We said we would take them, but our acceptance was conditional upon having the transport infrastructure to go with them."

"But not only have we not got the money, but they are taking away some of the things we had already been promised."

"The upgrade of the A14 has been kicked into the long grass, as has the dualling of the A428 to support Cambourne. So we are putting our support on hold until we have had another talk about infrastructure money."

The East of England Plan, which contains the Government's growth proposals, went out for public consultation this week, but now all copies must carry an added note stating that the regional assembly has suspended its support.

Councillor Walters added: "We've spent years and years under all governments being asked to take lots of growth, and then the improvement in infrastructure never turns up."

OUR COMMENT: The public consultation on the Plan is going ahead. It will certainly have an impact on Uttlesford where the main developments are expected to be in the A120 Stansted/Dunmow/Braintree corridor and in the M11 Harlow/Stansted/Cambridge corridor.

The plan is accompanied by a very important Sustainability Appraisal Report which assesses the ability of the region to accommodate the proposals without damage to the environment. It praises many aspects of the plan but has serious reservations concerning, among other things, the effect on water supplies, energy use, environmental quality, the increase in road traffic and the ability to provide schools, health facilities and other social infrastructure for all the projected houses. It is essential that everyone is aware of what is proposed. It is also important that as many people as possible respond to the consultation. The good points in the Plan need to be supported - notably the decision not to support a second runway at Stansted.

At the launch of the Draft Plan in Ely on Wednesday Alan Moore, Head of Regional Planning and Transportation for the East of England Assembly, urged as many people as possible to respond by the deadline of March 16th 2005. He announced the official presentation sessions which are being organised. Details of these and the texts of the Plan and the accompanying Sustainability Appraisal by independent consultants Levett-Therivel can be found on the East of England Regional Assembly website www.eera.gov.uk and in principal local libraries.

The Plan, when finally agreed, will dictate the amount of new housing development that will be allowed in the Eastern Region for the years up to 2021. John Prescott wants many extra houses over and above previous plans, and 40% of housing to be affordable. Neither can be achieved without loss of green land and a lot of money for transport infrastructure, housing subsidies and for new public services. This cannot be left to negotiate with individual developers. According to the Sustainability Appraisal it may be impossible for such developments to be sustainable in many areas of the Region.

Pat Dale


12 December 2004

FINANCIAL WORRIES ABOUT BUILDING
STANSTED'S EXTRA RUNWAY?

BAA sees signs of slowdown at Stansted

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

Growth in passenger volumes at London Stansted has begun to slow for the first time since the airport began its rapid expansion in the late 1990s with the arrival of the low-cost airlines.

BAA, the UK airports group, said on Friday that passenger traffic at Stansted grew by only 4.2 per cent year-on-year in November compared with a rise of 19.5 per cent in the same month a year ago.

It said that growth by Ireland's Ryanair, Europe's largest low-cost airline and the leading operator at Stansted, was slow in November, as the airline began to operate its winter schedule with a net loss of one route from a year ago.

Ryanair has directed the latest phase of its expansion in the south-east of England towards London Luton airport rather than to Stansted.

The Irish carrier and BAA are locked in legal action with BAA claiming that Ryanair has failed to pay its airport charges in full, and the airline claiming that the fuel levy charged by BAA at Stansted is excessive and unlawful.

Stansted has also been hit by the financial collapse last weekend of Air Polonia, the Polish low-cost carrier, which had been flying six routes from Poland to the airport including from Warsaw, Gdansk and Poznan.

BAA said that Ryanair traffic should develop more strongly during the winter as it gradually opened new routes to Zaragoza, Almería, Granada and Seville in Spain and Porto in Portugal. EasyJet and other airlines continued to enjoy good growth.

Overall passenger traffic at BAA's seven UK airports grew by 3 per cent year-on-year in November to 10.2m, but the group left its guidance for the current financial year to the end of March unchanged with volumes for the 12 months forecast to rise by 6 per cent.

Passenger traffic at London Heathrow grew by 1.2 per cent in November reflecting the temporary reduction in the British Airways flying programme and the impact on North Atlantic traffic of the US presidential election and the US Thanksgiving holidays.

North Atlantic traffic fell by 1.2 per cent in November, while European charter traffic dropped by 13.4 per cent.

Gatwick airport suffered a "significant decline" in charter traffic, but this was offset by rising scheduled passenger volumes led by EasyJet, which is expanding its presence quickly at Gatwick.


11 December 2004

AIRPORTS PLAN FACES DELUGE OF ANGRY LITIGANTS

The Judicial Review is about to commence - a comment from the press

Barrie Clement, Transport Editor - The Independent - 10 December 2004

Ministers face a wave of litigation against their White Paper on aviation which may mean that plans for airport expansion costing billions of pounds will have to be scrapped.

While the airports operator BAA publicly expresses determination to press ahead with the Government's plans, internal papers betray deep concern.

Next week the Government is being forced to defend its strategy against court action by a dozen organisations citing 23 major legal objections.

A BAA memorandum sets out the full range of court action being faced by the Government in a judicial review beginning on Monday and warns that if litigants win many of their points, the White Paper would have to be withdrawn, new proposals published and a fresh round of consultations would have to begin. The company stands to lose hundreds of millions of pounds in potential revenue if the Department for Transport is made to rethink its views.

An initial consultation process over airport policy had to be scrapped after Kent County Council won a case criticising the Government for failing to consider Gatwick for expansion. The White Paper, published last December, was a year late as a consequence.

Success for the litigants next week would mean long delays to the project to build a second runway at Stansted which is scheduled to be completed in 2011-2012. A scheme to construct a third runway at Heathrow in 2015-2020 may also be sent back to the drawing board.

Some litigants are anxious that ministers look again at the option of a new airport at Cliffe on the Thames estuary.

Both the Government and the groups taking legal action - made up of local authorities and pressure groups - have the opportunity to appeal against the decision by the judicial review.

Separate legal action is being taken by Takeley parish council arguing that a home owner support scheme for those living near Stansted is "inadequate'" in dealing with property blight.

In next week's case the Secretary of State for Transport Alistair Darling is being accused of acting "unlawfully or irrationally or unfairly".

The internal BAA paper says that the group's principal concern is for clarity.

Carol Barbone, the spokeswoman for the Stop Stansted Expansion campaign, said that in preparation for the judicial review ministers had been forced to disclose documents which revealed that the Government had "bulldozed" its way through procedures. John Stewart, the chairman of Clearskies, a Heathrow action group, said the court case gave them hope the Government would be forced to change direction.

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: "We will defend ourselves in court very robustly."


11 December 2004

ARE CHEAP FARES SUSTAINABLE FINANCIALLY?
(We know they are unsustainable environmentally)

Holidays at risk as airlines fold

Ben Webster - The Times - 8 December 2004

Protection sought for passengers losing out on budget fares

THOUSANDS of passengers may lose their budget flights this winter as more airlines fall victim to cut-throat competition in Europe, Britain's air passenger watchdog said.

On Sunday, Air Polonia, which flew from London Stansted to six destinations in Poland, became the latest in a string of airlines to collapse. More than 53,000 passengers lost their bookings and many are struggling to find alternative airlines.

Last month, Volare, of Italy, cancelled all flights despite having taken 200,000 bookings. In May, Duo, based in Birmingham and Edinburgh, collapsed overnight, leaving 1,000 holidaymakers stranded.

Industry leaders predict further failures in the coming months among the 50 budget airlines that have sprung up in Europe in the past five years.

EUjet, which operates 15 routes from Kent International Airport, near Ramsgate, is facing financial difficulties. PlaneStation, the airport operator that owns a third of EUjet and has agreed to buy the remainder, said last week that it would need at least £22 million to fund the development of the airline. It said that it was confident of raising the funds, but its shares still halved in value after the announcement.

An operator at EUjet's call centre said yesterday that there would be automatic refunds if the airline collapsed. She said: "We are fully bonded, so if anyone made a booking with us they would receive all their money back." Later, an EUjet spokesman confirmed that the airline, in common with all budget airlines, had no bonding scheme that would provide refunds.

Asked if EUjet's future was assured, he said that the airline had met its projections on passenger numbers. He said that the airline had carried 71,000 passengers since it started in Kent in September and had taken a further 151,000 bookings.

The Air Transport Users' Council urged the Government to introduce a financial protection scheme for all airline passengers. Only people booking package holidays with tour operators are covered by the Air Travel OrganisersΥ Licensing scheme, which provides refunds and helps stranded passengers.

Increasingly people make holiday arrangements on the internet. Simons Evans, chief executive of the Air Transport Users' Council, said: "People log on to a website and buy a cheap ticket without thinking of the consequences if the airline goes bust." The Civil Aviation Authority has proposed a levy of £2 on all airline tickets to help to compensate victims of failed airlines.

Tim Jeans, managing director of Monarch's scheduled service, said: "There will be more closures because there is so much over-capacity. Passengers across all airlines in Europe are growing by 8 per cent, but capacity is growing by 10 per cent." EasyJet announced yesterday that it had carried 2.1 million passengers during November, a 25 per cent increase on the same month last year. Ryanair's passenger numbers increased by 10 per cent last month. The proportion of seats sold on each flight fell slightly for both airlines.


8 December 2004

UK CLIMATE CHANGE PROGRAMME REVIEW:
CONSULTATION LAUNCH

Climate Change: The Government's statement

The Government today launched an extensive and open consultation on the review of the UK Climate Change Programme.

The Government is well on course to meet its Kyoto emissions reduction target, but more needs to be done to achieve our national goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2010.

The UK Climate Change Programme review consultation shows that the UK is on track to go significantly beyond its Kyoto target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 12.5 per cent below 1990 levels by 2008-2012. Emissions of the six main greenhouse gases have fallen by 14 per cent since 1990, and as a result of the policies currently in place, are projected to be 21 per cent below 1990 levels in 2010.

The consultation highlights areas where the Government has identified opportunities to further reduce carbon emissions.

EU Emissions Trading Scheme: The Scheme's first phase, which runs until 2007, will cover around 46 per cent of UK carbon dioxide emissions. The Government is now looking beyond 2007 to consider our approach to the second phase of the scheme, that runs from 2008-2012, so that it can give clarity on the way forward when the revised UK Climate Change Programme is published.

Energy Efficiency: Greater energy efficiency will play a key role in reducing carbon emissions. A range of measures to stimulate take-up of energy efficiency measures in households has been introduced, which include regulatory and incentive-based policies; grants and other economic incentives; and providing information and advice. The Government also announced in last week's pre-budget report a £20m package of measures to accelerate the development of energy efficient technology to help the UK move to a low carbon economy.

Biomass: The Government would like to see a rise in the production of biomass, which will not only help meet renewable energy targets but also boost farming, forestry and the rural economy. Sir Ben Gill, former NFU president, will next year report back the findings of his taskforce that it looking at optimising the contribution of biomass to climate change.

Transport: The Government is committed to sustained investment in public transport, providing the public with more environmentally friendly travel choices and to encouraging its use through, for example, workplace travel plans and promoting alternatives to the school run. It is vigorously seeking the inclusion of intra-EU aviation in the EU ETS. And it is considering the feasibility of road-pricing, as well as the scope for including surface transport into a phase of the EU ETS.

Biofuels: Cleaner fuels, such as biofuels, and cleaner vehicle technologies, are being encouraged by the Government.

Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: "It is clear that we are on track to go beyond our Kyoto target, as emissions of the key greenhouse gases have fallen significantly. However, we will not, on the basis of current policies alone, achieve our ambitious 2010 domestic goal of a 20 per cent cut in carbon dioxide emissions."

"We want to do more, and the consultation indicates the key areas where we believe more can be achieved. This review also shows our commitment to the existing programme of climate change measures, and we will be publishing a revised programme in the first half of 2005."

"It is vitally important that we engage during the review period with all stakeholders, representing business and industry from all economic sectors, including transport, as well as the public sector, so that we can work together towards achieving our long-term goals," she said.

Mrs Beckett said the revised Climate Change Programme would build on the many success stories achieved since the launch of the Climate Change Programme in 2000, including the:

* Launch of the UK Emissions Trading Scheme - resulting in significant emission reductions as well as providing London with a head start in the global carbon market

* Establishment of Climate Change Agreements - energy saved by industry has saved £450m a year collectively

* Creation of the Carbon Trust - to run the UK's main energy efficiency information, advice and research programme

* Reform of the Vehicle Excise Duty and Company Car Tax - the Company Car Tax has saved around 150,000 - 200,000 tonnes of carbon in 2003

* Adoption of long-term emissions reduction goals for 2020 and 2050 as part of the Energy White Paper

* Launch of the Energy Efficiency Action Plan - aims to save over 4.2 million tonnes of carbon per year by 2010.

* Launch of the Combined Heat and Power Strategy

* Creation of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme - a key component in the UK's wider strategy in tackling climate change, which aims to reduce carbon emissions at least cost to industry

"Many of these measures have already made a substantial impact on emissions," she added.

Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for the Department of Trade and Industry, said: "Business and industry have already made positive and welcome steps towards helping to meet our carbon reduction goals. We have a share agenda of a clean and sustainable energy future that will help tackle climate change while offering serious business opportunities."

"We need to take this further - with the right framework, there is great potential for innovation, scientific discovery as well as business and investment growth. That is why it is so important that that they are involved in this review of our climate change policies."

Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for the Department for Transport, said: "Good transport is central to a prosperous economy. As the economy grows we travel much further than we used to. We buy more goods from all over the world. We're not in the business of stopping people from travelling. That's never going to be an acceptable or sustainable solution. But we do want to reduce the environmental impact of journeys we make."

"We have increased spending on public transport, especially rail. Cars are getting more fuel-efficient every year and we have increased the rate of progress by introducing policies to reward people who choose the cleanest, most fuel-efficient models. We're working on ways of tackling aviation's contribution to climate change by actively pursuing the inclusion of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading scheme."

The Government will embark on a series of regional and sectoral meetings with these sectors during the 12-week consultation period.

OUR COMMENT: By imposing a cap on airline's emissions within the EU, demand for seats will certainly not rise as predicted by the DfT - if the market works effectively, airlines will not be able to expand services until a truly green airplane is on the market but, if airport expansion plans are not reviewed as well, the policies will be in direct confrontation. We hope that as many people as possible will respond to the consultation. It can be found on www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/ukccp-review/index.htm or can be ordered from 020 7082 8645. You have until March 2nd to respond.


VIEWPOINT FROM ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS

UK forced to confront slippage on CO2 goal

Environment Daily 1785 - 8 December 2004

The British government has admitted it likely to miss a self-imposed target to slash 20% off national carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2010. The admission comes in a consultation document published on Wednesday.

The timing is embarrassing. It comes as global climate talks get underway in Buenos Aires and just weeks before the UK assumes the presidency of the G8, a forum in which prime minister Tony Blair has pledged to promote climate action.

Under the Kyoto protocol UK greenhouse emissions must drop 12.5% by 2012. Britain is actually on track to exceed this target - projections suggest it will achieve minus 21% by 2010, one of the best performances of all EU countries. But underlying trends in CO2, the main greenhouse gas, are less positive.

The environment ministry suggests a range of further measures, picking out biomass, biofuels, public transport and energy efficiency as themes to focus on. Another is to demand bigger cuts from industry in the second phase of the EU's carbon emission trading scheme from 2008.

Whether and how it does this will have big implications for other participants in the scheme. The likely shortfall in emission cuts has been implicit for some time in UK greenhouse gas projections submitted under the scheme, but today's announcement is the highest-profile acknowledgement of difficulties.

In a separate development on Wednesday, the environment ministry released a five-year strategy, including measures to boost waste recycling and energy efficiency.


8 December 2004

ARE JET FUEL TAXES NEARER?

Airlines attack Stolpe over jet fuel tax call

Environment Daily 1783 - 6 December 2004

Europe's airline industry association (AEA) has urged the German government against introducing unilateral taxes on jet fuel for domestic flights. The association was responding to a statement made last week by German transport minister Manfred Stolpe, who backed the idea to provide a level competitive playing field for railways.

Mr Stolpe made his comments in the context of current discussions within Germany's governing coalition over the future of its ecological tax reform programme. Environmental groups are campaigning for tax on jet fuel on the back of rapid growth in the low-cost aviation sector (ED 02/09/02 www.environmentdaily.com/articles/index.cfm?action=article&ref=12774).

A German kerosene tax would be "untimely, unhelpful and ineffective", AEA retorted on Friday. It would fail to make rail transport more competitive, dramatically increase costs for German airlines and have only marginal environmental effects, especially since firms would take steps to refuel aircraft in other countries, the association said.

Overall, "such measures would have a direct negative impact on economic growth, jobs and European competitiveness at a time when the European airlines are not only competing against each other, but are also competing in the world ", it concluded.


8 December 2004

A REJUVENATED CLIMATE CHANGE STRATEGY?
OR MORE OF THE SAME?

Blair relaunches climate strategy

Severin Carrell - News Environment - 5 December 2004

Tony Blair will this week urge the British public to take green issues seriously in an attempt to relaunch the Government's ailing strategies on tackling climate change. The Prime Minister is hosting a "power breakfast" of business leaders, politicians and environmentalists at Downing Street on Wednesday, where he will unveil a new five-year strategy to combat global warming.

The event has been given added political urgency by Mr Blair's recent admissions that the UK is set to miss the Government's ambitious target to cut greenhouse emissions by 20 per cent by 2010.

In his joint announcements with Margaret Beckett, the Secretary of State for the Environment, he will concede that his government's efforts need to be stepped up, but he will claim that business leaders, environmentalists and the public have to co-operate on combating climate change.

Mr Blair will call for Britain to "pull together as a country", said one Whitehall source, and will renew his promise to put combating climate change at the centre of Britain's presidency of the European Union and G8 group of industrialised nations next year.

It is understood that Mr Blair's speech will also include a call for the public to be far more environmentally aware when they buy cars, homes and household goods - a call which led to claims that ministers are "passing the buck".

The Government is anxious to deflect criticism of its record, which intensified last week after the Chancellor failed to significantly increase Treasury spending on green issues.

Julie Foley, analyst with the pro-Labour Institute of Public Policy Research, said: "The consumer point is really welcome, but the caveat is that this also requires significant action from Government. It means significant tax breaks - and that costs money."

Tony Juniper, the director of Friends of the Earth, said that "time was running out" for Mr Blair, who needed to take radical action if he wanted to show that the UK was a world leader before next year's G8 presidency.

OUR COMMENT: Aviation is still the biggest example of contradictory policies - encouraging expansion policies with more greenhouse gases per passenger Km and at the same time urging the population to do all they can to conserve energy at home.

Pat Dale


5 December 2004

MICHAEL O'LEARY GIVES HIS VISION
FOR THE FUTURE OF AVIATION

Michael O'Leary, no-nonsense boss of no-frills Ryanair, speaks his mind about competition, monopolies, government and baggage, to Martin Ashcroft

Article published by British Industry website www.themanufacturer.com/britishindustry - Sept 2004

If arrangements for our interview and photo shoot are anything to go by, Michael O'Leary, the life of Ryan, is not your average CEO.

A straightforward appointment for 2pm in Ryanair's head office at Dublin airport is changed by a late email from the press office the day before. O'Leary has a lunchtime meeting in a bar in Dublin. There won't be time to get back to the airport for two o'clock. Can we meet him in the bar after his meeting? What? For a rare interview and real Guinness at the same time? You bet we can.

Only while sipping our Guinness does the improbability of it all start to gnaw at us. Is O'Leary actually here? Does he know we're coming? How are we going to find him? Do chief execs really give interviews in Irish pubs? Following a hunch that the barman would have his finger on the pulse, we make ourselves known and O'Leary soon comes strolling over to our table. No PRs, no PAs, no minders. Just him. As they used to say in the 'A' Team, I love it when a plan comes together.

My first direct experience of O'Leary's forthright style had been at The Royal Albert Hall in April this year, when he upstaged Gordon Brown and Michael Howard at the Institute of Directors' Annual Convention on the subject of improving Britain's competitiveness. The old answer to this, he said, would have been "to bring in more Paddies; but, unfortunately, you can't afford us any more." Describing himself as "the half-time entertainment" that followed the "men in suits", he earned the loudest cheer of the day when he cried "shoot the politicians". He returns to this theme quickly in the underground bar in Dublin.

"Any time the politicians get involved in an industry or regulating an industry, they f**k it up. It's what they do best. If they stay the hell out of it, the industry works much better on its own by letting people compete. We had politicians and regulators running the airline industry for 50 years from 1945 to 1995, and they made a complete dog's dinner of it in Europe; we had the highest fares and the most restrictive practices. We've had 10 years of deregulation and it's transformed the cost of air travel around Europe."

There are still governments and airlines who try to block competition, he complains (citing Air France as an example), but although their actions are frustrating, he does not believe they will succeed. "Consumers in Europe want low fare air travel," he says. "The only people who want high fare air travel are high fares airlines and ultimately they're going to lose."

With Ryanair's USP being low fares, the current high price of oil must be a serious concern. O'Leary dismisses it as a blip. "It makes for a lot of interesting news stories at a quiet time of year," he says. "The price of oil is quite high at $40 a barrel but the long term sustainable price is somewhere in the mid-twenties." Once we're through the American election and the political climate in Russia and Iraq settles down, he believes, the medium term price of oil will come down to $20-$25 dollars a barrel. Anyway, he says, rather gloatingly, "we can continue to make money with oil at $40 a barrel. Clearly oil is a major cost for us, but our margin is already over 20 per cent so we're the most profitable airline in the world. We're the only airline that can absorb a massive increase in fuel prices."

No stranger to controversy, O'Leary is not shy about taking bold measures in the crusade to cut costs, even if it means risking court action to settle a dispute. "Our job as Europe's lowest low fares airline is to fight on behalf of passengers for lower costs. You can't have lower fares without lower costs and you have rich airports like BAA who think they're entitled to have higher costs and bigger profits." Ryanair has been in dispute with Stansted (owned by BAA) over a fuel levy for the last 18 months. It came to a head in April this year when Ryanair started making deductions from its monthly fees. "We said if we didn't reach agreement by 1 April we would start to deduct these fuel levies from our monthly payment to Stansted. Our monthly payment is of the order of £3 million, so now we're deducting something like £200,000 a month from that until it is resolved. So they're suing us for non payment of the fuel levies and we're suing them because we believe they've broken their agreements with us in relation to the fuel levy."

So what is the basis of O'Leary's complaint? "The issue goes to the core of the relationship between low fare airlines and high cost airports," he said. "Stansted originally introduced this fuel levy back in 1991, saying that it was designed to recover the cost of the fuel farm (which cost £12.5 million) over a 25 year period. So it should be costing about £500,000 a year. Last year [because of a huge increase in traffic through the airport] they collected £5 million in fuel levies; they're grossly overcharging, they've already, in 12 years, recovered three times the cost of the fuel farm and they're refusing to reduce this levy."

The outcome of the legal proceedings will not be known until next year, but in the meantime, O'Leary will continue to oppose the airport monopoly which he believes is responsible for spiralling costs. "You have the three main airports for London, which is without doubt the best destination in Europe, owned by the one company," he says. "It's a licence for that company to print money and waste money, which is why we've seen them building gold plated Taj Mahals. Terminal Five at Heathrow is going to cost multi-billions. They're talking about the second runway at Stansted costing £4 billion. When you analyse the numbers, the runway itself will cost £90 million, but they want to spend £3.9 billion building roads and railways and stuff that shouldn't be built by the airport or funded by airline passengers at all. And the reason they waste so much money is because under the regulatory regime their income is capped at five per cent of their total capital expenditure. The higher their capital expenditure, the higher their income." If the airports were split up and allowed to compete with each other, he maintains, they would be more efficient and the customer would benefit. "What we need is for the airports to replicate the kind of competition that has come about among the airlines."

As monopolies hate competition, however, O'Leary accepts they are not going to volunteer for dissolution. Government should intervene, he says. "You'd have more traffic and much lower cost of infrastructure development, because you'd have people who have to survive on their own efficiencies. London now has the lowest cost air services but among the highest cost airports, because they don't compete."

The way Ryanair has grown over the last few years, one might suspect it to be well on the way to becoming a monopoly itself, in the low fare, short haul market at least. It now accounts for 60 per cent of Stansted's business. While denouncing monopolies in public, is O'Leary secretly creating one of his own? "It's true we carry 60 per cent of the traffic through Stansted," he said, "but if you take total London air traffic, Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and City, that counts for less 10 per cent of the market. The airline industry is too easy to enter. The barriers to entry are very low. The barriers to going bust are very low as well, but there's always somebody who's setting up an airline somewhere." The low fares market in the UK may be dominated by Ryanair and easyJet at the moment, he points out, but competition has appeared over the last few years from BMI Baby, MyTravel Lite and FlyBe, among others, "so I don't think there's any way of ever having a monopoly in the airline business. Nobody's ever managed it and I don't think anybody ever will."

While monopoly might be out of the question, however, growth is still at the top of the agenda. Ryanair bought Buzz from KLM in April last year. Is this the beginning of an acquisition strategy or a piece of opportunism? "We bought Buzz because it was simply an opportunity at a very low cost at our main airport Stansted. It was losing a lot of money but we thought we could stop it losing money quickly. So we bought it. If we didn't do it somebody else was going to buy it and as Stansted fills up, those slots in the peak hours in the morning and in the evening are scarce, so it made sense for us to buy it."

"When we bought Buzz it was carrying two million passengers a year. We paid £20 million for it. When easyJet bought Go, it was carrying four million passengers a year and they paid £300 million for it, so, if something's cheap enough, it makes sense to buy it. But we don't see ourselves growing by acquisition. Airlines are very hard to run and if they're badly run they're very hard to turn around, so we want to continue to grow organically, rather than by acquisition. We have 100 aircraft on order, still to be delivered, that will see us double the fleet size from today's 75 to 150 aircraft in the next five years and see us grow from 25 to 50 million passengers."

Will the growth strategy involve Ryanair moving beyond Europe? O'Leary gives an emphatic 'no'. "The history of the airline business is littered with airlines that went bust because they were successful in one niche or one market then thought they could do world domination. We have no interest in going long haul or trans-Atlantic. You can't do it with a 737 – we do intend to double in size in Europe in the next five years and that's plenty enough for us to be getting on with." Branching out into other businesses is not an option either. "I'm no Branson," he says. "We've got to stick to what we know."

But sticking to what you know does not mean standing still. "You've got to be cleverer every year to keep lowering costs," says O'Leary. The next round of cost reduction, he believes, is to persuade passengers to travel with carry-on luggage only. It's caused hysteria in the popular press. Is the travelling public really going to take to this? A Sunday Times story about it at the end of August was hilarious, but the idea deserves serious consideration.

O'Leary points out that the average stay of a Ryanair passenger is only two and half days. By all means take a bigger carry-on bag, he says, but if you don't bring check in luggage, on top of the hassle free benefits they might even give you an extra discount. "But the quid pro quo is that if you want to travel with checked in luggage, we'd ask you to pay extra. It could be £5, £10 whatever." He insists there is no plan to ban check in luggage altogether. "That's not on the agenda. People who travel with families will have to have luggage, and we'll say fine, you can still fly with us and you'll still get the lowest fares, but if you want to check in luggage you must pay for it."

Every air traveller knows that the passenger experience at airports is dominated by the complexities of checking in. The queues, the bags, the procedure. "It's also the biggest cost area for us at airports," says O'Leary. "BAA at Stansted charges us £30,000 a year for each check in desk."

In O'Leary's vision, the future of short haul air travel will see passengers book their tickets, choose their seats and download their boarding passes, all on the internet. On arrival at the airport they'll go straight to the gate with their carry-on bags, check in there and board the plane.

So how far away is this passenger Utopia? "Oh, years yet. The big cost reduction in something like that won't come about until you're able to build much simpler airport buildings that don't need all these check in desks and baggage halls. Stansted is incredibly expensive because it's so complicated. Four storey buildings, baggage halls and escalators, baggage belts and all that crap."

The airport of the future, he says, dedicated to short haul flights with only a little checked in baggage, would need only a single storey building. But wouldn't security still be a problem? "Yes, there'd still be security, but the security might take place in the car park. Or it might take place as you go through the boarding gate. The whole thing is about making it more efficient, making it easier for passengers to get about."

While the strategy is to incentivise passengers, however, the biggest problem could be finding an incentive for the airports. O'Leary admits that a rich source of revenue for Ryanair is from passengers purchasing refreshments on board their flights. By the same token, a rich source of revenue for the airports is from the retail outlets that passengers use while they're hanging around. While the argument for an easier check in experience is a strong one, the airports' interest is in keeping passengers there as long as they can. Perhaps O'Leary should reconsider his strategy on diversification. Buy yourself an airport, Michael, and show them how to do it.

OUR COMMENT: Who pays the environmental costs of all this expansion of cheap travel? UK Taxpayers? Those living round airports? Or all of us as climate change affects our lives (and that includes Mr O'Leary and his family). What is clear is that BAA will not be able to finance a new runway from raising airport charges. Even if his no-frills terminal was all that was available, it still costs a lot to build a safe runway, not to mention more access roads and rail - not many passengers will walk or cycle to the airport, and why should local people pay for extra services they do not want or need?

Pat Dale


2 December 2004

THE JUDICIAL REVIEW DRAWS NEAR

Battle begins to halt Heathrow expansion

Mira Bar-hillel, Planning Correspondent - London Evening Standard - 30 November 2004

A legal challenge to Government plans for airport expansion at Heathrow begins in the High Court next month. The judicial review has been brought by a coalition of local authorities and community campaign groups representing Heathrow, Stansted and Luton.

The claimants, led by the boroughs of Wandsworth and Hillingdon, will argue that an airports White Paper published in December 2003 was unlawful. It called for a third runway at Heathrow to be built in 2015, following the completion of a second runway at Stansted in 2011.

The review, beginning on 13 December, will be told that ministers knew the Stansted runway would not be financially viable, as the no-frills airlines that use the airport would not pay increased charges for construction.

It will also be alleged that the Government knows that long-haul carriers will not move from Heathrow and that the airport would continue to face unrelenting demands for extra capacity.

The objectors say that even before a third runway is built, ministers will be pressed to increase flight numbers by allowing both existing runways to be used for both take-off and landings.

Wandsworth council leader Edward Lister said: "The truth is that Stansted is a red herring. All roads - and flights - lead to Heathrow, because that is what the airlines want. Our challenge goes to the heart of the Government's intentions. The stakes could not be higher. If we win, the Government will have to rethink its entire approach to airport expansion."


2 December 2004

THE ENVIRONMENT MINISTER URGES ACTION

Beckett: Local government must act on climate change

29 November 2004

Local councils must work with the Government if climate change is to be tackled in the UK, according to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)

Councils urged to back renewables

Giving the keynote speech at an East Midlands conference on climate change this evening, Margaret Beckett said that climate change had already begun to affect the UK.

Without action, she warned there could be significant rises in sea levels along the east coast of England, leading to coastal erosion. Coupled with a likely increase in severe weather, and a potential three degrees increase in temperature, the area would face increased demand for crop irrigations as well as the loss of coastal habitats.

The Government aims to reduce CO2 emissions, compared to 1990, by 20 per cent by 2010, and Ms Beckett told local government they had a major part to play if the targets were to be reached.

She said: "Councils are central to our efforts to tackle climate change. Everything from transport, house building to the energy efficiency of public buildings is affected by - and affects - the changing climate."

"Climate change may be a global problem, but councils are part of the solution. They must work together with their communities to make a difference - not only to prepare for climate change but also to reduce the emissions that cause it."

As a practical step, she called on local councils to sign up to the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change, which requires councils to openly commit to reducing emissions, encourage emission reduction in their communities, support renewable energy generation and prepare a local plan addressing the causes and effects of climate change.

OUR COMMENT: We hope she is also urging the DfT to act on transport emissions. What about a DfT Plan as well?

Pat Dale


2 December 2004

MORE COST CUTTING FOR AIR TRANSPORT?

Nats fights CAA's call for price cuts

Mark Milner - The Guardian - 1 December 2004

National Air Traffic services is at loggerheads with the Civil Aviation Authority over its plans to force it to cut the prices it charges airlines for using UK air space.

The CAA is proposing Nats cuts prices by 7.8% to 58.1p per Km in 2006 then progressively to 51p by 2010. The CAA said yesterday its proposals would produce a better service at lower costs, but Nats said the cuts were "over-ambitious" and could hit service performance and investment.

Harry Bush, the CAA's managing director, said that in recent years Nats – in which the government has a 49% stake, and a consortium of airlines, including British Airways, 42% - had improved its cost and quality of service performance. "Today's proposals build on this progress by continuing to incentivise delay improvement and cost reduction" he added. Nats was facing an important challenge to implement an ambitious investment programme and the new regime was designed to encourage it to "get on with the job".

However, Nats' chief executive Paul Barron said that while customers wanted service improvements and greater capacity where required, the CAA's proposals appeared to be designed to put more emphasis on cutting prices. "Its initial proposals for the next 5 year period look complex and appear a good deal tougher than we expected."

He said the organisation, which is conducting a £1bn system upgrade, would consult its customers, and seek to influence the CAA's views. "We want to be sure that the good work that has been done in the current charge period to improve our operational and financial performance will not be undone by an over-ambitious emphasis on price."

Though the CAA proposals are tougher than Nats had expected, Mr Bush said the airlines might well have hoped for an even tougher approach driven by improved efficiency. The CAA has conducted an in-depth comparison between Nats performance and its European peers, however, which had shown that "Nats' operating cost performance is more comparable to its European counterparts than previous studies have suggested."

OUR COMMENT: Without entering into any of the arguments about the cost efficiency of Nats operations, it is depressing to find so much energy being devoted into reducing the cost of air travel even further when the government has at least paid lip service towards accepting the need for aviation to carry its full environmental costs. Margaret Beckett exhorts Local Authorities to work harder to save energy, industry is now required to take action, road transport is at least fairly heavily taxed but air transport is still the privileged beneficiary of low cost fuel and continued concern about prices together with official blessings on airport expansion. These contradictions do not make a good leadership policy on climate change!

Pat Dale


27 November 2004

SPANIARDS TO RUN LUTON AIRPORT AFTER £551M DEAL

Andrew Clark - The Guardian - 25 November 2004

Luton, Cardiff and Belfast international airports are to fall into the hands of a Spanish toll motorways operator through a £551m take-over of the aviation group TBI by a Barcelona-based Abertis Infrastructure.

TBI's board yesterday recommended a 92.5p-a-share cash buyout by Abertis, which specialises in running roads and car parks but operates a single airport in Bogota, Columbia. The deal, which sent TBI's shares up 2.25p to 91.5p, will mean a £104m windfall for the family of TBI's chairman, Stan Thomas, which controls 19% of the shares.

Mr Thomas's brother, Peter, is chairman of Cardiff Rugby club. The pair are among Wales's wealthiest business leaders – they made £75 in the late 1980s by selling their piemaking business, Peter's Savoury Products.

Abertis swooped on TBI following discontent among investors. Active investment funds such as JO Hambro and Laxey partners recently appeared on TBI's share register and have privately suggested that the group's assets would be worth more if they were split up.

TBI's chief executive, Keith Brooks, denied yielding to any investor unrest: "We talk with all our shareholders regularly and we've never been under pressure to sell."

TBI's three UK airports handled 18m passengers in the year to March. It has come under pressure from a decline in flights by holiday charters and full-service airlines. Low-cost operators have compensated for the shortfall but have hammered airport fees to rock bottom levels.

Mr Brooks said TBI's philosophy had been to "provide facilities commensurate with what travellers want" rather than spending a fortune on "expensive and glitzy infrastructure".

TBI has been the subject of regular take-over speculation. In 2001, the French transport firm Vinci tabled a 90p-a-share hostile offer but withdrew it in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11th.

Last year a German firm, Hochtief, said it was considering a cash offer while other reports have suggested either retail entrepreneur Philip Green or Chelsea football club's Russian owner Roman Abramovitch were interested in buying Luton airport and turning it into a base for private jets.

Abertis finance director, Migual Abeniacar, said his company had been searching for an airport asset to diversify its interests away from motorways. "Luton is a very important airport in the London area with great potential for growth" he said.

Abertis is buying TBI through a joint venture company, ACDL. Its 10% minority partner in the venture is Aena Internacional – a state owned firm which runs 47 of Spain's airports.

OUR COMMENT: Is there to be cut throat competition between airports as well as low-cost airlines? Luton and Stansted should be providing complementary services for the benefit of travellers and of residents and not entering into a battle for more flights.

Pat Dale


27 November 2004

CONCERN FOR HATFIELD FOREST

Ground Survey for rail improvement

Sandra Perry - Herts & Essex Observer - 25 November 2004

A survey into rail improvements if Stansted gets permission for a second runway has begun in the countryside around the airport. BAA has engaged a company to undertake the work in and around the terminal and the general area identified in the government's aviation white paper.

The airport owner has put aside £100m for preliminary consultancy examinations and preparation in readiness for the time when it will submit a planning application – which is likely to go before a public inquiry. The cost of the visual survey by Mott MacDonald is part of that.

BAA is required to accurately assess current conditions and potential environmental effects of any railway enhancements associated with the expansion.

It is due to last well into 2005 and the staff will be carrying out non-intrusive surveys from publicly accessible areas, including local highways, footpaths and public rights of way, said a BAA spokesperson. He added that aerial photography was now being supported with an inspection on the ground to get a closer look at any features or constraints concerning the potential for improved railway access.

On the timescale of any future planning application he said "We would be looking to deliver the application sometime in 2006. What we are doing for Generation2 (the second runway scheme) will sit alongside the relevant authorities, Highways Agency and Strategic Rail Authority who will deliver the road and rail works."

Although so far, only lines on maps have been drawn, possible rail improvements include a new rail loop, bypassing Sawbridgeworth and Bishop's Stortford, with a direct line from north of Harlow Mill.

Fears were expressed 18 months ago that that could cause a problem because it would skirt Hatfield Forest. There has also been talk of a second spur line north to Cambridge, rejoining the main line south of Newport, and a second railway tunnel into the airport station.

The BAA spokesman said: "As with all elements of planning applications, either ours or other authorities', it's the detail which takes the time. Everything we do will require thorough investigation."

OUR COMMENT: One correction, the phrase "possible rail improvements" - these ideas are not for improvements, they are for rail capacity enhancements that would only be essential if a second runway went ahead. The infrastructure that is at present just adequate for airport access could not cope with the predicted increase in traffic generated by an extra runway. The additional road and rail provision that would have to be built would not benefit other non-airport travellers. The other big question is - who pays?

Pat Dale


27 November 2004

CONCERN TOO ABOUT STANSTED'S THREATENED CARNAGE

Expert Gives Threatened Building A Winter Mot

Amanda Brown - PA Environment Correspondent - The Scotsman - 25 November 2004

A 400-year-old beamed cottage under threat of destruction if Stansted airport expansion goes ahead has won a spot in the limelight cast by the small screen.

Marianne Suhr, expert presenter of BBC 2's popular Restoration series, is putting on a hard hat to help the Hart family prepare their home at Browns End Road, Broxted near Dunmow in Essex, for winter.

The house is among 30 listed houses in the surrounding area which will be destroyed if current plans for a second runway at Stansted Airport get the green light.

But even though the Harts are living in the shadow of uncertainty, they are determined to ensure that Knowles Cottage is ready to face another long winter.

More than 12 other local householders facing the same runway threat have pledged to give their homes a maintenance MOT this week as part of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) National Maintenance Week.

Held in November each year, the aim is simply to provide homeowners throughout the UK with practical tips and advice on preparing their properties for the rigours of winter.

Ms Suhr said "It's absolutely incredible that these important old buildings could be wiped off the map if the current plans for Stansted's new runway go ahead.

"It says so much for the spirit and tenacity of families like the Harts, who, despite uncertainty, are determined to play their own part to ensure the survival of their home for future generations."

Pat Dale


27 November 2004

US STATES PULL OUT OF TALKS TO CUT AIRCRAFT POLLUTION

News Headlines from Airwise.com - 24 November 2004

US state and local air pollution control officials said on Tuesday they are pulling out of five year old talks to develop a voluntary program for reducing pollution from aircraft engines.

A pollution-fighting deal with the aviation sector - which is expected to see a doubling of nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions by 2030 - could not be reached, and the officials said they told the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) so on Monday.

Major airports already have NOX emissions that are greater than those by large stationary sources, like refineries and power plants.

Officials with the State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators (STAPPA) and the Association of Local Air Pollution Control Officials (ALAPCO) joined talks in 1999 to cut pollution from aircraft engines.

"More than five years later, we are extremely disappointed that no progress was made concerning the primary objective of reducing aircraft emissions," the associations said in a joint letter to the EPA and FAA.

The two associations represent air pollution control agencies in 54 states and territories and over 165 major metropolitan areas across the United States.

The officials said a proposal made this summer was "inadequate in terms of scope and stringency" and constrained on the ability of state and local agencies to protect against aviation-related pollution.

Specifically, the groups said the proposed nitrogen oxide emission standard for aircraft engines was not strong enough and excluded other pollutants, such as soot.

The officials also opposed excluding airports not in metropolitan areas that failed to meet EPA's clear air standards and were concerned there were few protections against "dumping" old equipment at non-participating airports.

The officials said that despite not being able to reach an agreement, they are committed "to identifying and implementing strategies" for meaningful emission reductions from the aviation sector.

(Reuters) November 23, 2004

OUR COMMENT: A sad tale, but at least talks about the problem have started in the USA. Europe has only just started talking about a nitrogen oxides emission trading scheme. No signs of the much advertised UK leadership on global warming being put into practice as yet.

Pat Dale


27 November 2004

BUDGET AIRLINES HIT TURBULENCE

The Scots are worried too

Iain Dey - Business Agenda - The Scotsman - 21 November 2004

NINE years have passed since Stelios Haji-Ioannou waved off easyJet's inaugural flight from Luton to Glasgow, with a pledge to bring flying to the masses. Tickets from London to Scotland cost less than a pair of jeans, his adverts boasted at the time. And you can book it over the phone to boot. It was the dawn of a revolution.

On Tuesday, easyJet chief executive Ray Webster will face up to the City to unveil the company's full year results. Analysts expect he will meet their forecasts and unveil profits of about £62m. After a summer marred by profit warnings - which substantially lowered those expectations - he cannot afford to slip up.

But running easyJet is not so easy anymore. A lot has changed since that first orange Boeing 737 left the tarmac. And while Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary has won back the City of late, he too has discovered what it's like to disappoint.

Gone are the days when the two rivals only had each other to worry about, and could race across Europe to get first dibs on new airports in France, Italy, Spain or Sweden. With oil prices still a hair's-breadth away from $50 a barrel, margins are coming under pressure on all fronts.

O'Leary keeps prophesying a "bloodbath" in the sector and insists that many of his upstart rivals will catch pneumonia in what looks like being a long, cold winter. Yet last week saw FlyBE, the born-again airline formerly known as British European, burst into the black with half-year profits of £14m.

Looking ahead to the next 12 months, the City is radically split on what the future holds for Europe's budget carriers. While the low-cost travel revolution is far from over, there is uncertainty as to where it goes next.

"Looking at easyJet, the real issue is where they are going to be this time next year, with their full-year figures for 2005," says Chris Avery, airline analyst at JP Morgan. "That's what everyone is trying to work out now and that's where everyone is seriously divided."

"The bulls, like me, are looking at more or less flat profitability for next year of about £50m to £60m. The rest are looking at break-even or perhaps even a slight loss. Obviously that's a big swing, but that reflects the amount of uncertainty that's in the sector."

Of all the uncertainties faced by the industry, the hardest one to call is the oil price. Although crude has cooled considerably in recent weeks, slipping back below $45, that is still about twice the long-term average price airlines would have budgeted for only 12 months ago. While some industry executives like to stress that jet fuel prices don't fluctuate as often as crude, if Brent goes up, so do fuel costs.

O'Leary has crowed that oil could reach $75 a barrel before it would pose Ryanair problems. And he's stuck his neck out on crude prices falling further: while his peers have been rolling over their fuel hedging arrangements, locking in new deals at or around the current high prices, Ryanair has gone into the second half of the financial year entirely unhedged.

"There are many companies which said they were already losing money when a barrel of oil cost $25," O'Leary said last week. "Now a barrel costs $50. I have no doubts that there will be more losses, more bankruptcies."

Analysts believe O'Leary has a right to be a little bit cocky on the topic of oil prices. Through sticking rigidly to the low-cost model, using only secondary airports and continuing to run a dedicated Boeing fleet, he has some margin to play with. EasyJet, on the other hand, looks a little more exposed to fluctuations in crude prices.

Edward Legget, investment director UK equities at Standard Life Investments, said: "The biggest single factor behind the variation in the easyJet estimates is the oil price. Earnings estimates for 2005 are ranging from about -2p per share to +10p a share and about 80% of that is down to the oil price."

While British Airways and other national flag carriers have been adding surcharges to tickets to help offset increased fuel costs, this is a little trickier to do in a sector that differentiates itself almost entirely on price.

But the surcharges levied have had a slightly perverse effect on the budget sector. When O'Leary unveiled Ryanair's 18% jump in half-year profits earlier in the month, he explained that one of the reasons his performance was better than expected was that the British Airways surcharges had benefited Ryanair.

The additional costs created by the surcharge have exaggerated the price difference between the no-frills and traditional carriers - a gap which had been narrowed by the short-haul fightback staged by most of the national carriers. So while they are suffering increased oil costs, they are gaining volumes.

Analysts reckon easyJet will demonstrate the same phenomenon this week. But even if the budget sector as a whole is back in fashion, that sector is now much bigger and more competitive than it once was.

There is some evidence of O'Leary's budget airline "bloodbath" having already begun. German outfit V-Bird went to the wall three weeks ago, following others such as Duo, Now, Air Planet and the Irish outfit Jet Green, which lasted just six days.

Danish operator Sterling has put itself up for sale. Virgin Express and SN Brussels have responded to the competitive threat by getting into bed with one another.

Then there was Hop - backed by Kit Malthouse, the deputy leader of Westminster council, and Tony Camacho, the former Buzz airline chief executive - which flopped before it even got off the ground in the summer after the financiers got cold feet.

Industry executives expect Italian discount operator Volare to struggle to make it through the winter. Wizz Air, run by former executives of Hungary's Malev airline, also runs high on the list of potential casualties.

Yet it seems that almost every passing day brings new airlines or new services. This is evident in the Scottish market alone. Recently a firm called EU Jet appeared on the scene offering flights between Edinburgh and Manston in Kent. German discount operator Hapag-Lloyd starts services between Edinburgh and Cologne next month. Flyglobespan, the Edinburgh-based airline run by Tom Dalrymple, continues to expand its range of sunshine destinations from Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Then there is FlyBE, owned by the family of the late steel magnate Jack Walker, which said last week that it would set up a new hub at Aberdeen - as well as launching further services from Edinburgh and Glasgow.

In a UK context, FlyBE is just one of a handful of operators to have been adding new routes left, right and centre - along with rivals such as BMIbaby. And don't forget Niki Lauda - two times world Formula One racing champion - who recently returned to the airline industry with a new discount carrier, imaginatively titled Niki.

Meanwhile, Ryanair and easyJet - still far and away the two largest operators - have both been increasing their own capacity by about 20% year on year, buying more and more new planes.

Many of these additional services are aimed at the same customers - the leisure market. Even those routes that are orientated towards business travellers are still competing with existing services to other airports, making it harder and harder for the carriers to get bums on seats. For the budget airline model to work, planes need to be almost full most of the time.

One fund manager said: "EasyJet constructed lots of charts to show how additional capacity puts yields under pressure but they never paid heed to their own advice. They seemed to forget about the additional capacity they were putting in themselves. Then their yields fell - just like they said they would."

"The positive thing is that they've started to address this now with talk of retiring some of their older fleet. We should hear more about that next week. I would certainly hope we would anyway."

EasyJet is retiring about 18 of its older Boeing 737s to ease these capacity issues - six more than it originally planned. This will trim its capacity expansion to about 17% year on year, rather than the 20% to 25% of recent years. But cutting its own growth rate to help reduce the impact of over-capacity in the market as a whole doesn't sound especially promising.

"I think that Ryanair have been talking up the prospects of a 'bloodbath' in the sector," said Ralph Brook-Fox, investment manager at Britannic Asset Management. "I believe it's part of an effort to stop any venture capitalists ploughing money into the sector to launch more budget airlines."

"To some extent they need the bloodbath to happen to weed out some of these competitors. So Ryanair have been trying to get this view into the market."

Whether or not the bloodbath comes to pass, not everyone is downbeat about the long-term prospects for the sector.

Last summer, as easyJet's shares bombed, there was speculation that a disgruntled Stelios might take the group private, away from the glare of the City's sceptics. Stelios killed off the rumours by saying he had no such plans - or at least, there was nothing imminent.

Then last month, bid talk resurfaced when Icelandair splashed out £50m on an 8.4% stake in easyJet - which it has subsequently increased to 10.1%. The Icelandic airline insists it is nothing more than a long-term investment, although it would not be averse to buying more shares in future.

Stelios and his family still own more than 40% of easyJet and are unlikely to relinquish full control of the brand that built the easyGroup empire.

But the investment has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Through buying the shares, Icelandair alerted the market to the possibility that things might not be as bad as had been suggested in some quarters and put a bit of long-term confidence back in the group.

JP Morgan's Avery said: "I talk to Icelandair regularly. They are a very well-run small airline. They've got cash to invest and they're airline people. They know about leasing planes and average revenues and all those types of things. They've made the judgment that easyJet is the best investment of all the budget airlines - as I have."

Perhaps the group will give the City reason to up their forecasts on Tuesday. With finance director Chris Walton having lost the faith of the City for his slip-ups earlier in the year, this could take some doing. And let's not forget that even the most optimistic observers are expecting profits to be flat at best for 2005.


VOLARE, Europe's fourth-largest low-cost airline, has grounded its planes amid reports of a financial crisis, writes Dominic O'Connell.

The Venice-based airline suspended flights and ticket sales late on Friday. Its management is due to see Italian aviation regulators tomorrow, and have a board meeting on Tuesday.

Italian sources said last night the board was expected to discuss a €60m (£42m) cash injection from shareholders. If agreement could not be reached, the airline was likely to close, the sources said.

Volare was set up in 1998, and has grown quickly to a fleet of 21 planes, with services to major European cities.


24 November 2004

PRESSURE MOUNTS ON AVIATION POLLUTION

Brussels presses for cap to aircraft carbon emissions

Fiona Harvey - Financial Times - 23 November 2004

Pressure is growing within the European Union to push the aviation industry to limit the amount of carbon dioxide it produces.

Peter Vis, acting head of the industrial emissions unit at the European Commission said yesterday in London that the impact of bringing the aviation industry within the remit of the Union's carbon-emissions trading scheme was being investigated.

It would be too late to bring aviation into the first round of the scheme, which starts in January 2005, but it might be possible to include it in the next round from 2008. Under the scheme, industries such as power generation and cement-making have a limit imposed on the amount of carbon they can produce in a year. It has been suggested that individual airlines should have caps like any other industrial entity.

Any company wishing to produce more than its allocation must buy carbon allowances on an internal EU market, where companies that have reduced the amount of carbon they emit can sell their excess allowances. Fines will be levied on companies that produce more then their allocation without valid allowances.

Aircraft produce large quantities of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, blamed for global warming. They also produce nitrogen oxides and water vapour, which can affect the climate by causing condensation trails from jets. However, nitrogen oxides are not covered by the EU's emission trading scheme and the effects of water vapour are not well understood. BAA, the airport company, said yesterday that support for bringing aviation within the trading scheme was growing, but any move should also consider the effects of nitrogen oxides and water vapour. Care should be taken not to create incentives for airlines to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide they emit in a way that would increase nitrogen oxide output, the company said.

Mr Vis yesterday told an emissions trading conference in London that the EU's caps on carbon emissions should be set low enough to ensure there was a scarcity of carbon, in order to give companies an incentive to reduce their greenhouse gases.

If this did not happen, it would become more expensive for European member states to fulfil their obligations to cut carbon dioxide emissions under the UN-brokered Kyoto protocol on climate change, set to come into effect on February 16th.

OUR COMMENT: BAA had already committed themselves to supporting carbon emissions trading and their comments on the need to consider all emissions including nitrogen oxides are a welcome addition to the environmental arguments for cleaner (and no more) aircraft. Also, BAA airports, if UK flights do expand, will have great trouble in meeting the standards of the Air Quality Regulations with regard to nitrogen oxides. So, BAA could have a problem, the same problem as residents round expanding airports. Why not accept the same solution? No further expansion!

Pat Dale


24 November 2004

ARRIVEDERCI, VOLARE: YOU WON'T BE THE LAST

Today's news raises the question, is expansion necessary?
Even cheap fares can't make everyone fly!
The no-frills airline bloodbath has begun

Business Notebook - The Guardian - 24 November 2004

A fond farewell to Volare, the Italian contribution to low-cost flying. A more appropriate name would now be Tenere a Terra, since its planes have all been consigned to the tarmac.

Voltare folded in true Italian style as angry employees took to the streets, financial investigators raided its offices and politicians pondered a bail-out. The Milanese carrier is the biggest failure yet among Europe's plethora of budget airlines and another sign that predictions of a "blood-bath" this winter are on the mark.

EasyJet was all too aware of events in Italy as it revealed a dismal set of underlying figures yesterday. Its results showed clearly just how severely the industry is being squeezed. While prices were heading south due to vast overcapacity, easyJet revealed that the soaring price of fuel had increased its costs by a hefty £21m.

EasyJet's chief executive, Ray Webster, predicted that skiers will be in for bargain prices as dozens of airlines struggle to fill their planes during the relatively barren winter months.Analysts believe there will be more casualties in February – traditionally the most cash – strapped point of the year for airlines.

But after falling steadily all the year, easyJet's shares have perked up. The price has jumped from 127p to 185.5p since Icelandair appeared on the share register last month, valuing the business at £740m. So could the worst be over?

Webster refused tp call the bottom of the market yesterday. He reckons conditions could still get worse before they improve. Having got its forecasts badly wrong last year, easyJet is pointedly refusing to be optimistic this time round.

With more than 40 budget airlines plying their trade in Europe, it makes a buyer's market for flights. It will take a few more carriers to be Tenere a Terra before the low-cost travel industry declines to a sustainable critical mass.

Andrew Clark, the Guardian's Transport Correspondent reports at the end of his Article "easyJet braced for fares war" (Guardian. November 24th):

"Chris Tarry, an independent aviation consultant, said the 'low-cost' tag was no longer relevant as almost every airline in Europe was aiming for a similarly austere operating structure. The failure rate of airlines remains as high as ever" said Mr Tarry, who pointed out that travellers' appetite for flights was finite. "Even if it costs next to nothing to travel, people have still got to have a reason to do so."

OUR COMMENT: DfT please note, re-calculate your passenger predictions.

Pat Dale


21 November 2004

THE NATIONAL TRUST SPEAKS OUT

National Trust backing

Herts & Essex Observer - 18 November 2004

The National Trust has welcomed Uttlesford Council's decision to hold Stansted Airport fully accountable for its expansion proposals.

Peter Griffiths, the Trust's regional director, said: "The Council is asking BAA to look in detail at the impacts more flights would have on the area including Hatfield Forest. We thoroughly support this. They have done what the government failed to do in the Aviation White Paper."

People tended to think that the main impact of an expanded Stansted would be just noise, but in reality, it would be much more, he explained.

"The environmental assessment should give us a real indication of the impact it will have on the everyday quality of life."

Stansted Airport Ltd is developing a planning application to maximise use of its existing runway that would increase the airport's capacity by 10 million passengers per year (mppa) to a total of more than 35 mppa.

Uttlesford District Council requires a detailed assessment of the whole issue including the impact of airport expansion on the environment, the effects of increased flights on rural tranquillity and public areas like Hatfield Forest, plus air, noise and light pollution.


21 November 2004

TAKELEY'S LEAD ON HOUSING BLIGHT HITS THE HEADLINES

Council 'has lost patience with BAA'

Dunmow Broadcaster - 18 November 2004

A PARISH council has instructed solicitors to start legal action on behalf of residents whose property is blighted by expansion proposals at Stansted Airport, but who do not qualify for any compensation.

The action has been initiated by Takeley Parish Council, which has "lost patience" with BAA, which is offering only a limited number of people the opportunity to have their homes bought through the Home Owner Support Scheme and Special Cases Scheme

The parish council's law firm, Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law, led by Richard Buxton, believes the Human Rights Act can be used to ensure that all who suffer blight are protected by a compensation scheme operated by the Government or the airport owner.

Chairman Councillor Trevor Allen said: "We have lost patience with BAA's stubborn and uncaring attitude towards our community following the publication of its derisory proposals for addressing the generalised blight problem."

"Many local families are currently in an unbearable position and feel trapped."

"Not only is BAA threatening massive airport expansion on our doorstep, it is now preventing people from being able to sell their homes."

"It beggars belief that the Department for Transport seems quite content to stand back and allow BAA to behave in this way trampling upon the lives and life savings of ordinary people."

"We have a duty to protect our local community."

Mr Buxton said: "Compensation is available for blight in relation to other types of development and this claim is just an extension of the rule."

"If something is done or proposed in the public interest individuals should not have to suffer. Fortunately, the Human Rights Act gives residents more teeth in staking their claim."

"In the White Paper the compensation schemes are said to be 'voluntary', but in reality BAA and the Government must be aware that the law will not let them get away with depriving large numbers of people of substantial property values while airport proposals are developed over the next 30 years."

"The arbitrary 66 decibel contour limit is obviously unacceptable."

Legal representations will be sent to Transport Secretary Alastair Darling and unless there is a satisfactory response within 14 days, proceedings for a judicial review will be started.

The Government is already facing a judicial review into its Aviation White Paper brought by Stop Stansted Expansion, Essex and Hertfordshire County Councils and the district councils of East Herts and Uttlesford which is due to reach the High Court on December 13.

A public meeting will take place tonight in the Silver Jubilee Hall, Takeley, to discuss generalised blight and the implications of the parish council's legal challenge.


ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF EXPANSION BLIGHT

Our house is blighted

Letter to the Dunmow Broadcaster - 18 November 2004

THE head of public affairs for BAA Stansted, Ralph Meloy, claims the Home Owner Support Scheme "provides those closest to the site of the proposed new runway with the reassurance that they can sell their homes for the price they would have realised if the runway proposal did not exist" (Letters, last week).

If only it did!

Mr Meloy clearly does not understand the basis of the scheme which his own employers are operating. This should further undermine the public's confidence in BAA Stansted.

Our family's problems in selling our house are a good example – we are only 800 metres from the proposed new runway, indeed falling into the above category of "those closest to the site".

Yet we are outside the scheme because it is, in fact, based on a prediction of future noise levels and not proximity to the runway.

As for BAA's claims that "the local property market is strong", also in last week's Reporter/Broadcast. Our house value has not changed since March 2002. We have had no success in selling even though the price has not risen with national trends.

With more than 60 viewings we can safely say that our house is seriously blighted, not just generally blighted. Many potential buyers have stated the proposed runway location as their reason for not buying.

BAA needs to face up to its responsibilities in compensating homeowners such as ourselves.

ANITA and DAVID ARMITAGE
Attwood Cottages
Great Easton


MORE BARRIERS TO CLAIMS

Duty of care

Letter to the Cambridge Evening News - 16 November 2004

IT MAY, at first sight, appear encouraging that BAA Stansted is launching a scheme helping home owners with special needs living near the proposed new airport boundary, wishing to move but being unable to sell their houses since they are outside the 66 decibel noise contour of the proposed second runway.

I understand that those with chronic conditions or degenerative illnesses must be prepared for BAA's group medical adviser to assess their condition.

However, it is important that such assessments should be made by a medical assessor who is independent of BAA.

Thus, any such arrangements should be seen to be fully transparent with avoidance of any suggestion of conflicts of interest.

Concern has also been expressed that Health Impact Assessments recommended by the Department of Health, which are to safeguard communities affected by major airport developments, are delegated to BAA acting, as with assessing chronic disease, as both enabler and regulator.

It must also be borne in mind that BAA has acquired the responsibility of not only recording noise complaints from the public, but also analysing the data.

Those responsible for such major industrial developments as airports have a duty of care to the community, particularly vulnerable groups. BAA's current approach is not indicative of this, since financial expediency appears to be at the expense of the health of the community.

PROFESSOR J.E. BANATVALA
Emeritus Professor of Virology
Henham
Bishop's Stortford


21 November 2004

EU RULING GIVES US SAY ON AIR POLLUTION

Will this new Directive help?
Does the government listen to consultation views?

Waltham Forest Guardian - 18 November 2004

A BIGGER say on how air pollution is tackled and more public involvement in decisions about the environment is expected, thanks to EU legislation.

The Government must put into practice a new EU law which requires the UK and other EU countries to ensure that the public is consulted on plans to deal with environmental concerns including air pollution.

Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, is also required to consult the public on his Air Quality Strategy.

Commenting last week, Larry Whitty, the Environment Minister, said: "Government, local councils and other public bodies regularly take decisions which can have a significant effect on the environment and on people's health and well-being."

"Decision makers need to let the public express opinions and concerns, and take account of those."

Anyone requiring more information should contact the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs on 08459 335577.


18 November 2004

LUTON PLANS TO TRIPLE SIZE

The consequences of the government's "greenlight" for aviation expansion

Andrew Clark - The Guardian - 17 November 2004

Aviation company TBI is drawing up plans to triple the size of Luton airport. It says this will require its 30-year franchise to be extended.

TBI said it was in talks with Luton council to extend its concession, which expires in 2028. The chief executive, Keith Brooks, wants a longer deal to justify long-term investment, which could increase passenger numbers from 7 million a year to 20 or even 30 million. He hopes to lure traffic from Stansted, 40 miles to the east. TBI will try to persuade Ryanair to quit Stansted when its deal with operator BAA ends in 2007.

Building is under way on a 9,000 sq metre airside facility which will double the number of shops and restaurants and provide eight new gates.

TBI said Luton's passenger numbers rose 9% to 4.1 million in the six months to September. Profits from TBI, which also runs Cardiff and Belfast International airports, rose 167% to £19.2m.

OUR COMMENT: Both Luton and Stansted airports were given the go-ahead for expansion by the government's White Paper, though only Stansted was "awarded" a second runway. The airports serve the same kind of market and are not far apart. They share a holding area and flight paths to Luton also pass over North Uttlesford and over Dedham Vale, an official Area of Outstanding Beauty. The idea of two nearby airports both expanding and competing to attract the same airlines does not make economic sense in an industry where environmental considerations should be paramount. It could mean that environmental pollution and annoyance to residents will stretch all the way across this area of the Region. It could also mean that Stansted will lose business and jobs, or vice versa, if the predicted huge increase in potential passengers fails to materialise. TBI owns a large number of airports all over the world, having started in the business a few years ago from a Welsh base by buying Cardiff airport. Recently it has reported big profits. Luton airport expansion is opposed by LADACAN. Look for them at www.ladacan.org.

Pat Dale


18 November 2004

NOISE AND THE RIGHT TO A QUIET LIFE

Rights court backs noise pollution complaint

Environment Daily 1770 - 17 November 2004

In a judgement released on Monday, the European court of human rights has for the first time ruled against a signatory country for violating rights by failing to take action to protect a claimant from noise pollution.

The claimant from Valencia, Spain, was awarded €3,884 damages for violation of her rights under Article 8 of the European convention on human rights (right to respect for private life and home) after suffering noise from bars and discos near her home over a 25-year period.

The Strasbourg court rejected the argument of the Spanish courts and government that the claimant had "not demonstrated excessive noise in her home". A police report that recorded local noise levels of 115 decibels after 3.30am and the official designation of the area around the claimant's home as an acoustically-saturated zone were sufficient evidence the court said. By continuing to issue licences to bars while aware of these facts Valencia city council had breached the claimant's rights.

Excessive noise has never previously been found to be the cause of a violation of Article 8 a court spokesperson told Environment Daily. Previous rulings that noise from night flights at Heathrow airport did not breach the convention were based on the principle that the economic importance of the activity outweighed individual rights, he added (ED 08/07/03 www.environmentdaily.com/articles/index.cfm?action=article&ref=14792).

A European Commission spokesperson said it was "too soon" to comment on the impact, if any, of the judgement on EU noise legislation. ECHR judgements are binding on countries concerned in a case. The court adjudicates alleged violations of the European convention on human rights, to which 45 countries are party.


18 November 2004

THOSE MISLEADING FIGURES AGAIN

Property prices in Stansted area soar by 12 per cent

Business Weekly - 16 November 2004

A surge in Uttlesford property prices in the last quarter has torpedoed claims that Stansted Airport's unrelenting growth would spark a housing blight. The myth being peddled by critics has been exploded by the latest Land Registry figures showing that Uttlesford property prices increased 12 per cent during the last quarter over the previous period – more than double the Essex average.

The data also shows that in the past five years the average house price in the district has risen by around 92 per cent.

With 11,000 staff pumping around £400m a year in wages into the local economy and 200 companies now at the airport, Stansted bosses have gained a further endorsement for their growth strategy from the property price boost.

The latest passenger and cargo figures for the airport also showed strong growth.

Stansted reports an 8 per cent rise in passenger numbers during October over the same month last year. Over 1.9 million passengers travelled through what is now the UK's fourth largest airport during the month – the busiest October on record.

The airport's buoyant cargo business, which annually transports over 225,000 tonnes of goods worth more than £7.6 bn, handled 20,943 tonnes during the month, an increase of 7.5 per cent over October 2003.

Stansted has unveiled the first travel plan for an entire airport site in Europe as part of its commitment to reducing the impacts of car travel and improving accessibility to the airport.

The document highlights to employees the various options for getting to and from work. Already endorsed by over 50 airport companies, the travel plan encourages use of public transport, highlights benefits of car sharing and identifies alternatives – such as home-working – that can reduce car use.

Stansted business development & planning director, Chris Butler said: "Research shows that 38.6 per cent of air passengers at Stansted already use public transport to get to and from the terminal."

"Across Europe, only Schippol and Munich have a higher percentage usage, making Stansted the UK leader and among the best in Europe for surface access by public transport."

"Car share schemes are increasingly seen as the sensible way to reduce car impact. Some 10m seats sit empty on the UK's roads each day."

"Filling those seats is a major contribution to controlling excessive car use."

"Stansted has over 1400 staff registered to the airport car share scheme – the largest of its kind in the UK."

"We have set ourselves strict targets to grow this scheme by 10 per cent each year over the next five years."

Sales of the Airport Travelcard, available to all airport staff, is another key initiative that offers significant discounts and unlimited use of public transport within selected zones. Nearly 10 per cent of the airport workforce now hold cards for a zone that covers transport links out to Cam-bridge, Colchester, Stevenage, Chelmsford and Harlow. The uptake is nearly three times that of Heathrow and Gatwick.

OUR COMMENT: As reported previously by Recent News, these house value figures are average for a wide area as Uttlesford is a large district extending north nearly to Cambridge. Also, no information is provided about properties that have failed to sell. The improvement in the use of public transport to Stansted airport was also reported on in the account given of the recent Area Transport Forum. So far, BAA has initiated good policies on surface access, but credit must be given to other members of the Transport Forum and the providers of the services. We believe that more should be done to increase the use of public transport by staff but acknowledge that organising services for shift working around the clock is not easy, and, because of the difficulties of recruiting labour in an area where there is full employment, many employees have to travel some distance to work. All reasons why any major expansion of the airport would be a mistake on transport problems alone – it would inevitably lead to severe traffic congestion costing too much both economically and environmentally to remedy.

Pat Dale


18 November 2004

ANOTHER TRADING SCHEME - FOR NOX?

Economists charge up EU air pollution debate

Environment Daily 1769 - 16 November 2004

The European Commission has challenged experts in using economic instruments for environment policy to advise how the EU should make further cuts in air pollution. At a conference in Brussels last week European and American economists were asked to suggest how the EU should finalise its Cafe air pollution programme.

Head of the Commission's environment directorate, Catherine Day asked whether the EU should move away from traditional command-and-control forms of "direct regulation" to curb emissions, particularly of sulphur (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx).

If so, she asked, would emission taxes or charges be a "politically acceptable alternative"? And if the EU decided to introduce more emissions trading, should this be organised at local, national or EU level?

Richard Morgenstern of US think-tank Resources for the Future advocated a mix of regulation types, but said on balance there was "lots of evidence that market-based measures are at least as efficient as direct regulation, and in some cases more so". Direct regulation is "more likely to fall short of expectations," he said.

Thomas Sterner of Gothenburg University promoted a Swedish NOx charging scheme in which proceeds are recycled to the industry. A similar scheme, or emission trading, would be needed to gain "political consensus" for tighter emission controls. Trading might be best organised as several separate regional markets all governed by common EU rules, he said.

There was some resistance to the idea of change. German large combustion plant operators said they simply wanted tighter emission limits to level the competitive playing field. One said that some Spanish plants operated at emission levels outlawed in Germany 20 years ago. An NGO delegate doubted whether more flexibility for industry would lead to lower emissions.

National experts added their voice: a British ministry official said clearer overall air pollution targets were needed before any changes in regulation, and that any taxes, charges or trading should remain voluntary for member states. A Dutch official suggested a reformed national emission ceilings directive as the vehicle for wider air quality targets, but argued for a diversity of regulatory approaches.

OUR COMMENT: If aviation were included this would be a further curb on aviation expansion and would stimulate the development of planes with low NOx emissions. NOx is responsible not only for climate change effects but also for the most worrying form of air pollution round airports.

Pat Dale


16 November 2004

HOUSE AGENT'S VIEW ON HOUSE PRICES

House price data misleading

Letter to the Herts & Essex Observer - 11 November 2004
Michael Snow, Snow Walker Associates - Saffron Walden

Sir, Regarding Stansted international airport and noise related compensation. Some of your readers will be aware that I am a partner in a property surveying firm specialising in noise related compensation. This is now a vexed matter and following the publication of the intention by BAA to only compensate under the Home Owner Support Scheme (HOSS) within a boundary defined by noise contour predictions, we now find that we have a number of anomalous situations.

Residents of Takeley will need no further elucidation, but there are other areas which are badly affected.

I write this letter not because I would wish to lobby opinion but because I think there is a need for a little more basic understanding among those who are affected or believe they are affected.

My understanding of the situation is as follows: The White Paper compels the BAA to produce a scheme dealing with what is known as "generalised blight". The BAA are now on record as stating that they have apparently received confirmation from the DfT that HOSS complies with this.

The scheme announced only provides for specific blight, i.e. within a defined area. Therefore, the scheme, by definition, does not address the issue of generality and no endeavours have, thus far, been made to look at generalised blight at all.

I note that there have been a number of opinions voiced about house values in the area. My own opinion is that I believe we could be in danger of "over-egging the pudding" by over emphasising the extent to which house values have fallen. However, the canvassing of local estate agents carried out by a law firm does nothing to help this, and to my certain knowledge many reputable local estate agents have not, in fact, been canvassed at all.

The data produced has been thoroughly misleading. There have been many drastic falls in value in some areas close to the airport but which are not in the present HOSS scheme area.

In my opinion it would be perfectly feasible to enlarge HOSS by making it referable to incontrovertible valuation evidence. Such evidence could be produced by looking at acquisition prices, sale prices and comparable evidence and would require professional assistance. It may be possible to consider a percentage diminution in value, being the threshold to activate an enlarged HOSS. This would at least open the doors to a more generalised situation than the present narrow band which BAA are operating.

I have a number of clients who have quite obviously suffered significant financial loss and whose plight has not been addressed by the present scheme. Only by considering something along the lines I have outlined can the matter be properly addressed. I would therefore welcome a considered response from either the DfT or the BAA as to how this matter can be properly and fairly addressed.

Members of the public who are affected should now take advice from a suitably experienced and qualified surveyor as to how to proceed.

OUR COMMENT: There is a need for a little more basic understanding at BAA and the DfT as well! Also, official statistics do not list the values of the houses which, to date, remain unsold. So far, BAA's answer has been a deluge of these statistics, with no public comments on Mr Snow's suggestions.

Pat Dale


16 November 2004

JOHN PRESCOTT'S EXTRA HOUSES

There have been many comments in the press about the Region's plan for 478,000 houses to be built in the Eastern Region by 2021. Criticisms have been levelled at the Regional Assembly for agreeing to this very high figure pushed on to the region by John Prescott's department. It must be remembered that efforts were made to include a further 18,000 and that these extra were resisted as well as the second runway at Stansted. There will be an opportunity to object when the Plan is officially published in December.

Figures for this area are:


Annual average Total up to 2021
Braintree 385 10,700
Epping Forest (partly North Weald) 550 11,000
Harlow 400 8000
Uttlesford 400 8000
East Herts (this includes land north of Harlow) 1,040 20,800

40,000 jobs are planned for in the Stansted/M11 corridor. The plan is emphatic that house building must be dependent on the availability of jobs and infrastructure, though it is not clear how this can be achieved and there is no estimate of land take for business. The Plan also lays down restraints on development in Uttlesford north of the airport and east of the M11, with protection for Epping Forest, Hatfield Forest and the Lee Valley Regional Park.

The position of Saffron Walden is somewhat confusing as it is included in the Cambridge sub region as one of the surrounding market towns that would be able to accommodate high tech businesses related to Cambridge.


THE REPORT OF THE SUSTAINABILITY APPRAISAL

All Regional and Local Plans have now to be subjected to a Sustainability Appraisal and an Environmental Assessment. This has been also published on the EERA website. It should be read by all who are interested in responding to the Regional Plan - hopefully most website readers!

The report is critical of the policy of directing large numbers of houses to the Eastern Region and analyses the inability of the area to sustain a massive expansion, notably because of the overall water shortages and the liability to flooding in times of heavy rainfall. It points out that all schemes to date for saving water or pumping supplies from other areas are energy intensive, as are desalination plants. All aviation expansion is considered to be unsustainable in climate change terms.

The report is also critical of the use of an economic target related to Gross Value added per Capita which is intended to encourage rapid economic growth. Apparently such a fixed target has been abandoned in the review of the Regional Economic Strategy (RES) and the report wants it to be abandoned in this Regional Plan (RSS). The report suggests that there is need for a different indicator that would reflect "human well-being" as some increased economic activity does not add to the quality of life.

The conclusions suggest that all new developments will need to approach zero net climate change impacts, piped water demand, road traffic generation and loss of wildlife habitat.

Is this possible?


MPS UNITED AGAINST HOMES PROPOSALS

Herts & Essex Observer - 11 November 2004

MPs Sir Alan Haselhurst and Andrew Lansley have both spoken out about the decision to approve plans to build nearly half a million homes in the region.

Saffron Walden MP Sir Alan said "The decision is against the wishes of the elected Local Authorities and I do not know where the homes are likely to go in our area. Dunmow could be a target."

He said there was some logic in extending and regenerating Harlow new town, but this needed to be done to provide quality, not just quantity. Sir Alan added "My duty is to defend the rural nature of the constituency but it is Uttlesford which will have to decide with the extra homes."

Dunmow seems likely to receive more houses, but it is a much smaller town than Saffron Walden at present and is there the capacity in the town centre to sustain more development? South Cambridgeshire MP Andrew Lansley said: "The regional assembly resisted the government's plan for an additional 18,000 homes. That much at least is good news. I think the people of the East of England and I would say that it would be far better if the government dismissed the regional bureaucracy. EERA has treated us as if we are one region, which we are not."

Lord Hanningfield, the leader of Essex County Council, was also critical of the decision. He said: "It is somewhat bizarre that on the day that the people of the north-east rejected the idea of a regional government we are suffering from its worst effects – an unaccountable assembly forcing excessive numbers of new houses onto democratically elected councils."

Note: The actual distribution of the houses will be decided by local Councils who will have to draw up a Local Development Scheme. This will replace the present Local Plan. It will have to conform to the Regional Plan (RSS). The County Structure Plan will cease to have effect. The Secretary of State has the power to require a Local Authority to include policies in the Scheme if he considers them necessary. The Local Development Scheme will have to have a Sustainability appraisal and Environmental assessment and will be examined by an Inspector. The new system gives the government of the day ultimately complete control over the basic plans and policies. To a certain extent these powers already exist but the new Act simplifies the hierarchy. It means that community objections to major policies such as housing provision may have to be made at all levels right up to the Minister. Community involvement is statutory but it remains to be seen how much notice will be taken of local views.


16 November 2004

RYANAIR IN COURT AGAIN

Airline appeals over discrimination case

Herts & Essex Observer - 11 November 2004

A landmark discrimination case over a disabled man charged for a wheelchair at Stansted Airport was initially held up because nom wheelchair was available at court. Bob Ross, who has cerebral palsy and arthritis, went to the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Monday to listen to the Appeal by Ryanair.

In January it was ordered to pay him £1,336 compensation including £1000 for injuries to his feelings. He had been charged £18 for using a wheelchair to board a flight to France and had claimed the airline had discriminated against the disabled. Ryanair had contested the claim, but the Central London County Court judge had ruled its charging policy was unlawful. Stansted Airport Ltd was also sued but in January was found not liable.

At the Appeal Court on Monday the hearing was held up for 30 minutes while staff tried to find Mr Ross a wheelchair.

Romic Tager QC representing Ryanair told the panel of three judges that it was not the airline discriminating against Mr Ross, but Stansted Airport Ltd.

Ryanair was prepared to absorb the cost of paying for someone to push a wheelchair through the airport even though this meant that, on a £10 one-way ticket to Perpignan which Mr Ross paid for the airline would make a loss. He said that Ryanair had not charged Mr Ross for the wheelchair and pusher, it was the airport.

Ryanair has said it is appealing not because it has a dispute with Mr Ross, but because it wants to force BAA Stansted to accept its responsibilities to disabled passengers using its facilities. The British Disability Rights Commission which took up the case wants the airline to pay compensation to a further 35 disabled people who have complained about being charged for the use of wheelchairs.

The judges reserved their judgement to a later date.


AND ANOTHER CASE

Airline in dock over ad claims

Herts & Essex Observer - 11 November 2004

Budget airline Ryanair is to face a jury in the New Year over allegations that some of its advertising for air fares on its website are inaccurate or misleading.

The Stansted based airline has been committed for trial at Chelmsford County court on 10 charges relating to allegedly incorrect specimen fares for flights operated by the former airline Buzz, which it took over.

It also faces a further 8 offences allegedly concerning misleading fares information on the website for some of its own flights.

Ryanair defence counsel told the Crown Court on Monday that the company would be entering not guilty pleas to the alleged breaches of the Consumer Protection Act, said to have been committed in February and March last year.


12 November 2004

THE STANSTED AREA TRANSPORT FORUM

Annual Report on Access to the airport

This sixth Transport Forum was opened by Terry Morgan, the airport managing director, with an up-beat report on the achievements of the Forum since its beginnings in 1999. The full report is available from BAA together with the Travel Plan - a joint workplace travel plan covering the whole airport.

The airport is recognised in the Regional Spatial Strategy as a major interchange facility. It claims to be the UK airport with the highest number of passengers using public transport for access, now up to 38%, though this is not as good as Schipol or Munich.

Rail passengers have risen, though not as steeply as coach, thanks to better coach services extended also both in the early morning and late night hours. Staff use of public transport remains relatively low at 14% though these figures exceeded the target set for 2003 thanks to the travel card (offering a discount on fares) and to the introduction of a car sharing scheme. The new target is still only a modest 16% by 2010, in spite of the claims that more new employees are being recruited from Harlow and the Lee Valley corridor from where public transport facilities are much better.

However, it has to be recognised that it is very difficult and often uneconomic to arrange suitable transport for shift working. The services provided for local people living to the north and the east/west access are still inadequate, central trains operate an hourly service from the north but only up to early evening, and the village link to Saffron Walden follows a somewhat lengthy route through villages. No services are available in the evenings and are unlikely to be provided unless heavily subsidised. The car sharing initiative seems likely to be the only option for those who work during the evening and at night.

The Workplace Travel Plan includes other businesses in the airport though figures for public service use relate to "airport staff" - it should be made clear which employees these figures relate to, BAA only or other companies as well.

The benefits of Workplace Travel Plans were described by Professor Goodwin, from University College, London. He and his team have carried out a survey of existing travel plans and are satisfied that a successful plan can lead to a reduction in traffic by an average of 11% over 10 years. Over the peak period this would rise to 20%. However, these reductions would only be achieved if other measures were also in place both legislative and voluntary such as school travel plans. They were more successful in urban than rural areas. They were likely to be the most important part of any "soft" (non legislative) approach to traffic reduction. The average cost for managing a plan worked out at 1.5p per vehicle Km removed from the road, about £2 per employee for a basic scheme.

Both the Projects Director of One West Anglia (the new franchise holder) and the Director of Strategy of National Express Coaches spoke on their future plans. Neither speaker put forward any precise plans for the future other than promises of ever better services and even promising coaches fitted with television screens. The new bus shelter will make a welcome improvement for bus passengers (this was not spontaneous, but was part of the section 106 agreement for the 25 mppa permission). A promise was made to help the central train passengers waiting for the northern hourly service by providing a rail platform waiting room.

No promises were made about a new tunnel so that extra trains could be run for any additional passengers. It was made clear that the money was not likely to be available. 12 rail carriage coach trains were still in the plan and also improvements to Tottenham Hale rail station, making it a major interchange. (Who pays for this?)

The Regional Transport Officer, Barry Lough, spoke about the draft Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) with special reference to the Regional transport plan. The Regional Assembly, as already reported, had decided that while it supported the full use of one runway at both Stansted and Luton, it did not support the building of another runway, in that the damage to the environment outweighed the potential economic benefits. Any expansion of the region's airports (including Norwich and Southend) would be subject to strict controls on development (these are listed out in chapter 6 of the RSS, policy E 14 and include the requirement to complete the relevant master airport plan before any further development ) - Stansted airport expansion is covered by policy ST5 in chapter 5, which restricts airport related development to the present boundaries. (The Plan is available on the website, www.eera.gov.uk under the section on regional assembly meetings). Mr Lough also spoke about the need for adequate surface access infrastructure

A taste of future plans was given by a director of FaberMaunsell, one of the team of consultants who have been chosen to prepare the Master plan for the airport which will include the necessary information needed to prepare the environmental impact assessments required both for the current application for an expansion to 35 mppa and any future application for an extra runway. Arup are responsible for the environmental assessments, FaberMaunsell for transport appraisals. New models will have to be devised to predict future surface access traffic, though the master model will be based on the 1991 Heathrow model, suitably adapted (this was queried during the questioning). Predicted future traffic levels and their modes would be matched to the available road and rail infrastructure. A caution was sounded by Professor Goodwin - the overall traffic increase is more important than the % mode. Planned reductions in the proportionate use of the private car do not necessarily mean fewer vehicles on the road.

The Forum was held in the new Radisson Hotel, next to the terminal. Sitting in air-conditioned, noise insulated comfort, one can forget that planes are taking off throughout the day and that those living under and near the flight paths are not so protected. Outside the sun was shining, the new hotel blends in well with the terminal building, the newly planted trees and the nearby unspoilt countryside are a tribute to the planning restrictions imposed on expansion to date and the BAA staff who have worked within the airport to preserve as much of the countryside as possible. Do those who work at Stansted really want to destroy all this and turn the airport into yet another concrete jungle polluting all around? Will the expected passengers appreciate using another Heathrow clone with all its aggro, traffic congestion and pollution? They may well feel that it would be much better to go by coach or rail to Europe or other parts of the UK!

Pat Dale


12 November 2004

MORE ARGUMENTS ABOUT COMPENSATION

'Local property market is strong' – BAA

The Dunmow Broadcaster - 11 November 2004

LATEST Land Registry figures on the housing market is "good news" for homeowners living near the airport – according to BAA Stansted.

The airport operator said prices in Uttlesford have increased by 12 per cent in the last quarter, more than double the average for Essex as a whole.

Year on year, property prices in the district rose by 19.2 per cent – beating the Essex average of 11.7 per cent, the south-east average of 11.5 per cent, and the East Anglian average of 13.5 per cent.

Postcode sectors closest to Stansted Airport have mostly outperformed Essex and two out of four – CM22 7 and CM6 1 – have even out-performed the Uttlesford average.

According to BAA, the data "clearly shows" that claims by Stop Stansted Expansion that the Uttlesford housing market is petrified, are unfounded.

A spokesman said: "Analysis of Land Registry data suggests the local Uttlesford market is entirely in line with other local markets and the Essex market overall."

"In fact, relative to the same period last year, the number of transactions in Uttlesford is up 6 per cent, whereas the Essex market is down 6 per cent overall."

Managing director Terry Morgan said: "These are excellent results and show that the local property market is strong, and this should give confidence and reassurance, particularly to those who live close to the airport."

"These results knock on the head the gloom and doom predictions of our opponents, and while we are not complacent about the future performance of the market, we believe that Stansted will continue to contribute to the longer term prosperity of this area and region."

"We will continue to watch carefully future movements in house prices, aware that negative impacts such as extra housing development, high interest rates and the general slowing down of the market can not make this area immune from market trends."

"But today, we welcome the good news for what it is."

SSE welcomed BAA's endorsement of the official Land Registry house price statistics as a tremendous breakthrough for the 12,000 homeowners in the area who have been denied compensation for the blight caused by expansion proposals.

Chairman Peter Sanders said the turnaround in BAA's stance meant it may have opened the door to compensation claims from all those who could demonstrate a reduction in the value of their homes based on the statistical evidence.

He said that since July 2002, when expansion proposals for Stansted were first published, house prices in the rest of Essex had risen 40.2 per cent, but in the five most affected Uttlesford postcode areas the increase had been only 20.1 per cent.

In many individual cases, home values had actually fallen, and there were also many anomalies.

Mr Sanders said: "BAA must have hastily picked out some crude averages without properly analysing the underlying trends."

"Nevertheless, we are delighted that BAA has given its seal of approval to the Land Registry house price statistics, thus moving towards a common basis for a compensation dialogue between local homeowners and BAA."


VIEWPOINT FROM THE DUNMOW BROADCASTER

It's not very neighbourly

11 November 2004

SO BAA is excluding our local councils from regular meetings on airport development and now it refuses to reveal either the questions or answers from its MORI poll on property blight. Not very neighbourly.

Great Easton Parish Council cannot afford expensive research companies or lavish brochures, but we were happy to reveal to BAA the results of our own survey of residents. In fact, 64 per cent of all residents and 69 per cent of those in Duton Hill chose to respond, of which a massive 98 per cent backed the council view that the Home Owner Support Scheme proposed by BAA is unacceptable.

The qualifying noise contour, shaped like a chisel, drives through the heart of our parish as it does in Takeley, splitting the neighbourhood in two. Not very fair. On behalf of residents we met Generation 2 director Alistair McDermid in May. We delivered 203 separate petition forms representing the views of 534 residents.

Yet the latest BAA package notes that responses were received from only "274 home owners and eight parish councils". BAA told us that their "market research department" would analyse comments and report to directors at the end of June. Instead, MORI began a month of interviews and the process was delayed another month. Not very accurate.

We said the whole of our parish should qualify for compensation, because home owners right across the parish are already suffering from devaluation of their properties or are unable to sell. Instead, BAA seems intent on minimising the number of home owners who qualify, even cutting out homes within 200 yards of where a second runway would end – comparable today to a location inside the terminal building. Not very generous.

BAA seems to be happy to spend shareholders money on consultants to try and justify this project, and management time in trying to convince investors that its schedule hasn't slipped. At the same time it seems desperate to cut costs. It's not surprising, when the business case for a second runway looks increasingly unpromising. Nor is it surprising given the growing wave of objections from heritage and environment groups, from major airlines, from our own regional assembly, and from regions outside the south-east.

So it's not surprising that this parish council looks forward to joining with our friends on other local councils to take our case further, beyond the so-called consultation process set up by BAA.

It is not neighbourly, it is not fair and it is not generous. It smacks of desperation. Generation 2 – for BAA is it a generation too far?

Cllr DUNCAN WILLOUGHBY
Great Easton Parish Council


A LIVING STATISTIC

Family left home alone

Jenny Oliveira - The Dunmow Broadcaster - 11 November 2004

A FAMILY whose cottage will be just 800 metres away from Stansted Airport's proposed second runway have been told by BAA they do not qualify for compensation.

David and Anita Armitage, who are expecting their second child, have had 62 prospective buyers look round their home at Attwood Cottages, Cox Hill, Great Easton – but no takers.

The couple feel their home is too small for their growing family and believed they had a special case meriting help from BAA, but their request has been denied.

The Armitages contacted the airport operator as soon as they heard about the consultation on helping home owners to move whose property was blighted by the prospect of a second runway.

Mrs Armitage said: "We phoned and wrote letters explaining that we were unable to sell our home because of planning blight and that we needed to move, since we already have a young daughter and are expecting another baby next May."

"Our cottage will be too small for a family with two children."

"I had logged all the reports from the estate agents about our failure to sell the property which was priced at £185,000, the exact price that our former neighbour at Attwoods Cottages had sold their home for in March 2002 after just 10 days of marketing it."

"We put our home on the market for that price, since that was its valuation in March 2002 when we first prepared to move."

"Its value remains the same and an estate agent has now advised us to drop the price to see if that brings a sale."

"People have told our agents that they like the cottage but it is too close to the new runway."

When the couple received a copy of the Home Owner Support Scheme (HOSS) and realised that, since they live just outside the 66 decibel footprint of the proposed runway it would not help them, they asked for all their evidence to be reviewed at a meeting with BAA Stansted managing director Terry Morgan and second runway project director Alastair McDermid.

Mrs Armitage said: "We went through our case again so there was dialogue but not a sympathetic hearing."

"Ironically, during the interview Alastair McDermid mentioned that he had just moved house because he needed more space for his family, which I thought showed a complete lack of sensitivity."

Three days after the meeting the Armitages received a letter from BAA stating it was sorry but it was not prepared to help by buying the property.

Mrs Armitage added: "Clearly BAA has no understanding or sympathy with our situation and now we do not know what we can do."

A spokesman for BAA Stansted said: "Both the HOSS and Special Cases Scheme relating to medical grounds are voluntary initiatives. There is no legal requirement for us to run them."

"Unfortunately wherever there is a boundary drawn some people will be just outside it."

"Once the runway is built and 12 months after it begins operating people will be able to make claims under the Land Compensation Act."


10 November 2004

AIRCRAFT POLLUTION MUST BE CUT, SAY PEERS

Michael White - The Guardian - 10 November 2004

Urgent steps should be taken to curb the growth in carbon dioxide emissions from Europe's rapidly expanding aviation industry and to win back the cooperation of the United States in the fight to combat climate change, Tony Blair was told today.

A House of Lord's report on the EU and climate change argues that the government must use its "unprecedented opportunity" in 2005 – when it holds the presidencies of both the EU and G8 – to encourage the EU to include pollution from aircraft in its emerging plans for an emissions trading system (ETS).

"The stark truth is that this is a global problem which unsolved is likely to produce truly catastrophic effects. Only global action will provide a solution", say the peers, who also stress the importance of "individuals changing their behaviour" too.

Britain has been at the forefront of developing ETS – part of the EU's response to the Kyoto protocol – whereby countries which exceed their carbon quotas have to "buy" extra ones from those that do not. It wants cross-border EU flights inside the ETS framework by 2008.

The aviation industry – singled out for concern in today's report as cheap flights across Europe expand – is happy to be included in the ETS scheme, but cannot agree how to do so. There is no current alternative to the jet aircraft engine and safety requirements in the air give little scope for experiments, the report notes.

The former Tory MP, Lord Renton of Mount Harry, chairman of the Lords EU environmental sub-committee, said: "Aviation's impact on the environment could be immense. Jet engines directly emit greenhouse gasses by burning kerosene". He added that aircraft also provided other powerful polluting effects on the environment that were little understood.

"Their exact effect is uncertain. This is alarming when air travel is predicted to grow rapidly throughout the world", he stressed. Urging EU ministers to take the lead in opening international talks and to make sure the US is involved, the peers also argue that Europe can learn from America's innovative approach to cleaner technology."

"We accept that the US is now unlikely to ratify the Kyoto protocol, probably regardless of which party the president is from or which has a majority in the Senate", the peers admit. Therefore the EU should concentrate on involving the US in post-Kyoto structures developed after 2010.

The report says the effects of human activities on climate change may be the most critical issue facing Europe and the world and asks whether man's inventiveness - stimulated by existing danger signals - is able to rise to the challenge.

Acknowledging that climate change may be happening more violently - and more quickly - than previously thought, the report says "This is not surprising. The rate at which greenhouse gases are being added to the atmosphere by human activity is increasing so fast that adaptation will be increasingly difficult in the future."

"Carbon sequestration in oil wells or under the sea, macro-engineering to alter our planet's ability to reflect the sun's rays or to make oceans soak up more carbon dioxide, and other radical measures are being considered by scientists and industry, but are far from viable at present."

"Policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars, aeroplanes, landfills, electricity and other sources are therefore crucial precautions. We have a responsibility to limit the likelihood that our children and grandchildren will face dangerous conditions from avoidable global warming."

The committee praises EU efforts since Kyoto, though the national performances vary sharply. It urges the EU 25 member countries to set high but realistic national goals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The committee's findings come just a day after other scientists condemned claims of climate change catastrophe as "fatally flawed". Yesterday Martin Agerup, president of the Danish Academy for future studies and colleagues from Stockholm, Canada, Iceland and Britain, said in their report that predictions of "extreme impacts" based on greenhouse emissions employed "faulty science, faulty logic and faulty economics".

OUR COMMENT: The "climate change extreme impact" doubters do admit that there will adverse changes - they are challenging the extent of the changes, an argument apparently based on the mathematics of the prediction models. It is unlikely that the views of the majority of climatologists are going to be seriously questioned. Action is needed and the UK cannot continue to claim to be a 'Leader' unless the UK government practises what it preaches.

Pat Dale


9 November 2004

MORE WARNINGS OVER CLIMATE CHANGE

UK and Germany start "bold" climate partnership

Environment Daily 1761 - 4 November 2004

The UK and Germany have jointly crafted proposals for combating global climate change, to be promoted by Britain during its six-month presidency of the G8 group of industrialised countries next year.

The proposals were agreed during a conference in Berlin on Wednesday involving the two countries' environment ministers, chief scientific advisors, climate experts and industrialists. The meeting got off to a high profile start, being opened by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, who expressed her personal concern over global warming.

Now with Germany's support, the UK is to promote action in six areas: tackling carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the aviation and shipping sectors; future investment in energy sources; recommendations for CO2 reductions; finance of green projects; scientific research on climate change; and public relations campaigns to draw attention to the issue.

Regarding CO2 emissions from the aircraft and ship industries, delegates conference suggested that these industries should either be included in emissions trading schemes or face some sort of a carbon tax.

While acknowledging that a carbon tax conflicted with current international law, Crispin Tickell, a former UK ambassador to the UN and the conference's rapporteur, said one possibility would be for the EU to introduce the measure unilaterally. "Where there is a political will, there is a way," he told Environment Daily.

Delegates said substantial proportion of future energy investments should be directed to energy-efficient sources, including cleaner coal, combined heat and power (CHP) plants and renewables.

David King, chief scientific advisor to the UK government, said that beyond the ambitious unilateral cuts in CO2 emissions that the UK and Germany would make this century, the countries would urge all industrialised countries to cut by 60% by 2050.

Delegates suggested that to boost finance of climate friendly projects, the financial centres of London and Frankfurt "could play a pivotal role in bringing European and global pension funds, actuaries and insurers on board."

There should also be more sharing of scientific research globally and more "witty and thought-provoking advertisements similar to those in Scandinavia to raise public interest and action in combating global warming," they agreed.


GLOBAL WARMING "WILL REDRAW MAP OF THE WORLD"

Report on the Conference in the Independent on Sunday

Geoffrey Lean, Environment Correspondent - 7 November 2004

Maps of the world will have to be redrawn, as global warming melts the Greenland ice-cap inundating coats and major cities, the Government's chief scientific adviser warned last week.

Sir David King told ministers, senior officials and leaders of industry at a top level world conference on climate change in Berlin that there was a "real risk" the ice-sheet would not survive and that "humanity had better be prepared for a complete realignment of the coastal zones. Where most of the world's major cities are sited".

He added that parts of the ice-sheet had already retreated by up to 30 feet in the past few years, compared to 10 feet during the entire period between 1890 and 1950.

Other experts at the conference, which was opened by the Queen, to signal her concern about climate change – confirmed that the ice-cap which contains one-sixth of the world's fresh water was already beginning to melt. If the entire ice-cap disappeared, sea levels around the world would rise by 20 feet, drowning much of London, New York, Tokyo, Bombay and other large cities.

Sir John Houghton, a former head of the Met Office and the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, And one of the world's leading experts on global warming said, "We are getting almost to the point of irreversible meltdown, and will pass it soon if we are not careful".

The Report continues with extracts from other speakers. Delegates to the conference agreed that the threat from climate change was "real. Serious and urgent" and that it could have 'a devastating effect on human society and the natural environment". They called the world to take action that would "go much further than the modest provisions of the Kyoto agreement".


SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR ACTION

Governments urged to back green consumption

Environment Daily 1762 - 5 November 2004

An international group of environmental experts has accused governments of abasing themselves before the power of the market and urged them to do more to promote sustainable consumption. In a report launched on 3 November, the Oxford Commission on Sustainable Consumption makes a series of recommendations for action, focusing on transport, housing and food.

Chaired by former UK environment minister, John Gummer, the commission's membership includes politicians, business figures and academics from the USA, Brazil, India, Japan and China. Consumers themselves, business, the media and others must all be involved in steps to promote more sustainable consumption, it concludes, but governments' role is key.

Sustainable consumption was identified as a global priority at the sustainability summits of Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and Johannesburg in 2002, the commission notes, but efforts "have tended to focus elsewhere". In part, this is because the issues it raises are so complex, it concludes. But a key factor is that governments have "become uncertain of their role and demeaning in their attitudes towards the state". Given the "enormity of the challenge", they must now "recover the confidence to do what is their proper work".

The commission's second main conclusion is that consumers cannot be forced or exhorted to consume more sustainably. Instead, governments should focus on making it easier - for consumers to choose greener patterns of consumption.

Through the report's specific proposals for transport, housing and food it becomes clear that what this means primarily is measures to force business to produce greener products, supplemented by fiscal and other measures to ensure these products are more attractive to consumers.

In the field of transport, the commission urges the EU to significantly tighten its car efficiency requirements and to coordinate this action with the Japanese and Korean authorities. Carmakers in industrialised countries should be prevented from exporting vehicles or vehicle production lines that do not meet domestic environmental requirements, it says.

Aircraft producers should be obliged to minimise aeroplanes' environmental impacts, and aviation fuel should be taxed like other fuels, with taxation, if necessary, introduced on a regional basis first. Energy-efficient default settings should become compulsory in consumer and information technology products.

To improve sustainability in the food chain, all agricultural subsidies should be phased out over 15 years, the commission says. Not only direct export supports but also indirect farmer subsidies. All fishing subsidies should be "eradicated".

Building regulations should be used "dramatically to force the pace" on energy and water saving. Air conditioning and other high-consumption solutions "should not become the fashionable norm". Urban planning should be reoriented to minimise travel needs.


The Institute for Public Policy Research has published another Report detailing the need for more action on climate change

"The Burning Question" reviews the government's progress towards its chosen targets of a 20% cut in CO2 by 2010 and a 60% cut by 2050 from 1990 levels. These targets are considered essential – as a beginning – and the current situation is assessed together with prospects for the next few years at the present rate of progress. The conclusions are that unless further action is taken in the very near future these targets will not be met, and there is even a danger that CO2 emissions might rise.

The Executive summary includes a reference to aviation: "Emissions from aviation currently threaten to overwhelm the efforts the UK has made to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide. Emissions from international aviation are not currently included in the UK's climate change commitment and targets. This should be rectified, and the government should stick to its intention to press for the inclusion of aviation in the EU emissions trading scheme. The impact of aviation should also form part of the review of the performance of the climate change programme so far."

Details at www.ippr.org


7 November 2004

REGIONAL ASSEMBLY APPROVES EAST OF ENGLAND PLAN

The East of England Regional Assembly approved on 5 November 2004 'The East of England Plan' (formerly known as the Regional Spatial Strategy 14), which guides planning and development in the region to 2021

A majority vote from Assembly members during the meeting, held at the Civic Centre in Southend-on-Sea, approved the Plan for submission to Government and endorsed the recommendations made by the Regional Planning Panel at its Meeting on 15 October 2004.

The East of England Plan makes many proposals to contribute to the quality of life and work in the region including housing, economic development, the environment, infrastructure and transport. Key proposals include:

*  Planning for up to 379,000 new jobs across the East of England up to 2021, to meet future economic growth needs and in particular to meet the regeneration needs of less prosperous areas;

*  Provision of 478,000 new homes by 2021 (nearly 60,000 have already been built since 2001 and, of the balance, more than half already have planning permission or are allocated in existing development plans).

*  Rejection of the additional 18,000 homes requested by the Government.

*  Rejection of a second runway at Stansted Airport.

*  Commitment to an early focused review of the East of England Plan. This will ensure that once Government reveals any additional infrastructure Funding consideration can be given to whether a major new settlement is required to meet growth needs beyond 2021. It will also reassess the region's longer-term needs and economic development.

*  A major increase - more than doubling - of the supply of social rented, key worker, and other forms of affordable housing, to address housing shortages in the region.

*  Proposals for more sustainable forms of transport, seeking to reduce the rate of growth in car and lorry traffic and promote public transport, walking, and cycling.

*  An extensive package of proposals for environmental and social measures, such as more energy/water efficient development, investment in education, skills training and health services, and cultural and recreation development.

Sue Sida-Lockett, Chair of the Assembly said, "This is a momentous day for the Assembly. This Plan is aimed at improving the quality of life for everyone who lives in, works in, or visits the region. It is particularly important for our young people and children, as they seek to gain access to jobs, housing, recreation, and services in the region."

"The Assembly eagerly awaits the Government's decision on our £1.5 billion bid for investment in infrastructure to support this economic growth. Unless the Government recognises these needs it will be difficult to deliver these benefits."

"The Assembly has resolved not to provide the additional 18,000 dwellings, nor to support a second runway at Stansted, as requested by the Government. We are not convinced of the need for additional housing over and above the significant increase we have agreed today, nor of the justification for an additional runway in the face of the significant environmental impacts it would have."

The East of England Plan will be submitted to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and a 14-week public consultation period will be launched on 8 December at Ely Maltings.

The Public Consultation will include a range of public meetings and events around the region, mostly during January, followed by an Examination-in-Public (EiP) before an independent panel, appointed by the Secretary of State, due to start on 13 September, 2005.

Publication of The East of England Plan is expected mid-late 2006.

The East of England Regional Assembly

The East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) is the designated Voluntary Regional Chamber under the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998. The Assembly exists to promote the economic, social and environmental well-being of the region through a from social, economic and environmental interests within the region. The Assembly represents the six counties of the East of England: Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

The East of England Plan

The East of England Plan (formerly known as RSS14 / RPG14) is a document that sets out a framework for local development and transport plans for the East of England to 2021. Draft RPG14 was approved by the East of England Regional Assembly in February 2004, and submitted to the Deputy Prime Minister in March, but has been held in abeyance pending completion of additional studies to investigate the Government's request for the housing provision to be increased.

The Examination in Public

*  An Examination-in-Public (EiP) takes place before an independent panel, appointed by the Secretary of State, and is due to start on 13 September, 2005.

*  The Panel will be responsible for selecting the matters for discussion and inviting those it wishes to attend. The Panel will draw up the list of issues and invitees with the aim of ensuring a thorough and testing debate of the Plan. There will be an opportunity to comment on both the matters and attendance at the EiP before these are finalised.

*  After the EiP, the panel will produce a report outlining the matters discussed, and recommending any changes to the Plan that it considers necessary.

*  The Secretary of State will propose changes to the draft Plan in response to the Panel Report.

*  Public consultation on the Proposed Changes - probably during Spring 2006 - before the final East of England Plan is approved and published.

History and Future Progress of the Plan

The East of England Plan (Regional Spatial Strategy for the East of England)

Formerly called the Regional Planning Guidance 14 (RPG14) and Regional Spatial Strategy 14 (RSS14).

2001
November/December: Three stakeholder workshops to discuss the vision, Objectives and key issues of the Regional Planning Guidance 14.

2002
September: Publication of the options consultation paper called "Your Region, Your Future, Your Choice."

September - December: Public consultation including public workshops.

2003
21 November: Presentation of first draft RPG14.

Nov/Dec: Series of county-level workshops held to receive views from other county and district members and representatives of EERA stakeholders.

2004
23 January: Draft RPG14 presented to the Regional Planning Panel (RPP), taking into account comments from the consultation workshops, and the outcome of public consultation on the last sub-regional studies.

January: Central Government requests EERA makes provision for an additional 18,000 on top of the figures in the draft RPG14

5 February: EERA considers draft RPG14 in the light of the Government's requested changes to housing figures and refers detailed comment back to the Regional Planning Panel.

27 February: Regional Planning Panel approved amendments made in the light of the 27 January and 5 February meetings, and approved submission of the RPG14 to the Deputy Prime Minister.

Late February: RPG14 submitted to the ODPM to be held in abeyance, Pending completion of additional studies that were commissioned to consider Implications of the increased housing numbers requested by the Government.

Feb to August: Additional studies undertaken to inform a submission to Government in June on major infrastructure and any other significant public funding needs, and to inform a revision of RPG14 in September.

10 September: RPP meeting to hear reports from the additional studies into housing and infrastructure commissioned in February. RPG becomes known as the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) (in response to the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act, 2004).

15 October: RPP approves final draft RSS and refers it to EERA. The RSS becomes known as the East of England Plan (to give it a clearer title)

5 November: EERA approves submission of the East of England Plan to the Deputy Prime Minister

8 December: Launch of 14-week public consultation period at Ely Maltings, Cambridgeshire.

2005
13 September: Public Examination scheduled to begin

2006
Approval of the final East of England Plan.

2006-2009
Local Authorities will prepare Local Development Documents to implement the Plan at local level (as per the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act, 2004). This process will include further opportunities for public consultation and involvement.


4 November 2004

FINANCIAL NEWS

Long-haul lifts BAA to £363m profit

Andrew Clark - The Guardian - 3 November 2004

BAA, Britain's main airport operator , saw its first half-year profits soar by 16% as demand surged among holidaymakers and business travellers for long-haul flights from Heathrow.

The company announced that its pre-tax profits jumped from £312m to £363m, despite a £6m write-off on the closure of a central London check-in facility and a £7m provision to cover a legal battle with Ryanair.

Its chief executive, Mike Clasper, said the results reflected a strong recovery in long-haul traffic following the impact last year of the war in Iraq and the Sars crisis. The shares rose 2p tp 575.5p.

The Report goes on to describe the battle between BAA and Ryanair over the disputed £7m and the proposed runway costs at Stansted.


A REPORT FROM THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

BAA defends £4bn bill for Stansted expansion

Philip Aldrick - 3 November 2004

The spat between airports operator BAA and no frills carrier Ryanair escalated yesterday as Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary branded BAA an "over-charging monopoly" and BAA added another £7m to Ryanair's bill.

The two companies are locked in legal dispute over a £1m fuel bill that Mr O'Leary is refusing to pay, alleging monopoly abuse by BAA. "We'll be seeing them in court in the next 12 months," Mr O'Leary said yesterday.

BAA chief executive Mike Clasper said that "By deciding what he wanted to pay rather than what he agreed to pay, Mr O'Leary has torn up the contract" that afforded Ryanair £25m of subsidies a year until 2007.

As a result, BAA has now billed Ryanair an extra £7m for the months since the suit was filed in July. Ryanair has again refused to pay and BAA, which owns seven UK airports including Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted - where Ryanair accounts for 60pc of the traffic - has taken a £7m provisional against the charge. "Given the current litigation, we thought it was appropriate," Mr Clasper added.

Mr O'Leary also attacked BAA's spending plans for the second runway at Stansted, which will cost £4billion.

He said: "£3.9billion is for tree planting, new roadways and Norman Foster's Noddy railway so that they can mortgage away the future of the low-cost airline industry for the next 50 years." He claimed a new runway should cost about £125m.

Mr Clasper replied: "If we were just putting the concrete down it would cost less. But we're creating a new airport for 15m-20m passengers."

Mr Clasper was speaking as BAA revealed interim pre-tax profits of £363m, a 16pc increase, on revenue 9pc higher at £1.13billion. Retail income per passenger grew 1.2pc to £4.03 as passenger traffic rose 7.5pc to 77.5m, with all seven airports posting an increase. Mr Clasper is forecasting passenger traffic growth of 6pc for the full year.

He also revealed that a "memorandum of understanding" had been struck with the Star Alliance, which includes BMI, Lufthansa, United Airlines and Singapore Airlines, to redevelop Heathrow's Terminal 1. The move should allay concerns that British Airways was getting preferential treatment by moving to Terminal 5.

"We're working with other airlines at Heathrow to help them develop their businesses," Mr Clasper said. BAA has committed £3billion of capital expenditure to complete Terminal 5, £378m of which was taken in the first half, and another £3billion for the rest of Heathrow.

National Air Traffic Services has proposed reducing its share of charges for airlines using British airspace next year by 3.8pc. The cut follows a recovery in the number of flights after last year's downturn in the wake of the Iraq war and the Sars epidemic. As a result of the slowdown, the charges were increased 11pc last year.


AND ANOTHER REPORT IN THE INDEPENDENT

Ryanair takes wing as O'Leary flies through price war intact

Michael Harrison, Business Editor - 3 November 2004

Ryanair, the no-frills Irish carrier, cheered the markets yesterday by unveiling better-than-expected first-half profits and predicting a much stronger end to the year than had been forecast.

The upbeat message sent Ryanair shares 16 per cent higher and came as a relief to investors still reeling from the low-cost airline's profit warning at the start of the year which led to a near halving in its stock market value.

Ryanair's chief executive, Michael O'Leary, said he now expected fares to fall by between 5 and 10 per cent in the second half of the year compared with a previous estimate of 10-20 per cent, even though the price war among low-cost operators was likely to intensify still further. Ryanair also stood by its forecast of an annual net profit of between €200m (£138m) and €215m - well ahead of analysts' forecasts.

Mr O'Leary warned that the "perfect storm" of intense price competition and soaring fuel charges could accelerate the "bloodbath" among airlines that Ryanair has already predicted for this winter, citing the collapse of the German carrier V-Bird two weeks ago. "It will hasten the demise of the hopeless basket cases out there and the sooner they go to the wall, the better," he added.

He also said that the high oil price might actually work to the benefit of Ryanair. The improvement in yields which Ryanair is now forecasting for the remainder of the year will enable the airline to absorb the €55m impact of higher fuel prices, assuming oil remains at about $50 a barrel.

In the first half, Ryanair's fares fell by only 5 per cent compared with a forecast drop of up to 10 per cent. Mr O'Leary attributed this to competitors such as British Airways, Lufthansa and Air France raising fares by imposing a series of fuel surcharges on passengers, enabling Ryanair to discount its own tickets by less than planned.

Ryanair reported an 18 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to €220m for six months to the end of September and net profit of €200m - producing a net margin of 28 per cent. Although the airline is now unhedged in terms of forward fuel purchases, Mr O'Leary said the weakness of the dollar against the euro would help both in terms of fuel and aircraft purchasing. The airline expects to take in another 25 new Boeing 737-800 aircraft this year and retire 10 of its existing fleet.

Meanwhile the war of words between Ryanair and the airports operator BAA over charges at Stansted escalated. BAA disclosed it had billed Ryanair for an additional £7m since July on the grounds that it had breached its contract by refusing to pay fuel levies at the airport and said the extra cost to Ryanair in a full year would be £25m.

Ryanair, which is counter-suing BAA, responded by dismissing the airport operator's demands and going on to launch a fresh barrage against the group over the cost of the proposed new runway at Stansted.

"They are on a cocaine-induced spending spree. They are an overcharging, gold-plating monopoly which should be broken up. They want to spend £4bn on a runway which should cost £100m," Mr O'Leary said.

Mike Clasper, the chief executive of BAA, said: "You cannot run a business on the basis of people deciding what they want to pay. If all you had to do was fly some Irish labourers over to lay some tarmac down the drive then the runway would only cost £100m but Michael knows that is not a sensible number. He just likes the showmanship."

OUR COMMENT by SSE's economic adviser:

At first sight,  BAA results look good with passenger traffic up 7.5% and operating profit up 11.4% but these numbers are against a weak first-half last year (due to SARS + Iraq war). However, BAA's debt has grown another £900m and now stands at £3.2bn which is 62% gearing.  The BAA debt mountain will keep on growing as Terminal 5 construction progresses and then the Heathrow Terminals 1, 2, & 3 refurbishment starts immediately after this at an estimated cost of about the same as T5 – about £4bn.  Funding should not be a problem provided passenger traffic continues to grow strongly but it will be a different matter if traffic growth does not proceed as projected.  BAA share price was initially unchanged by the results (£5.75) showing that the results were as expected.  Interestingly, BAA has included £7m in its income – a sum which it has invoiced to Ryanair for additional airport charges.  BAA argues that Ryanair, by refusing to pay the fuel levy, is in breach of its agreement with BAA Stansted and thereby loses its discount on Stansted airport charges.  Needless to say, Ryanair is also refusing to pay this £7m!

Ryanair makes no mention of the £7m when announcing its own half-year results today.  The Ryanair results are surprisingly good with passenger numbers up 24%, revenues up 21% and profit up by 15%.  Ryanair share price increased 10% on the news.  Hedging seems to have neutralised the worst impacts of the oil price rise for the time being but the higher oil price will add considerably to Ryanair costs (and other airlines' costs) over the coming months.  Interestingly, the big growth area for Ryanair is continental Europe where it now has bases in Stockholm, Rome, Barcelona (Gerona), Milan and Frankfurt (Hahn).  Also interesting is the increase in the Ryanair load factor from 83% to 87%.  This coupled with larger aircraft enables Ryanair to achieve high passenger growth with low ATM growth.

NOTE: The estimates by both protagonists for the costs of another runway at Stansted completely ignore the costs of adding to the infrastructure, part of which would be entirely airport traffic related and so must be paid for by BAA.


4 November 2004

ALL THIS EXPANSION - WHAT ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT?

Ice-free Arctic summers predicted by 2070

Fiona Harvey - Financial Times - 1 November 2004

The Arctic ice-cap is melting at an unprecedented rate, with potentially dire consequences, according to one of the most authoritative studies on global climate change.

Arctic ice is half as thick as 30 years ago, the report found. In the same period the distribution of ice has shrunk by 10 per cent, according to the report, produced by 250 scientists over the past four years and commissioned by the Arctic Council.

A warmer Arctic could cause sea levels to rise nearly a metre by the end of the century, flooding many coastal regions and perhaps halting the Gulf Stream, which brings warmer water and weather to northern Europe.

Pal Prestrud, vice-chairman of the steering committee for the report, said: "Climate change is not just about the future; it is happening now. The Arctic is warming at twice the global rate."

If present rates of change continue, there may be no ice in the Arctic during summer by 2070, according to the study, to be discussed on Tuesday at an international conference in Iceland. The report is the most comprehensive undertaken on the Arctic region, and is the product of the eight countries with Arctic territory: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the US.

It focuses on scientific evidence for Arctic warming, with projections of warming and its consequences. Finding ways to prevent such a future was a "political question" outside the scope of the report, said Mr Prestrud.

Warming could be slowed by cutting emissions of greenhouse gases, he said, but that would would need to be done urgently. As Arctic ice melts, global warming is likely to accelerate. As the ice reflects much of the sun's heat back into space, so a shrinking ice cap will mean more heat is absorbed by the earth.

A warming Arctic could enhance shipping, as the journey between the UK and Japan could be shortened by 10 to 12 days by a route through passages that are ice-bound today, said Mr Prestrud. The Arctic region is believed to have 25 per cent of the remaining oil and gas reserves, and melting ice may increase accessibility.

Nicola Saltman, climate change programme leader at WWF, the environmental organisation, said: "This research provides incontrovertible proof that climate change is happening in the Arctic. It highlights the urgent need for Arctic governments to take action now by reducing their CO emissions."

A strategy for tackling global warming under the UK's presidency of G8 and the European Union next year will be developed at a conference on Wednesday in Berlin.


2 November 2004

BAA STRANGELY SILENT THIS YEAR

A letter from Norman Mead

Saffron Walden Reporter - 28 October 2004

The Department for Transport's annual report on the noise situation at Stansted, prepared by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and covering the year 2003 has recently become available. While the growing row over BAA's Home Owner Support Scheme for houses blighted by noise and other airport issues simmers on, this report shows how necessary it really is for the wider effects of blight to be properly accounted for.

In many years we are alerted to the report's publication by a press release from BAA pointing out that the number of people affected by noise has been reduced. However, this year BAA has been strangely silent. A close examination of the current report shows why.

The land area within the 57 decibel Leq contour (i.e. the area outside which the Department of Transport claims there is no significant noise annoyance) is reported to have grown by 5% to 33.3 Sq Kms. But because the 57 dBA Leq area has now started to impinge more and more onto the built up area of Thaxted, the number of people in the officially affected area has grown much faster, by 15%.

Buried in the small print of the report, however, is the admission that even this understates the position, as the increase has been depressed by a change in the prevailing wind direction for significant parts of the year. The wind direction affects the direction of take-offs and landings, and thus affects which areas get the noise.

Because this wind-change effect is well known, the CAA likes to prepare additional figures on a "standard" basis (i.e. assuming the long term average wind direction had in fact prevailed), thus allowing annual figures to be compared on a like for like basis. As the CAA itself says, "the 'standard' contours provide a clearer indication than the actual contours of 'fleet noise level' changes".

Using their 'standard' basis, the CAA reports that the number of people in the official noise annoyance area has increased by more then a quarter (26.1%). And that's just the minimum picture, for as residents in many areas round the airport know to their cost, being outside the official "noise annoyance" area is no guarantee of an aircraft noise-free life.

Norman Mead
Deputy Chairman, Stop Stansted Expansion


2 November 2004

NO CHANGE IN THE DFT'S VIEWS

It seems that aviation's privileges must be preserved

UK Airport Capacity

A speech given by the minister Charlotte Atkins to the Royal Aeronautical Society - 26 October 2004

1. Thank you for inviting me here today to update you on the implementation of the Air Transport White Paper, published last December.

2. I thought that the conference would find it helpful if I explained what we have achieved in the 9 months or so since the White Paper was published. I do not need to remind you of the urgency of the White Paper agenda. In 2001, 50% of the population flew at least once. Our forecasts show that the number of passengers at UK airports could more than double by 2030.

3. The White Paper broke new ground. It provided a much needed and long-awaited strategic framework for our airports, looking thirty years ahead.

4. Its long-term strategic vision should provide certainty for investment in the aviation industry, and enable the UK to retain and promote its position as a leading nation in this sector.

5. The White Paper showed that the Government is prepared to take difficult decisions, and see that they are followed through.

6. Doing nothing was never an option while preparing the strategy. And doing nothing is not an option now.

7. Nearly one year on from publication, we are working well with our delivery partners to implement the White Paper.

8. The strategy delivering our policy is clear and we are already making progress in putting it into action.

9. Let me now set out for you the progress that we have made over the last year.

10. Our first priority in the South East is the development of a second runway at Stansted by 2012.

11. BAA as the airport operator are developing the detailed design for a new runway and associated development, and in due course we look to them to bring forward planning applications to the local planning authority.

12. Earlier in the year, Parliament agreed that the number of aircraft movements at Stansted should be regulated by the local planning authority. We expect the first application to be for an increase in capacity above 25 million passengers per annum from the existing runway and second for the construction of the new runway.

13. We welcome BAA bringing forward voluntary blight schemes for home-owners living within and very close to the airport boundary. Similar schemes are being developed at airports elsewhere in the UK where the White Paper supported major development - for example at Birmingham and for BAA airports in Scotland.

14. The White Paper also recognised Heathrow's central role in the UK aviation industry. Our efforts are focussed on considering ways of meeting the key environmental conditions for a third runway.

15. A substantial programme of work, involving a wide range of stakeholders, is now underway with a view to informing the White Paper progress report in 2006.

16. Air quality is at the heart of the work as development at Heathrow depends on our ability to comply with EU air quality standards, including the nitrogen dioxide limit which comes into effect in 2010.

17. In case the conditions attached to expansion at Heathrow can't be met, the White Paper also supports safeguarding land for a new runway at Gatwick.

18. However, the White Paper focus is not just on the South East, extra capacity is also needed to meet anticipated demand in the regions. The White Paper supported new runways at Birmingham and Edinburgh, significant new capacity at Manchester and Glasgow, and runway extensions and new terminal development at many other regional airports. Airports throughout the country are now actively working on implementation strategies for these proposals by preparing masterplans for their airports.

19. The White Paper also invited English Regional Development Agencies and the Welsh Assembly Government to consider following the successful models in Scotland and Northern Ireland by setting up their own Route Development Funds to encourage the establishment of new services at airports in their areas. A number of regions are actively considering doing do. The Department will be setting out a protocol and appraisial framework to ensure that funds operate to a consistent set of rules.

20. Following a four month consultation exercise due to end on November 8 th , the Government will clarify the circumstances under which we believe it to be appropriate to intervene to guarantee a minimum level of air services on existing routes to London from UK regional airports.

21. The importance of regional air access to London will also be recognised in our response to the recently published European Commission consultation on the use of market mechanisms in slot allocation.

22. We welcome this review of the regulatory framework for slot allocation and will be consulting airlines, airport operators and other groups to help inform the UK's position.

23. As outlined in the White Paper the we believe that at congested airports a transparent market-based approach would offer the most efficient use of scarce capacity.

24. It is important to strike a balance between providing additional capacity and having regard to the wider impacts of aviation. 25. The White Paper recognised that it is vital that the environmental impacts of aviation are adequately addressed, both at global and local level.

26. The UK is showing leadership in addressing these challenges.

27. For example, earlier this year, we and other European States succeeded in persuading the rest of the world to develop guidelines on incorporating aviation into a future global emissions trading scheme.

28. And earlier this month, at the ICAO General Assembly, the UK was instrumental in removing potential international barriers to Europe proceeding in this way.

29. And we intend to press for the inclusion of intra-EU air services in the EU emissions trading scheme around 2008. We will pursue this vigorously during the UK Presidency of the EU next year.

30. A new international standard for NOX emissions from new aircraft engines comes into effect in 2008. It is 12% tougher than the current standard and will help to slow down the absolute increase in NOX emissions globally.

31. On 15 January 2004 we announced our decision to continue existing night flying restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted for a further year, to 30 October 2005. We are nearing the end of our consultation on a new night noise regime for those airports.

32. And when Parliamentary time permits, we will seek powers to require greater use of noise charges, new mitigation and compensation packages for noise and new legislation on the control of noise.

33. On the planning side, we published in July guidance to airport operators on the preparation of Master plans.

34. These will set out the airport operator's development proposals in response to the White Paper.

35. We expect outline statements to be published by the end of this year and full statements by December 2005.

36. There is much to be done by 2006 when we plan to publish a full progress report.

37. We are determined to build on the good start we have made in the first year since publication of the White Paper, and get on with the job of delivering its objectives.


WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT?

On Nov 2nd the same minister spoke at Westminster

She started by admitting that the definition of sustainable transport has changed. She said: "When we came to power in 1997 we had to find a new definition for sustainability in transport. If we were to develop an efficient, reliable and safe communications network – a network that minimised environmental impact and yet met the growing mobility demands of the country – then we had to devise a new strategy."

She continued by describing the policies in relation to roads, rail, buses and private cars and the steps that were being taken to reduce congestion and emissions. Many of us would not consider that enough was being done, but at least considerable efforts are clearly being made to achieve the goal.

OUR COMMENT: BUT – no mention of air transport. No mention of the concept of sustainable development that dates back to the Rio conference, not to the commencement of a Labour government! Having justified a massive increase in air transport in the previous speech and declared that "doing nothing is not an option" it is hardly surprising that air transport was left out of a speech intended to explain what the DfT was doing about the sustainability of transport. It is time that the DfT explained how the inclusion of aviation in the EU carbon emissions trading scheme is going to be sufficient to ensure that this massive expansion is going to be sustainable. Let's have some estimates.

Pat Dale


1 November 2004

MORE CO2 PREDICTIONS CHANGED

It seems that Defra - like the DfT, a few months ago - have difficulties in predicting carbon emissions. When emission levels have to be revised, both apparently believe that changing the goalposts makes everything fine for the future. Why not be honest - we all know that predictions for the future are usually inspired computer choices - a few survive, some are forgotten, others continue to blight our lives. They are a necessary exercise, but the Government appears to believe that they should be set in tablets of stone - like the contentious aviation forecasts – rather than "Best Values" subject to change when the situation warrants it.

Kyoto sacrificed to competitiveness

Mark Milner - The Guardian - 28 October 2004

Revised emissions regime comes under fire

The UK has increased the amount of carbon dioxide it wants power plants and factories to be able to pump out under a new European Union regime governing greenhouse gas emissions. It has set tougher emission reduction targets but only after raising its estimate of CO2 that would have been pumped out over the next three years without the changes. The revised regime will mean British firms will be able to emit slightly less than 3% more CO2 than would have been allowed under the government's original calculations, announced in April.

Margaret Beckett, the secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs, said the proposals were "good news for tackling climate change. We are balancing the need to protect the competitive position of UK industry while moving us beyond our Kyoto protocol commitment towards our tougher national goal."

But the new allocations immediately came under fire. Bryony Worthington, from Friends of the Earth, said the government had to realise "the policies we have in place are not bringing emissions under control". Yesterday's announcement showed "a typical lack of political will" and was bad news for Britain's efforts to meet the target of reducing CO2 emissions by 20% of 1990 levels by 2010.

Liberal democrat environment spokesman Norman Baker said the changes showed that the prime minister "always takes the side of the polluters, never the side of the environment".

The allocations are part of an EU-wide move to set up a trading scheme, designed to rein in pollution levels. Countries will be allocated overall emissions levels which will then be divided between individual sectors. Firms that generate fewer greenhouse gases will be able to "sell" the shortfall to those that have emitted more than allowed.

In April the government said it expected CO2 emissions from UK installations covered by the scheme to be 735.3mtonnes on a "business as usual" basis – that is, without emission-cutting measures-and that it was planning a 0.7% in the total. Yesterday Defra said it expected the "business as usual" emission level would be 792.4m tonnes and that it would be seeking a 5.2% reduction. That would bring the new target to 756m tonnes – slightly lass than 3% more than the original figure.

Mrs Beckett said yesterday that the April numbers had been "an early stab" and that it had always been made clear they were subject to a number of caveats and that much more work would be needed. To have pressed ahead on the basis of the original numbers would have had a "devastating" effect on industry. Mrs Beckett said that the new figures were an amendment to Britain's original submission to the EU and so would not require a three month scrutiny by Brussels which could upset the agreed timetable for the start of emissions trading.

The new regime is scheduled to come into operation at the beginning of next year, with trading starting in March. The CBI, the employer's organisation, said it was essential that Brussels approved the UK's revised figures. "Without the extra headroom, business would not be able to cope with the more ambitious targets which result from the increased projections for emissions announce today. Frankly, the government's earlier figures were wrong."

Guy Thompson, the director of Thinktank Green Alliance, said yesterday there was still "all to play for" if the government was to achieve its long term aims. "It does not matter how we present the UK's position, its standing in relation to other EU member states. The thing we have to consider is to deliver our 2010 carbon reduction target. Its not clear to me how this announcement today will help us further down that route."

OUR COMMENT: It's not clear to us either! We do have to remember that so far industry is the only source of carbon emissions that has, by law, been required to take action to reduce them. Home owners have been exhorted to economise on fuel and make their homes energy efficient, bribed by a number of grants. House builders are not required to include tougher energy conservation measures, transport continues to expand and transport emissions to increase without any curbs at all except improved emission requirements for vehicles and the petrol tax. As for aviation… expansion is still the word. Is this fair? Can it be justified? No proposals either for including aviation in this trading market.

Pat Dale


THE REACTION IN THE EU

UK sparks controversy with Nap revision

Environment Daily 1756 - 27 October 2004

The UK government sent waves through the EU's carbon emission trading community on Wednesday by announcing a significant upward revision in the number of allowances it intends to distribute for the first trading period 2005-7.

The move sent the price of allowances in the forward market down. It also drew warnings from officials in the European Commission that Britain's national allocation plan (Nap) for 2005-7 will now have to be reassessed, contradicting assurances by UK officials that this should not be necessary.

Carbon trading specialists, British opposition parties and environmental groups all attacked the government and in particular Tony Blair, accusing him talking tough on climate change and then siding with industry.

The fear in the European Commission, meanwhile, is that the UK's action will encourage other member states to try to find ways to loosen caps on their own industry emissions. An irony is that Britain has repeatedly criticised other countries for allegedly being over generous in their allocation plans.

The change to Britain's Nap follows an upward revision by the government of the trading sector's projected business-as-usual carbon emissions. The main reason for this is that capacity utilisation in the power industry is now expected to be higher than previously thought.

In the spring the government proposed capping trading sector emissions in 2005-7 at 236m tonnes. It estimated at the time that this would allow companies virtually the same emissions as under business-as-usual. Now, the 2005-7 cap has been raised by 20m tonnes to 256m tonnes.

Environment minister Margaret Beckett insisted the change was in fact "good news" for tackling climate change. Not only was the increase in the cap only 3%, but the gap between it and the government's revised business-as-usual projection was now 5.2% rather than just 0.7% previously, she said.

Indeed the larger percentage restriction brought a statement of concern from Britain's main business association, which warned that industry was being asked to shoulder a heavier climate change burden.

"Overall the emissions cap will take the UK beyond its Kyoto commitment, and is consistent with its domestic goal of moving towards a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions on 1990 levels by 2010", the environment ministry added.


1 November 2004

MORE TALK ON HOUSING BLIGHT

Straight talking over aircraft flight paths

The Herts & Essex Observer - 28 October 2004

Some 18,000 homes in Bishop's Stortford area are receiving a special edition of the airport's Newsletter "Plane Talk". This follows a noise briefing held at the St. Barnabas Centre in Thorley, where Bishop's Stortford's MP Mark Prisk and senior managers from Stansted airport met residents to discuss aircraft noise and track keeping over the area. Among the issues raised were noise, flight paths, pollution from aircraft and expansion.

Within the next 6 weeks, airport managing director Terry Morgan will meet Mr Prisk, Thorley Parish Council chairman Richard Lavender and other representatives to discuss concerns. He said "We have a 99.5% success rate on track keeping on the flight path that goes round Bishop's Stortford, to the south and west of the town, but we are certainly not complacent and want to work with airlines to continue keeping as many aircraft on track as possible. We listen very carefully to what local residents have to say, and clearly there are a number of important issues to discuss at the meeting with Mark Prisk and Council representatives. Plane Talk is our community newsletter and it allows us to talk to local people. It is an important and effective channel of communication and the best possible way to ask questions, pass on views or to get action taken."

OUR COMMENT: Clearly Plane Talk is a unique publication with possibilities not obvious in the last edition! BAA appear to believe that if aircraft keep to the flight paths all is well. They (deliberately?) forget that the same aircraft still make a noise and are still passing over residents' houses. Good track keeping marginally reduces the number of houses affcted, but it does not reduce the noise levels and actually will increase the number of aircraft flying directly over those living under the flight path. So-called noise mitigation makes only a marginal difference to noise annoyance. Only quieter and fewer aircraft will make any significant difference.

Pat Dale

Council steps up homes fight

Members of Uttlesford District Council are stepping up their opposition to BAA Stansted's Home Owner Support Scheme claiming it does not serve residents in a "fair and reasonable" manner.

The scheme is due to come into effect in January next year, but councillors have raised concerns with the BAA during the consultation period over issues including night flight noise pollution, the 66 decibel noise limit and ground boundary limits.

"The scheme is arbitrary and unfair", said council leader Alan Dean. "Too many people suffering from blight are excluded. There is enough evidence of widespread house depression to justify rejection by the council. I am writing to the transport minister asking the department to justify its support for BAA."

Councillor Jackie Cheetham explained that investigations were continuing to establish the best way of supporting affected residents and end the division within the Takeley community. Councillor Elizabeth Godwin added: "We will fight for fair treatment alongside other councils who face a similar spectre of airport related blight".


1 November 2004

STANSTED'S OTHER PROBLEMS

Baggage Handlers to strike after pay row

The Herts & Essex Observer - 28 October 2004

James Tout reports that baggage handlers at Stansted airport have voted for 3 days of strike action after last-minute talks collapsed, amid acrimonious accusations from union chiefs. The staff are employed by Swissport UK and load luggage for low-cost Ryanair and EasyJet.

The unions claim that the handlers are among the lowest paid in the airport and that there has been no improved offer. Swissport UK claim that they have made an offer that "amounted to" an average 5% increase.

Strike action will be on Monday 1st November, Wednesday 3rd and Thursday 11th. BAA said that contingency plans were in place.


1 November 2004

RYANAIR'S BELGIUM BATTLE

Ryanair offer on state-aid fine

Kevin Done - Financial Times - 29 October 2004

Low-cost airline chief offered to put 4m euros demanded by Belgian authorities into escrow account pending appeal over Charleroi deal

Michael O'Leary, Ryanair's mercurial chief executive, yesterday said the airline had offered to pay 4m euros sought by the Belgian authorities in a state-aid case into an independently managed escrow account.

After swearing 5 months ago that Ryanair would never hand over a single euro, Mr O'Leary has kept up a barrage of abuse against the decision by the European Commission, announced in February, that various benefits Ryanair received at Charleroi airport, south of Brussels, had constituted illegal state aid.

But in the first sign of a concession, Mr O'Leary said the payment would be made pending the outcome of Ryanair's appeal against the Commissions decision to the European Court of First Instance. Ryanair was still insisting yesterday that the decision was "flawed".

The airline said it was confident that the decision would be overturned as "it perverts fair and open competition, is highly damaging to the competitiveness of public, regional and secondary airports, and will force consumers to pay higher fares at Charleroi to protect the high cost (Brussels) Zaventem airport.

While Ryanair's battle is with the Commission, it is the Walloon regional government – with which Ryanair made its original deal at the state-owned Charleroi airport – that is having to pursue the repayment. In recent weeks the Walloon authorities have indicated that they might take legal action against Ryanair in Dublin if the airline refuses to pay.

Yesterday the airline said it had no desire to place the Walloon region "in a difficult position because of a legally flawed decision by the Commission". It had therefore agreed "under protest and without prejudice to the outcome of the appeal" to place the 4m euros in an agreed interest bearing escrow account until the European courts made a definitive decision.

"If Ryanair is successful in its appeal, these funds along with the interest will be returned to Ryanair", said the airline. "If the appeal fails, Ryanair will agree that these funds will be transferred in their entirety to the region."

The airline has challenged one of the Commission's main conclusions, namely that no private airport operator would have granted the same advantages as Charleroi did, as "factually untrue and legally untenable".

But even if it were to lose the appeal, however, it still maintains there should be no repayment, as its 40m euros costs of establishing and operating its Charleroi base "vastly exceeded" any discounts it had received, and the Commission allowed it to net off its costs against those of the regional government.


SSE Recent News
News Archive